I enjoyed a delightful conversation with Mesa artist Sherri Aldawood and her husband last week. Aldawood was one of many artists I met during a “Visions of Arizona” reception at the Arizona House of Representatives building. Her oil paintings “Balcony With Bougainvillea” and “Boys Fishing” are part of the exhibition.
When I asked Aldawood where her work is currently exhibited, she told me about the Arizona Art Alliance Gallery in Scottsdale. I’ve actually driven past it many times during shopping jaunts to what’s now called The Pavilions at Talking Stick — but assumed it was a purveyor of mass produced fare.
I decided to explore the gallery with my son on Saturday, and was thrilled to be proven wrong. It’s actually home to a volunteer organization whose 33 member groups, all based in Arizona, represent more than 4,000 visual artists.
The Arizona Art Alliance has an outreach program funded through the proceeds of art sales, donations and grants — which features art education and art mentoring programs.
It’s part of their overall mission to “celebrate Arizona’s diverse communities and rich cultural traditions, inspire creativity, grow local economies and enhance the quality of life for all Arizonans.”
We take art for granted far too often, but I suspect most of us would feel a deep loss were arts and culture removed from our homes, schools and public gathering places for even a single day.
The Arizona Art Alliance Gallery is a great way to introduce children to artworks including sculpture, jewelry, carving, painting and more. Gallery volunteers greeted us warmly when we arrived, and we got to watch two artists paint while we were there.
Another artist, whose photograph “Swizzle” was among our favorites, spent lots of time talking cameras and film with Christopher — and we were delighted to encounter so many folks of generous spirit.
One shared that she’s been a longtime reader of Raising Arizona Kids magazine, something it’s heartening to hear in an age when print publications are struggling much like arts organizations to find and keep advertisers and subscribers.
I hope all the parents who frequent The Pavilions at Talking Stick for arts and craft supplies (Hobby Lobby, Jo-Ann, Michaels), toys (Toys “R” Us) and movies (UltraStar Cinema) – will make time to enjoy the Arizona Art Alliance Gallery during their future visits.
Keep the gallery in mind next time you’re shopping for artwork for your home or gifts like jewelry for family and friends. It’s fun to catch artists in the act of painting, and lovely to spend time with folks who are so gracious.
Coming up: Art meets automobile, Bald is beautiful