The Farmer and the Belle

Phoenix artists Carrie Marill and Matt Moore, both 29, couldn't be more different from each other -- on the surface, anyway. She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area; he grew up on a farm in Waddell. He is a fourth-generation farmer known for plowing floor plans of tract houses into 40-acre barley fields; she is known for making intimate, elegant paintings of furniture and fake plants. The husband and wife share their lives and their studio space on Grand Avenue, and they also share an interest in making art about how our acquisitive natures get the better of us.

So, Carrie, why did you paint a picture of socks?
Carrie: Those belonged to the Duke of Windsor. They were sold at a Sotheby's auction of the Windsor estate. I saw the catalogue for the auction, and I was just amazed at all the stuff for sale. It was such personal stuff. I couldn't believe [the Windsors] didn't have family for this to go to. These items aren't really that great, but people paid very high prices for them anyway because they belonged to someone famous, and because winning became more important than the object.

And there's an award ribbon stuck on the sock painting because . . .
Carrie: The ribbons are a symbol of winning. I had the ribbons specially made. That's the Duke of Windsor's seal on them.

Why there's wheat hanging upside down from their studio ceiling:
Matt: The wheat field is the archetypal vision of agriculture. That's what you think of when you think of farming: amber waves of grain. Now, development has made farming the frontier. This is my vision about what it'll be like when the farm is gone: wheat on ceilings, wheat on top of skyscrapers.

Plows are a whole lot bigger than paintbrushes.
Matt: My major tools are all at our shop [at the farm west of Phoenix]. When I make one of my fields, I till the land with [large] equipment, but the actual planting is done the old-school way. I use an Earthway push planter from Johnny's Seeds. I get a stick and plant seeds with it, too. I have to be precise, and it's easier to do that with small tools.

If your attention span is short, don't be a farmer.
Matt: I've done a video that was a nine-minute shot of an irrigation canal with water coming out, and people were like, "Oh, God, I can't take it." But that's farming. It's slow. I asked somebody, "How long do you think it takes to grow a carrot?" They're like, "30 days?" 180 days. That's how long it takes to grow a carrot.

Why the couple will not be buying a house in Verrado.
Carrie: I did a series [of paintings] about the parks developers put up for kids to play in. It got me thinking about control, and about how much control these planned communities have over people. You play here, you can't play over there. You can plant a tree here, but not there . . . That much control can't be good.

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Leanne Potts