Every Which Way: The eclectic art of Jon Arvizu. Arvizu has made his living for the past 15 years in the commercial art industry as an illustrative designer, with advertising clients the likes of the NFL, Popular Science Magazine, Frito Lay, Dell Webb, Yum!, Proctor & Gamble, Dole, and Oregano’s Pizza Bistro. Jon’s experience in graphic design heavily influences his artistic aesthetic; his work is highly graphic but the artist’s hand is evident in each one of his works through the abstract and painterly qualities that he creates by manipulating the materials manually.
Jon is preoccupied with ephemeral (throwaway) design and illustration of the golden age in advertising (1930s- 70′s). Much like walking through a thrift store, his work swings wildly in many directions drawing inspiration from high art history to low-brow and folk art. He states, “I want my art to be familiar, accessible, an immediate payoff for the viewer. It should speak to their gut, their past or present, something they can identify with.” Arvizu is intensely interested in learning and refining his knowledge of various production methods, and he experiements with the limits and purposes of the materials and processes. The exploration has amassed in a large volume of work that really does lead the visitor, Every Which Way. The show includes large format Monoscreen prints, traditional serigraphs, small format letterpress prints, “rust resist” steel art and traditional paintings. Placed together the individual works create an overview of the many bodies of work, or “categories” that Jon has developed over the years.
David Miller Photoworks cinematic photo series Scream Queens. Miller came to the valley from Nebraska and earned a BFA in Photography from ASU. He was drawn to photography as a teenager, partly because he was frustrated with his drafting skills, but mostly as a vehicle for adventure. Miller quickly saw the potential to shape ideas through the medium and began photographing models conceptually using 20th century pop cultural references in an attempt to critique old attitudes, appreciate past art forms, and replicate styles as faithfully as possible. The series was created in 2012-2013 with models Mosh and Briana Robertson using projection and shadows to emulate scenarios from old horror and sci-fi films.
The series pokes fun at both the ludicrousness of fantasy fear and the way women are portrayed in cinema. Miller remarks, “Playing with these tropes is good fun and shorthand for commonly understood cultural references- femme fatales, damsels in distress, good girls and vamps etc.- but when presented knowingly, the ludicrousness of them is apparent. It’s clear that many of these stereotypical portrayals of women still exist in modern cinema, and the best way to defang a negative element in society is to use humor.” The images appear playful and light-hearted but upon further reflection and context a critical dialogue is addressed about past and present attitudes towards the female in cinema, and in our society.
25 Years Downtown
Art Detour 25 took place the first weekend of March 2013 and the monOrchid wanted to help make this the biggest and best Art Detour event ever, by paying homage to the past, present, and future of the downtown arts community with a landmark exhibition 25 Years Downtown. Every March downtown Phoenix comes alive with artists and art lovers for a whole weekend sponsored by ArtLink—open studios, gallery events, performances—anything goes. Wayne Rainey, owner of the monOrchid and a veteran in the downtown Phoenix arts community wants this year to be special. He states, “First Fridays and Art Detour have always been about bringing people together to enjoy the art and culture of our city, this year is a once in a lifetime opportunity to celebrate 25 years of success by all of the galleries and artists who made this what it is today.”
The monOrchid curator Justin Germain views Art Detour 25 as a time to explore the history, celebrate the artists, and share it all with visitors, which includes long time art lovers familiar with the Phoenix scene and newcomers. “Phoenix has evolved more than ever in the last few years, the presence of ASU downtown has brought a new demographic to the area and expanded the exposure of the city’s artists. This will be a walk down memory lane for some and an introduction for others.”
25 Years Downtown is not a comprehensive retrospective, it was conceived as an invitational exhibition with as much inclusion as possible. The curator relied on the support of the Phoenix arts community to identify significant artists to invite in the spirit of inclusiveness. This exhibition is more about the stories that the participating artists include, used to provide context to the work displayed. Some artists chose to represent their experience in the work itself, others added written experiences. Mr. Rainey and Mr. Germain chose to explore the history of downtown Phoenix art and celebrate the diversity of the arts downtown through the experiences of the artists. The result was an eclectic mix of Phoenix artists including Irma Sanchez, Wayne Rainey, Daniel Funkhouser, Lara Pecas, and Bill Dambrova, some veterans and some just now starting to make waves in the local art community.
monOrchid threw its first Arts’ Ball the Saturday of Art Detour and held a silent auction of most of the artwork in the show. Some of the proceeds went towards relaunching the nonprofit organization Shade Projects.
