Artist Jeff Falk Merges Past and Present

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: Jeff Falk.

Jeff Falk is an artist inspired by memories, so it comes as no surprise that he spends a lot of time in thrift shops. The objects he finds there are often incorporated directly into his work, which can best be described as mixed media. But the memorabilia is also scattered about the old house that he and his wife, fellow "Hot Plate!" artist Annie Lopez, have been renovating in midtown Phoenix for the past few years. Though Falk was born in Kansas, he has made a home for himself in the Phoenix art scene, of which he's been an active member since the early 1980s.

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

Falk's artistic methodology is heavily grounded in creating intricate textural backdrops through layering of paint or collage, in an echo of the layered nature of history itself. The nostalgic undertones in his work are strong (almost overtones, really), but the connotation is not exclusively negative. In regards to his art, Falk writes, "the subject matter is sometimes dark (for memories are a mixture of dark and light, love and pain, as is our day to day living experience), yet I believe there is also a hint of hope and redemption in my work."

What's your earliest memory of Phoenix? I am so old that my earliest memory was in March 1959. I remember being downtown with my folks one spring evening. (The area of Washington and Central due east thereabouts.) There were at least two movie theatres in the downtown then, The Fox and some other place whose name escapes me. I stood looking at a movie poster for the film King Of Kings and Jeffrey Hunter was playing Jesus. I remember thinking this ain't Wichita.

What inspired your plate for this show? The plate will be a "work" of art per se so I will approach it as such. My inspiration is color, texture and the wild, contemporary, west.

Phoenix needs more: Art buyers/collectors. We have enough good artists here but having been active on the Valley cultural scene since 1983 one thing I know we need is an audience that will buy art. They should change the name from Valley Of The Sun to Valley Of The Cheapskates.

Phoenix needs less: People. Period.

What's on your plate this fall? I will be showing a large body of my work in the downtown ASU Library starting in October for a few months. Then its time for CHAOS THEORY 14, Randy Slack's annual exhibition of Phoenix' best creative/contemporary pioneers. I have been lucky enough to have participated in all of the CHAOS shows. I am donating a 10 x 10 art piece to the annual fundraiser at Mesa Contemporary Arts. In December I have a one person exhibition at The Burton Barr Library gallery downtown.

I am also a performance artist and I hope to present an evening of strangeness commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F Kennedy killed in Dallas on November 22, 1963. The event will include a shadow puppet show and some fiction/non-fiction narratives regarding that dark day and the even darker years following. So far it is scheduled to happen at The Obliq Gallery at the Arizona Center. Other than that nothing much.

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

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