Creatures and Monsters

Scottsdale Public Art presents artwork by Arizona artists who explore the creatures of their imagination

Creatures and Monsters, an exhibition by Scottsdale Public Art featuring artists who explore the beasts of imagination, is 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.

Dragon by Keri Schneider

“I’m very happy to have my art on show during this pandemic,” says 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, says she was inspired to create the exhibition by an internal question of why humans create creatures and monsters. The curator  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 says. “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 says.

Xelfie Time by Joe Ray

Joe Ray, another Phoenix artist who has two artworks in the exhibition, says 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., 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.

To view the Creatures and Monsters exhibition online, click HERE.

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 HERE.

The physical exhibition of Creatures and Monsters will remain on display through Sept. 25 at the Civic Center Public Gallery, 3839 N. Drinkwater Blvd., Scottsdale. However, the Civic Center Library does have limited hours due to COVID-19. For current library hours and other COVID-19 details, click HERE.

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