Excuse the sensationalistic nature of my headline. It’s partially spurred by a January 22, 2014, story on azcentral.com reporting on Scottsdale’s efforts to bring more traffic to the Marshall Way art district. The story mentions the allotment of $150,000 to find ways to enliven the area and coax art lovers to cross Indian School Road from the bustling Main Street art district.
The story was short and under-reported, leaving me with the question, Are the half-dozen galleries on Marshall Way on the verge of extinction?
Here’s my take, for what it’s worth:
The story quoted Bentley Calverley, whose gallery on Marshall Way is sorely missed, but who has made up for that with a roomy, spectacular space just south of downtown Phoenix. She made a business decision, and unfortunately, no gallery seems willing to take over the space. But I would have liked the story to have interviewed the remaining gallery owners, who seem to be doing just fine from what I could gather during my conversations with them during last night’s Artwalk:
– Lisa Sette of the long-running Lisa Sette Gallery reminded me that the Scottsdale art district runs through cycles, and this might just be a point in time when hair salons, yoga studios and the like are taking advantage of low rents on Marshall Way while capitalizing on the downtown Scottsdale cachet. It’s not the 1980s version of Marshall Way, when the high-end Elaine Horwitch Gallery reigned supreme.
Admittedly, the Sette Gallery was quiet last night, and art lovers missed out on leading-edge work by Julianne Swartz, whose small sound sculptures and new “Stretch Drawings” series complement the large survey of her work that’s just ending its run at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Also on view is new work by Angela Ellsworth, who has been steadily gaining recognition since her fascinating 2012 show at the Phoenix Art Museum questioning her Mormon roots. Both shows remain on view until February 1, and other important shows are planned for spring, for those of you who dare to walk the three blocks from Main Street.
– Roger Paul, director of sales at Calvin Charles Gallery, told me that local art collectors have no trouble in finding his gallery; they know the gallery will be showing some of their favorite artists, including Jennyfer Stratman and Pascal. Plus, the string lights on nearby trees and the floor-to-ceiling glass front of the gallery (formerly Elaine Horwitch) always give off an inviting look. Last night, the gallery had decent traffic, and visitors admired paintings on aluminum by Jerri Lisk, geometric pieced-wood forms by Jaehyo Lee and brightly colored resin forms by Mauro Perucchetti, including the delightfully ironic “Jelly Baby Family”and the Swarovski-crystal-filled pill shapes of “Luxury Therapy.”
– Kraig Foote and I chatted a few months ago, and he seemed happy with the low-key but continued success of Art One, which just celebrated its 20th anniversary. It tends to fill its space to the brim with art, but it is largely student-made and highly affordable.
– Touchstone Gallery is a virtual museum of decorative art pieces and jewelry from minerals and fossils, with many of the most precious pieces behind glass. Last night, it was drawing a good crowd.
– Method Art was showing winners from a recent photography competition, many of them quite creatively composed. This gallery can be hit-or-miss with the way it fills the walls, but the robots by Alexi Devilliers in the front window are always fun to look at ,and they are made for a good cause — feeding the homeless. In the adjacent outdoor seating area, a Native American flutist was playing a haunting version of “Hey Jude.” Wish a few people had stopped to listen.
So Marshall Way might not have the quantity of galleries that Main Street has, but it remains worth the extra time as well as the extra walk (or take the trolley!) for visitors and locals alike.
Let’s hope that Scottsdale Public Art can come up with some kind of art installation or grand entryway to draw attention to Marshall Way. As the azcentral.com story points out, SPA will start considering artists’ proposals, although there is no timeline for completion of the project. The sooner the better, don’t ya think?
Maybe for the next Artwalk I’ll just stand on Main Street wearing a giant cowboy hat and point people in the right direction.