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10 Best Artworks We Saw in Metro Phoenix in June 2016

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It looks like Arizona artists had landscapes on the brain last month — from desert sands to beaches of shells. One created a jewel-like installation using images with subtle variations of tree rings. Another wrapped walls in coral-inspired ceramic forms that mirror the blooming cactus flowers. Some chose urban landscapes, while others explored the inner landscapes of memory and identity. We found these 10 works and installations the most intriguing.

Change Over Time
Ellen McMahon

Tucson artist Ellen McMahon’s Change Over Time features images of Piñon Pines captured by University of Arizona scientists using hemispherical photography, which she arranged in concentric circles to highlight their “jewel-like beauty.” Moving outward from its center, these images progress from showing healthy trees to dead and dying forests, conveying the canopy loss that leads to microclimate change. It’s part of the “S.T.E.A.M.” exhibition that continues through September 17 at The Gallery at Tempe Center for the Arts.

Denver Haze
Rossitza Todorova

This lithography, gouache, and graphite on paper work is one of several pieces from Todorova’s “Intersections” series – which presents an opportunity to gallery-goers who’ve seen recent exhibitions featuring Todorova’s three-dimensional works to explore a broader range of her art practice. Todorova’s work was recently part of the “2015 Contemporary Forum Artists Grant Winners” exhibition at Phoenix Art Museum. Denver Haze is one of several Todorova works included in Modified Arts’ “Seeing Arizona: Independents’ Week” exhibition that continues through July 9.

Sama Alshaibi and Michael Fadel

The movement of this kinetic sculpture filled with white sand, which references “the rippling motion of ocean waves and the trek of Bedouins traveling over curving lines of desert dunes,” is part of an installation by Sama Alshaibi and Michael Fadel. It also includes a video and sound component featuring a man rowing a paddle in a desert landscape void of water. It’s part of the “southwestNET Sama Alshaibi: Silsila” exhibition at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, which includes large-scale photographs and videos by Alshaibi, an Iraqi-born artist living in both Palestine and Tucson, whose work explores connections between self, humanity, the natural world, and the divine. The exhibition continues through September 18.

In the Fullness of Time
Farraday Newsome

Farraday Newsome, who works with fellow ceramics artist and husband Jeff Reich in their Indigo Street Pottery studio in Mesa, has spent more than two decades creating vessels of red terra cotta clay, exploring “ideas of lushness, sadness, time, and grace” with painterly surfaces that often feature images of familiar objects such as fruit, clocks, seed pods, and insects. More recently, she’s been painting – creating works incorporating similar objects and themes. In the Fullness of Time, first spotted during the 2016 ASU Ceramics Research Center Ceramics Studio Tour, is now part of the “Reflections of Arizona” exhibition at Shemer Art Center, which continues through August 4.

Taking the Long Way Home
Ciel Hendershot

Between two well-known Roosevelt Row venues, The Firehouse and The Nash jazz mecca, there’s an artist studio and exhibition space called Warehouse 1005, where Phoenix artist Ciel Hendershot opened her first-ever art exhibition, called “Emergence,” during June’s Third Friday. In her artist statement, Hendershot says her artistic process involves “meandering” without knowing what she’s going to do next. The “not knowing” is essential, she says. Nearly three dozen of her works are part of the exhibition, which continues through July 7.

Corinne Geertsen

Using up to 200 layers of imagery, Mesa artist Corinne Geertsen creates digital composites she describes as “intricate worlds of quirky humor, psychology and mischief.” Basically, she’s on an eternal photographic scavenger hunt, searching out images to couple with photographs of her own ancestors for works with a surrealistic side. “It’s all about remix,” Geertsen says of her work, which you often find in places where you might not expect it – from the i.d.e.a. Museum in Mesa to the Tempe History Museum, where more than a dozen of her mash-ups are on view in an exhibition titled “History: What Happens When You’re Not Looking,” which continues in a community room that doubles as a gallery through August 21.

Mirrors installation
Mel Roman

Works by Mel Roman often incorporate powerful, and sometimes controversial, visual imagery that challenges societal perceptions, stigmas, and norms. Celebrating a year since the passage of federal marriage equality legislation, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art presents a collection of his sculpture, collage, photography and video – as well as this installation featuring five plexiglass mirrors in wood frames with vinyl text of both epithets and queries on identity. It’s part of “Mel Roman: Coming Out Under Fire,” which continues through October 2.

Open Ended
Hyunji Lee

Like other works by Hyunji Lee, this oil-on-panel piece was inspired by what the artist calls “the distinction between experience and memory as two different kinds of human consciousness.” Lee, who received a 2014 Contemporary Forum Artist Grant through Phoenix Art Museum, typically blends her own personal history with the collective experience of others to create unique environments comprising “true, imagined, and imitated spaces.” This piece is part of the “Fragmented” exhibition, in a community gallery space located inside the Tempe Public Library, which continues through August 3.

Ceramic installation
Danielle Wood

Using porcelain, thread, and lighting, Danielle Wood’s installation titled “Microcosm” explores the symbiosis and mutualism at play in relationships – reflecting both human connections and the natural world with works characterized by intriguing forms, textures, and subtle colors. The installation fills two gallery spaces at Eye Lounge, where “Microcosm” continues through July 10.

Block Garden
Mary Meyer

During 2015 travels in Arizona, Colorado, and Idaho, Mary Meyer explored desert climates with a focus on their “transitory cycles of life growth and color.” Her memories and experiences are reflected in works created for her fifty series with pigment prints, pencil, stitching, and paper on alder wood. For Meyer, “each sketch represents a memory of time, place, and connection to the landscape.” A selection from this series is on view at MADE Art Boutique through July 14.

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