Last night was Third Friday, the toned-down version of First Friday, during which there is usually more emphasis on the galleries versus the street carnival. My best art-walking stop was at Willo North, a small but pleasant gallery on Seventh Avenue, a couple miles north of downtown.
The reason? The exhibit refreshed my memory regarding some very talented artists we have right here in Phoenix. With a spotlight on nine artists, curator Robrt Pela brought together works from his personal collection, along with works contributed by his favorite local artists. Pela, a longtime Phoenix art scene observer, says in his curator’s statement at the entrance:
“They (the artists) represent, I think, some of the best in Phoenix-based art. I hope you’ll agree — and that you’ll join me in collecting their work.”
As for me, I enjoyed seeing a few pieces by Phoenix mainstays Jeff Falk and Annie Lopez. Falk makes mixed media collages that evoke childhood memories, filled as they are with grade-school handwriting on Big Chief tablets and depictions of string games, football dreams and various toys. Lopez is in the memory game, too, with cyanotypes of turn-of-the-century women and embellished photographs from her own family.
Patricia Sahertian excels at framed miniatures with faces or scenes made from acrylic on photo paper. One set shows four men of bygone eras with various dental problems, as described in the paintings’ titles. There is just enough detail of the men’s puffy cheeks and lopsided expressions to feel their pain. Another set of miniatures draws from post-World War II memories of a romantic couple.
The talented Joshua Dean Wiley is represented by several works. I liked his black-and-white canvases with thick, sweeping brushstrokes incorporating circle shapes and stenciled letters. In addition, I got a sense of the figurative paintings of Mollie Jo Kellogg, who blends realism and fantasy.
Other artists in the show are Shari Bombeck, Cindy Schnackel, Kathy Taylor and Eric Cox.
Oh, I must mention the most arresting piece in the show — pun intended: Cox’s “Welcome to Arizona,” a large oil portrait of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, wearing a poncho and sombrero and giving us that expression that says, “I am about to open my mouth again but, of course, I have nothing of value to say.” (You expected unbiased reporting here? Hmmm.)
Whatever you see of the artworks that you like, keep in mind that all these pieces are affordable art. Contact owner Kristin Shears at Willo North if you would like an appointment for viewing.