“Support: something that holds up structure” works by Molly Koehn

Beginning July 1st, Practical Art will feature the amazing work of local artist, Molly Koehn. Come by and explore the relationship between humans and nature in her show, “Support: something that holds up structure.” Attend our Artist’s reception on Friday, July 1st, from 7:00-9:00pm, and meet the artist herself!


We asked Molly to give us some insider information about her pieces, and she was happy to give oblige:

Koehn-July 2016-03

  1. What processes/materials did you use to create the pieces?

Many of my pieces use a process called eco-printing. It is a natural dye process that uses leaves to create a print on the fabric. The leaves are bundled up in fabric and steamed for an hour. The color from the leaves transfers to the fabric. I also use embroidery, weaving, and drawing.

  1. Is there a theme to your show? If so, what is it?

This work is looking at natural systems and the role humans play in those systems. These pieces are also looking at the idea of support. In these systems, is nature supporting us or are we supporting nature? And I definitely acknowledge that we are part of nature, but I think in general, humans separate themselves from nature.

  1. What inspired your work for the show?

Moving to the valley 2 years ago has been a huge inspiration. The greater metropolitan area is just so bizarre to me in how different it is from the desert surrounding. Arizona in general amazes me. Down here there’s cactus and shrubs everywhere, but up north it’s all pine trees and snow! I love the diversity of climates and vegetation. I see something new and interesting almost everyday. I could probably live here for the rest of my life and stay consistently amazed.  

  1. What is your favorite part about making art?

That’s a tough question. I love the general process of making—using my hands to create. I just love working hard and getting dirty.

  1. Do you have a favorite piece in the show? If so, what is it?

I’m partial to my maggot embroideries. There is something so satisfying about the play between something gross and beautiful at the same time.

  1. If you had to describe your show in 5 words or less, what words would you use?

Maggots, leaves, landscape, support, systems.  

  1. What other artists (any local?) inspire you?

I find a lot of inspiration from land artists, specifically Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt. I’m also the biggest Patricia Sannit fan in the world.

  1. What do you want your viewers to know about you as an artist?

I’m awesome.

We can’t wait to see you at Practical Art on First Friday, and throughout the month of July!



Photo Story: Studio Visit with Patricia Sannit


With over 130 local artists represented in the shop, Practical Art is host to a wide array of individually crafted works of art. Each piece tells a story. Each piece captures the artist at a particular moment in time. Each piece reflects the artist’s mood, influences, and energy. Patricia Sannit’s work beautifully demonstrates this interconnected relationship– the relationship between an artist and their work.


A ceramic artist, Sannit constructs her pieces using hand-building techniques. Building pieces from slabs and coils, she covers her pieces with white clay slip, into which she carves patterns and lines. Once the piece is fired to maturity, she uses a wash, stain, or glaze to finish. The carefully, hand created pieces, however, reflect more than the processes she utilizes. Sannit’s resulting works evoke a history and archaeology reflective of her experiences around the globe, studying ancient cultures and artifacts. To Sannit, her art is a contemplation of the pull between past and present, and the shared experiences across time and culture.






A Patricia Sannit piece conjures stark white bones and ancient civilizations, bringing the past into the everyday present. A visit to her studio gives insight into how her process is integral to her vision.


At Practical Art, we are incredibly fortunate to visit artists in their studios on a regular basis. Next weekend, you can too! Visit Sannit, and more than 50 other local ceramic artists, February 20-21, as they participate in ASU’s Fifteenth Annual Self-Guided Ceramic Studio Tour.  This event offers the public the rare opportunity to visit the working and living spaces of participating artists. Visit artist studios, and witness demonstrations of wheel-throwing, handbuilding, and glazing. Many of our Practical Art artists will be opening their spaces to you. Meet them, watch their techniques, and learn about their inspirations. View their work at the event, and then come by Practical Art to purchase your own unique piece! We can’t wait to see you soon!


“Mélange” by Becky Frehse and Jane Kelsey-Mapel


If you’ve ever tried collaborating, you know how difficult an endeavor it can be. The mental and emotional push and pull of the concept and aesthetic, how the labor is shared and presence of voice divvied– all factors that can strain the process. And even if those hurdles are surmounted, the results of collaboration can have varying degrees of success: two artistic voices may merely share the same canvas where signature styles co-mingle but never fully integrate or build upon one another. Add to those inherent difficulties nearly 1,500 miles of geographical distance, and the odds for successful collaboration would seem to be stacked unfavorably.

But, by golly, Tacoma artist Becky Frehse and Phoenix artist Jane Kelsey-Mapel have the magic.

PracticalArt_Feb2015-01Frehse and Kelsey-Mapel’s collaboration is based on mutual respect and an enduring willingness to trust each other’s aesthetic judgment. Their mixed media works marry the art and craft of the doll maker, puppeteer, model maker and folk artist with the finesse of traditional fine art painters and sculptors. The resulting work is an exuberant mélange, playful yet poignant in its exploration of contemporary and ancient themes– often alluding to women’s social roles, the commotion of daily life and family, as well as the notion that women become more beautiful in later life.

The pair have been friends since their art school days together at Arizona State University, they endeavor to work together at each other’s studios to produce work that is experimental and that questions conventional expectations of traditional fine art and craft materials.  The use of reclaimed or repurposed materials is a metaphor for repurposing or reinventing oneself at various transitions points in life.

“Mélange”, a show of collaborative sculptural works, will be on display for the month of February with an artist reception on First Friday, February, 6th from 7-9pm. We hope you’ll join us!



Becky Frehse and Jane Kelsey-Mapel
Exhibition: February 1st-28th, 2015
Reception: First Friday February 6th, from 7-9 

Back to School…. wait! what?! already?!

Back to school?!!?  Are you kidding me?! Summer JUST started. (Right?)

Well, at least the ringing of the school bell signals one thing: Fall can’t be too far around the corner. And, if you need another perk of impending academia to lift your spirits, how’s this: BACK-TO-SCHOOL SHOPPING! Art is our favorite palliative, so whether you’re sending your kiddos off to the big yellow bus, or yourself making the commute into campus– we have some little treats to make the transition out of summer a little more tolerable.

First, a creative home for that annual “First Day of School” snapshot.

skateboard frames-04







Maybe pick up a writing utensil so nice, you’ll be just looking for an excuse to use it– EVEN if that excuse is homework?  (And what better spot to your store school pens than a wise ol’ owl pencil cup?)






And when all the hard work is done and the teacher’s marked your paper with a giant “A+”, you’ll need some funky magnets to pin it up to the fridge. (These make great teacher gifts, too!)







And, if it’s been a particularly rough day?







We feel you.

“Education, n.: that which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.” – Ambrose Bierce


Announcing the Artists of “HEAT”!


Each summer, Practical Art hosts its anomaly show during the month when the intense heat is making everything a little off-kilter anyway. There’re mirages, things are melting & warping, our brains are probably baking just a teensy little bit… so maybe it makes sense that July is the month where our rules bend slightly? Instead of a month-long solo show selected and curated by us, we invite all AZ artists who’re creating wall-hanging works to pass their HEAT-themed pieces in front of a panel of art-savvy community jurors. This year there were about 100 entries, so the jurors had their work cut out for ’em! But now that all the votes’ve been tallied, we’re pleased to announce the participants!

Practical Art’s Third Annual Juried Group Exhibition, “HEAT” features these 11 creative local talents:

Barbara Bagan
Lexie Bowers
Christine Cassano
Brenda Edwards
Kim Gluscic
Kevin Hummelgard
Chet Provorse
Nora J. Steele
Tiera Sue
Jordan Alexander Thomas
Patricia Turpin

The show will be an eclectic round up of encaustic, mixed media, solar prints, pyrography, metal work, concrete, watercolor, oil, and more. Whether it’s the content or the material itself (or both!), each work embraces the presence of our common summer oppressor– the hot, hot, heat. It’s internal, it’s external, it’s fire, it’s sun, it’s artistic implement, it’s political issue– it’s all here during July at Practical Art.

And we would like to extend a special thank you to this year’s panel of community jurors, who, though much of their work and life is already occupied with AZ’s arts & cultural happenings, they took the time to squeeze in just this much more. So thank you for your time, energy, and expertise– Adriene Jenik, Director of ASU’s School of Art; Chris Kontakis, Producer and Editor of LocalRevibe Magazine;  Jessica Rajko, Artist Services Coordinator with Arizona Commission on the Arts; Audrey Thacker, Owner/Operator of Artisan Markets AZ; and Kirstin Van Cleef, Outreach and Temporary Projects Manager for Scottsdale Public Art.

The exhibition is up from July 1- July 31, and due to the holiday weekend, the artists reception will be held the Second Friday, July 11th, from 7-9pm.