Visual Arts

10 Best Things We've Seen in Metro Phoenix in 2016 — So Far

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Amalgamation by Danielle Wood
Spark! Festival of Creativity

Every year brings a steady crop of art festivals – including Mesa Arts Center’s Spark! Festival of Creativity, which features diverse installation and performance art by local, national, and international artists. This year’s festival, held March 18 and 19, included live art-making and hands-on activities with several local artists. Danielle Wood spent both days helping festival-goers hand-form their own clay pieces resembling her coral-shaped works. Many added their pieces to her winding path of finger-size forms, which were interwoven with strands of with multi-color lights to create an illuminated ceramics-scape during evening hours.

“Time Stands Still”
Gebert Contemporary

For “Time Stands Still,” which ran from mid-February to mid-March at Gebert Contemporary in Scottsdale, Phoenix artist Patricia Sannit set her ceramic works against the backdrop of visual projections rife with archaeological themes. Viewers who entered a sunken exhibition space encountered a ton of red clay pounded into a roughly circular design, where Sannit installed numerous unique ceramic columns. Some chose to walk around the circle’s edge, allowing their bare feet to imprint the malleable material. More ceramic columns – collectively capturing environmental, technological, and other developments over time – lined a portion of the circle-like sentinels charged with guarding the ever-shifting human landscape at the heart of Sannit’s work. Earlier this year, Sannit received the prestigious Phoenix Art Museum Contemporary Forum Artist Award — which means she'll have a solo exhibition there next spring. 

Radio Healer
ASU Crossfade LAB

Inside a grassy courtyard on ASU’s Tempe campus called the Secret Garden, a Native American and Xicano artist collective called Radio Healer performed a reimagined indigenous ceremony using electronic media – using sound to heighten awareness of both the immediate surroundings and the long trajectory of indigenous culture. The April 18 performance capped the official launch for Crossfade LAB, a series featuring conversations and art experiences with internationally known Latino artists and creative leaders. Radio Healer includes four artists – Edgar Cardenas, Randy Kemp, Raven Kemp, and Cristóbal Martinez of the Postcommodity Collective.

Decoys by Jeffrey DaCosta
IN FLUX Cycle 6

People who walk past a vacant retail space in the southern section of the Pavilions at Talking Stick encounter Jeffrey DaCosta’s Decoys installation featuring 14 manufactured images of wood deer. They’re part of IN FLUX Cycle 6, this year’s iteration of a multi-city public art program that places diverse works of art in community settings, which dozens of people explored during a May 14 bus tour presented by Scottsdale Public Art. DaCosta’s life-size deer silhouettes created with balsa wood and fluorescent ultraviolet paint reference the thermal imaging technology that allows people to see things previously hidden, while prompting viewers to reflect on what might have occupied the space before urban encroachments on desert habitats.

"SouthwestNET: Sama Alshaibi: Silsila"
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

Amid a campaign season infused with grandiose rhetoric, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art presents the quiet but powerful works of Sama Alshaibi, an artist born in Iraq who calls both Tucson and the West Bank home. Alshaibi traced the journeys of a 14th-century explorer through the Middle East, then created images reflecting both her Islamic heritage and her transition from political refugee to American citizen. Her large-scale color photographs and videos for Silsila (the Arabic word for “link”) integrate desert landscapes, the female form, and geometric motifs prevalent in Islamic art traditions – prompting reflection on connections between self, others, the natural world, and the divine. The exhibition opened June 4 and continues through September 18.

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Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble