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Halt Gallery Debuts "Roaming with Abandon" at Modified Arts in Phoenix

When the arts blog Hyperallergic included brick-and-mortar galleries in its list of the 20 most powerless people in the art world, Becky Nahom and Julia Bruck took it to heart.

The two women hoped to pursue their love of art without the constraints of the traditional gallery model. So they got creative.

This month the curating duo debuts Halt Gallery -- a gallery without a permanent physical space.

See also: "From the Sidelines" at ASU's Night Gallery Won't Leave You Warming the Bench

Nahom and Bruck met in an exhibitions class at ASU, where they embarked upon their first curation project together: a small display case of sketch books in the lobby of ASU the art building. Since then, Nahom has been curating like crazy with shows at the Night Gallery and Bragg's Pie Factory in the last year.

This October, the pair teamed up again for a show, which presented the work of Danielle Hacche and Jenni Pirmann, at Eye Lounge. "Cluster/ Scatter" revolved around the artists use of color and shape -- Hacche for abstract purposes and Pirmann for figurative. After curating this show together, Nahom and Bruck decided to make things official.

As Halt Gallery, Nahom and Bruck are working together to curate shows across the Valley. A big part of the new venture is pairing art and art spaces, Nahom says. "Not all art is meant to hang in an art gallery," she says.

"We both have a toe in public art," Bruck says. "I think it affects how both of us think about displaying work."

The pair hopes to take on more work with alternative spaces over time, cementing the idea that traditional gallery space is not the only path to experiencing art. But for now, they are focusing on local galleries and artists. Though they don't have anything solidified quite yet, they are working on a nationally juried exhibition for the new year.

With Nahom's background in studio art and Bruck's in art history, they've got the arts spectrum pretty well covered. But their artistic sensibilities are quite similar, making it easy to work together, Bruck says.

The first official Halt Gallery show opened Friday, November 15, at Modified. "Roaming with Abandon" includes the work of four artists: Jonathan Cross, Kerstin Dale, William LeGoullon, and Rossitza Todorova.

Though the artists work in distinctly different media, they are all in some way influenced by their environment, says Nahom. For instance, Dale's wooden sculptures are inspired by the Colorado river tours she leads in the Grand Canyon, and Todorova's pieces reflect her travels in urban areas.

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The formal relationships between the work are also a large part of what holds the show together (as in many of Nahom's previous curating endeavors). The tire tracks in LeGoullon's photograph Man on Dune are a clear echo of the curved lines in Dale's sculptures.

The pairing of the four artists is refreshing and unexpected. And thanks to Halt Gallery, the work is nicely balanced.

Halt Gallery's exhibition "Roaming with Abandon" will be on view at Modified Arts through December 14. Stop by for the closing reception next First Friday, December 6, from 6 to 9 p.m.. For more info, visit www.haltgallery.com or the Facebook event page.

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