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Phoenix and Los Angeles are major western metropolises that sprawl over the arid environments from which they miraculously sprang. Both cities boomed in the post-war years and are defined by the subdivisions, strip malls, office compounds and landscaping that developed long before a sense of community took root. (right: Colin Chillag, "Phoenix," 2003, oil on canvas mounted on board, 36 x 42 inches, Courtesy of the artist and Modified Arts, Phoenix)

As part of its ongoing "southwestNET" series, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art [SMoCA] presents "PHX/LA," an exhibition of recent works by six emerging artists from Phoenix and Los Angeles. Although separated geographically, these artists explore similar issues related to the Southwest's unique version of urbanism, from its ubiquitous post-modern architecture to the impact of suburban sprawl on the desert environment. With youthful zeal and eclectic materials, they create works of art with a light-hearted edge that tempers the seriousness of the topics at hand.

Shirley Tse (Los Angeles) photographs crumpled pool covers which she poses in clusters against scenic desert backdrops to create tongue-in-cheek "family portraits." Matthew Moore (Phoenix) fabricates wry historical plaques that explore real estate development in the American West, particularly as it relates to Manifest Destiny and the great hope of the frontier. Colin Chillag (Phoenix) paints impasto cityscapes based on his observations of Phoenix and its surrounding suburbs. Brian Cooper (Los Angeles) creates installations using synthetic materials associated with 1970s suburbia, such as wood paneling and kitsch upholstery fabric, which recall the absurdist domestic sets of B-grade films. Keith Sklar (Los Angeles) appropriates images from Hollywood films, cartoons, historical religious paintings and the mass media into his expansive "wall paintings." Steve Roden (Los Angeles) pays homage to architect Wallace Neff, whose concrete "bubble houses" were built as affordable post-war housing in Litchfield Park, Arizona, as well as in Los Angeles. (right: Shirley Tse, "Vagabond or Wanderlust? #3" 1998, Lifochrome mounted on aluminum, 20 x 30 inches., Courtesy of the artist and Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica, CA)

"PHX/LA" is the fourth exhibition in SMoCA's ongoing "southwestNET" series. It is co-curated by Erin Kane, the museum's assistant curator, and Max Presneill, director of the alternative gallery Raid Projects, Los Angeles. A smaller version of the exhibition will be shown at Raid Projects in November 2004. The "southwestNET" series was conceived as a way to raise awareness of emerging and under-recognized artists and to further regional interaction. The exhibitions fortify SMoCA's commitment to area artists and to the development of a dynamic artistic community in the southwestern United States. (right: Brian Cooper, "Gratification Management" (detail), 2004, fabric, wood, synthetic stuffing, steel buckets, 7 x 6 x 1 feet, Courtesy of the artist)



"southwestNET: PHX/LA" is organized by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and made possible in part by the SMoCA Salon.

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