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"Accomplice" Showcases Brent Bond's Collaborative Work at Mesa Contemporary Arts

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Brent Bond's latest exhibition at Mesa Contemporary Arts might make you rethink artistic appropriation.

"Accomplice" features a selection of Bond's work from the past decade alongside some of the prints he helped bring to fruition through Santo Press, a fine art publishing company he founded in 2009.

See also: Georgia O'Keeffe Exhibition Fails to Connect with Native American Culture at Phoenix's Heard Museum

Collaboration provides the underlying theme for this exhibition, with a zoetrope in the center of the room solidifying the message by requiring actual collaboration between visitors to view a moving image.

Though most of the work on display is Bond's own, he uses pre-existing images in many of his pieces, which he deems a form of collaboration in and of itself. In his artist statement, Bond explains, "In my personal work, I appropriate existing imagery for the purpose of reinterpreting, recontextualizing, and repurposing visual information in a passive form of collaboration."

Normally, we'd be skeptical, but in the Internet age, this kind of "passive collaboration" has become the norm. (Someecards and Married to the Sea come to mind.)

Furthermore, what Bond creates with these repurposed images is a delight. The artist's craftsmanship is impressive -- we were particularly fond of a series of works that had been laser-engraved in birch plywood. But on top of that, the content of the work is clever, easily navigating the waters between whimsy and sincerity.

The only minor complaint we have about the show is that it seemed jam-packed. We would have been happy to see more space between the work so viewers really would be able to give each piece the individual consideration it deserves.

That said, Accomplice provided a nice frame for comparing Bond's collaboration with local artists at Santo Press and his collaboration with unknown artists in the repurposed imagery of his own art practice. It's definitely a show worth checking out.

The closing reception for Accomplice will take place Friday, February 14, from 7 to 10 p.m. at Mesa Contemporary Arts. There will be musical entertainment, light refreshments, and a cash bar. Admission is free. The exhibition will remain on view through Sunday, February 23.

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