Art News: An Update on the Rose Johnson Mural, a New Makerspace Opens, and More


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Here’s a quick Thursday-morning rundown of news from the local arts scene. Enjoy.

Civitan Mural Artist

The Civitan Foundation, which recently painted over the Rose Johnson mural on its building at 16th Street and East Thomas Road, has selected artist Isaac Caruso to create new artwork for the south-facing portion of the building. CEO Dawn Trapp expects the mural to go up in the next 30 to 60 days. The design will be driven in part by conversations with community members and may include visual elements that pay homage to Johnson and her art, according to art consultant Donna Isaac, who was brought in to assist with the mural project.

New Makerspace

A new makerspace called Phoenix Forge opened at 535 West Van Buren Street on February 16. Operated by GateWay Community College for the Maricopa County Community College District, Phoenix Forge will be open to MCCCD students and staff, as well as members of the public. The 22,500-square-foot facility is located in a former warehouse. Organizers note that several artists will be working at the makerspace, and they’re commissioning an artist to create a mural for the west wall at the site. Additional details will be announced in March.

Scene from Ballet After Dark, which was directed by B. Monét.EXPAND

Scene from Ballet After Dark, which was directed by B. Monét.

Indie Film Fest

Film Festival Awards

Numerous films were named Grand Jury Winners during the recent Indie Film Fest, an international festival based in Phoenix that went virtual this year. Tahara, directed by Olivia Peace, received awards for best film, feature film, director, and casting. Other winning films include Ballet After Dark (best documentary), She Is (best short fictional film), Tippy Tippy Top (best music video), Colonizing Space (best cinematography), and The Brownlist (best performance, by Ursula Taherian).

Checking out the Wind installation at Desert Botanical Garden.EXPAND

Checking out the Wind installation at Desert Botanical Garden.

Desert Botanical Garden

New Outdoor Art

Several new outdoor artworks are being installed around metro Phoenix this month. Tempe Public Art commissioned Roy Wasson Valle to create a piece on a clear wall at the Tempe Center for the Arts sculpture garden, which will be visible from The Gallery at TCA and the path running along Tempe Town Lake. An installation titled Water will be on view at Desert Botanical Garden starting on February 23. Created by Natasha Lisitsa and Daniel Schultz of Waterlily Pond Studio, the piece spans 100 feet and was made with materials that include 8,000 colored wooden dowels and 2,000 red flowering blooms.

Governor’s Arts Award

Tucson-based curator, folklorist, anthropologist, and writer Maribel Alvarez will receive the 2021 Shelly Award as part of the 40th annual Governor’s Arts Awards. The award, which is named for longtime arts advocate Shelley Cohn, recognizes achievement in pro-arts public policies. Alvarez’s accomplishments include “connecting artisanal economies, foodways and traditional arts to community planning and neighborhood-based economic development throughout the U.S.-Mexico border corridor.”

Enrique Chagoya, An Object at the Limits of Language (Un objeto en los límites del lenguaje), 2000 (detail). Acrylic, oil, amate and linen. Collection of Phoenix Art Museum, Gift of Friends of Mexican Art.EXPAND

Enrique Chagoya, An Object at the Limits of Language (Un objeto en los límites del lenguaje), 2000 (detail). Acrylic, oil, amate and linen. Collection of Phoenix Art Museum, Gift of Friends of Mexican Art.

Phoenix Art Museum

New Art Exhibits

Several art exhibits have opened recently at venues that have in-person hours (with mask and social distancing requirements). Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art will show works exploring African American and queer histories, as well as Latinx experiences in the Southwest borderlands, starting on February 20. Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum recently opened its annual exhibition of contemporary crafts, with works ranging from sculptures to fiber art. New exhibits at Phoenix Art Museum include “Sweet Land of Funk,” which reveals ways the mid-20th century Funk art style reflected the politics, social constructs, and creative impulses of its time. New exhibits are also on view at the Heard Museum and ASU Art Museum.

Small Business Grants

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation is accepting applications for grants focused on U.S. small businesses owned by people of color, women, and veterans. The initiative, which is also focused on businesses in lower-income communities, includes grants up to $20,000 each, along with virtual training and mentorship. The application deadline is March 19. Applications are also open for Shuttered Venue Operator Grants offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration, as well as various grants offered by Arizona Commission on the Arts.

Cactus gets the watercolor treatment at Carrie Curran Art Studios in Scottsdale.EXPAND

Cactus gets the watercolor treatment at Carrie Curran Art Studios in Scottsdale.

Carrie Curran Art Studios

New Art Classes

Many venues are currently offering in-person or virtual art classes and workshops, which range from beginner to advanced levels. Carrie Curran Art Studios, Scottsdale Artists’ School, Shemer Art Center, and Sunshine Craft Co specialize in visual arts classes ranging from macrame crafts to ceramic sculpture. Some art spaces, including Phoenix Center for the Arts and Mesa Arts Center, have courses in additional areas such as music, literature, theater, and dance. Class sizes and prices vary.

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