roadside attraction phx

ROADSIDE ATTRACTION, brainchild of ArtFarm PHX and practical art gallery (AKA Patricia Sannit, Chris Jagmin, Lisa Olson and Lani Hudson) takes art (art work and in some cases the art making) outdoors, to be seen by the widest variety and largest number of people, given our current restrictions. Opportunity was created for valley artists, representing different viewpoints and media, to express their diverse voices.

This experimental exhibition not only encourages art experiences in new, unusual and surprising locations, it also allows for a self-directed, drive-by, bike-by, stroll-by, physically  distanced, socially engaged art experience.

Come and go, as you wish!
Info → artists, photos of work, artist statements and location map.


Invited early but arriving late.

I spend days (weeks) this summer wondering do I want to teach drawing next semester. I learn Zoom (for on-line art workshop) and Canvas (on-line college teaching). And while I appreciate technology and use it regularly, organizing this current phase in time sometimes feels confusing and unnatural.

Listening to a neuroscience IGTV (thanks Huberman Lab), I come to understand human progress as the consequence of 2 things:  neuroplasticity (brain and nervous system’s ability to change in response to experience) and technology development (build and create new things that allow us to extend beyond our own biological limitations).

Nueroplasticity reflects changes and connections between neurons (nerve cells). Nerve cells do not connect directly they have a space between them called a synapse (chemicals and electricity).

I know that as an adult, if I want to roll with change I need focused attention (what I want and/or how I want to feel), a sense of urgency (so apropos to the time) and rest (focus on/focus off).

Enter: Roadside Attraction invitation…and all I can think is that I’ve wanted to paint one of our perimeter walls (so out of my comfort zone).

I read an article about bee swarms and how they are like a giant brain with each individual bee behaving like a neuron in the human brain. #ImPaintingBees

FYI…bees are eusocial flying insects. #SocialOrganization

In the days that follow I complete my Canvas training while breaking to make stencils and begin painting bees. It doesn’t matter that it’s June in Phoenix. I work in afternoon shade as neighbors drive by offering a nod and/or a thumbs up. A few want to paint bees on their perimeter wall (I offer my stencils).

I can’t help but think of Jackson Pollock as I use black and gold house paint and brushes. I know why action painting is likened to dance.
The wall buzzes with form and movement…heading towards center.

Thanks Roadside Attraction…I needed this. #EverythingsConnected

#PhysicallyDistancedSociallyEngaged #ItsAllAnArtSpace
#RoadsideattrationPHX #MonicaAissaMartinez


no woman is an island

Maria sends an email… I will be back in town next week and was wondering if you have any of your work on exhibit right now. We have friends coming into town for a few days and I’m thinking of things for us to do. So if you were showing somewhere I would love to take our friends. One of them is an artist herself.

I invite Maria, Susan and Laura to come to my studio.

As you might expect  anatomy study surrounds us. We talk the body for a good while. Laura personally relates to the newest kidney drawing sitting on my table. Susan wants to know about materials – the paint and paper.  I understand she has worked in woodcut and now does linocut.

Do you have any prints, she wonders. This question always confuses me. Do people mean a reproduction like a giclée or poster? Or do they mean an original print? I’m a printmaker. I stumble with the words … I have real prints, I say.

Maria wants to know about one particular small print. I’ve only thought about anatomy lately so I have to stop, change focus and think … considering the content of the work, I find it amusing. I can tell Susan and Laura do too.


Self-Sustaining Confusion, MM – Collage and hand-painted print, 12 x 10″

Here it is, in a nutshell:
The title – Self-Sustaining Confusion – I find in physicist David Bohm’s book On Creativity. I write the phrase on a piece of paper and leave it on my work table. Weeks pass and one day the rest of the composition formulates while I listen to NPR.  A scientist talks about the brain chemistry at various stages of awareness (or lack of) and I hear things like 69 unfolded proteins and limited real-estate in the brain. And that’s that, I pull out a piece of copper and start drawing.

We talk printmaking and intaglio. This is a dry point.  I use a sharp-pointed tool to  scratch the image directly on a copper-plate (I love copper!). Can you see it? ↓ The process of both printmaking and collage tend to free me up, work flows more stream of consciousness.

About this print in particular – If I recall correctly I pull 15 prints, only 7 of them are worth saving. In general the drypoint technique won’t allow for too many pulls, the marks are too irregular.


copper plate with drawing on it


a few pulls of the print


Each image varies slightly. This one is the first image I collage and paint in the series of 7.

We talk about California (where they are from), the ocean, and the desert. We discuss raising chickens (I learn some things) and having fresh eggs (Susan does).  Of course I bring up making  egg tempera paint. They leave my home with plans to visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s (Taliesin West).

Ladies, I appreciate our morning together. Thank you Susan for wanting to take home Self-Sustaining Confusion. It’s the last one of that series. Enjoy it!


The blog posts titled No Woman is an Island acknowledge the people and/or organizations who support me and the work I do.


Solo opening this last week, memorable.  We drive through one wild monsoon storm to get there.  The weather only adds to the event.

I enter the space and my eyes land…across the room, on my newest painting, which is lit up and center stage. Cacti speckled mountain show jut beyond it. I am pleasantly surprised. I’d been concerned for a while, that it would read as crucifix more than anything. I didn’t want that. I knew the connection would be made, but I also wanted other things to come through.

It just so happens the structure of the building (student services on the college campus) that houses the gallery is influenced by  church architecture, or perhaps in this case, a mission.  I’d studied church layout in graduate school, I understand it’s very precise in the sort of experience it wishes to create for the people moving through it.

This building has what could be a nave, a transept, and an apse, particular areas of a church building. I  didn’t really understand this, until physically there, the day I deliver art work. I wonder out loud, if the new painting will really take on a crucifix, in the setting.  Well then, lets just play it up, I decide.  I ask if the painting can hang in the area of the apse. Light it up. Let it be. I leave trusting they’ll do a fine job hanging everything.

I’ve mentioned earlier, the exhibit consists of a few works from most of my series’ of the last decade. The one new figurative work, here/now takes on the form of presenter. And for me it does present the sacred.  It’s titled Creative Structure, and has much more behind it. But here in this space, it deliberately sits at a transition point, an area of transformation. The center, perhaps the nave, is empty but for a few seats off to the sides, for visitors.  Walls on either side hold artwork, within framed niches. The space is sacred space by the very nature of it being an art gallery.

The reception brought in a steady stream of visitors. I heard the food was excellent.  I spoke with guests much of the night and didn’t get to taste it. The evening was cool and electrical in more ways than one. The photo of the lighting didn’t come through…too bad, it’ll just have to sit in my memory.

The exhibition, A Constant Vital Commotion, runs to Nov. 5th.

what goes on and what takes place/ the venue

A few weeks ago (April 11th), I wrote about collaborating on an art exhibit, with three other artists. Yesterday, the four of us met with Kim Larkin.  Modified Arts, will host the exhibition.

Modified is run by Kim Larkin and Adam Murry. Kim made the round of studio visits, and then agreed to meet with the group on Saturday afternoon. Adam stepped in to greet everyone, and then he was off.

About the space…it appeals to all of us. It’s open and well-lit.  It has cool sophistication and yet  it retains its original charm. It’s in downtown Phoenix. And it has lots of history.

We do talk a little bit about the history of Modified. And then Kim speaks about their vision as the new directors of the space. She’s grounded. Intelligent.  Clear. Flexible. I had these thoughts, when I spoke to her in my studio, and listening to her in this meeting, I am aware of them again.

She has a sense of integrity we all connect to. I especially like that we discuss the exhibition as a whole experience. Kim brings up the idea of a community component. This is in perfect alignment with our plan.  We’re in agreement about connecting with /interacting with/and pulling in the audience. We want to make the experience accessible and inclusive. Ideas tossed about: showing the creative process through photos, personal material (studio ephemera, studio debris), speakers, event/s, video, and music/sound. How this part evolves, you’ll have to wait and see, just like us.

There will be one large, main artwork from each of us. And a few smaller supporting works, that specifically accompany the larger work. Included is the showing of process, in a more personal manner, will be bits and pieces from each.

Kim mentions bringing fun into the equation. We agree…it’s present already, it will naturally be a part of the end result.
WHEN will all this fun peak? I am really pleased to say…next year, during Art Detour.  Feb 18th- March 12th.

We note to Kim that we plan to reveal the other 3 artists, one a time.  She’s good with this. But as I write this…I’m not so good with it. I want to tell you who the other artists are right now!  Another clue below…..can you guess?

Obviously…four women.  I hope soon to reveal one of the other artist.

