If crowds for the Scottsdale ArtWalk every Thursday evening are dependent on snowbirds and tourists, then the light attendance on April 30, 2015, is understandable. Still, the weather is in that tolerable, it’s-hot-don’t-let-it-get-hotter stage that heralds the end of spring; the live music on at least five corners was pleasant; and gallery owners were ready to greet everyone at the door. Seems like Phoenix-area art lovers should add Main Street and Marshall Way to their cultural sojourns a bit more often.
I enjoyed visiting several of my go-to galleries, and kept tabs on a few recent changes: the former LewAllen Galleries space on Main Street now houses Art of Merlot, which hosts group art classes that are BYOB-optional. The large space at the former Overland Gallery on Main Street has still not been filled, and the empty storefronts dotting the art district are sad to see. Blue Rain Gallery was dark and the door had a note about it being closed for the summer, which makes me worry about its future.
On a brighter note, I discovered that the new Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West is now open for ArtWalk Thursdays. There’s something for everyone in there, and I recommend the contemporary art offerings on both the first and second floors. Also, the Heritage Gallery on Main Street is new to the scene, boasting several veterans from the Cowboy Artists of America.
I especially enjoyed my stop at Tilt Gallery, where Melanie and Michelle Craven were hosting Arizona artist Casebeer, who was very patient with this reporter’s nosy questions. It was the closing reception of her month-long solo show of mixed-media pieces, many of which use old wooden boxes with metal handles as the canvas. The gallery’s bio on Casebeer explains her work nicely: the paintings “are composed through a process that begins with a few words, book scraps, color, brushstrokes and drips, and then builds through layers of paint, found collage pieces and overheard sentences until eventually they reveal an order and a narrative, and a curious, synchronic relationship to one another.” Casebeer told me she’s been studying brain chemistry and biology lately, and the influence is evident in pieces like “the nervous system is an idiot,” in which two people with circles for heads are pointing up to a giant brain that’s been partitioned into various functions. I’m looking forward to seeing more of her work.