UAC: Urban Artists Collective Makes Debut

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Since February, a group of artists in central Phoenix has hosted workshops, presentations, and art-making functions. They're called the urban artists collective and their debut exhibition is up at Willo North Gallery until the end of July.

Uac is the latest collective to hit the Phoenix arts scene. With collectives like five15 Arts and eye lounge paving the way, founders Patricia Sahertian and Todd Daniel started the collective earlier this year.

The difference between a show by an arts collective versus the traditional gallery show is that these artists are typically "up and coming." Collectives rely on the contributions (both time and money) of their members. Using strength in numbers, a collective can promote their own art -- DIY-style.

Uac hosts monthly functions and invites participants to make art using prescribed techniques (collage, gocco printing, silk painting, and more). Some gatherings incorporate cleverly-titled themes like "Prints Charming: The Art of Gocco" and "From the Ashes: Visions of Phoenix." Check their blog for posts about previous events.

This group debut exhibition displays pieces made at the collective's gatherings and features additional works by seven uac members: JA Jure, Jill Lawrence, Shari Bombeck, Todd Daniel, Jacob Sahertian, Patricia Sahertian, and Kristin Shears.

Visitors can expect to see small collages filled with nostalgic imagery -- like cuttings from sewing patterns, receipts, and fortune cookie fortunes -- by Shari Bombeck. Another notable series by Jacob Sahertion showed off visceral, sharp-edged block prints with simple subject matter. The crudely rendered figures are reminiscent of German Expressionist woodblock prints and are downright confrontational. And the three foot-long string of medallion-like tiny portraits, rendered in a meticulous drawing style by Todd Daniel, will keep eyes busy for hours.

With such a mish-mash of work, the show's collection comes from all over the place -- not that this is a bad thing. In fact, the individual artists' works provide visual context alongside the mix of group projects. After looking at the series of small collages by Bombeck, it was easy to pick hers out of a line-up of post cards that the collective created during a group meeting. The same holds true for the others -- it's a memorable introduction to many of the artists.

The show opened this past Friday during the First Friday art walk. Even though the Willo Gallery sits outside the main drags on Roosevelt Street and Grand Avenue, the opening had a healthy stream of visitors -- even Crafty Chica, a.k.a Kathy Cano-Murillo made it.

Uac's debut art exhibition hangs until the end of July at Willo North Gallery, 2811 North 7th Avenue. To find out more about uac visit urbanartistscollective.wordpress.com.

Full Disclosure: uac founder Todd Daniel and member Robrt Pela are freelancers for the Phoenix New Times.

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