Fierce! Showing Art in Phoenix, Arizona

Leading up to our call for our Third Annual group show, we want to take a minute to talk about our monthly exhibitions, and I want to bookend this post with two quotes from Sarah Thornton’s “Seven Days in the Art World”.

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“We have to make the same decisions as the artists. Do they create great art or art that sells well? With the galleries, it’s the same. Are they commercial or do they believe in something?”

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We aren’t a traditional gallery space. Given that our main arena of representation is locally-crafted, handmade, functional art– mugs, bowls, wine racks, pens– our layout is designed to be more touch-n’-handle friendly than the tenet pillars, vitrines, and stark displays of the great white cube. In that decision, we’ve embraced some limitations, gained some strengths, and ultimately, have found that the versatility of the liminal space between retail shop, community hub, and gallery is right where we belong. And though we were founded on a model specifically designed to give locally-made contemporary craft work a home and an audience, we built in a 33′ “gallery wall” because we love all art. Over the years, we’ve found out just how complementary monthly visual art exhibitions are to the regular representation of the craft work we carry. As it turns out, an art lover is an art lover is an art lover.

Since our inception, we’ve developed professionally and gained experience as gallerists, and our bookings have developed to follow suit. The work is extremely varied from month-to-month, but more so than ever, there is a consistency to the quality of the work we show and the commitment of the exhibitors to a continued path in the arts. Over six years, we’ve not only garnered a following of folks who put stock in our taste and trust in our selection, but we have come to appreciate and understand the interests of our audience. That’s the tricky thing for an artist: finding the space that connects with an audience who will be receptive to the artist’s particular work, and making sure the gallery knows its audience well enough to be able to determine that. Given that we’re nestled right in the main milieu of fun and commerce that is CenPho, our audience is looking for price-accessible pieces, work that is innovative and engaging because of its interesting conceptual investigations or unique material processes, and for work that would be inviting for any audience in a buyer’s home, something to compel conversation at a dinner party with friends and family. Every gallery should have a voice and a mission, and that’s ours. 

We book for a variety of mediums: painting, photography, drawing, ceramics, assemblage, metalworks, and everything in between and beyond. We receive around 100 submissions a year, and we only have 11 slots to give out (we have a group show in July)– so the competition for one of our wall shows is becoming evermore fierce. And we’re still proud to be that rare kind of approachable gallery that can offer early guidance to these emerging artists about navigating the tricky waters of representation and the art market. Many of our shows are for artists who’ve only shown their work a couple of times, or never before, and many of the folks that collect through our space frequent here because of that special connection that comes from being an artist’s early buyer. And with that, I’ll leave us off with that second quote from Thorton’s book:

“When you’re buying from a first or second show, you’re inside the confidence building, the identity-building of an artist. It’s not just about buying the piece. It’s about buying into someone’s life and where they are going with it. It’s a mutual commitment, which is pretty intense.”

from "Yeti Leaves Home" by Jennifer Campbell

Coyote Skull (Anterior Cranium) (2)

From "Pop Glyphs" by Julio Rodarte

www.practical-art.com

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