Here's the Best Art We Saw in Metro Phoenix in August 2016

If you weren't out exploring the metro Phoenix arts scene last month, you missed some impressive offerings — including drawings, paintings, sculpture, jewelry, and installation art. Here's a look at 10 of our favorites pieces spotted in August at spaces including galleries, a library, a local community college, and even the airport. 

de la Agente Federales y el Rojo, la Emperatriz
Claudo Dicochea

Dichochea's de la Agente Federales y el Rojo, la Emperatriz (of Federal Agent and Red, the Empress) was featured in a recent exhibition titled "Claudio Dicochea: Forbidden Futures" at Lisa Sette Gallery. The 2010 work was created with acrylic, graphite, charcoal, transfer, and wood. Inspired by a painting called De espanol y morisca, sale albino created around 1780 by an unknown artist, its central figures include Malcolm X, fictional FBI agent Dana Scully, and Darth Vader. 

There is No Hell, Only Mercy-Butterflies
David Lash

Flagstaff artist Lash was inspired to paint this acrylic on wood panel piece in 2010 after making an early spring backpacking trip in southern Arizona. Its butterflies set against ancient rocks and century-old saguaros represent "the passing of known and unknown individuals." The painting was recently featured in the "Southwestern Invitational 2015" exhibition at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, where an art gallery in terminal 4 and several exhibition cases feature rotating exhibitions.

Imaginary Flowers
Junko Kinoshita

Kinoshita's pen and acrylic on paper piece is featured in the "17th Annual Drawing Exhibition" at Scottsdale Community College, which continues through October 6 in a foyer of the art building that's routinely transformed into a gallery space featuring works in various media by student, faculty, and alumni artists. In recent years, students whose work has been exhibited there have gone on to show in other local art spaces, including Shemer Art Center and Central Gallery at Burton Barr Central Library. 

Sunset 5 and Sunset 11
Karolina Sussland

These inkjet and graphite on paper works by Karolina Sussland are part of the "Karolina Sussland + Buzzy Sullivan" exhibition that opened during August Third Friday and continues through September 10 at Modified Arts, a gallery space that's also home to Local First Arizona. They're part of a series created using Google-sourced cloud imagery with "supersaturated" historical desert images culled from issues of Arizona Highways magazine, which convey a utopian vision of Arizona's desert environments.

Juegos Fronteras: Swing Set Penitentiary
Angel Cabrales

Texas artist Angel Cabrales, who holds a BFA in sculpture from ASU, created this installation exploring border-related issues through the prism of a prison-like children's playground. This 2013 mixed media piece was recently featured in his "Delineation" exhibition at monOrchid's Shade Gallery. The installation was created to highlight limitations placed on youth and future generations by creating borders in settings that rely on the free flow of cultures. 

Closer Than You Think
Denise Fleisch

One of many paintings by Scottsdale artist Denise Fleisch, this piece recently made the journey from Roosevelt Row to Old Town Scottsdale, where it's currently exhibited alongside fine art jewelry created by the artist who just opened his self-named V. Tixi Gallery next door to Tilt Gallery. Fleisch lost her Lotus Contemporary Art gallery in downtown Phoenix at the end of August after the building that housed it was sold, but will be showing works at V. Tixi Gallery through November, and again next spring.

Fragmented Self
Michelle Startzman

Phoenix artist Michelle Startzman, who hails from Tucson and holds an MFA in metals from ASU, created this sterling silver, copper, brass, and enamel piece in 2013. Startzman uses photographs, microscopic forms, and layering to create forms representing unknown identities, which are meant to explore the complexities of relationships. It was featured in the "Artists: In Residence" exhibition of works recently presented by Rhetorical Galleries in ASU's Harry Wood Gallery.

Frank Gonzales

Tempe artist Frank Gonzales was born in Mesa, where he's now a preparator at Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum. Adaptation, an acrylic painting created in 2012, is one of the artist's many works inspired by desert life and natural forms — including birds, flowers, and cactus. Classically trained in painting at Mesa Community College, he recalls being inspired at a young age by "the unbelievable stillness and separation" of taxidermy birds in natural history museums. This piece was recently featured in "Frank Gonzales: A Vivid Gaze" presented by Scottsdale Public Art and Scottsdale Public Library in the Appaloosa Library exhibition space. 

Christy Puetz

Christy Puetz, a Phoenix artist who creates elaborately beaded creatures inspired by mythological settings and historical events, was recently featured in the "Hare" exhibition at Practical Art. The exhibition included more than a dozen works described by the art space as "tactile stories made of tiny glass beads." Puetz's works for this exhibition were inspired by the novel Watership Down, which explores themes of loss and youth. 

WOP 2-00633, WOP 2-00634, and WOP 2-00638
Hiro Yokose: New Work

Born in Nagasaki, Japan, artist Hiro Yokose lived and worked for many years in New York City before returning last year to Japan. He's been represented for more than two decades by Bentley Gallery, which continues its "Hiro Yokose: New Work" exhibition through September 10. Featured works include three new paintings and works on paper — including this trio revealing his nod to the Hudson River School of the mid-19th century.

Editor's note: This post has been updated from its original version to note the name of Denise Fleisch's painting Closer Than You Think.
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Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble