Scottsdale art walk: Doing the happy/sad dance

I was walking behind a tourist near Main Street in Scottsdale last night as she remarked, “Look at those pretty pink petals on the ground.” Hmmm, I couldn’t quite gather the same enthusiasm for bougainvillea detritus accumulating on the sidewalk after a windy day.

My anecdote just goes to show that appreciation of nature, along with appreciation of art, is highly subjective. Maybe that explains the crowd at DeRubeis Fine Art of Metal, on Main Street near Scottsdale Road, where fans could meet artist Chris DeRubeis — who affects a punk-rock style and who boasts galleries in Las Vegas, Florida, Hawaii and other locales. His website says he has been recognized as “The Father of the Conceptual Movement.” (Really?) Although I could see the appeal of what he calls “abstract sensualism” in his paintings on metal, I could not bear to look at the fetishized nudes, especially the ones where exaggerated bosoms and tushies filled most of the composition.

I get that it’s “to each his/her own,” but I still did a sad dance outta there. Maybe I am over-dramatizing things, but does this growing hodgepodge of galleries along Main Street really reflect the direction that the Scottsdale art scene should take?

Happily, I could take refuge at Gebert Contemporary, across the street, where a group show called “Text not texting” cleverly brings together works that overtly or subtly incorporate text. The Britney Spears pillows by Peter Bugg are a hoot, just the kind of social commentary that elevates contemporary works to great art. And at the very back of the gallery, next to the Fritz Scholder painting “Purgatory,” in which a monstrous face is “tattooed” with the words “A Proclamation,” you can find a wonderful black-and-white photo by Elliott McDowell. Called “Fritz & Friend,” it shows Scholder in sunglasses with a buffalo, both of them in profile and facing the same way. I always suspected Scholder was that cool.The show continues to April 5, 2014.

Also in the vicinity and showing notable works is the Paul Scott Gallery, where the vibrantly colored landscapes of Larisa Aukon are on display. I also liked the semi-abstract landscapes by Toni Doilney, whose works play with patchwork shapes and colors. Her paintings are akin to looking through a broken kaleidoscope, but in a good way. Works by both artists can be seen through the summer in ongoing group shows.

Down the way, Tilt Gallery is showing unique photographs of the desert and of Lacock Abbey in England by Mark Osterman and France Scully Osterman, who have studied the work of William Henry Fox Talbot, the Englishman who basically invented the negative in the 1800s. The Ostermans used a box camera similar to what Talbot might have used and then developed large-scale prints with a gauzy but compelling quality.

But I am stalling as I get to my point as to why Scottsdale’s art scene makes me happy/sad: the Lisa Sette Gallery is moving! Believe me, I want to join the gallery in its happy dance as it makes its way to midtown Phoenix. But it’s a little sad to think that Marshall Way is losing yet another powerhouse in contemporary art. (See my recent post “Marshall Way: Dead or Alive?” at )

The April/May 2014 Carrie Marill show will be the last show in the Scottsdale space, and it promises to be bittersweet. The new venue sounds fantastic, though — an Al Beadle-designed building with a Modernist aesthetic. The space is partially subterranean, which will make for a grand entry, and the outside of the building is being given a contemporary twist — a fabric wrap, which should be stunning when it is lit for evening events.

From the gallery’s press release this week:

“After 28 years in Scottsdale we are doing what we do best—leading/forging new territory,” remarks (Lisa) Sette. “We are gravitating to an up-and-coming energy in Midtown Phoenix, and have found just the right architectural gem to house the Gallery.” The building is at Third Street and Catalina Drive, which is easy walking distance from the light rail and not too far of a drive from the Phoenix Art Museum.

Bentley Gallery, south of Chase Field in the old Phoenix warehouse district, has made a successful transition from Marshall Way, and there is no reason to think that Lisa Sette can’t do the same. I will be adding the new gallery address to my destinations list, and I hope you will too.

The Masao Yamamoto show at Lisa Sette Gallery in October 2013 included this stunning photograph, "1529, from Kawa = Flow."

The Masao Yamamoto show at Lisa Sette Gallery in October 2013 included this stunning photograph, “1529, from Kawa = Flow.”


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