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Sebastiao Pereira, "Pensive"

“WEST — Arizona Artists of Color” aims to show the West as the featured artists know it: with a rich cultural history. Their work in Arizona shows the universal need to belong, to be accepted and to be seen, as well as shedding light on the struggle to make social connections and understand one another. The artists in this exhibition express their solidarity with the human condition and the need to be free of prejudice and injustice.

Scottsdale Public Art recently opened “WEST—Arizona Artists of Color,” at the Scottsdale Civic Center Library.

“The exhibition is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the varied range of creatives living and working here in the Valley of the Sun, who also happen to be artists of color,” said Kim Boganey, director of Scottsdale Public Art. “Some of the artists have well-established names that may be recognizable to many; others we are excited to introduce to audiences. With all of the artists, their work is a reflection of what it means to live in the West.”

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“Little Boy Blue” (pictured center), is a painted steel, aluminum and wood sculpture that acts as a biographical statement for Phoenix artist Joe Willie Smith, referencing his childhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

Co-curated by Phoenix artist Joe Willie Smith and Wendy Raisanen, curator of collections and exhibitions for Scottsdale Public Art, the exhibition will run through March 2.

Smith said that historically, many exhibition opportunities — especially through established institutions — were not open to artists of color. Elements of that exclusion continue today, he said.

“There still is a void of opportunities for artists of color,” Smith said. “The ‘WEST’ show is really a wonderful opportunity.”

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Joe Ray, "En El Valle"

He said there can be a stereotype that there are only white artists in the West, and all they create is art of cowboys and horses. “WEST” emphasizes that artists of color also reflect the geography and culture in which they live.

Other artists included in the exhibition include Clendolyn Corbin, Gloria Martinez-Granados, Eugene Grigsby, Annie Lopez, Stephen Marc, Hugo Medina, Sebastiao Pereira, Joe Ray, Safwat Saleem, Sonny Sholola, Ani Tung, RIP Woods, Frank Ybarra and Bernard Young.

Ways to Experience “WEST”

  • The physical exhibition is located in the library’s Civic Center Public Gallery, operated by Scottsdale Public Art. Library hours may be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic (scottsdalelibrary.org). A virtual version of the exhibition can be viewed online.
  • Scottsdale Public Art will host a virtual reception with many of the artists from the exhibition at 6pm Friday, Feb. 19. For information about how to attend online, visit scottsdalepublicart.org/events.
  • Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation has organized creative activities associated with the exhibition that can be completed at home. Learn more at scottsdaleartslearning.org/library-creatives.
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Stephen Marc, "Protest"

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