So many of the businesses along Marshall Way -- until recently the heart of Scottsdale's arts district -- are shuttered, with "Space Available" signs in windows seeming to outnumber still going concerns. Still, it was well worth the trip for last night's weekly art walk.
Old standbys still are drawing in some art lovers, like Art One Gallery, Craig Foote's ongoing labor of love specializing in work by students from Arizona universities and community colleges, as well as emerging and local artists. Art One fills an important, nay critical, niche for young student artists who usually have only a snowball's chance in hell of being shown by your typical mainstream gallery. I have my eye on one of Foote's artists, Ryan Pfeiffer, right now, whose quirky, enigmatic drawing/paintings have caught my eye, so I'll be going back to study them in more depth.
Another long-timer, Bentley Gallery did seem to be hoppin' and boppin' with people lured inside by its Keith Haring show. Haring's work, which was once cool in the 80s, really feels very dated now. That's the problem with too many exhibitions Bentley has mounted recently-- they seem to concentrate on old, now staid stuff that seems recycled, petrified in art history or certified over-the-couch decorative, rather than offering anything explosively different.
Crowds were down at Lisa Sette Gallery, which was showing "don't follow me, i am lost too," Enrique Chagoya's latest mixed media pieces, in the front room and a video installation entitled "Teleprompter" by Eduardo Gil in the back room.
Born and raised in Mexico City, but now living in California, Chagoya always manages to deftly mix images plucked from historic and current art, culture and events to make his wry points about foibles, perceptions and idiosyncrasies plaguing American life. In Illegal Alien's Guide to Political Theory, one of Chagoya's classic pre-Columbian-style codices on amate (mulberry bark) paper, he seems to have taken on our perverse fixation with illegal immigration in a way in which Sheriff Joe Arpaio would thoroughly disapprove.
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Gil's "Teleprompter" video really struck a deep personal chord in me, as it reminded me of my own mother's serious hearing problems, which force her to lip-read. Introduced to the work of this Venezuelan artist by Phoenix-based curator Beverly Adams, Sette is showing Gil's 52-minute video, which features a deaf man watching footage of people being interviewed at a Washington D.C. political rally in 2004, as if he were reading from a teleprompter.
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The net effect is painful to watch, as the deaf man catches only snatches of what is being said, giving entirely new meaning to the old cliché about words falling on deaf ears, as well as to the whole idea of reportage and editing from a particular perspective.
On a lighter note, Cervini Haas Gallery has moved from Marshall Way into smaller quarters on Fifth Avenue. Be assured that its physical downsizing has in no way affected the gallery's good taste, which is on full display in "Palimpset," an exhibition of delicate fiber wall sculptures by Marian Bijlenga, who hails from the Netherlands. Bijlenga's gorgeous and intricate work is crafted from hundreds of component parts made of fabric and dyed horsehair, most of which are individually connected by singular pieces of thread that, when lit, dramatically pop the work three-dimensionally.
These intriguing works evoke any number of associations, including teeming cellular landscapes and other moving and breathing organic structures that seem to crawl frenetically over the gallery's pristine white walls.