Visual Arts

Forever Young

A 21st birthday usually means bar-hopping, endless rounds of shots, and plenty of post-partying puke. Thankfully, Lisa Sette decided to skip the debauchery and celebrate her 21st year in business with "7+7+7=21 Summer Group Show," in which an excellent medley of artwork is displayed by 21 of her gallery's represented artists.

Sette has seen it all, and survived it, managing to create an outpost for exceptional artists in an art scene (downtown Scottsdale) littered with howling coyotes and Kokopelli. Other galleries followed suit, and while a Scottsdale art walk isn't the iconoclastic carnival you'll see on a First Friday in downtown Phoenix, significant work is shown by galleries like Art One, Bentley, g2, Chiaroscuro and, of course, the standard bearer, Lisa Sette Gallery. So, it is fitting that Sette (who could pass — from across the room, at least — for 21) celebrates with a show including work by Mayme Kratz, James Turrell, and William Wegman.

Unusual sculptures by Jessica Joslin are particularly engaging because she uses real animal bones along with hair, glass, leather, and brass hardware to construct animal forms. Callisto is a lively cat, crouched and playfully gazing up with glass eyes wedged in the eye sockets of a skull. The body and legs are made from brass decorative drawer handles and other hardware that create a sleek feline figure. The skeletal grin holds a two-headed bird complete with teeny skulls and brass wings. It sounds hideous and a bit morbid, but the convincing gesture she creates emanates a lifelike quality. It looks ready to spring into some cute kitty action in spite of its ghastly bones and heavily bolted joints.

Blue Picasso by RES is absolutely stunning. Here, the photographer pays homage to Picasso's Woman in Chemise. A young woman — brunette, thin and pale — stands against a midnight-blue backdrop. Her supple lips are covered in deep burgundy and she is draped in a gauze-like fabric that reveals the outline of her breasts, partially exposed through the fabric's loose weave. She is poised and faces the camera with eyes closed. She seems to come from a place of solitude, not merely on display for a voyeuristic gaze. The piece is absolutely gorgeous and, sexual proclivities aside, I would gladly stare at this chick for the rest of my life.

By far, the most entertaining work was the video installation by Gregory Sale called Looking for Yoko Ono. A horizontal line of white dots against a black background explodes into a wild dance on the wall, reacting to the sounds of Sale's phone conversations. The genesis for the installation was a piece of Ono's work that Sale saw in 2002 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. For that piece, Ono placed a phone on a shelf with a text panel that read, "If the phone rings, answer it, and speak with Yoko Ono." On occasion, Ono would call, and if a patron answered, the two would speak.

Somehow, Sale got hold of the phone number and began to call once a day. He begins every call with, "Hello, I'm looking for Yoko Ono." What follows is a series of conversations with museum-goers that are full of clever quips, giggly confusion, and, sometimes, intelligent conversation about Ono's art pieces. It's a wonderful tribute to an influential artist and a playful poke at museum culture.

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Lilia Menconi
Contact: Lilia Menconi