Putting good art together with names in downtown Phoenix

I’m enjoying my ascent up the learning curve as I get to know more about the downtown Phoenix art scene, and much of that enjoyment comes from matching particular galleries with particular people — and recognizing more and more names in our city’s stable of artists.

A couple of hours were well spent at the First Friday Artwalk for May 3, 2013, during which I dropped into five galleries and chatted with four Phoenix artists:

Gennaro Garcia, who was showing new drawings on paper at the Coe House. Curator Hugo Medina asked Garcia — who is well known around town and internationally for his work on the Calle 16 murals and other projects — to create something more intimate with portraits. Thus, the walls of this 1895 historic home displayed Garcia’s versions of temptresses, I guess you would call them, that were quite well done. Garcia said he hopes to open his own gallery in downtown Phoenix sometime this year.

Sean Deckert, a Phoenix-based art photographer whose work captures the interplay of light, building forms and atmospheric conditions. Deckert’s work was part of a group show at Modified Arts called “The Sky is Falling.” By the way, Deckert was just named a grant winner in the Contemporary Forum’s annual competition for emerging artists, which leads to a display of work at the Phoenix Art Museum next year.

Bryan Snider, a landscape photographer showing beautiful scenics at New City Studio. I gathered that Bryan is a bit of a storm chaser as he described how he once hurried to his car to capture some incredible lightning activity above Four Peaks.

Henry Bellavia, whose second series of paintings with plays on words was up at Five15 Arts. Ah, the whimsy in works like “Headlands,” with its gray forms taking a cue from Easter Island, along with “Foothills” showing — you guessed it — hills shaped like feet and “Heart Attack,” with a menacing heart-shape gripping a knife. Bellavia’s work seemed to be a real crowd-pleaser.

An observation about this most recent First Friday: I saw quite a few more young families than usual among the throngs, and didn’t mind sidestepping the strollers and little dawdlers. Still, I would advise families to get there on the early side.

Here’s a shout out to Raising Arizona Kids for mentioning First Friday in a May 2013 article on exploring Valley artwalks. And kudos to MonOrchid for hosting high school student Kayla Anderson and her life-size painted cow. Kayla was mustering votes for the annual Lucerne Art of Dairy competition.  Similar kudos go to Eye Lounge, which hosted kids who had built a fort out of sheets and blankets. That rekindled some memories!

Dear galleries: Sometimes you can reach out to connect youngsters with the visual arts, and hopefully create a connection that will last a lifetime.

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