The name says it all — local artist Beatrice Moore's candy-colored shop is a haven for all things kitsch. If you thought pipe cleaners and pom-pom balls were reserved for arts and crafts projects at summer camp, wait 'til you see Moore's selection of handcrafted wreaths and whimsical paintings with glued-on fuzz. Along with Moore's unique handicrafts, the shop boasts shelves of porcelain pastiches by Lugenstein, hanging tiki lanterns, and adorable, PETA-friendly taxidermy animals crafted from felt.
1500 Grand Ave., 602-252-3774
Good thing the patrons at this gallery and performance space can keep secrets, because Alwun House is almost as delightfully debaucherous as Las Vegas. Located in a historic bungalow built by drugstore owner John Sedler, the gallery hosts themed shows by local and nationally recognized artists, as well as macabre Halloween group exhibits and a titillating annual Exotic Art Show — held around Valentine's Day — that would make Cupid blush.
1204 E. Roosevelt St., 602-253-7887, alwunhouse.org
Deus Ex Machina
There's something otherworldly about this downtown gallery founded by artistic dream team Michele Bledsoe, Richard Bledsoe, Jeff Falk, and Steve Gompf. The name roughly translates to "god in the machine," a literary device whereby a plot element suddenly shows up out of nowhere to save the day. The art here is surreal, from shrines to Elvis Presley to out-there portraits and experimental-theater performances. The only constant is Deus Ex Machina's collection of antique Televisors, mechanical devices that use radio waves combined with circular disks to produce realistic moving pictures.
1023 Grand Ave. 602-487-0669, http://sites.google.com/site/improbableart
SUPPLIES ON DEMAND
Phoenix-based artist Sue Chenoweth likes to think of herself as an "unintentional" collector. Her studio is small and neat as a pin, with supplies hidden in cupboards or organized in jars and a corkboard covered in magazine cutouts and other inspiration for her whimsical pieces. But tucked away behind closed doors and spread over various storage areas are endless collections that double as potential art supplies: Letraset transfers, colored papers, partial nativity sets, and broken antique dolls collected by her world-traveling grandmother.
Toys are the most prevalent finds. One of Chenoweth's largest collections is a series of old metal dollhouses she purchased via an online auction site. Her appreciation for the tiny houses started when Chenoweth was a child and her sister owned a metal dollhouse that her parents stashed away in a closet.
"It was special, so they would only bring it down once in a while," she says.
Many years later, Chenoweth spied a similar antique dollhouse in the window of a local miniatures store, and the attraction was rekindled. Though she now owns piles of doll furniture and enough letter transfers to print an entire book, Chenoweth swears she's not a hoarder. "I covet a metal dollhouse and I end up with 15. I covet these neat pieces of Pantone paper and I get a zillion pieces!" she says. "God is giving me these little presents."