Interviews

Target Market

Joshua Dean Wiley, 34, has become known in local galleries for his serene, high-color landscapes and lively abstracts, and is a mainstay at the weekly Downtown Phoenix Public Market, held Saturday mornings at the southeast corner of Central Avenue and McKinley Street (www.phoenixpublicmarket.com). But the Iowa transplant’s work has lately been making its way into scores of homes across the land, thanks to a national distribution deal that finds his bright, metallic-tinged paintings in department stores all over the U.S.

Hey. Didn't I see that painting at Target? Target is one of my newest clients. I also have stuff in JC Penney, Bed Bath and Beyond, Linens 'n Things, and Mervyn's. I saw my art in a store the other day for the first time -- I was in Mervyn's and I turned the corner and there I was! It was very, very weird. But even though my work is being reproduced and sold in department stores, I'm still making what I make -- my paintings. It's not like they're coming to me saying, "Oh, we're looking for a painting of some garlic for our kitchen art line" or whatever.

My heart belongs to Plexi -- and no, you can't buy these at Target: The Plexiglas pieces I've been working on for the last year or so are where my heart and passion lie currently. They're these giant hanging wall sculptures, and they've been sort of developing into 3-D works that come together to represent a whole. They're selling really well, but the truth is that people love them, because if they buy one, they're getting a sculpture and a painting.

Is that a farmers' market tan? I love selling my art at the outdoor market downtown, because it gives me the one-on-one with the people who are taking home one of my paintings. It's kind of cool and kind of weird, because they'll get all excited and tell me where they're going to hang it in their house, and I don't really know what to say. "I'm so happy for you!" is usually good.

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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela