Not Just For Refrigerators Anymore: May Magnet Month at SMoCA

By Joseph Golfen

Art is all about trying new things. Artists at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art on Thursday stuck to that concept as they explored the relatively untapped potential of magnets. Local art groups such as Alpha Monster Art Collective, Spraygraphics and Consp!re turned out for the launch party of May Magnet Month at SMoCA. Also in attendance was the Denver-based Magnet Mafia, which deals primarily in the medium of magnetism.

Click to see more photos from the event in our slide show: May Magnet Month at SMoCA

The beginning of May has been marked before by the arrival of guest-created magnets lining the metal outside of the SMoCA building, but this is the first year that an official “launch party” kicked off the festivities.

“We’ve done the magnets in May for the past couple of years, but this year I’m putting a little life into it,” says Kenny Barrett, community outreach assistant for the museum and the primary coordinator of the event.

“People have been very receptive to it. We’re getting artists in from other cities now, and the whole thing is continuing to grow,” Barrett says. “I think this could be the start of a big thing.”

The entryway to the museum was crowded with artists sticking up their work, while others sat creating magnets. A large interior wall became an ever-changing canvas, as guests added their own masterpieces to the mix, all centered around a large piece by the Magnetic Mafia.

“We use magnets as a form of street art,” says Mafia member Matt Feeney. “We first started with the magnets, because if someone realizes something they see is a magnet, then they’re free to take it, throw it higher or do whatever with it.”

Feeney and his cohort Harrison Nealey used their magnetic force to assemble a series of spray-paint cans, arranged in rows reaching as high as the ceiling. They also unveiled a 10-by-18 foot magnetic painting, which they hung tight to the brushed metal walls of the sleek museum.

“This kind of art forces people to be a little more aware of their urban environment. Makes them look at everything differently, and maybe wonder if they can take it, “ says Feeney with a smile.

For more on Magnet Mafia, check out this blog entry and slide shows from the Denver Westword.

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Jonathan McNamara