Artist Eric Cox Feels Hecho en Phoenix

Best of Phoenix hits newsstands Sept. 26. In conjunction with this year's Vintage Phoenix theme, New Times is collaborating with R. Pela Contemporary Art to present "Hot Plate!" It's an exhibition of one-of-a-kind, Phoenix-inspired commemorative plates made by local artists. Leading up to the show's Oct. 4 opening, we're profiling each of the contributing artists and visiting their studios. Today: Eric Cox.

You'll need a weed wacker to get to the front door of painter Eric Cox's historic district home, every room of which doubles as a studio for the artist. Along with artwork, Cox's dining room sports a bed used mostly as a work table; the bedroom is a workshop/painting area neatly crammed with tools and spray paint cans, and, amid the visual overload, he's eked out a real seating area in the front room of his charming 1920s abode.

See also: Hot Plate! Best of Phoenix Commemorative Collaboration Opens Oct. 4 at R. Pela Gallery

Cox's work currently can be seen in "Silver Blue: New Work on Old Age by Eric Cox and Constance McBride" at R. Pela Contemporary Art through the month of September. The artist takes on the vagaries of physical and mental aging in the series of images on display, which features haunting portraits of elderly people painted on pages taken from highly graphic medical and nursing texts illustrating step-by-step invasive medical procedures to which the elderly and infirm are routinely subjected.

What's your earliest memory of Phoenix? I remember going to a gallery in Trinity Cathedral on 3rd Avenue and Roosevelt. I came here to Phoenix to visit my sister around 2002. It was the reason I decided to move to Phoenix because someone from the New Times interviewed me at the show about this event I was at -- First Friday. I rode around on a bus and they dropped me off at galleries and I had wine and cheese. I thought, "Amazing," but then maybe it wasn't so amazing after I got here.

What inspired your plate for this show? My original idea was that I would actually melt the plate - a Phoenix commemorative plate. That's harder than you think. I tried. In the end, I've presented something that it very minimal for me. Basically, the plate is painted with "Hecho en Phoenix," in the shape of the stickers on everything imported from Mexico. It might be a little play on my Sheriff Joe piece [a painting in which Sheriff Joe Arpaio appears in a sombrero and serape]. Also, I kind of feel I was "made in Phoenix" -- at this point, it is so much like my home.

Phoenix needs more:  Everything -- more good art, more good food, more good music, more culture, more money, more trees.

Phoenix needs less: Whoa, that's a tough one. I just feel like it needs more of everything. Less confused people?

What's on your plate this fall?  That's a good question. I'm slowing down on having shows and concentrating on a new series of paintings to shop to New York City and maybe L.A. Hopefully, there will be a little scouting trip involved.

See Eric Cox's work when "Hot Plate!" opens October 4 at R. Pela Contemporary Art.

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