ARTIST OF THE MONTH
Heidi Uotila’s art has always been a bit beastly. As a grade-schooler in Ohio, she was once disciplined for drawing animals in class. The punishment didn’t deter her. Today, the Ohio State University-trained artist focuses all of her artistic energy on animals. Art Gone Wild, an exhibit featuring more than 20 of Uotila’s handcrafted ceramic and bronze sculptures, is on view in Terminal 4 of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport through March 10. Part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Phoenix Zoo, the show includes zebras, tigers, giraffes and more, corralling a mini menagerie for air travelers.
What do you get the art enthusiast who has everything? How about a captivating explosion of backcountry colors from Western impressionist Louisa McElwain? Or a lifelike bronze rodeo bull by sculptor Richard Loffler? Such are a few of the rugged treasures one might bag, tag and take home at West Select, an annual exhibition and art sale that runs through December 31 at the Phoenix Art Museum. Shepherding the work of 33 top contemporary artists into one sensuous stampede, the exhibition reveals an American West unsullied by industrial creep and city-slicker routine. Hey, beats another bottle of cologne. Adult tickets, $15. For more information, visit mensartscouncil.com.
ARTIST OF THE MONTH
Master framer Richard Laugharn pays the bills by creating hand-milled, custom-finished wood frames for A-list art halls, including the Phoenix Art Museum and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. But his true passion is for framing amateur or “vernacular” photographs.
Jossy Lownes remembers painting with her aunt as a child in Rhode Island. But it wasn’t until she was in her forties that she embarked on a career as an artist. “I never gave up on wanting to be an artist, but sometimes life takes you in different directions,” says Lownes, who returned to the canvas after stints as a schoolteacher and real estate agent.
From activist pop art to contemporary graffiti basketry, the latest crop of Native American art in Arizona is outgrowing stereotypes.
“Where’s the horses?”
As Thomas Greyeyes hangs his paintings on the wall of Vida E Caffe in Globe, he answers the confused older lady’s question with as much diplomacy as the 23-year-old Navajo artist can muster, considering he’s been answering questions like this for years.
Remember when late-night TV legend Johnny Carson took extended breaks from The Tonight Show, leaving a revolving cast of guest-hosts (Bob Newhart, David Letterman, Joan Rivers) to crack jokes in his stead? The 2012-2013 season at the Phoenix Symphony will be kind of like that. Officially, outgoing music director Michael Christie is still in charge, but the 38-year-old maestro will be frequently MIA this year as he gets new tuxedo tails measured at the Minnesota Opera.
ARTIST OF THE MONTH
Last March, Fred Tieken unveiled his wily vision of the First Friday art walk scene with “Buzzz,” a 126-foot-long mural at 124 W. McDowell Road. The creation features more than 50 characters, including the usual First Friday suspects – cops, a fire-breather, mohawked teens, and an assortment of art-scene regulars. “It’s a cross-section of a certain lifestyle that most people in Arizona don’t know exists,” Tieken says.
Former Scottsdale City Councilwoman Betty Drake has swapped politics for paintbrushes, though she hasn’t strayed far from the governmental sphere. She recently completed a commission for another well-known Scottsdale resident: a portrait of Jamie Drinkwater, daughter of the late Mayor Herb Drinkwater. “When I was heavily into the council, I didn’t have time to do any art,” says Drake, 67, a councilwoman from 2004 to 2009. “I am really enjoying getting back into the creative flow, post-politics.”
SMoCA Lounge coordinator Tania Katan calls the venue’s monthly fourth Friday event “a little bit This American Life and a little bit rock ‘n’ roll.” We call it a counterculture Hee Haw. Done in wall-to-wall red with wood-pallet benches and limpid lighting effects, the Lounge has been the wild stepchild of the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art since its debut last fall. On fourth Fridays, it also serves as ground zero for the Valley’s coolest variety show. The August bill of fare includes Comedy Central writer/performer Shaz Bennett, Scout Durwood from The Howard Stern Show, KJZZ commentator Robrt Pela and local musical guest The Pübes. See? Just like Hee Haw. Except with avant garde punk bands and a cash bar. August 24. Tickets cost $10. For more information, visit smocalounge.com.
Fans of Hot Tuna may wrangle grandchildren and hit the driving range in the here-and-now, but in the 1960s, it was all about hippies and free love, baby. Times have changed for Hot Tuna, too, but not their passion for guitar-based folkery. As members of Jefferson Airplane in the ’60s, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady sandwiched Hot Tuna performances between Airplane gigs and spun-off on their own in the ’70s. Over the years, the duo tweaked their sound to include blues, bluegrass and spacey folk jams, but lost none of their brio.
ARTIST OF THE MONTH
Glendale artist David Zadroga really puts some punch into his performance art. His latest interactive technique involves wrapping canvases around giant punching bags – a notion that came to life while “processing” a problem with his sister, who happens to be a psychologist. Later, during a workout with a punching bag at the gym, the idea hit him full force.
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Arizona Country Roads
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ARTIST OF THE MONTH:“What's my favorite piece?” Lalo Cota repeats, settling in at Jobot coffeehouse in Downtown Phoenix. “The next one.” ...