Best Use of an Old Chemistry Lab - 2012
When artist David Therrien first purchased this 9,000-square-foot warehouse south of downtown Phoenix in 1999, it was in disarray. Formerly the home of Arizona Testing Labs — which examined and analyzed crime evidence for the Phoenix Police Department, as well as water and soil samples — the building contained broken equipment, trash, and a few homeless folks. "Back then, the old St. Vincent DePaul was across the street, so when I got the building, there were people and their stuff everywhere," Therrien says. "It wouldn't be fair to describe them as squatters, since squatters tend to fix up a place a little. It took me a few months to get things to where I wanted." Eventually, Therrien transformed his own personal laboratory, conducting all sorts of artistic experiments and helping incubate culture. Initially dubbed ChemLab (and currently known as OP-Tic), it became legendary for hosting intimate photography shows and ginormous installation pieces, as well as sound-generating equipment and quirky technology-based events in which man battled machines. One of the more recent artistic experiments happened in February, when Therrien featured a stunning exhibition of large-scale paintings by Yuko Yabuki, a bizarre butoh performance by CoCo Katsura, and noise art from Noncommunication. And the results of this latest arts experiment? Stunning, to say the least.