Valley Artists Foster Connection While Physical Closeness Isn’t Feasible

Madison RutherfordSeptember 17, 2020
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Photo courtesy Kristin Bauer
Photo courtesy Kristin Bauer

Valley artists are fostering a sense of connection while physical closeness isn’t feasible.

Phoenix-based artist Kristin Bauer aims to establish a connection between words and space in her work, but her latest series of text-based art installations, Untitled Gestures, evokes a different form of connection – a sense of solidarity in a turbulent time. “We look to art for connection, so in the absence of the certainty of our arts spaces, public space is really the one thing we have to work with to keep that going,” she says.

Her installations adorn the fronts of local businesses that have temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, including Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Hazel & Violet Letterpress, Practical Art and Desert Crafted.

Phoenix artists Gloria Martinez-Granados and Joan Baron also hope to bring people together while remaining socially distant, so the duo created Good Trouble Bucket, a performance piece and art installation inspired by civil rights activist John Lewis, who died in July.

The artists placed buckets at Piestewa Peak and South Mountain to connect with the public, inviting them to share their stories of “good trouble” by leaving a message in the bucket or posting on social media. “Public art is more important now because we need to have a different language, and art is that tool that provides people with a different language, a different way of expressing, a different way of absorbing information,” Martinez-Granados says.

Roadside Attraction, an art exhibition displayed in unexpected public places throughout the Valley, serves a similar purpose. Curated by Chris Jagmin, Patricia Sannit and Lisa Olson, it stemmed from the desire to display art while museums and galleries remain closed. “We hope to showcase artists’ works and show that we are a unified community, but we also hope to show that artists have a voice and can bring conversation, joy and beauty during the current time,” Jagmin says.

Bauer says public spaces represent the identity of a community.

“The more people feel like they have a place in shaping that… the more we create possibilities to build a better future,” she says.