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Art in the Desert: Quenching your thirst for local art
Phoenix may be located in a desert, but it’s a vibrant, lush locale for galleries that do more than bring in large, well-curated exhibits. Some of these galleries host artistic residencies or working spaces for artists; some teach a wide spectrum of classes; some continue to remind us of Phoenix’s important contributions to art history; and some provide local community involvement and support. If you’re thirsty for art and culture outside of the norm, we’ve provided a description of just a few of Phoenix’s cultural oases in the desert.

Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center (ALAC)
ALAC is a cultural center in downtown Phoenix whose mission is to preserve Latino, Mexican, Xicano, and Indigenous arts and cultures. The facility includes “La Galeria 147,” which is the main gallery, and two small galleries, “El Rincon” and “La Campilla,” as well as a performance stage, “Teatro Galeria.” ALAC provides First Friday programs, free Sabados for Children classes every month 6-9 p.m., and local ALAC artists sell their work in the gift shop.

Art Intersection
Located in downtown Gilbert, Art Intersection is the ideal blend of gallery, photography lab, and educational venue. Founded in 2011 by Alan Fitzgerald, the space combines three galleries, a photo lab, a digital room and a darkroom. Art Intersection provides workshops for various ages and skill levels of students, teaching both analog and digital photography techniques, and other mediums. Art Intersection also provides opportunities for students and artists to submit their works for exhibits throughout the year, with annual shows such as “No Strangers,” the show for Art Intersection members, and “All Art Arizona.”

Cattle Track Arts Compound
Cattle Track is a nonprofit organization with the mission of providing opportunities for artists, craftsmen, and students, enabling them to hone their artistic talents. Located in Scottsdale, Cattle Track is a wondrous journey among a variety of artists working on site, as well as exhibits and preservation projects of Arizona art. You can see artists such as photographer Scott Baxter, known for his “100 Years 100 Ranchers” project, or pottery artist Mary Van Dusen, who has been at Cattle Track for 16 years. Cattle Track also provides talks on a variety of topics. Take a day to visit Cattle Track and explore the artistry residing out in this treasured compound.

First Studio
Many years ago, Phoenix was home to “Wallace and Ladmo,” a children’s television show that became one of the longest-running, local daily shows in America. Filmed in central Phoenix, the show ended after 35 years. In 2002, the building was renovated, and it’s become a combination gallery and collective of creative businesses. The building is very recognizable with its mural of Wallace and Ladmo, painted by local artists Hugo Medina and Shawn Bullen, and the actual studio is still in existence, along with the catwalk and some memorabilia from the show. The gallery hosts art on First and Third Fridays.

Gallery 119 at Lowney/Coplin Studios
New to the Phoenix landscape of galleries, Gallery 119 is the art gallery connected to the Lowney/Coplin studios in downtown Phoenix. Located in an unassuming warehouse, the gallery and working studio within are indeed an oasis in the city. Joel Coplin and Jo-Ann Lowney are married artists who inherited the building, and have turned the warehouse into an artist’s dream place. Visitors are treated to the owners’ personal work-in-progress: Coplin paints large-scale paintings that allude to the irony of the human condition, while Lowney paints symbolic still-life paintings. On First Fridays the gallery is open with their current exhibit, and throughout the month there may be other events in the gallery.

Shemer Art Center & Museum
With a logo of “Art Lives Here,” you know you’re in the right place for indulging in an artistic experience. The Shemer Art Center and Museum in the Arcadia district of Phoenix provides a well-rounded catalog of art experiences: exhibits, lectures, classes, art festivals, and summer camps. The Shemer Art Center, with its own rich history of existence, became a nonprofit in 1985 and since has become a viable art center and is officially a Points of Pride for the city of Phoenix. In November, offerings include the 2019 Shemer Arizona Arts Festival, and the annual Shemer Honors gala, in which this year bronze sculpture artist Bill Nebeker is the honoree.

Taliesin West
Taliesin West is more than a beautiful house in the Scottsdale desert by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site and a National Historic Landmark, and no matter how often you visit, it offers something new every time you see it. Established in 1937 as Wright’s winter home and the headquarters of the Taliesin Fellowship, Taliesin West became the home of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, the School of Architecture at Taliesin, and jump-started the careers of many architects, as well as the career of local legendary photographer Pedro E. Guerrero. Today, Taliesin West provides tours during the day and at night, and the Southwest Shakespeare Company provides performances at the small theatre inside. Want to learn to photograph Wright architecture? Photographer Andrew Pielage, who is working on project to photograph all 532 Wright structures, has a three-day workshop in November.

Founded in 1975, Xico’s mission is to serve Arizona Latinx and Indigenous artists, nourishing an appreciation of these cultural and spiritual heritages. Xico provides artist-in-residence opportunities, classes, mobile art programs for the underserved communities, artist workshops, and is well known for its printmaking workshops. Xico also helps artists with workshops and lectures that focus on the business of being an artist. On First Fridays, Xico has Xico Container exhibitions on Roosevelt Row in which you can see printed works that reflect the Xico mission.

By Miachelle DePiano
Photo Courtesy of Listed Galleries