By Lilia Menconi
If you’re at all a part of the downtown art scene, you’ve surely found yourself sharing a Bikini Lounge booth with strangers. That’s how I met Kathryn Pinto. She graciously let my best friend and I join her highly coveted booth on the evening of a First Friday and it made for a great night of chatting about art and bitching about the lack of hot dudes at the bar - my two favorite topics.
That was right around the time Pinto was stepping in as president of five15 Gallery.
If you’ve trekked along Roosevelt Row on a First Friday without popping into five15 Gallery, the artist-run collective, shame on you! The place has sported local artists like Laura Spalding, Nathan Feller, Roy Wasson Valle and Mary Shindell (just to name a couple of my faves).
Five15 had a good two years with Kenneth Richardson as their president and has proven to be a must-see every month. At the beginning of this year, Richardson left Five15 to run neighboring Pravus Gallery and my booth buddy Kathryn Pinto stepped up to the plate.
I loved Richardson’s enthusiasm and saw some great shows during his presidency. And as for Pinto? I say, so far so good. Amy Long’s May exhibition that transformed the gallery into a jungle of soft sculpture made of crocheted felt totally knocked my socks off. And the July show displaying a series of framed illustrations by Neil Gillingham and Zachary Hollis called “Henry, a Picture Book for Grown-ups” was super popular. So it’s obvious Pinto is on the right track as president and, naturally, I want to know more about her.
Pinto is knee-deep in love with the arts – evidenced by her leadership at five15 and her job teaching drawing and printmaking courses for Mesa Community College at the Mesa Arts Center. As if all that isn’t enough to keep her busy, she’s now got a solo show, “Meander Scars & Misfit Streams” at Two Doors Down in Tempe, a salon and art gallery on Mill Ave. The exhibition lends opportunity to see her as an independent artist – away from her leadership role at five15.
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Pinto is originally from New Haven, Connecticut and has lived in Portland, Oregon and San Francisco, CA before coming to AZ. Her line drawings tell the story of her personal attachment to geography. She plays with curious narratives by layering imagery of native plants, animals and scenes of nature against detailed architectural mappings of city plans. The contrast expresses the tension between a desire for change in one’s personal environment and the need for consistent safety in our surroundings. Her drawings are calm and calculated and I’m impressed by her ability to edit herself down to the bare essentials. “Meander Scars & Misfit Streams” is up through September 30th at Two Doors Down, 944 S. Mill Ave at 10th St. in Tempe. Call 480-449-9699.