MonOrchid Gallery – Eric Kasper “The Epoch”
Local Phoenix artist Eric Kasper’s first solo exhibition The Epoch opened February 1, 2013 at the monOrchid in Phoenix. Kasper has shown some of his paintings at galleries and alternative spaces in the Phoenix area for a few years, but until recently he did not feel that he was ready for a solo exhibition. Monorchid’s curator, Justin Germain, recalls his first meeting with the artist as an exciting experience. “I didn’t know what to expect, his website had very small images so I wasn’t sure exactly what I was walking in to, but when I saw the paintings for the first time, I was amazed. The maturity in his paintings is extraordinary for an artist almost purely self-taught, and from a theoretical perspective the thematic depth of the work taps into what quality art should do, relate to every viewer.” As far as the curator was concerned there was no way the monOrchid couldn’t be the first gallery to show Kasper’s entire body of work. Germain comments, “Eric is a special artist because his paintings are memorable, the images stay with you. His work touches the viewer in an uneasy, sometimes shocking way that as humans we have to explore further. Some of it is very challenging and maybe difficult for some viewers, but his work is important because it leaves its mark on us.”
Eric began painting to pass the time and escape the mediocrity that surrounded him during his formative years. Without any formal education in the arts he began mimicking the artists he respected but added his own contemporary twists to traditional design techniques. As Eric continued painting, his own style evolved into an aesthetic sensibility that many artists rarely begin to fathom. What started as mere experimentation to combat boredom matured and became an exploration of human development.
The transformation allowed him to focus his thematic approach and explore the underlying facets of the events that mold our development. Much of Eric’s work stems from personal memories of early life, but they are not depictions of specific events. Instead the images serve as metaphors for the shared human experiences from our developmental years—discovery, awkwardness, isolation, obliviousness. Some of the paintings are surreal, calling to a dreamlike moment that we cannot quite grasp. Others are incredibly realistic minus some assumed details much like a faded memory. The images are simultaneously calm and unnerving; they evoke a sense of impending events that are not in our control. Eric’s imagery and his use of color and brushstroke create a tension that alludes to uncertainty. The paintings represent the frightening, anxiety ridden experience of becoming self-aware as we shed the innocence of our youth and the reality of life becomes clear(er).
Eric’s subject matter and stylistic development are intertwined. This exhibition is a reflection of his growth as an artist and the uneasy path to maturity that we encounter as humans. By exploring the experiences of our youth Eric created not only an escape for himself but also a document of our own personal histories.
Bokeh Gallery- Christopher Colville “Works of Fire”
Christopher’s initial inspiration for Works of Fire came from a poem about germination. His meditation on the subject led to thoughts of the duality of creation and destruction from seed pods exploding and life emerging into the world. This idea eventually became more explosive, literally, and resulted in the creation of works using photographic materials and gunpowder. Christopher places small amounts of gunpowder on silver gelatin paper and ignites it, creating a visual display and recording the reaction. A driving force behind the series is Carl Sagan’s quote, “darkness is commonplace; it is light that is the rarity.” The Works of Fire represent the residual effect left by a single spark amongst the mass of darkness in the universe.
Christopher views his various bodies of work as attempts to record experiences that are just outside of our understanding. Photography is the vessel he uses to explore, discover, and connect with the world. His oeuvre illustrates a dynamic range of concepts and processes; he has worked with many untraditional photographic processes including light emitted from decaying squid, shadows of dissected eyeballs, in addition to photograms, paper negatives, ambrotypes, and black salt prints.
Christopher has always been drawn to certain design elements and textures when selecting images to photograph, which he found became apparent in the Works of Fire series as well. The major difference is that he “takes” the photographs, but he “makes” the Works of Fire using photographic techniques—light, heat, and chemistry. While making an image he is also creating an event, the result is a record of the transformative phenomena that occurred. The works are often made in the field, at shooting ranges or in the desert, and he uses objects he finds in the locations to “loosely” direct the events by placing them on the paper with the gunpowder. The aspect of creating an event and recording the results is scientific in nature; in essence Christopher is experimenting with the materials, using different explosives, powders, papers, and objects and he gains more clarity about the nature of the reactions each time. With every trial he learns more about how to control the materials. But, with each attempt he finds that the resulting images are often unlike what he imagined due to the unpredictable explosive energy of the gunpowder, the true force generating the image. As Christopher continues to create, new questions emerge, which will undoubtedly lead to his next form of production. More importantly to Christopher, he hopes the images open a dialogue for viewers to ask their own questions and explore the world and their own connection to it.
