There’s a little something for everyone in this season’s crop of exhibitions, which explore everything from monsters to immigration. Some are distinguished by the significance of the artists whose lives they reflect, such as Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo and 20th century Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Others stand out because of the media used by featured artists, such as repurposed bubble wrap and acrylic braided ribbon. Whatever your taste in art, it’s likely at least a couple of these shows will strike your fancy.
ASU Harry Wood Gallery
Through February 14
This exhibition explores various types of creatures in contemporary art through the lens of nostalgia (“a longing for home that no longer exists”) and solstalgia (“a longing for life before environmental change and all its ramifications”), while considering how the “problem” of the monstrous in life and art is affected by memory and remembrance. Curated by MA candidate Kev Nemelka, it’s being presented by ASU’s Institute for Humanities Research. Find more information on the ASU Events website.
“Mirror, Mirror: Rare Photographs of Frida Kahlo”
Through February 27
This exhibition features more than 20 vintage photographs of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, taken by a variety of notable 20th century photographers including Lucienne Bloch, Lola Álvarez Bravo, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Imogen Cunningham, Fritz Henie, Guillermo Kahlo, Leo Matiz, Nickolas Muray, and Carl Van Vechten. Find more information on the Bentley Gallery website.
"Rachel Bess and Charlotte Potter"
Lisa Sette Gallery
Through February 27
Lisa Sette presents recent works by two artists, Rachel Bess and Charlotte Potter, exploring personal identity and digital personae. Arizona-based Bess creates modern-day vanitas and still-lifes in oil on panel. Virginia-based Potter creates sculpture and installation work using traditional forms of glassworking. We’re also looking forward to Sette’s April 23 to June 25 exhibition of works by Carrie Marill and Kim Cridler. Find more information on the Lisa Sette Gallery website.
“Ecosystem by Bradley Hart”
Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum
Through March 27
This exhibition includes works by New York-based Canadian artist Bradley Hart, who uses syringes to inject acrylic paint into bubble wrap as part of his art practice exploring “society’s excessive use and dependence on disposable materials.” It includes not only works created with bubble wrap, but also pieces made using materials recycled from his artistic process – including dried paint. Find more information on the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum website.
“Michelangelo: Sacred and Profane”
Phoenix Art Museum
Through March 27
This exhibition features 26 rare drawings and sketches by sculptor and painter Michelangelo. Each is part of the collection of Florence, Italy's Casa Buonarroti – a building once owned by the artist which is now the world’s largest repository for Michelangelo drawings, architectural studies, and memoirs. Exhibited works include figure studies, architectural drawings, and preparatory sketches for later paintings. Find more information on the Phoenix Art Museum website.
“11 Miles of Color: Repurposing Spring Crossing”
Scottsdale Civic Center Library
Through April 30
This exhibition includes works by 11 artists from diverse disciplines who used acrylic braided ribbon repurposed from a previous public art installation by Randy Walker to create pieces that include a fence, a vessel, and a collection of mushrooms. Featured artists include Jeffrey DaCosta, Amber Doe, Valerie Fair, Sarah Hurwitz, Francine Kavanaugh, Kris Manzaneres, Sharie Monsam, Courtney Richter, Shawn Rost, Katharine Leigh Simpson, and Kristin Wolfe. Find more information on the Scottsdale Public Art website.
“Watertight: Sandra Ramos”
ASU Art Museum
Through May 28
This exhibition features works in various media, including eight short video animations, exploring the complicated relationship between Cuba and the United States. Ramos’ work prompts reflection on “immigration, international borders, and shattered utopian dreams.” Find more information on the ASU Art Museum website.
ASU Art Museum
Through May 28
ASU Art Museum presents “Participant: Photographs by Spencer Tunick from the Stéphane Janssen Collection,” which includes more than 20 works blending photography with installation and performance. For more than two decades, Tunick has traveled the world creating staged images of nude figures in urban and rural settings. Local art collector Janssen has participated in several of these photography sessions, posing with a small group inside an art museum and with hundreds of others in the Dead Sea in Israel. Find more information on the ASU Art Museum website.
Phoenix Airport Museum
Through July 10
This exhibition includes wood sculptures by Mitch Fry, who uses geometric shapes (often spheres) and lines to “explore the symbiotic relationship between matter and form, the individual and the collective.” It also features the artist's detailed engineering drawings. Find more information on the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport website.
“Betye Saar: Still Tickin’”
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
January 30 to May 1
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art presents the first solo show by California artist Betye Saar in five years – a retrospective of her six-decade career featuring re-conceived installations as well as multimedia collages, assemblages, sculpture, and works on paper. The exhibition is divided into three sections exploring different themes: nostalgia and memory, mysticism and ritual, and the political and racial. Find more information on the SMoCA website.
"Pigment & Power"
February 5 to 25
This exhibition features works by Paradise Valley artist Fred Tieken and Los Angeles artist Micheal Flechtner, who work in different media (painting for Tieken, 3D neon for Flechtner) but share a love for bold line, bright color, and text with pop imagery that reflects the foibles of contemporary society. Find more information on the Chartreuse website.
“Five15 Arts Special Exhibit”
Gallery Glendale at Westgate
February 5 to 27
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This exhibition features new and previously exhibited works by several artists from the Roosevelt Row artist collective Five15 Arts. Participating artists Samuel Dahl, Anne Howey-Falvey, Hallie Mueller, Michelle Terry-Helmick, and Joan C. Thompson create works in various media – including painting, drawing, printmaking, and mixed media. Find more information on the Gallery Glendale website.
February 6 to April 17
“Confluence: Inter-generational Collaborations” features work co-created by seven pairs of American Indian artists, each including one established artist and one emerging artist. Participating artists are working at the museum and the artists’ studios over the course of three months to create works of textile/fiber art, film, metal, painting, and fashion design. The exhibition will also include individual works created by each artist. Find more information on the Heard Museum website.