Aerial Photography Exhibitions in Metro Phoenix: The Good, The Bad, and the Must-See

Apparently, Phoenicians are all about rising above this month. We couldn't tell you exactly why the Valley is suddenly flush with aerial photography shows, but the change in perspective is a welcome breath of fresh air all the same.

Don't get overwhelmed. We're here to help you navigate these exhibitions to pick your best options for getting high (art) before the end of summer arrives.

See also: "From the Sidelines" at ASU's Night Gallery Won't Leave You Warming the Bench Group Photography Exhibition "What Are We Doing Here?" Opens at Modified Arts July 19

The Good David Maisel's "Black Maps" at SMoCA

David Maisel has garnered national and international recognition for his series of photographs depicting developmental effects on the natural landscape of the Southwest. "Black Maps: American Landscape and the Apocalyptic Sublime" includes large-scale works that almost look like abstract paintings or alien terrains. As an artist, he approaches the subject not from an environmental activist's standpoint, but from that of a poet:

"Rather than a condemnation of a specific industry my images are intended as an aesthetic response to such despoiled landscapes," Maisel writes. "These sites are the contemplative gardens of our time, places that offer the opportunity to reflect on who and what we are collectively, as a society."

The show is compelling and relatively diverse as it includes selections of Maisel's work from 1989 to 2007. The photographs will be on display at SMoCA through September. Maisel himself is coming to the museum to discuss his work on Thursday, August 29. For more information, visit the SMoCA website.

The Bad "From Above" at Phoenix Art Museum

Phoenix Art Museum's Norton Photography Gallery has some truly impressive programming for photography enthusiasts. That being said, the latest exhibition "From Above" didn't strike us as being particularly earth shattering. The show is a pretty good survey of the work that has been done with aerial views over the years; it includes the photographs of over 20 artists including important figures like Albert Stevens, W. Eugene Smith, and William Garnett. But the amount of ground covered felt almost overwhelming at times.

Don't get us wrong, if you already have an interest in photography, go check this one out for sure. But for casual art enthusiasts, we don't suggest making this your top priority.

You can check out the exhibition through September 22 at the Phoenix Art Museum. For more information, visit the Phoenix Art Museum website.

The Must-See "Heliopolis" at Night Gallery

It turns out the one aerial photography show you really can't miss while it's on view this month isn't really even aerial photography in the traditional sense. In his latest exhibit at Night Gallery, recent ASU MFA graduate Daniel Leivick has combined satellite images to create his own imagined city Heliopolis.

At first glance, it's hard to tell that the photographs are compilations. Leivick creates a world that's similar to our own, but some elements appear a little bit off. It's a jarring effect.

"We live in a particularly revolutionary period, one in which technology is driving fundamental shifts in social perspective," Leivick writes. "These shifts are moving society away from the point of view of the individual, as seen in the perspective of traditional photography, and toward something new: a visual system in which machine vision and algorithmic sorting dominate the way that the world is perceived."

We think he has a point. "Heliopolis" will be on view at the Night Gallery through September 1. For more information, visit the Night Gallery Facebook page.

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