Featured photo: Detail from a David Dauncey portrait, on view at Modified Arts on Roosevelt Row through February 11, as part of a two-person show. Image courtesy of the gallery.
My time exploring the galleries on Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix was cut short by the rain — yes, I am a weather wimp — but the spaces I did visit were warm and welcoming.
Five15 Arts has an impressive new home at the Phoenix Center for the Arts, where the longtime local artists collective is mounting group shows on the first and third Friday of every other month. Artists for January include: Turner G. Davis, Deborah Hodder, Daniel Friedman, Anne Howey-Falvey, Wendy Willis and Susan Risi. With its track lighting, neutral walls and scattering of plinths, the gallery creates a great ambience for viewing a variety of paintings, drawings and ceramics.
The building on RoRo that previously housed Five15 is set to become restaurants and retail, as part of the continuing gentrification of the arts district. Honestly, I’m saddened by how quickly RoRo’s funky factor is fading and giving way to chic apartment towers. As one of the artists noted, it’s hard for art lovers to justify trips to the arts district on First and Third Fridays when so few galleries remain.
But still going strong are the three phICA shipping-container galleries at Fourth Street and Roosevelt, under Ted Decker’s gentle guidance. The “Onloaded” gallery features Christopher Jagmin with “I’m OK” through February 12, 2017. The mixed-media artist explores the calming nature of mantras and repetition by grouping together plastic strips of text made from an old-fashioned embossing label maker. You’ll find the sayings have a certain political importance in 2017.
A second shipping container, dedicated to phICA’s Emerging Curator Initiative, features a show by Courtney Faith Richter in which six artists give their take on the theme “Surrogate Friend.” An example is the curious sculpture “Wand” by Emily Culver, a tool-like object which could belong to someone, but for what purpose, we don’t know.
The third shipping container, helmed by Nic Wiesinger for Rhetorical Galleries, welcomes the gorgeously composed yet enigmatic photography of Sean Deckert, recently of Phoenix and now based in Los Angeles. Called “Inverse Universe,” the exhibit comments on the science fiction-meets-metaphysical aspects of New Mexico, with otherworldly landscapes and narrative scenes. The works are on view again during First Friday, February 3.
On a somewhat unrelated note, I’d like to give a shout-out to the many artists and art enthusiasts who showed up for the Women’s March at the State Capitol on Saturday, January 21. Your protest signs were pungently entertaining and your posts on social media were wonderful. I’ve got a good feeling that, even here in Arizona, artists and political activism will be a crucial combination in the coming four years.