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Tomiko Jones was at Northlight Gallery for the final day of her "Hatsubon" exhibit.EXPAND
Tomiko Jones was at Northlight Gallery for the final day of her "Hatsubon" exhibit.
Lynn Trimble

10 Best Metro Phoenix Art Exhibits of 2019

No worries if you didn't get out to see every art show in metro Phoenix during 2019. We made the exhibit rounds, exploring art in galleries, museums, and unconventional spaces. Here's a look back at 10 of our favorites, including several that explored significant cultural, social, and political themes.

'Hatsubon'

ASU Northlight Gallery
January 18 to March 16

ASU Northlight Gallery presented an intimate exhibition of works by Tomiko Jones, an artist who explores the journey through death by considering both Buddhist concepts and her own personal experience of her father’s passing. Jones’ exhibit included the skeleton of a delicate wooden boat suspended in the air and a beautiful carved wooden oar. Moving between portraiture and abstract imagery, she created a space for viewers to reflect on concepts of life, death, transience, permanence, solitude, and relationship.

Julio César Morales, We Are The Dead: Part Two, 2018, two-channel HD video animation.EXPAND
Julio César Morales, We Are The Dead: Part Two, 2018, two-channel HD video animation.
Julio César Morales

'Julio César Morales: Invaders'

Phoenix Art Museum
March 1 to August 4

Phoenix Art Museum presented a solo exhibition by Julio César Morales, who received the prestigious 2018 Arlene and Morton Scult Artist Award for his dedication to contemporary art. The exhibition explored immigration and the realities of life along the U.S.-Mexico border through mixed-media drawings, paintings, video, photography, and installation art — prompting reflection on the ways new realities might be shaped throughout the borderlands moving forward.

Ann Morton, Proof-Reading #3 (collusion), 2018. Handmade handkerchief with embroidery, 12" x 12" hanging dimensions 4" x 15" x 3".EXPAND
Ann Morton, Proof-Reading #3 (collusion), 2018. Handmade handkerchief with embroidery, 12" x 12" hanging dimensions 4" x 15" x 3".
Lisa Sette Gallery

'Subversive White'

Lisa Sette Gallery
March 2 to April 27

Lisa Sette Gallery tackled white supremacy and its prevalence in contemporary American life with this group exhibit featuring artists whose materials and content call into question both individual ideas and social structures that promulgate hatred, inequality, and injustice. Through diverse mediums, these artists challenged both historical and contemporary stereotypes, thus urging viewers to consider their own assumptions and actions related to race.

Esao Andrews art used for Circa Survive's The Amulet album was shown at Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum.EXPAND
Esao Andrews art used for Circa Survive's The Amulet album was shown at Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum.
Esao Andrews/Photo by Lynn Trimble

'Petrichor'

Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum
May 10 to August 4

Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum presented works in diverse mediums by Esao Andrews, a Los Angeles artist with Mesa roots. Andrews draws on pop culture to create surreal images that address the impact of people on the environment, and the mysteries inherent in everyday encounters. The exhibit included a wall of skate decks painted by the artist, a mural depicting a fantastical hybridized animal, and other small works.

We saw Shizu Saldamando's Grace and Ira, Golden Hour At and Despite Steele Indian School Park at SMoCA.EXPAND
We saw Shizu Saldamando's Grace and Ira, Golden Hour At and Despite Steele Indian School Park at SMoCA.
Shizu Saldamando

'southwestNET: Shizu Saldamando'

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
May 18 to October 13

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art showed primarily portraiture by Los Angeles artist Shizu Saldamando for this exhibit, which was curated by Jennifer McCabe as part of the museum’s ongoing southwest:NET series. Saldamandos’ work focuses on people of color who are marginalized in contemporary society, including activists, artists, punks, and queers. The artist also used video to question narratives about whose stories deserve to be told, and who has the right to tell them.

Carrie Marill's work was inspired by a vintage suitcase design.EXPAND
Carrie Marill's work was inspired by a vintage suitcase design.
Vision Gallery

'Inspired by History'

Chandler Museum
July 30 to October 12

Chandler Museum collaborated with Vision Gallery to pair historical objects from the museum’s collection with contemporary works by more than two dozen emerging and established artists working in metro Phoenix. Artists used fiber art, sculpture, photography, drawing, painting, and other mediums to bring new perspectives to historic items, while also elevating the power of art to shape and reflect history even as it questions the ways historical accounts are crafted and shared.

Iván Argote, Suck my time, amor mio. Acrylic on canvas. 110 x 82.5 x 6 inches.
Iván Argote, Suck my time, amor mio. Acrylic on canvas. 110 x 82.5 x 6 inches.
Iván Argote

'Juntos Together: Iván Argote'

ASU Art Museum
August 17, 2019 to January 4, 2020

ASU Art Museum filled several galleries with compelling works by Iván Argote, a Colombian-born artist based in Paris praised by the museum for “using affection, emotions, and humor as subversive tools to engage audiences on political and personal levels.” The exhibit, which was curated by Julio Cesar Morales, featured films, videos, sculpture, and site-specific works that played with ideas related to time and place while exploring threads running through historical and contemporary life.

We spotted this work by Jesse Lee Vargas-Colucci in the "Mementio Mori" exhibit at ASU Step Gallery.EXPAND
We spotted this work by Jesse Lee Vargas-Colucci in the "Mementio Mori" exhibit at ASU Step Gallery.
Lynn Trimble

'Memento Mori'

ASU Step Gallery
September 19 to 28

ASU Step Gallery presented a group exhibition curated by Ashley Czajkowski, whose work often explores themes of death, decay, and rebirth. The exhibit included emerging and established artists working with diverse materials, including sculpture, video, found objects, photography, and more. Collectively, these works explored various conceptions of death and related cultural and social practices, inviting viewers to consider their own perspectives on life and death.

Ana Teresa Fernández, Of Bodies and Borders 1 (performance documentation), 2017, oil on canvas, 54 x 94 inches.
Ana Teresa Fernández, Of Bodies and Borders 1 (performance documentation), 2017, oil on canvas, 54 x 94 inches.
Ana Teresa Fernández and Gallery Wendi Norris

'Counter-Landscapes'

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
October 26, 2019 to January 19, 2020

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art filled several galleries with works highlighting performative art created during the last 50 years for “Counter Landscapes: Performative Actions from the 1970s — Now.” The exhibit trained the viewer’s eye on ways art has been moving beyond traditional spaces as it considers social, political, and cultural issues. It includes works created with multiple mediums, ranging from fire to newspapers. Curator Jennifer McCabe included works by local, national, and international artists. And she created a large-scale timeline to elucidate the context for each of their works.

Maria Hupfield with her work exhibited in an outdoor courtyard at the Heard Museum.EXPAND
Maria Hupfield with her work exhibited in an outdoor courtyard at the Heard Museum.
Craig Smith/Heard Museum

'Maria Hupfield: Nine Years Towards the Sun'

Heard Museum
December 6, 2019 to May 3, 2020

The Heard Museum opened its first exhibition in a new series exploring works by indigenous female artists. This exhibit focuses on performative elements of Maria Hupfield’s art practice during nine years spent in Brooklyn, New York. Featured videos, sculpture, and archival elements elevate indigenous feminist voices while countering colonialist narratives and calling for radical new ways of thinking about how art is created, experienced, and shared.

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