Spring officially starts on March 20, but to catch all the great exhibitions this season, you'll want to get started ASAP. From a group show that entrances your senses to a solo exhibition featuring one of our favorite street artists, there's plenty to be excited about in the art scene this spring.
To help you out, we've compiled a list of our top seven must-see exhibitions taking place across the Valley over the next few months. Get out there and see some art.
You already may have heard the buzz surrounding this show, and we're here to tell you it's warranted. "Moctezuma's Revenge," which opened in January, is the first comprehensive solo exhibition of works by contemporary Mexican-American artist Eduardo Sarabia. The show was curated by Julio Cesar Morales, who has been with the ASU Art Museum for about a year and a half now. During this short time, Morales already has managed to bring in really excellent work. Sarabia's mixed-media pieces are no exception. "Sarabia's exciting new body of work is in perfect dialogue with Arizona," Morales says, "in regard both to the content of the work and to its relationship to the current social climate we are experiencing, from connections to borders, the legalization and trafficking of drugs and identity issues." We love Sarabia's works on canvas, but the larger installation-based pieces in this exhibition are really not to be missed.
We already told you about how much we love SMoCA's latest sensory overload. If you're obsessed with the firefly room at the Phoenix Art Museum (as pretty much every native Phoenician art lover seems to be), we have a hunch you'll feel equally enthused about Olaf Eliasson's Beauty. The piece requires visitors to walk through a dark pathway into the separate room where the work is housed. Though Eliasson's piece is the real crowd-pleaser of the show, all the included artworks are made by some of the top contemporary artists today. "The Five Sense" features the artwork of Janet Cardiff, Olafur Eliasson, Spencer Finch, Roelof Louw, and Ernesto Neto.
Solo Exhibition of work by Joseph "Sentrock" Perez Palabra May 3 through May 31
Ever since Joseph "Sentrock" Perez won a Big Brain Award in 2011, we've sort of been fan-girling the artist, who now lives in Chicago. Despite this relocation, Sentrock remains an active member of the Palaba artist collective. Word on the street is that this will be the only solo exhibition of Sentrock's work in the Valley this year. Mark your calendars for an opening reception at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 3.
Carrie Marill is one of the stars of the Phoenix art scene, and if you've never seen her work, catching this show is required. We're partial to the artist's 2012 series "Pictorials" (she was just finishing the work when we toured her studio a few years ago). But, as always, we're excited to see new pieces from artists we love.
Pablo Helguera's "Chrestomathy" and "Librería Donceles" Combine Studios and the new ASU Art Museum Ceramics Center & Brickyard Gallery March 21 through June 28
Pablo Helguera is both a visual and performance artist who works primarily in a socially engaged art practice. The ASU Art Museum is bringing two of his installation-based works to the Valley this spring in two separate locations. "Librería Donceles" will turn Combine Studios into a Spanish-language bookstore, featuring 12,000 used books on a variety of subjects. This exhibition initially was slated to take place at the new Ceramics Research Center location in the Brickyard on Mill, but, according to ASU Art Museum director Gordon Knox, the "space in Phoenix [Combine] is better suited for the storefront nature of his installation and affords several new opportunities for community interaction that could be lost if the project were presented in a more traditional museum setting." Instead, the new CRC location will host "Chrestomathy," an exhibition of pieces that explore identity, cultural memory, and language. "Having Helguera's work presented in our two locations outside of the main museum highlights the museum's geographical spread, its community embeddedness and the diverse range of facilities we operate," Knox says. "This diversity of venue and these very different shows also display the extraordinary breadth of Helguera's artistic practice."
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Pop-up exhibitions can be hit and miss, but we've got a good feeling about this one. This show brings together two Miami artists and two Phoenix artists, uniting South Beach and the Southwest in one fell swoop. There's an obvious tendency toward bold colorful work from these four painters, so prepare yourself for saturation. "Cross Current" features the work of Kristin Bauer, Bill Dambrova, Jel Martinez, and Kiki Valdes. There will be an opening reception from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, April 4.
Organized by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, "Lifelike" explores everyday objects and situations with a playful flair. According to the Phoenix Art Museum website, "the work escapes the bind of brands that infiltrated the 1960s pop and slick urban movements for a sleeker, more every day feel with items often taken for granted." The show features work from an international group of 55 artists, including everyone from Andy Warhol to Ai Weiwei. It's sort of a no-brainer.