March 18 and 19 marked the 28th anniversary of the annual Art Detour event hosted by local non-profit, Artlink, Inc. This self-guided tour of artists’ studios, art galleries and local businesses in and around Downtown Phoenix is also the foundation of monthly events like the First Fridays Art Walk and Third Fridays, when a lot of venues hold their opening receptions. The event also featured pop-up spaces, live painting, entertainment and specialty tours.
Some participants – or as Artlink calls them, “articipants” – paid to be on the official Art Detour map, while other spaces took to channels like social media to promote their exhibitions and events. Between the two camps, there was plenty to see. Here's a handful of highlights:
Carolyn Lavender at the Onloaded Shipping Containers on Roosevelt Row
This exhibition, titled Progression, was curated by Ted Decker of Phoenix Institute of Contemporary Art. His thoughtful selection of pieces transformed a moderately-sized shipping container into a center of magic and wonder with an overview of work by Carolyn Lavender that highlighted different points in her career. Her self-portraits that combined graphite, gouache and paint were particularly poignant. They’re perfectly drawn but feel much more inviting than technical, and showcase universal emotions in a haunting capacity. The exhibition runs through April 10. phica.org
Fortoul Brothers at 40Owls Pop-up Gallery
This exhibition highlighted how restraint is a key element in the Fortoul Brothers’ approach to art. They put a distance in their exhibition schedule that created anticipation. They also used restraint in their bold and minimal paintings that gave each work a sense of completion and peace. Using polarities for best results is something else they’ve mastered. Their subjects are mysterious and inviting, with compositions created from a blend of fine lines and soft fluidity. To see images from this show and more, visit 40owls.com
James Angel at Modified Arts
Subsystems: New Work by James Angel used patterns and mathematical structures to examine natural subsystems. In breaking down these subsystems, Angel’s paintings offer a unique look at the intricacies of living entities as well as the systems they are contained by. In addition to highlighting a sense of infinitude, his work nods to the importance of perpetually questing for information and knowledge. modifiedarts.org
Colin Chillag at Chocolate Factory
Something Like a Mid-Career Review offered a several-year span of Chillag’s work dating to the present, including a small series of paintings reminiscent of a children’s book that teaches the alphabet. In a kids’ book, the letter ‘B’ might stand for banana, but in Chillag’s Selfless Acts series, it’s for Basquiat, as in Jean-Michel. And in this piece, the iconic ‘80s talent is dead, needle in arm – true to life. As a whole, the exhibition drove home his exceptional, realistic painting skills that also shatter ideas regarding perfection with their complex blend of the humor and sadness that is everyday life. colin-chillag.com
Jim Ether at Trunk Space
It turns out this painter from Port Washington, Ohio, has a bit of a cult following in the Phoenix area, which led to this solo exhibition at Trunk Space. Ether is a master of fun, using his colorful, comic style to paint lots of different oddball characters that stick with you. For this exhibition, he made multiples, with individual nuances, of characters like Pizza Cat, which is as awesome as it sounds – a wily feline gnawing a hearty slice of pizza. Mimes on Plums (again, go literal with this one) offered slightly different versions of the silent performer riding upon a purple plum. The exhibition runs through March. thetrunkspace.com
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