Monday, December 22, 2014



Jonathan Armstrong


John Armstrong knew he wanted to leave Laurel, Montana at an early age. The realization struck him not long after he discovered he could draw vegetable people better than the other kids. “I looked out the window and saw strip farming, an oil refinery and the railroad,” the 70-year-old recalls. “I didn’t want to be a farmer or work at the refinery or the railroad. I decided right then to be an art teacher.”


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Matt Magee


Artist Matt Magee recalls returning from field trips with his geologist/archeologist father and fastidiously lining up his finds. That same meticulous attention to order runs through his paintings, which often incorporate grids and graphs. “I’ve never been a loose abstract painter,” Magee says. “I like clean edges.”


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En Plein Airport

Muralists and mosaicists help Sky Harbor’s new METRO Light Rail connection take flight.

Airport art, like airport food, has an unflattering reputation. However, that stigma is quickly fading at Phoenix Sky Harbor, where $5.6 million in commissions have turned the airport’s recently unveiled PHX Sky Train system into a veritable gallery of high-design terrazzo flooring, funky overhead art and well-appointed pedestrian bridges. Coupled with the new wave of terminal-based gourmet local restaurants at Sky Harbor, the Sky Train art walk makes for an edifying commute – even if you don’t have a boarding pass.


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Go Mad at MAC

Walk into Bipolar – a provocative new exhibit at Mesa Arts Center – and you might feel obliged to get a little crazy. Collaborating artists Albert Kogel and Alice Leora Briggs have conjured a space that mimics an insane asylum, down to ominous iron bars created by a welder who built and runs a mental institution in Juarez, Mexico. Occupying two opposing U-shaped walls, the exhibit also features psychically-charged paintings by the dementia-dabbling duo. The two agree their styles are worlds apart, which helped bring the bipolar theme to life. “I hope that [those who attend the exhibit] feel a connection with the art, and have their own individual experience,” says Tucson-based Kogel. The exhibit runs through August 11. Visit for more information.


Ron Burns


In 1991, Ron Burns turned to painting as an artistic respite from his dog-eat-dog corporate career in marketing and design. Looking down at his beloved mutt, the self-taught artist found his muse. “I was looking for something I could paint that would inspire me for the rest of my life,” says Burns, 58, whose Burns Studio is based in Scottsdale. “When I started, no one else was doing it. It was like a new art movement.”


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Readers Photo Contest: On The Road

For our third annual reader photo contest, “On the Road,” you submitted fantastic photos from around the state. We selected the top 10, and readers voted for their favorite. The winner received a getaway to Four Seasons Resort.

Our grand prize winner received three days, two nights in a premier casita at the luxurious Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North; dinner for two at its new Proof restaurant; and two 50-minute massages at the Four Seasons Spa.


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Two-Step Program

Embrace your inner honky-tonker at the Valley’s newest country bar, The Western. Located at “Cowboys and Indian School” in Old Town Scottsdale, this live-music-deluged watering hole aims to conjure the dirty-fun essence of a vintage Texas roadhouse, complete with an oak dance floor big enough for a legion of line-dancers. Nightlife mogul Tucker Woodbury and music promoter Charlie Levy, who previously collaborated on the Crescent Ballroom,


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