We spotted most of March's best artworks in and around downtown Phoenix, although there was good art to be had around the rest of the Valley, too. Artists delivered intriguing works in diverse media, using traditional materials such as wood and fabric, but also less common ones such as handcuffs and seed pods. Several artists addressed social justice issues, from transgender rights to mass incarceration. And all added a little something extra to the Valley's evolving arts scene. Here's a look back at 10 of our favorites.
Let Them Eat Snake
Roy Wasson Valle put a new spin on the familiar expression "let them eat cake" — leaving viewers to wonder about the snake, a creature rich in diverse symbolism within various cultures, atop his meticulously iced confectionery sculpture. Created with Yarnell Red Oak, polymer clay, epoxy, and paint, this piece was featured in a recent exhibition at Grant Street Studios.
These digitally-manipulated portraits of gender-bending individuals were created by Hailey Tang, a member of an ASU artist book coalition called A-Buncha-Book-Artists (or ABBA, for short). Recently, they were featured in an exhibition of artist books at Burton Barr Central Library.
Trois Temps 16
One of many mixed-media works included in the recent Pascal Pierme solo exhibition "Verve" at Calvin Charles Gallery, this piece reflects the artist's focus on lightness, simplicity, and color. For this exhibition, he combined architecture, landscape, nature, and sensuality — hoping to inspire the sort of unexpected delight that comes from finding an intriguing mix of disparate objects at a garage sale.
Careful observers may have spotted these works while exploring Modified Arts' "Unity Through States of Being" exhibition. They're two of four pieces Modified showed by renowned artist, activist, and psychologist Mel Roman, who died in 2002 at his Scottsdale home. Last year, his work was featured in "Mel Roman: Coming Out Under Fire" at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.
As I Cannot Write
Shannon Ludington created this silk embroidery on hand-woven linen work during 2016 durational performances tied to the "Energy Charge: Connecting to Ana Mendieta" at ASU Art Museum. It recreates a sampler created by a 19th century woman, who used embroidery to recount her rape. Most recently, this Ludington piece was featured in "New Art Arizona" at Shemer Art Center.
Read on for the best works we saw at Lisa Sette Gallery, Bentley Gallery, and The Hive.
Sea of Life Triptych
With a series of three paintings that form a single scene spanning this triptych, Fortoul Brothers Gabriel and Isaac continue their exploration of natural and spiritual realms, prompting viewers to reflect on the mutual interdependence of sea, sky, animals, and human life. Sea of Life #1, #2, and #3 were shown during the Art d'Core Gala at Bentley Projects on March 16.
Agave Pod Vase
Ceramic artists Michael and Christine Adcock of Santa Barbara, California, showed this piece during the Scottsdale Arts Festival. It's a hand-thrown and altered, pit-fired stoneware vase inlaid with dyed seeds pods of the Blue Agave (also called the Century Plant). The foot and rim were created with dyed Lechuguilla fiber.
For her "Labels" exhibition at Bentley Gallery, Denise Yaghmourian created dozens of yarn sculptures, each sewn with a different label reflecting the human propensity to label not only others, but also oneself. Most compelling is her piece labeled "Rapist," which prompts reflection on whether and when labels are ever acceptable — as well as who society charges with the power to label, and ways labels impact lifelong identity.
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This mural installation piece was part of Jeff Slim's recent "Born Under Punches" exhibition at The Hive, which also included several paintings exploring women's power and action amid societal hierarchies and political challenges.
For his newest series, Brooklyn-based Kambui Olujimi created this installation of adorned handcuffs that "act as lyrical drawings to highlight the plight of mass systemic incarceration and the ties between those caught within a cycle they cannot escape." It's featured in the "Tell Me Why, Tell Me Why, Tell Me Why (Why Can't We Live Together?)" exhibition that continues through April 29 at Lisa Sette Gallery.