Practical Art presents: “Electric Love” by Julio Cesar Rodarte

Practical Art-Julio_May2015 copyJulio Cesar Rodarte is in his early 30’s, and says he wouldn’t have made it this long without art. “Art saved my life. The reason I started painting was because there was a time in my life when everything was dark and joyless. When I thought I was not going to make it, art brought color back in. But most importantly, it brought inner peace, a sense of energy that has kept me in balance all these years, and an eye to appreciate beauty in simple things. It brought joy and I felt alive again.”

Emigrating from a small town in Zacatecas, Mexico to the States at the age of 16, all Rodarte dreamed of doing was learning English, eating at McDonald’s, and visiting Las Vegas– experiencing the America he’d only read about in books. And, while those simple wishes were quickly attained, Rodarte suffered a number of frustrations: day-to-day life as a gay teenager in Arizona high schools, the impermanence of Visas, and the challenge of pursuing a higher education with a citizenship status in flux. The weight of those struggles allowed a deep depression to ebb in, one that Rodarte was only able to emerge from through his art.

Rodarte cites artists Elizabeth Murray, Al Held, and Frank Stella as inspirational touch points for his work, and he cites his ability to craft beauty out of hardship as motivation to continue to create artwork, learn, and live. Join us during May to experience the radiant palette active in his most recent works; reception tonight!

Practical Art-Julio_May2015-05 Practical Art-Julio_May2015-06

Practical Art-Julio_May2015-01Practical Art-Julio_May201 copy

“Electric Love”
Julio Cesar Rodarte
Practical Art
Exhibition May 1st-31st, 2015
Reception: First Friday, May 1st, from 7-9


“Indispensable Dispensables” by Lee Berger

Leros_PracticalArt-march 2015-08

We’re launching our Art Detour weekend with a Friday night reception for Lee Berger’s “Indispensable Dispensables- lessons still to be learned” exhibition.

Berger senses that life has become a battle for health, sanity, purpose, and value amidst systems that hydrogenate, frack, exploit, and ceaselessly digitize. The world is littered with the results of these collective decisions and processes, and our souls and psyches mirror this environment. Berger is using his art to provide another point of reflection.

These works speak to this relationship in both subject and material, employing symbolic imagery, as well as the detritus of Berger’s life: eggshells, tin cans, tea leaves, mesquite pods, espresso beans– all crushed and sifted to be adhered to the canvas as the surface for his paintings (some of which are 4’x4′).

With their inquiry into consumption, consumerism, and human behavior, Berger’s series of mixed media paintings are an intriguing thematic complement to Phoenix Art Museum’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable Andy Warhol event, so be sure to hit both Central Avenue locales tonight!

Leros_PracticalArt-march 2 copyLeros_PracticalArt-march 2Leros_PracticalArt-march 2015-06

“What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you can know that the President drinks Coke. Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too.”  – Andy Warhol

05 03 02

“Indispensable dispensables – lessons to still be learned”
Lee Berger
Practical Art
Exhibition March 1st-31st, 2015
Reception: First Friday, March 6th, from 7-9

**and visit us all weekend for during Art Detour 27!**

“Unleash Your Wild” – The Art of Tawny Gamboa


14Local artist Tawny Gamboa mixes the psychology of color, her meditation practice, and the influences that come from motherhood together in her brand new series, “Unleash Your Wild”. These vibrant mixed media works are combination spray can art, dripped paint, and bold brushstrokes that depict the spirit of their featured animals– peacocks, monkeys, elephants, and, of course, lions. (It’s like a zoo in here!) The color, whimsy, content, and pricing of these pieces make them perfect as a small series to jazz up your yoga studio or to strike the fancy of a Youth Collector– so make sure to bring the whole family!


“Unleash your Wild” by Tawny Gamboa
Exhibition: September 1-30, 2014
eception for the Artist: First Friday, Sept 5th, from 7-9

Tawny-shoot-11 Tawny-shoot-10







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.

Photo Essay: A Studio Visit with Practical Art Artisan Beth Shook


Under the instruction of the most accomplished professors, I developed skills as a craftsman, found a love for clay, and a near obsession with the drawn line.”  Practical Art artisan Beth Shook says it best when talking about the elements necessary for complete and quality craftwork: head, hands, heart, and– based on the first image below– chutzpah!  But who needs to say anything when you have studio photographs like these to illustrate Beth’s attention to detail at every step of her process. And truly, doesn’t a glimpse into an artist’s studio say 1,000 words about them, their practice, and their art? 

Shook_02Shook_01 shook-03shook-08 shook-11 shook-12 shook-13


Drawings made in clay are the basis for the fine art side of her practice, but even her functional work, like this signature casserole dish, bears the evidence of Shook’s love for line. In her plates, bowls, bakingware, mugs, and more, nothing is overlooked: the solid construction, the tried-and-true colorful glazes, detailed surface treatments, and all the little touches that make these pieces unique to Beth.

The Buffalo Girl Art Auction….closer and closer!

And the week keeps moving! More days, more art! The Buffalo Girl Dinner & Art Auction is right around the corner. The attendee envelopes are being stuffed, the food trucks’re orderin’ stock, the coolers are loaded with bevvies, and we’re on the 4th reveal day of the art auction works!


Can you believe 2008 was SIX years ago? I guess with our Anniversary shinding coming up on the 19th, that concept should be fresh in mind. That was the first time Jay Hardin’s paintings graced our walls; the next? 2011 and with decidedly different monochrome works. His newest work merges the two modalities, bringing the organic, flowing repetition of natural and applied rhythms to the surface of a photograph using mixed media. Having this kind of enduring relationship with an artist, seeing their work, their lives, and their families growing and changing, is one of the loveliest aspects of our longevity as an arts organization.



Rich Fairborn was a friend of Jane’s and has remained a loyal regular to the shop. We love seeing folks who knew Jane come through (also part of what this event is about); it reminds us of the connection she still has with this world through those relationships and memories, as well as how useful and appreciated Practical Art remains to folks daily lives. Rich has that appreciation for craft as he is an artisan himself; this work is a superb testament to that. The size and shape of a small cantaloupe, there is something extremely satisfying about the balance, weight, and proportion of this fine work. And we’re thankful for his donation that honors Jane and her mission to support our local art scene and its infrastructure– it’s a wonderful addition to the auction.

That’s today’s unveil, and there is a few more yet to come! Don’t forget to order your ticket online! We’ll hold your ticket packet here for you at the shop until the event, this Thursday April 10th from 5-8pm!




“Delicate Things” by Alex Ozers


Alright, you lucky ducks– isn’t this a treat!? These are shots of Alex Ozer’s exhibition “Delicate Things”…. in the making! How often do you get to go on studio visits? Have the chance to see artwork ‘in process’ and get a glimpse into the layers, the decisions, the careful building of a whole? Nothing in front of you here is complete, because, well, you can come by and see it hanging on our wall in its fully-realized form. (This, folks, is what you’d call a teaser!) Nothing equates to seeing art, especially art this textural, in person, right?






These pieces feature painting, weaving, metal casts, wood assemblage, and found natural objects, organized in a fashion that suggests ideas of the mystic, ritual, and relic. Ozer’s choice to levitate some of the forms  in the space in front of the wood plank, away from the wall, draws attention to the solidity and object-ness of these parts, and bring us to the proper state to consider weight and weightlessness, the solid and the ephemeral, the natural and the designed.

If you’d like a chance to chat about any of the varied processes within the work with the artist himself, this Friday night, February 7th, we host a reception from 7pm-9pm. The exhibition will remain on view through the end of February.