Ever since 1990, when co-owner Helen Hestenes converted this former warehouse in downtown Phoenix into a massive 30,000-square-foot art compound, she's given up space in the joint's three main rooms for every type of installation piece imaginable across numerous mediums, from sculpture and video art to interactive and performance-based pieces.
They run the gamut from the surreal and spectacular (like when members of Mexico's "X'TeReSa Alternative Art Center transformed the White Column Room in 1994 into an elaborate temple for Aztec rain god Tlaloc) to the more subtle and small-scale effort (such as Jennifer Urso's more recent, interactive Fractured Thought, which had patrons breaking fragile ceramic tile after walking across it in order to illustrate chaotic human thought processes).
Although Hestenes is often hosting local art scene regulars like Susan Copeland, Pete Deise, or Mona Higuchi, she provides opportunities for newbies to get their works in the public eye, such as a recent showcase of work by ASU students.
"The Icehouse is here for artists who want to create pieces that [are] either large-scale or exploratory, or both, since there aren't many venues in the Valley that can handle that kind of work," says Hestenes.
Thank you, Helen!
If you happen to cruise Mesa's main drag downtown, you may notice a local art scene that is kicking up and gaining a foothold with the recent opening of Windup Gallery. Owners Lindsay and Anthony Cresta have already showcased a knack for tapping into the local arts scene with their Summer "Homegrown AZ Artist Show" all the coolest graffiti artists in town coughed up some kickass works. Not only was the art punchy and colorful, but the opening night was bumpin' with scenesters from all over the Valley. Windup has gotta be doing something right if we're willing to haul our cookies to Mesa on a Saturday night.
The building now sports an oddball burnt orange and aqua paint scheme, which makes it stand out from neighbor MADE art boutique and The Lost Leaf like some funkdafied beacon. Moncrief's infamous front-lawn sculpture garden, which the photographer created from automotive and aircraft parts, has now become a bizarre open-air lounge where you can kick back in 1950s-era hair dryers.
Pacheco, a graphic designer with a flair for vintage automotive style, built a treehouse-style DJ booth in the front yard so as to rain down ambient techno beats upon visitors and other passersby. There's also an ample stage in the backyard where live bands perform. The fun isn't just limited to the monthly art walk, however, as the pair host music and performance art events throughout the rest of the month as well. Other RoRo music venues, watch your backs.
Time to hop off that stretch and hit .anti_space, a happening conglomerate of galleries, studios, and shops on the southwest corner of Fourth Street and McKinley. The place is easy to spot with its colorfully lit palm trees and a healthy heap of people milling along the sidewalk. Grassy areas have benches and lawn chairs where you can sit while adventurous types give the installed tightrope a try.
Boutiques C.O.L.A.B. and Mint always have cute indie chicks hunting for vintage goodies. Galleries Pravus, Mothball, Waldoism, Red Spade and B-Side are usually open for just the right amount of mixing to get our social jollies off, but not so packed that we smell each other's breath.
With eight different studios and galleries, Garfield Galleria offers just as much artistic action as its cousins, all contained within a single structure. Downstairs, the twin photo collectives of Gallery 8 and CHAOS serve up plenty of superior snapshots, while the Lords of Art Town provide work across several mediums including photography and installation work and Julio Romano's Statement Driven is home to his emotionally charged photos and paintings.
Upstairs, you'll find the dual spaces of abstract minimalist landscape artist Jerry Van Wyngarden and his wife, illustrator Carole Hanks.
Don't starve for their art. Refreshment can be found nearby at the Willow House, Zoës Kitchen, and My Florist. What's not to love?