It’s just so pleasant to get back into art-strolling nights, and Old Town Scottsdale knows how to put on an art show. Last night, October 18, launched the 38th year of the city’s Thursday-evening art walk, which is hard for even an old-timer like me to believe. To celebrate, the gallery community kicked it up a notch with plenty of new art and artists, information tables, lots of live music and artist demonstrations.
I didn’t hit all the galleries, but the ones I visited helped shape my personal tastes in art venues as I struggle to formulate a more critical eye: I like galleries that give the art room to breathe. Sometimes paintings are so large that they need most of a wall, or sculptures are so demanding of your attention that they need walking space around them. I know wall and floor space must be hard to come by in a gallery that wants to show an array of work but, alas, I stepped into a couple of galleries where large paintings were relegated to the floor, leaning against a wall. The contrast is striking when you step into galleries like Bentley, Lisa Sette and Gebert, which specialize in high-end contemporary art and give the art pieces the space they are due.
On the other hand, I can understand why newer galleries, on a night like ArtWalk, want to display as much as possible to attract buyers. That said, I want to give the “Wow!” award to Marshall / LeKAE on Main Street, which was showing 10 artists, maybe — I lost count. The gallery itself is lovely, with warm lighting, multiple levels and wonderful blown-glass pieces throughout the space. And diversity seems to be key. In the back of the gallery I admired framed, washi-paper miniature kimonos by Karen Hanlon. In the middle of the gallery, I spent a few minutes with foot-high reproductions of houses of worship by Roberto Cardinale, and toward the front I refreshed my memory of David Jonason, who is known for cubist-style Southwestern landscapes. Oh, and gallery artist James Randle was drawing quite a camera-toting crowd as he painted an urban landscape.
Then I moved on to the quieter Scottsdale Exhibition Gallery, where the rotating exhibits abide by a certain theme, this month’s being Phoenix-based artists. The gallery chose those artists wisely by including Colin Chillag, who is developing a national following for his half-painted, half-drawn portraits of Arizonans. The show has two of his pieces, along with two large-scale black-and-white photographs by Jason Grubb of Legend City Studios. “Jerry” and “Castillo” are from Grubb’s project of giving $10 to a homeless person in return for taking their photograph. The portraits are simply stunning.
I also enjoyed the selection at Bonner David, which included large, abstract paintings by Quim Bove and dreamlike patina images on bronze by Nathan Fischer.
And a shout-out to the many musicians on hand, from a solo pop-rock guitarist on Marshall Way and Main (where I never thought I’d hear Death Cab for Cutie!), to a classical guitarist
in the courtyard off Main, to another guitarist on Marshall Way near Fifth Avenue. They really lent a nice ambiance to the art walk on an almost-balmy October evening.
Several of the upcoming art walks for the season have themes, such as holiday-shopping, Native American art and food-and-wine sampling. Check the calendar at the Scottsdale Gallery Association.