“Creatures and Monsters,” an exhibition by Scottsdale Public Art featuring artists who explore the beasts of imagination, in now on display online and at the Civic Center Public Gallery inside the Scottsdale Civic Center Library.
This is the first new exhibition at the gallery since the library’s initial March closure in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The exhibition can also be fully experienced online, as has been customary for many Scottsdale Arts exhibitions since the pandemic began. Scottsdale Public Art is a branch of Scottsdale Arts.
“I’m very happy to have my art on show during this pandemic,” said Phoenix artist Keri Schneider, who has two pieces in the exhibition. “Viewing art in person is always the best experience, but it’s great that we live in a world today where we can still make art accessible by virtual means. In this difficult time, I think art is very important, and I welcome every opportunity to continue to make my art visible to all.”
Wendy Raisanen, curator of collections and exhibitions for Scottsdale Public Art, said she was inspired to create the exhibition by an internal question of why humans create creatures and monsters. The curator said she believes humans need monsters and their stories to help us work out important problems and issues, from the romantic mystery of dragons, who can terrorize or save us, to the kraken, which gives form to our fears of the deep.
“They help us tell stories about humanity and help us learn about ourselves,” Raisanen said. “I was excited to see what local artists would show — what kind of creatures of imagination they have. Some are not so much scary as personally important. Some are cute or magnificent. And some are indeed creepy and frightening.”
As monsters help us put names to our fears and tell stories about conquering them, an exhibition full of monsters could be cathartic for some viewers in the midst of a worldwide pandemic.
Works like Schneider’s colorful watercolor painting “Dragon” exemplify how artists can use creatures to process human emotions. Schneider said her children gave the nickname “Dragon” to her mother, their grandmother. Shortly after Schneider’s mother died, a Gila monster came to visit their home — a scene depicted in the painting.
“In this surrealistic painting of my childhood home, my mother is the dragon-like Gila monster protecting the desert home she loved so much,” Schneider said.
Joe Ray, another Phoenix artist who has two artworks in the exhibition, said he is grateful that modern technology is able to bring exhibitions like this to an audience, even if art-lovers are not able to physically view the art. One of his own works in the show, a woodblock print titled “Xelfi Time,” combines technology with mythical beings as it portrays ancient time-traveling deities who live in the modern world, documenting their daily lives like many humans: with selfies.
Other exhibiting artists include Patricia Adams (Chandler), Morgan Adams-Smith (Scottsdale), Robert Fathauer (Scottsdale), Ed Kennefick (Phoenix), Jacqueline Marquez (Gilbert), Stephanie McCauley (Mesa), Thomas McKee (Scottsdale), Tobi Natali (Phoenix), Sunny Nestler (Vancouver, British Columbia), Christy Puetz (Phoenix), Lydia Quinones (Mesa), Tim Randall (Peoria), Annaliese Schneider (Phoenix) and Caroline Wargo (Phoenix).
Scottsdale Public Art will host a virtual opening reception for “Creatures and Monsters” via Zoom at 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 21. Raisanen will host the free event, which will feature many of the artists from the exhibition and is open to the public. For details, visit ScottsdalePublicArt.org/events/.
To view the “Creatures and Monsters” exhibition online, visit ScottsdalePublicArt.org/exhibition/creatures-and-monsters/. Two other recent Scottsdale Public Art exhibitions, “Abstract Journeys of Mutation” and “Mount St. Helens: Catastrophe and Renewal, 40 Years On” can also be viewed online at ScottsdalePublicArt.org/exhibitions/.
Two additional Scottsdale Arts branches, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) and Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation, also have select exhibitions online. They can be viewed at SMoCA.org/exhibitions/ and ScottsdaleArtsLearning.org/exhibitions/.
The physical exhibition of “Creatures and Monsters” will remain on display through Sept. 25 at the Civic Center Public Gallery, 3839 N. Drinkwater Boulevard, Scottsdale. However, the Civic Center Library does have limited hours due to COVID-19. For current library hours and other COVID-19 details, please visit ScottsdaleLibrary.org/COVID19.
Through its partnership with the City of Scottsdale, the nonprofit Scottsdale Arts (formerly known as Scottsdale Cultural Council) creates diverse, inspired arts experiences and educational opportunities that foster active, lifelong community engagement with the arts. Since its founding in 1987, Scottsdale Arts has grown into a regionally and nationally significant, multi-disciplinary arts organization offering an exceptional variety of programs through four acclaimed branches — Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA), Scottsdale Public Art and Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation — serving more than 600,000 participants annually. In conjunction with the City of Scottsdale, we also host more than 200,000 people annually on our campus through a robust rentals program.
The mission of Scottsdale Public Art is to make Scottsdale one of the most desirable communities in the country in which to live, work and visit by incorporating art and design projects throughout. In 1985, the City of Scottsdale established Scottsdale Public Art with the goal to enhance the quality of life for its residents and visitors. Since then more than 100 permanent and temporary public artworks have been commissioned throughout the community. Scottsdale’s program and projects have won local, regional and national awards.