"The Joe and Jan Show" Canceled by Owner of Willo North Gallery in Phoenix

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If you had planned to see The Joe and Jan Show at Willo North Gallery this Friday, you'll need to come up with a Plan B.

The exhibition, curated by Robrt Pela (who, full disclosure, also contributes to New Times), was canceled this morning by the gallery owner, Kristin Shears.

See also: - Robrt Pela on Curation and the Phoenix Art Scene - Artlink Launches Third Friday "Collectors Tours"

Pela says he received an email from Shears after he had told Shears he would be resigning at the end of March, when the Joe and Jan show was deinstalled. Shears, Pela says, told him that there would be no show.

"Three days before an opening for a show that was put on the schedule and has been in the works for more than eight months is not the time to cancel that opening," says Pela. "But I suppose everyone has their own agenda."

Pela has curated exhibitions in the space for two and a half years, and says for the Joe and Jan show, he commissioned 23 pieces and planned to show two pieces that had been previously created by Jeff Falk, Annie Lopez, Eric Cox, Irma Sanchez, Kristin Bauer, and Peter Bugg (to name a few).

The show was inspired by a portrait of Sheriff Joe Arpaio painted by Eric Cox (which you might have spotted at this year's Chaos Theory at Legend City Studios). Pela says he began to notice artwork created by local artists in a variety of media that reflected the two infamous characters and their antics.

The curator also noted that he didn't receive any indication that Shears' decision was based on the show's content matter, but was a decision made after he had submitted his resignation.

While all 25 pieces are currently hanging in the gallery, according to Pela, the doors will not be open on Friday. Instead, Pela plans to relocate the show (he's already heard from more than 10 local galleries who would be willing to host since he announced the cancelation this morning) and has future plans of independent curating.

Pela posted on Facebook this morning: "Please spread the word: Willo North Gallery has unceremoniously cancelled my exhibit, THE JOE AND JAN SHOW. This exhibit, therefore, will not be opening this First Friday. I'm sorry -- especially for all the artists who spent weeks and months creating new work especially for this show. I will find a new venue for this exhibit and hope to open it elsewhere in March. In the meantime, I apologize."

Shears declined to comment, and directed us to her lawyer, Jason Kelly, who has not returned our calls.

Stay tuned for more details.

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