100 Creatives

Phoenix Artist Laura Spalding Best: 100 Creatives

Phoenix is brimming with creativity. And every other year, we put the spotlight on 100 of the city's creative forces. Leading up to the release of this year's Best of Phoenix issue, we're profiling 100 more. Welcome to the 2014 edition of 100 Creatives. Up today: 22. Laura Spalding Best.

Laura Spalding Best lives for landscapes. But they're not your typical rolling hills and happy trees.

The ASU alum and painter is known for her portrayals of urban settings, incorporating such elements as utility poles, traffic signage, and streetscapes into her works. In 2014, Best has shown a solo exhibition, presented by Halt Gallery and titled "7th Street to 7th Avenue," at Hot Box Gallery, on which she painted an accompanying mural, Mirage.

See also: Jorge Torres of Phoenix's Palabra Collective: 100 Creatives

Last year Best, who works as the exhibitions manager at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, won a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant to further support her creative endeavors, which currently include a series of mirage landscapes of downtown Phoenix, preparing for an upcoming solo show, and developing a proposal for a multi-building mural series.

And that's keeping her every bit as busy as you might imagine.

"My average day is full of my family and work," the 33-year-old Garfield neighborhood resident says. "On a good day I have a little time for myself in the evening to plan or make my art."

I came to Phoenix in 1999 with a scholarship to ASU and the desire to get out of Illinois.

I make art because it has always been what I am best at and what challenges me the most.

I'm most productive when I'm ready to make art. Every artist has a different process to their work, I am the type that needs to sit with ideas and concepts and let them form for a long time before I execute them. Once the concept is clear in my mind I will make several paintings in a short, intense period of time.

Deadlines are good, too.

My inspiration wall is full of I don't have one of those. My inspiration comes from moments in my daily life. I might find inspiration during a drive to work, or while making up stories with my daughter, or overhearing someone else's conversation at lunch, or while taking the time to enjoy an Arizona sunset. No matter what I am actually doing, the back of my mind is always trying to solve a problem or come up with the next thing to pursue.

I've learned most from installing other artists' work. The last eight years working in a museum have changed the way I look at my own work. Helping artists and curators realize their vision has made my own vision more clear. It's also given me a better understanding of the relationship of the viewer and the artwork and the relationship of the artwork and the space it occupies. This is how I've come to look at my paintings as installation art and not solitary images bound to standard stretched canvases.

Good work should always be memorable. I'm always looking for dynamism in artwork, whether it is in the composition, content, or a single brushstroke. Good artwork will always leave an impression on you.

The Phoenix creative scene could use more commitment. There are so many great, committed, innovative, stubborn, hard-working people and organizations here already. In order to build on that foundation and support its expansion everyone, creatives and creative supporters, needs to be all in.

See the 2014 edition of 100 Creatives:

100. Bill Dambrova 99. Niki Blaker 98. Jeff Slim 97. Beth May 96. Doug Bell 95. Daniel Langhans 94. Nanibaa Beck 93. Nicole Royse 92. Ib Andersen 91. Casandra Hernandez 90. Chris Reed 89. Shelby Maticic 88. Olivia Timmons 87. Courtney Price 86. Travis Mills 85. Catrina Kahler 84. Angel Castro 83. Cole Reed 82. Lisa Albinger 81. Larry Madrigal 80. Julieta Felix 79. Lauren Strohacker 78. Levi Christiansen 77. Thomas Porter 76. Carrie Leigh Hobson 75. Cody Carpenter 74. Jon Jenkins 73. Aurelie Flores 72. Michelle Ponce 71. Devin Fleenor 70. Noelle Martinez 69. Bucky Miller 68. Liliana Gomez 67. Jake Friedman 66. Clarita Lulić 65. Randy Murray 64. Mo Neuharth 63. Jeremy Hamman 62. La Muñeca 61. Kevin Goldman 60. Emily Costello 59. Kerstin Dale 58. Vara Ayanna 57. Nathaniel Lewis 56. Ruben Gonzales 55. Lisa Poje 54. Bobby Zokaites 53. Frances Smith Cohen 52. Julie Rada 51. David Miller 50. Xanthia Walker 49. Kyllan Maney 48. Cary Truelick 47. Constance McBride 46. James D. Porter 45. Allyson Boggess 44. Abigail Lynch 43. Ashley Cooper 42. Jaclyn Roessel 41. Brandon Boetto 40. Melissa Dunmore 39. Gavin Sisson 38. Rossitza Todorova 37. Monica Robles 36. Josh Kirby 35. Jesse Perry 34. Yai Cecream 33. Nathan Blackwell 32. Carley Conder 31. Ben Willis 30. Nicole Michieli 29. Brian Cresson 28. Tyson Krank 27. Mikey Estes 26. Anwar Newton 25. Sarah "Saza" Dimmick 24. Tato Caraveo 23. Jorge Torres

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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski