Downtown Phoenix. Roosevelt Row. Modified Arts, Eye Lounge and 515.
I walk into the newly remodeled Modified Arts. A very different sort of space this month, than it was last. It still has its unique character, but in its renovation it has picked up a new level of sophistication; more open and bright.
A quick glance around the room and I recognize lots of the work on the walls. I see artists whose art I remember from my first years in the valley, back in the early 90’s, hanging alongside newer artists art work. It’s what the show is about, honoring the past, and forging the future.
I appreciate seeing a small, surreal Philip Curtis painting hanging within reach of black and white Annie Lopez photographs, that include text. And among 3 Car Pile Up collages, hangs a Beth Ames Swartz textured work. A Janet De Berge Lange sculpture sits in front of a Beatrice Moore painting. A Fritz Scholder is at the entrance, it makes perfect sense here. And a tall pedestal sculpture by Steven Yazzie moves your eyes up a corner area.
I notice some of the artworks on view, are from Ted Decker’s private collection. He summarizes the experience (of Modified and of the art scene in general, here in Phoenix) in a small keepsake handout (*click on link at the end, to read it).
I talk with Adam, one of the new managers. He’s busy arranging chairs for an evening event but he takes time to share a few words about what they’re doing and why. Calm excitement emanates from him.
A good start to the afternoon, I decide, as I leave the space.
Next stop, Eye Lounge. Two installation works fill the main galleries. Third year member Kaori Takamara, whose installation, The Streets, sits in the west gallery, greets me. Though it’s her sensibility, the form itself, is a new direction. We discuss working and commitment to continued growth. Craig Randich’s installations are in the East Gallery, and he also hangs 2-D works. in the Project Room. I have to say, I am very drawn to the works on the wall back there. They completely amuse me. I get it. It’s as though writing something down a hundred times…could make it be so. Go see the work, you’ll see what I mean.
I walk into Made and am pleasantly surprised to catch both Greg and Cindy. We talk about the exhibits. Cindy considers that this might be the first time two installations show at the same time, in Eye Lounge. Greg calls out artist names and the year, of when it happened before. Installations are great Cindy says, because each time they’re experienced, it’s unique.
And last but not least….Mary Shindell, at 515. Wow! Marys new work is such a clear evolution of her earlier work. It is so different, but then not so different, if you really look at it and start to break it down.
I spend a long time with Mary, cause both her work and process intrigue me. We discuss printmaking, drawing, tenacity, discipline, hard exhausting process…process and more process. Her new process is…well frankly…very cool. It’s all about problem solving. She had an idea and then…one problem led to another problem, requiring another solution, and on and on…until the work, as we see it now, was born.
The forms, materials and content interest me. She is generous to share it all. They are a series of works inspired by cacti. I can tell from our discussion, she’s observed them well, for many years. In the sculpture, she (literally) contains computer generated drawings into long, vertical, cylindrical plastic forms and then drills into some areas and runs fiber optic wiring through and out the surface. The wires are reminiscent of thorns and in one case, a bird’s nest. The work is meticulous. They’re each wired inside with lighting, and as the sun settles for the late afternoon, they’re transformed into quieter, somehow more fully alive objects.
An opaque blue/green work in the center of the room takes on solid depth while a more translucent green one looks more hollow and reminds me of quiet, internal, fluid filled space. I look at each one carefully and then I sit and look at the grouping, for a long time. I only leave because the gallery is closing soon and a couple comes in and they clearly want to discuss the work with Mary.
As I head back to my car, I realize that I am fortunate that I can walk down one street, on any given weekend and visit with artists/friends and look at their exciting work, and talk to them about their process, and their progress. I can’t imagine not having this…it’s not always been this way, but thanks to a lot of creative people, past and present, it is that Now.
And here, now…I am back to painting in my studio, just a bit more clear about what I do, and why.
* read more Ted Decker Blog