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Janel Garza's Geometric New Mural Transforms SMoCA

Janel Garza with one of her artworks for a solo exhibition in April 2018.EXPAND
Janel Garza with one of her artworks for a solo exhibition in April 2018.
Lynn Trimble

There’s a new mural at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, painted by Phoenix-based artist Janel Garza. Completed in mid-October, the mural is called Environ.

It’s located on the east-facing wall for the museum’s outdoor courtyard, adjacent to the Scrim Wall by James Carpenter and Associates, which resembles the vertical pleats of a saguaro cactus.

Environ reflects both Garza’s larger body of work, which includes wood and fiber pieces infused with playful geometries, as well as the aesthetic of its surroundings. The courtyard sits adjacent to another public art piece, a James Turrell skyspace called Knight Rise.

Like nearby works, Garza’s piece highlights desert lines and light.

It’s painted with colors named for natural elements: pine needle, stone silver, casting shadow, seaport, tan temptation, and gardening. Observers see intersecting shapes and lines in colors known more familiarly as teal, olive, peach, and gray.

“I do a lot of line work and geometric shapes,” Garza says. “I tried to incorporate the architectural elements around it.”

Phoenix-based artist Janel Garza working on her Environ mural at SMoCA.EXPAND
Phoenix-based artist Janel Garza working on her Environ mural at SMoCA.
Courtesy of Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

Environ replaces an earlier wall mural in that same location, painted by James “Dalek” Marshall in 2014. That piece was part of a larger installation called Shift, which extended into the museum store. Dalek’s Radiate installation for the museum’s SMoCA Lounge has also been replaced, by white walls that give it a clean gallery feel.

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Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art formally revealed Garza’s mural on October 26, during its fall opening celebration. In early December, Garza welcomed art students from New School for the Arts & Academics in Tempe, where Garza went to high school, to check out the piece.

It’s a fresh addition to the museum, but looks like it always might have been there.

“I really wanted it to complement the space,” Garza says.

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