Want easier parking and quieter streets? With more than 40 art-related venues beckoning visitors, it’s easy to forget the nifty First Friday Art Walk locations on the Southside where a relaxed and less-crowded mood prevails.
A moving memorial
Case in point: The fascinating art shows at the 100 Mikes Pike gallery, located at the same address as the name. Members of the local Purple Heart and Veterans of Foreign Wars chapters will be present to visit with visitors to the gallery throughout the evening.
The Art Walk in October is an excellent opportunity to visit this unique gallery for an emotional viewing of “The Fallen,” a powerful memorial by sculptor John Tuomisto-Bell that includes an installation honoring the 112 soldiers, Marines, airmen and sailors with ties toArizonawho have been killed in the line of duty while serving inIraq.
Inside a black installation room, little wax heads hang from the ceiling and dangle in every direction. Illuminated with LED lights, they glow red-yellow and wear the helmets of war.
All the pieces in the show are related to the suffering and sadness of war and will be available for viewing throughout the month at the gallery.
The show went up in time for September Art Walk and guests patiently waited outside the small installation room to enter several at a time to experience the art piece.
While waiting, they could view photographs of all the dead next to the entrance.
“This installation is a memorial to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, representing the fragility of life and the divine spark with each of us,” says Tuomisto-Bell, who creates out of his Tuomisto-Bell Studio Foundry in Phoenix.
He has specialized for 22 years in the “lost wax” method of casting bronze.
All the figures in the exhibit are uniform and undistinguished from each other.
“My work is an ongoing investigation examining the difference between individuals and collective society,” adds Tuomisto-Bell. “I portray figures with little detail, emphasizing the portrait of the figure and the commonalties they share, representing the featureless masses that follow rather than lead.”
For October, Tuomisto-Bell has added two captivating pieces: “Small Head,” a bronze and acrylic bust, and “Mad Artist,” an unusual work in bronze and colored with blood paint, (lime, linseed oil, milk, iron oxide and artist blood).
“The blood paint was taken from a farmer’s recipe around the turn of the century when they would mix their own paint using lime and livestock blood to paint their barns, hence—red barns,” the artist explains. “I had a registered nurse (grudgingly) take my blood, about a cup to use in the mixture. I liked the idea of the self-portrait with part of the ‘self’ on the actual piece and the sacrifice and pain needed for it.”
Guild potters featured
Another Southside venue Friday night will feature works by members of the Flagstaff Potters’ Guild that will take place at Thomas Byers Guitar Studio, 120 S. Beaver.
Under the spotlight are ceramic pieces by nine of the 27 guild members.
The Art Walk reception will include wine, appetizers and live music by the up-and-coming young Flagstaff musician, Anam Cara Dixon, while the showing itself is a preview for the group’s first-ever pottery sale, which is Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event is free and will be under white tents and outdoors in the parking lot outside of the guitar studio.
The Saturday sale kicks off the American Craft Week and marks one of two big events the guild has planned, including a Mother’s Day weekend studio driving tour to visit the different potters’ working spaces.
Rena Hamilton is the principal founder of the Flagstaff Potters’ Guild. She moved back toFlagstaffthree years ago. Struck by how many talented potters there are here, she took the initiative and started a networking group for ceramists in the area. The guild meets every two months to socialize and share technical information.
Membership is growing and represents a diverse group of professors, professionals and hobbyists all sharing a passion for the ceramic arts,Hamiltonnotes. “Shop local and support handmade inFlagstaff!” she adds.
Two artists downtown
You might choose to leave your car parked in the Southside and walk uptown where a number of wonderful venues include two new shows of work by gifted locals: “The Other End of the Rainbow,” which features Southwestern photography by Shannon Benjamin, at Rainbow’s End, 12 E. Rte. 66; and “Shadows and Light,” an exhibit by Dawn Sutherland at Wil NcNabb Fine Jewelry Studio, 18 N. Leroux. “This is a true fairy tale,” says Benjamin. “I grew up surrounded by weathered barns, classic drive-ins, giant sequoias and crashing ocean waves. Yet my dreams were filled with faraway places.”
Although tempted by the wet and wild Pacific Northwest and the “the ancient red dirt of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and the Land of Bigfoot,” Benjamin says she was pulled strongly back to the Southwest.
“Still I woke having dreamed of windows in desert canyons and Technicolor landscapes,” she observes. “A random series of events brought me toFlagstaff—to the surreal lands of the Colorado Plateau. This is my dreamland—My End of the Rainbow.
Also through October, another show by Benjamin, “Places of My Imagination,” will be on exhibit at the Wine Loft, 17 N. San Francisco, Ste. 2A.
The photographer says she explores the wonderland of the Colorado Plateau with her camera every chance she gets.
Moments in time
Over at the Wil McNabb studio, 18 N. Leroux, a solo exhibition by artist Sutherland features original oils inspired by her plein air studies and the natural landscape, captured in a moment in time.
“I believe it was during the Prelude Show at Coconino Center for the Arts that I heard several visitors remark that my work had that ‘old masters’ look’ from back in the 1930s or so,” says Sutherland. “If they were comparing my work to that of Moran, Widforss and others, then I’ll take that as an ultimate compliment. I greatly admire Dixon, Payne, Moran and other of their ilk.”
Many of the downtown businesses host monthly shows for artists, and “I’m privileged to have a solo exhibition at Wil McNabb,” she notes.
Through the years, her palette has evolved.
“This happens to those who paint constantly and are forever in search of colors that will define and describe the beauty of the landscape,” Sutherland observes. “Within the last year or so, I’ve felt a shift, for lack of a better word, to a different perception on the landscape and also use of a different palette.”
During First Friday, the artist will be splitting her evening between the jewelry studio and the Artists’ Gallery, but will be often at the studio to visit with guests.
Additional photos for this story:
An image from Shannon Benjamin’s Southwestern photo exhibit “The Other End of the Rainbow,” on display at Rainbow’s End for the Art Walk.
Sculptor John Tuomisto-Bell's "The Fallen."
Sculptor John Tuomisto-Bell. His work will be on display at the Mikes Pike Gallery.
A piece from the “Shadows and Light” exhibit by Dawn Sutherland
Work by potter Rena Hamilton. Her work is on display as part of the Flagstaff Potters’ Guild at Thomas Byers Guitar Studio.