Image credit: 44th Annual Contemporary Crafts Exhibition opening reception on Feb. 10, 2023 at Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum. Ali Schorman, “Light Blue Bottle,” “Green Bottle,” “Pink Bottle,” 2021, Porcelain, sizes vary. Photo by Delia Johnson.
The first new exhibitions of 2023 usher in a year of artistic excitement at Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum. Its five galleries showcase the finest in contemporary art. Enjoy free admission during museum hours: Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sunday 12–5 p.m., closed Mondays.
Here’s what’s in store:
Michelle Stuhl and Howard Werner – Shared Places
More than just a sharing of ideas, can artists breathe the life of the places they work and live into their pieces? The definitive answer: yes, as is seen in the art of Michelle Stuhl and Howard Werner in “Shared Places.” Splitting time and studios between Arizona, New York City and the Catskill Mountains, Stuhl and Werner reflect the specific and disparate geographies of their lives in selected media.
Stuhl employs graphite, oil and encaustic to contrast nature and man-made landmarks of locations she knows best. She’s earned an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and exhibited in museums and galleries including The Metropolitan Museum of Art (NY), The DeYoung Museum (San Francisco), The Louvre (Paris), The Victoria and Albert Museum (London), the Milwaukee Museum of Art and many more. Viewers will glean information about her subjects and examine how they interpret form and function in her works.
Werner, a master woodworker, is influenced by tribal cultures and creates clean, minimalist carved designs while maintaining the integrity of the raw material. His works are often sculptural and functional, owing to his degree in woodwork and furniture design from Rochester Institute of Technology. Using a chainsaw, he carves into large pieces of wood native to the locales of his work. The contrasts between the smoothly shaved surfaces and the original trees from which they are carved are captivating.
“Shared Places” runs through March 19, 2023 in the South Gallery.
(un)Familiar Faces: Phase II – Sebastiao Pereira
We’ve all heard the question, “What’s in a Name?” One might change that to “What’s in a Face?” when seeing this exhibition of the work of Sebastiao Pereira, a graduate of Arizona State University. Visitors can view the transformation of smaller elements into the faces of people the artist knows and respects.
Born in Brazil, Phoenix artist Sebastiao Pereira is known for his large-scale, photorealistic portraits. He creates collages from recycled art magazines. After cutting them into squares, he arranged them in a mosaic pattern. From chefs and teachers to healthcare providers and artists, Pereira’s latest work expands on a pre-existing series that brings together a diverse community of individuals from all walks of life.
Visitors are fascinated by how a collection of small pieces can become one person, can wonder about the spirit and lives depicted in each portrait, and can see whether there are familiar aspects while viewing each one.
“(un)Familiar Faces: Phase II” can be viewed through April 2, 2023 in the North Gallery.
Booke Molla – Looking at Nature
How much does one notice the little bits of life? Not just the things that call out for our attention but the subtle elements that hint at the vibrant living world around us. One can experience these elements through the prints of Tucson artist and Naturalist Brooke Molla in “Looking at Nature.”
Molla, who lives and works in the low desert, observes and captures the natural world in her woodcut prints. Without the assistance of a printing press, she often hand-embellishes her work with sewing and embroidered details. From leaves and feathers that blow under one’s door during a storm to insects caught in spiderwebs, Molla gains inspiration from overlooked objects and insight into the drama surrounding us.
She received her MFA from Washington University in St Louis, MO, and many of her pieces are part of permanent collections, including Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates, Janet Turner Museum (Chico, CA) and special collections at Colorado State University at Boulder CO, as well as other galleries.
It’s always a good time to engage with nature, especially during this exhibition, while Molla’s works are on display in the SRP Gallery through April 9, 2023.
Urban Portraits – Jim S. Smoote II
Through painting and traditional quilting techniques Chicago artist Jim S. Smoote II explores the beauty of portraiture and Black representation. Smoote combines humor with contemporary urban and pop culture references to create commentaries that can be political or provocative. His expertise in the fabric arts magically combines with his adeptness in incorporating human form to create pieces that reach viewers souls, connecting with lovers of traditional and non-traditional art mediums.
Born in Grenada, Mississippi, in 1950, Smoote moved to Chicago in 1956 and ateended Chicago Public Schools. He earned both a BFA and MFA from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago with degrees in Textile Design and Art Education. His mixed-media textiles are exhibited internationally. He taught elementary and high school art in Chicago public schools for 35 years, and now in his retirement, he focuses on his mixed media and fabric designs.
His work can be seen in the Project Room through April 9, 2023.
44th Annual Contemporary Crafts
Much excitement accompanies the annual juried contemporary crafts exhibition at Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum. Because of its long-standing history, the range of media and the unique, varied ways of representing the concrete and abstract, this is one exhibition offering something for everyone! Welcome its 44th iteration and catch this latest showcase of expert individual craft and vision. You’re guaranteed to find something to shatter your expectations and leave you with new ideas of how craft intersects with art.
Highlighting the finest in contemporary crafts from across the country, the Annual Contemporary Crafts exhibition is a benchmark for innovation and quality. This exhibition represents traditional craft mediums, including ceramics, fibers, basketry, metals, wood, glass, jewelry, papermaking and book arts. The variety of pieces will impress and amaze.
The guest Juror was Ariel Zaccheo, Curator of the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco, California. Learn more about the history of the Annual Contemporary Crafts exhibition here.
Don’t miss the” 44th Annual Contemporary Crafts” display in the Dobson Main Gallery now through April 23, 2023.
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