The 10 Best Art Shows in Metro Phoenix in 2016

Maybe you've heard locals or long-distance friends say it's tough to find great art in Phoenix. They're wrong.

Phoenix-area museums, galleries, and other art spaces have shown stellar works during the past year. After surveying hundreds of 2016 exhibitions, we've identified 10 that stand above the rest. Our 2016 favorites include a wide range of media including ceramics, glass, found objects, film, photography, and painting, to name a few. We found them in Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, and Scottsdale. And take note: Half feature works by artists based in the Valley. Just saying.

“Rachel Bess/Charlotte Potter”
Lisa Sette Gallery
January 9 through February 27

Two young artists, Phoenix-based Rachel Bess and Virginia-based Charlotte Potter, addressed issues of personal identity and digital personae. The exhibition featured Bess’ bold oil-on-panel vanitas and still life paintings, as well as Potter’s meticulous glass-making exploring social media connections.

“(Un)Intended Targets”
Modified Arts
January 15 through February 13

By photographing target-practice objects riddled with bullet holes that were found in the desert, artist William LeGoullon explored symmetries between nature and the human experience. These objects, including a mannequin torso and heart-shaped cactus pad, convey both the destruction and reverence inherent in how people experience the wild.

"Betye Saar: Still Tickin’"
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
January 30 through May 1

Through more than 100 objects created with diverse media from found objects to neon, this Betye Saar exhibition channeled six decades of American history marked by the ongoing struggle for civil rights for people of color. But Saar’s work, comprising primarily mixed-media assemblage, is also rooted in her own autobiography and fascination with metaphysics and mysticism.

“Time Stands Still”
Gebert Contemporary
February 18 through March 19

Using ceramic columns, marked and stacked to reflect slices of time within the cycle of creation and destruction, artist Patricia Sannit explored both personal and cultural manifestations of history. By creating a band of clay, on which gallery-goers could walk to leave their own marks, Sannit paid homage to movement and migration as a requisite of human existence.

“Fortoul Brothers Phoenix”
40Owls Pop-up Gallery
March 18 through April 15

For a pop-up exhibition that included paintings, sculpture, and intriguing materials including sawdust, artists Isaac and Gabriel Fortoul explored balance in relationships, society, and the environment. Their exhibition, replete with simple human figures and natural elements from rain to fruit, beautifully conveyed the artists’ sense of gratitude for life and human connection.

Read on for more of 2016's best art shows.
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Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble