Phoenix is often perceived as a drab city of bland beige suburban subdivisions dotted with nondescript rock formations and repetitive clusters of cacti. This presumption could not be further from the truth, for the greater Phoenix area is actually the vibrant hub for some of the best art galleries in the Southwest. Pass through the doors of the following galleries to get a taste of colorful works of arts:
Modified Arts first opened back in 1999 by Kimber Lanning, the founder and executive director of Local First Arizona, but it passed ownership several times before landing back into the capable hands of Lanning. In addition to holding exhibitions by regional, national and international artists, including showcases of contemporary painting, sculpture, works on paper, photography, multi-media and installation art in its minimalist environment, Modified Arts also functions as a musical performance space — Arcade Fire even played in the edgy urban space before hitting the big time.
407 East Roosevelt Street, Phoenix (602) 462-5516
Hours: First Fridays of the month, 6 pm -10 pm ; Third Fridays of the month, 6 pm-9 pm; Saturdays, noon – 4 pm by appointment
FIVE 15 ARTS
Roosevelt Row is a walkable, creative district in the urban core of downtown Phoenix that is nationally known for its arts and cultural events, and the Five15 Arts gallery is squarely situated here. A collective, artist-run, contemporary art space committed to providing support and exhibition space to creative Arizona artists, the intimately-sized Five 15 Arts has been included by The Arizona Republic in the “Best Underground Art Scene.” This is an amazing gallery to scope out on First Fridays, where the gallery is also a convenient shuttle stop on the art tour!
515 East Roosevelt Street, Phoenix (602-256-0150)
Hours: First and third Fridays of the month, 5 pm-9 pm; Saturdays 1 pm – 5 pm
No Southwest gallery guide would be complete without mention of Native American Indian art, the one art form both loved – and sometimes loathed – by Arizona natives. Faust Gallery in Scottsdale specializes in historic and contemporary Native American art including weavings, jewelry, paintings, sculpture, and Hopi, Navajo, and Pueblo pottery from such established local artists as Dina Huntinghorse and Harvey Begay. Strolling amongst the galleries in Scottsdale, when one peaks into this gallery’s windows, it’s hard not to be blown away by the “wearable art” comprised of precious metals and stones such as turquoise, lapis, coral and mother of pearl.
7103 East Main Street, Scottsdale
, (480) 200-4290
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm
PHOENIX AIRPORT MUSEUM
In the sprawling Terminal Four of Sky Harbor Airport, weary and hungry travelers not only can get a taste of the torta conchita pibil of hometown fave Barrio Café, but they also can sample art and culture! Always open and featuring both permanent and rotating exhibits, the Phoenix Airport Museum and Gallery displays locally-created art depicting past and current life. There are 25 spaces for exhibits spread out over six airport buildings, but the greatest number of changing exhibitions is found in the heavily-used terminal that houses Southwest and American Airlines. A few of the current exhibitions include Craig Smith’s “Finding the Beauty in Construction ” photography display (shown through August 2014) and “The Enduring American Legend ” art display from Desert Caballeros Western Museum (shown through September 2014).
3400 Sky Harbor Boulevard, Phoenix, (602) 273-2105
Hours: Always open, seven days a week