Pushing Paint Around SMoCA's Summer Reception

By Joseph Golfen

The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art opened its slick glass doors to the public for a special engagement on Friday, May 16. SMoCA’s Summer Reception introduced two of the museum’s upcoming summer shows while displaying pieces from the permanent collection.

“This is sort of our offerings for the summer,” says museum director Susan Krane. “It’s a chance for people to see what we have coming up next and to see some of our permanent collection that hasn’t been on display for a while.”

Museum goers gathered in one of the museum’s large rooms to listen to local artists talk about their pieces, some of which have been in the collection for many years, but aren’t always on display.

“It’s interesting to see a painting I haven’t seen in a while, because when I paint I try to put what’s going on in my life into the painting, so it’s fun to see an old one and kind of reminisce,” says local painter Sue Chenoweth. Her piece Fragile like Foliage is in the permanent collection at SMoCA.

The centerpiece of Friday’s opening was the museum’s newest exhibit; a two- room exhibition of California artist Pae White, entitled Lisa, Bright and Dark. SMoCA is the first major American museum to host White’s work which has been widely shown abroad.

“For this exhibition, I really wanted to work with the museum’s architecture,” says White. “I wanted to get the works in and see what I could do to make the space the most interesting and beautiful. But ultimately, the art is triggered by the viewers.”

Lisa, Bright and Dark features a great number of White’s stellar graphic design pieces, including newspaper art and classical music posters, all of which applied an artful eye to otherwise mundane subjects.

The exhibit also included some of White’s larger, more daring work. One room was filled with colorful shapes dangling from shimmering nylon strings, giving the work a fluid, engaging look. White also created enormous digital tapestries with the help of a family of loomers, including a very large tapestry of flowing smoke drifting from a lit spoon.

“With the tapestries, I liked the idea of something trying to be something else,” says White. “The smoke is an extension of that. I liked the idea of something so transient and fluid represented by something as robust and practical as cotton thread.”

Susan Krane says she is very pleased to be hosting White’s work at the museum. “Pei’s work is all about visual pleasure and it is simply magical,” says Krane. “ It’s probably the most singularly beautiful show we’ve ever done.”

The permanent collection show, entitled Pushing Paint Around, as well as Lisa, Bright and Dark, will be on display until September 7. The Museum will also be hosting the work of twenty artists in Branded and On Display, which explores how advertising and branding shapes our lifestyles, opening June 14.

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