We play around with shooting photos and then our afternoon meeting ends. I leave feeling the agreement to create this experience is respectful and beneficial, to each of us and our own individual process of working. Kim offers the gallery, Modified, and we offer our work. In the agreement there is plenty of freedom to really create. It’s the thing that is driving this show. EXCITING.
Win-win for all, including you, if you’re inclined.




WHO: 4 Women Artist. More to come soon.

Stay tuned!

art detour

I’m off the beaten path, from my usual downtown art viewing route. Facebook invitations and wall posts direct my steps this particular Art Detour afternoon.

First stop, Another Gallery. Not downtown, but on the way…from my home, at least. Open, well-lit, cozy.
Situated on 3rd street, south of Indian School. Owner Larry Forsythe, greets us and tells us about the artists he exhibits, and their work. A variety of media fills his gallery: painting, sculpture, and there’s prints…linocuts, monotypes…etc.
Wendy Willis’s very fun…blue, blue water, people in swim suits, turtles…prints. Mark McDowell’s paintings and prints. Gregory West, very realistic looking paintings…and prints.

We’re invited to the back room where  a ceramic wheel, shelving and two electric kilns sit.  Larry dabbles in clay.  I like the space, and I like the ‘behind the scenes’ studio peek.

We head out, southeast, 16th Street, North of McDowell. A row of apartment complexes, now called, City Wide Studios, artist studios.  For Art Detour, each apartment is an exhibition space. 3D artwork in the first spot…3D glasses hang from the center of the room for ones use. Put a pair on, and the images on the wall extend out or recede into the walls. Amusing. I talk to the group: Peter Christenson, Matt Garcia, Teresa Miro, and Matthew Mosher, all art students from ASU.

The next area is filled with LCD monitors and a sound system.  I run into artist and ASU faculty, John Haddock.  These are his students. He fills me in on the various performance works taking place on this weekend. (John has work at Modified, btw…we talk about this too).

A few spaces down I meet Adriene Jenik, Professor and Director of the School of Art, at ASU. She appears to be dressed in mourning (or as death itself). She’s marking the walls. Each mark represents an (documented and verified) Iraqi death since the war began, 8 years ago. Her artist statement is at the entrance.  She’ll  hold vigil, and mark, for the 3 days. (Click here for her resource)
Looking around the room, I note the bottom area is marked about 12 inches from the ground up. Passing of time, passing of life. Death. Quiet. Somber realization.

One space uses a computer and web cam to pick up movement. Robert Madera projects the colorful image (of the viewer. me, at the moment…I realize) onto a corner area. A moving and changing canvas. Frequency is generated and produces sound, as I move within the space. Interactive. Entertaining.

Each area offers information, in a different way. Technology is prevalent.

Next…southwest to Grand Avenue.

I enter a few galleries, one in particular gets my attention.  I note a rather large sculpture, a black Snoopy dressed as a Native American. Recognize the wit. Hector Ruiz. And his large (woodcut) black and white prints are on the wall alongside Fausto Fernandez’s large, colorful paintings. I know the work from our Local’s Only exhibition, at the Phoenix Art Museum. I talk with Hector. He invites me to go back into his studio/work area.  It’s a long, narrow, energizing area of materials and ideas, complete and incomplete, raw and in process.
He carves wood and stone, draws, paints, prints…scribbles, writes…starts, stops… Even though I am an artist and I have a studio, I never take this sort of opportunity for granted. An artists studio is sacred space.

I decide on one more area before I call it a day. West of Grand. A long, dry street leads me to WestWind Studios. Bob Booker, Executive Director of the Az. Commission on the Arts, sits outside his studio.  He’s closed it for the afternoon, but he opens it back up. Another bit of sacred space. I find that I  connect so much more when I can see work area, process.  I am curious about his materials, everything from sweet colorful  tissue paper to black tar.

I enter a few more artist studios in the complex, and finally I walk into the last one. Pleased to see Dominic Miller sitting in a large, open room with light streaming in through the windows. Cacti and succulents fill areas. We talk about his work at Modified, and we talk about things in his studio. He has a large, gridded sheet of paper taped up on the wall.  What is this? I ask. I don’t know, he chuckles. He does know, the idea is getting formulated. I spend a bit more time there and then I head out.

Thanks to Larry, John, and his grad students, and all the artists whose work was out for the Art Detour experience.  And thanks to Hector, Bob, and Dominic for a more personal studio visit…appreciate it.