BARRY GRAHAM, Scottish author, journalist, Zen monk in U.S. Books include THE BOOK OF MAN (an American Library Association best book of the year), THE WRONG THING (finalist for SPINETINGLER MAGAZINE best novel of the year), WHEN IT ALL COMES DOWN TO DUST (a MYSTERY PEOPLE best book of the year) and KILL YOUR SELF: LIFE AFTER EGO, an Amazon Kindle bestseller in the Zen category.

Joe and Jan Show Opens in Phoenix Tonight

Image: Vince Larue

(At this event, Vince Larue will have copies of Dark Heat for sale.)

In March, curator Robrt Pela will present The Joe and Jan Show, a group exhibition of artwork from 11 different artists, all of it in homage to Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Governor Jan Brewer. The exhibit will be open on First Friday, as well as during Art Detour weekend (March 2 and 3) and again on Third Friday in March.

Much of the work, which includes both portraits of these infamous public servants as well as pieces inspired by their more notorious antics, was commissioned by Pela. Among the artists who’ve created new work for the exhibit are Jeff Falk, Annie Lopez, Peter Bugg, and Cuban painter Chary Castro-Marin. French comic artist Vince LaRue has created six color-drenched drawings, inspired by American rock concert posters of the 1960s. Irma Sanchez has produced a welcome mat with Sheriff Joe’s face on it that everyone will step on as they come through the door. Other work is more neutral, like a flattering textile portrait of Brewer knitted by Phoenix artist Todd Daniel Grossman. Also participating in the show are artists Chris Swanberg, Paul Wilson, Eric Cox, and Melissa McGurgan.

The Joe and Jan Show will open on First Friday, March 1 at 6 p.m. with an artist reception, and will remain on exhibit through March 29 at 335 West McDowell Road. The gallery is otherwise open by appointment only, by calling 602-320-8445.

Kristin Shears, Owner of Willo North Gallery, Cancels Joe and Jan Show Four Days Before Opening

Image: Vince Larueimage

This Friday, Willo North Gallery in Phoenix was to open its latest show curated by Robrt Pela, featuring new work by Vince Larue (who traveled from France for the opening), Peter Bugg, Jeff Falk, Annie Lopez and others.

This morning, galley owner Kristin Shears informed Pela that the show was canceled.

Pela had just informed Shears that he intended to resign from his role as curator after this show.

"Needless to say, I’m horrified," Pela told the artists. "Most of you spent weeks of your time creating new work especially for this show, and one of you is traveling here from France to deliver your artwork and be at the exhibit. Four days before our opening is no time for a gallery owner to cancel a show, but the fact that she has done so is beyond my control."

Pela intends to hold the show at another venue next month, and has already had offers from other galleries.

I don’t know if this canceling was meant to hurt Robrt Pela personally, or if Kristin Shears got cold feet over a potentially controversial show (its subject was Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Governor Jan Brewer), so I just sent Shears the following email:

Dear Ms. Shears,

I’m working on an article about the cancelation of the Joe and Jan show. Why was it canceled? Was it because of the content of the show, or personal retaliation against Robrt Pela for resigning?  How do you feel about the effect on the artists, one of whom traveled from France for the show?

Barry Graham

I’ll post her response if there is one. I’ll be writing more about this in any case.

Art Review: Peter Bugg at Willo North

Public Eye by Peter Bugg
On Friday, I was at Willo North Gallery in Phoenix for the latest show curated by Robrt Pela.

On display was work by the always-excellent Michele Bledsoe, Jeff Falk, Steve Gompf, and a fine graffiti artist named DOSE, whom I hadn’t heard of before but whose combining of images of Bob Dobbs and a Day of the Dead skeleton I found beautiful and unsettling.

The standout for me, though, was the work of Peter Bugg. His collection of dinner plates, onto which he had stuck widely-published photographs (taken by paparazzi) of female celebrities such as Britney Spears inadvertently (or perhaps not) showing their naked genitals, said something surprising about our culture of emotional voyeurism. Unsurprisingly, it was also the most polarizing work on display, with some people (including me) finding it compelling while others claimed it wasn’t art at all. (I didn’t know people still made that claim, but can now testify that they do.)

With a Warholian understanding of context, Bugg artlessly and artfully succeeds in making a point about celebrity culture (what Debord called The Society of the Spectacle and Chris Hedges calls The Empire of Illusion) - nonevents turned into bread and circuses. I had looked at these photographs before, but Bugg made me actually see them for the first time.