Visual Arts

How Long Can Art One Hold On?

It's been a year since I sat at Art One Gallery in Scottsdale with a Cornish Rex cat sleeping on my lap. And on a recent visit to check in with owner Kraig Foote, history repeated itself — thankfully. A year ago, Foote didn't think Art One would stay open much longer. But he, along with a handful of other Marshall Way gallery owners, have hung on in spite of the area's lack of synergy.

On July 9, Art One will live to see yet another annual Summer Spectacular Art Walk.

The gallery's ambiance is almost the same as it was last year. Vibrant paintings and sculpture crawl throughout the space. Artsy folks of all ages wander among the works as Foote cheerfully greets walk-ins. This year, however, there are fewer people — and Foote looks exhausted.

"I've never seen so many people come in and say goodbye. A lot of people have lost their companies, their business, their homes," says Foote, who, at 46, is still rockin' his scraggly, long locks, giant earplug gauges, and facial piercings.

To keep Art One's doors open, Foote neglected his house payments and will watch his home go to auction next month. He hauled 200 pieces from his private collection into the gallery and sold them to pay his already reduced rent.

And he's not the only one on Marshall Way who's had to sacrifice. Just in the past year, Hernandez Contemporary Fine Art, artspace, Rob Burns Gallery, Eric Firestone Gallery, and Clark & Clark closed. As of press time, Cervini Hass Gallery was set to close by early July. g2 Gallery and Cline Fine Art both moved to Stetson Drive and restaurants Fine's Cellar and the ultra-hipster vegan spot Mandala Tea Room both called it quits in the past three months.

Still, the weekly Art Walk continues and downtown Scottsdale will host the Summer Art Spectacular next Thursday, as scheduled. According to Kathy Duley, president of the Scottsdale Gallery Association, about 100 businesses in the Scottsdale Arts District will participate.

Art One's neighbor, Lisa Sette Gallery, will be open for business on July 9 and plans to stay that way. Having been around for more than 23 years, the gallery has loyal local, national, and international followings. The gallery has scaled back its participation in art fairs and has extended a couple of shows to compensate for the economy's slump, but Sette, thankfully, is confident in the gallery's future.

A piece of art at Sette can run into the tens of thousands. (Trust me, it'll be worth it.) Art One, on the other hand, offers works from under $100 to a max of $1,500. Foote and his staff specialize in discovering young and/or inexperienced artists and focus on helping build those artists' careers.

Art One will put its best foot forward on July 9, displaying the best works by its usual roster of artists, hand-picked by Kraig Foote.

Oil painter Camille Hoffman, just 22, already has her collection up and will continue to show through July. Her painterly, dream-like canvases dominate the north space of the gallery. Using a ruddy, earthy palette, Hoffman focuses on striking portraits and scenes of everyday life. My favorite is Vanessa. It's a simple headshot of a young woman, her hair is pulled back to display heavy hoop earrings. Hoffman's brushwork is loose and spontaneous — exaggerating the woman's nose, eyes and cheekbones. Vanessa glares out of the frame with a menacing brow and a subtle snarl. She's strong, cautious and totally mesmerizing.

Keith Stanton, one of my favorite local photographers, is set to feature a collection of images for July 9. Stanton creates miniature sets of summertime backyard scenes — like the ones you'd find in a fancy dollhouse. He shoots them close-up in pristine focus. Flezivle Financing is an image of a wood-paneled spa in a fenced lawn. At first glance, it looks like the real thing. But then, as one investigates, it's obvious that the grass is just a little too green, the folded white towel isn't floppy enough and the blue water in the spa is just a crumpled sheet of plastic. Stanton's work is tricky on the eyes, for sure. And he's clearly commenting on the falsehood of these suburban symbols of "the nice life."

The latest work by Coronado High School art teacher, Chad Knapp will be showing as well. Knapp creates stark, pen and ink drawings of ironic and often sarcastic subject matter — like a police car chasing a racing horse, a SWAT team rushing a suitcase record player, or a totem pole with jet blasters propelling it into space. The images are isolated by long stretches of negative space creating an endless narrative.

New works by abstract artist Susan Osborne, who creates tranquil, colorful geometric paintings, will make their debut, as will a lively new collection of mixed-media art from the kids at New School for the Arts & Academics, a Tempe charter school.

I've got fingers crossed that Kraig Foote, his Cornish Rex, and his gallery are still around the next time I visit Marshall Way.

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Lilia Menconi
Contact: Lilia Menconi