In yet another testament to the enormous variety of art to peruse during a Third Friday art walk in downtown Phoenix, I am still processing all that I saw in just three shows:
1. “Chaos Theory” at Legend City Studios, Fifth Avenue and Van Buren: Here’s a doozy of a show for anyone following the many established and emerging artists living and working in Phoenix. This is the 14th year that Arizona artist Randy Slack has dedicated a Friday evening in the fall (two Fridays this year!) to transforming the warehouse-like Legend City into a panoply of recent works, one per artist and including more than 60 artists. That’s a lot to absorb, and every viewer will have favorites.
I was drawn to several familiar names and a couple of not-as-familiar names, with my favorite work probably being a David Dauncey portrait of a bearded man rendered in a curious amalgamation of mottled paint, thick brush strokes and a background of scratched paint. I also admired: a figurative work by Michael Carson, who shows at Bonner David Galleries in Scottsdale; the witty, nostalgic and super-sized painting “Big Surf” by Slack; the multi-layered interpretation of Seventh Street and Roosevelt by painter Colin Chillag; the environmental message of Carrie Marill’s acrylic-on-linen work “Transplant”; a fisheye photograph of the Westward Ho by Colton Brock; and the purposely huge black-and-white photograph of a homeless man by Jehu.
A review in the New Times is not entirely complimentary about “Chaos Theory” this year, complaining about mediocrity and predictability. On the other hand, I understand from an interview with Slack by Kristin Bauer in JAVA Magazine that the “chaos” in the title of the invitational show comes from the artists’ typically chaotic, last-minute push to create something specifically for the show. Hey, artists, I love deadline pressure, too, and I’m glad I got a glimpse of what all of you are up to.
2. “Temporal,” new works from Jonathan Howard, at Modified/Arts, Fourth and Roosevelt streets: Travel enough times on Interstate 10 toward Los Angeles and you’re likely to see an abandoned gas station or two, spooky in their off-ramp perches on desert buttes, the tumbleweeds gathering. It is that kind of desolation that Howard captures in his paintings of abandoned stores and gas pumps, which I found beautifully rendered and particularly deft with the yellows and grays that set the mood. These paintings, along with his series of gray-toned cityscapes, examine what it means to be temporal, or of limited existence. The works are up only until November 9.
3. “Fore / Ground, a Preview of ‘Ground Cover,’ “ at Eye Lounge, Fourth and Roosevelt streets: And just a couple of doors away was a gallery demonstrating the art of human kindness, that is, several women in a circle of chairs, knitting squares for a temporary public art project called “Ground Cover.” The brainstorm of Arizona mixed media artist Ann Morton (read my Q & A with her here), the project calls upon “blanketeers” — knitting volunteers from all over the country — to create 10-by-10-inch squares that together will form blankets, with the blankets intended to cover a vacant lot at First Street and McKinley. But that’s not all: the multi-colored blankets are designed to come together to form a view of lush desert blooms when viewed from above. More human kindness: after a two-day installation and viewing, the blankets will be donated to the homeless. Pretty impressive, no? Mark your calendars for December 6-7, 2013, to view the installation and read more about “Ground Cover” here.
2 thoughts on “Stumbling upon chaos, desolation and human kindness: Phoenix’s Third Friday of 10/18/13”
We really enjoyed Chaos Theory. As with all shows of this scope, there is some great work, and some work that is great for others ….
Well said! Subjectivity rules when it comes to art.
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