MonOrchid Gallery – Matt Dougan “As the Crow Flies”
Over the years Matt created and exhibited numerous artworks including illustrations, paintings, and photographs, some of which have been featured on MSNBC.com in the Sunday travel section. His current artwork focuses on classic car, motorcycle, rock-n-roll, and road-trip themes and the people involved in what he calls, “the lifestyle.” Matt wants to use his success and passion to help others so he approached monOrchid about showing his work in January 2013 and holding an auction with some of the proceeds to benefit the Wounded Warriors Foundation and the Humane Society of Arizona.
Matt is an Army combat veteran (served 1987-1996) and an animal lover and decided he wanted to use his talents to give back to those things that he is so passionate about. Matt studied at the Art Institute of Dallas before joining the military and has since developed a diverse career as an architectural designer with several custom homes featured on hgtv.com in the Global design feature for Spanish influenced design. Matt also owns an online store, Iron Crow Vintage, specializing in hard to find classic automobile, motorcycle, and rock-n-roll memorabilia and clothing.
Dougan himself states, “Being a veteran myself, I feel a kindred spirit to my brothers and sisters in arms. There can never be enough done for our veterans and their families who give so much, especially those injured and maimed and of course the families of those who gave all. Many of the wounded warriors are injured to the point that they will be forever challenged to provide for themselves and their families and I just want to do whatever I can to help. What I can give as proceeds from the auction will be only a small portion of what these soldiers need, but with the help of friends and art lovers everywhere, maybe we can come together and make a bigger dent and provide the best we can together…..for the animal side of things, all I have to say is there are those animals out there particularly cats and dogs that are abused and neglected and I want to be a voice and help for those beautiful creatures that have no voices. They rely on us……”
Bokeh Gallery – Linda Ingraham “Off the Beaten Path: A Departure from the Norm”
Linda Ingraham is a staple in the Phoenix art scene showing her mixed media photography for two decades. Linda is represented by the acclaimed Larsen Gallery in Scottsdale where her limited edition digitally manipulated, hand built photoconstructions are regularly displayed. Recently, the artist took a step outside the status quo of her work and created a more “photographic” project of the details in and around the sleepy ghost town of Jerome, AZ.
Ingraham’s focus for many years has been on the beauty in found objects, plants, and animals and how they change over time as they decay, whither, and fall apart due to natural phenomenon. This project, titled Off the Beaten Path: A Departure from the Norm represents the artists’ interest in change and breaking from the everyday expectations of who she is and what she does. Admittedly, the imagery is more photographic than most of her work, with minimal manipulation and without her “stamp” of hand-painted and resin-coated images mounted on wood.
The subjects are also a shift for the artist, from biological to man-made, although the portraits of weathered automobiles, gas pumps, and metal chains still invoke ideas of the passage of time and the erosion of materials. Linda states, “My photo based works are usually symbols, they are not about this particular flower or tree but the “flowerness” or “treeness” of them. I want to evoke an emotional response with them. This Jerome work is about a particular place and is more documentary.” Some of the work approaches abstraction with more focus on design and color versus emotion, a definite departure for the artist that shows another side of her asthetic.
December 2012 - Featured Artists Dino Paul and Laura Spalding Best
This was the first exhibition curated at monOrchid by Art Program Director/ Curator, Justin Germain, featuring two Phoenix area artists, Dino Paul and Laura Spalding Best. Dino Paul is a graphic designer, illustrator and artist. He has been practicing his craft for over 30 years, but is relatively new to the “art world” first sharing his artwork in 2011. His art does not have any social commentary or compel thought through obscurity; the work is focused on his personal view of the world and experimentation with imagery. He calls his work his “perception of observation” because he creates his images from his mind’s eye without having any direction or rules to follow, often resulting details that are just “a little off.” Dino’s images of people and nature use bright colors, distorted features, misaligned light sources, or skewed perspectives that challenge the viewer to question their own perception and hopefully find amusement in the disjointed details. Laura Spalding Best is Arizona State University alumni who has shown in the greater Phoenix Metropolitan area for nearly 10 years and been featured in multiple local publications as well as New American Paintings. Laura also recently received a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Artist Grant to continue working on several series of paintings that examine the urban landscape of Phoenix and the mundane structures that represent the community. For some time her work has focused on the collective aesthetic of the urban landscape. The idea that individuals and communities are connected literally and abstractly by common fixtures and sights is a driving force behind her paintings. Her new paintings describe different areas of greater Phoenix by the electrical lines and telephone poles that line the streets. The images reveal the unique history and character of each structure and the links between them. By unifying the portraits of these objects into a single painting or a series of paintings, she represents a monumental network that we all relate to, even though it is mostly unnoticed in our everyday lives.
This was a great show to end 2012 with the unique perspectives of two of Phoenix’s up-and-coming artists. Thank you for all of the support and keep visiting for more details about future shows!