Summer 2022

A landscape of naked planes and sudden recesses, exposures of bone and furrowing resources of sense and expression, the human face has evolved to convey complicated information. In portraiture, an art form with us since the edge of history, the face portrayed bears additional signifiers: geographies, genders, family emblems, status, power, health, and the mysterious interplay between artist and subject. As a commonality of our species and a window through which essential human exchanges are negotiated, the face is a value we once took for granted, until faces were taken from us. FACE examines conceptual and aesthetic means of reclaiming versions of ourselves through portraiture executed in radically diverse forms.

In the post pandemic era the faces of others become a daily abstraction, mitigated by masks and screens, manipulated pixels and glitches in time and space. The artists of FACE confront anew the intimate, fearsome, occasionally overwhelming experiences of perceiving humanity in the spontaneous moment of catching sight of a human face. Delineated in photographs and paintings, Daguerreotypes, raucous collage transfers, and ghostly etchings on glass, this collection of representations ranges from the faces of politicians to delicate reliquaries portraying the cast aside. Some images echo from barely-remembered dreams and fairy tales, others present fully embodied people, captured in all their enigmatic specificity. Each of the artists of FACE reconsider the portrait in contemporary terms: the inscrutable emotions of our time, and the signifiers we seek to both remember and forget.

Artists include: Diane Arbus, Rachel Bess, Enrique Chagoya, Binh Danh, Claudio Dicochea, Ben Durham, Gilbert Garcin, Rimma Gerlovina and Valeriy Gerlovin, Siri Devi Khandavilli, Luo Brothers, Carrie Marill, Reynier Leyva Novo, Luis Gonzalez Palma, Charlotte Potter, and Benjamin Timpson.

Wear Your Love Like Heaven

Wear Your Love Like Heaven

Spring 2022

Wear Your Love Like Heaven

March 12 – May 28, 2022

In 1967, the year Donovan’s “Wear Your Love Like Heaven” first played on the radio, a generation of artists sought higher consciousness and citizens protested against global violence and inequality. In our current moment of conflict, poignancy and possibility, Donovan’s soulful directive echoes as an invitation to bear witness once again to our infinitely multiplying ways of being. The artists of Wear Your Love Like Heaven each use contemporary processes and concepts to propose a paradigm shift, suggesting a spectrum of existence beyond what we currently perceive, and portraying vivid, hopeful new ways of being, as well as courageous methods for perceiving–and loving–one another.

Wear Your Love Like Heaven includes recent works by the artists Merryn Omotayo Alaka, Rachel Bess, Enrique Chagoya, Sonya Clark, Binh Danh, Ben Durham, Ala Ebtekar, Angela Ellsworth, Sam Fresquez, Carrie Marill, Marie Navarre, Charlotte Potter, Ato Ribeiro, Julianne Swartz, and Benjamin Timpson. While recalling past social movements toward spirituality and sensuality, each artist proposes a contemporary template for honoring our miraculous multiplicity of senses and experiences.

Ala Ebtekar - Zenith (IX) (SOLD), 2022, acrylic over cyanotype exposed by sunlight on canvas, 30" x 80" overall (4 panels)

Beverly Penn – Radical Adaptation

Beverly Penn: Radical Adaptation

January 8 – March 5, 2022

Beverly Penn’s complex botanical sculptures in luminous patinated bronze are reminders that human life is axiomatically intertwined with plant life: our own existence is possible only because of the breath, sustenance, and structure that plants provide. Penn’s work–exquisite botanical flourishes cast from the diversity of species that inhabit the chaparral and hill country ecologies of the sculptor’s home in Texas–remind us of the deep biological intimacy between humans and plants, a relationship that ranges from ornamental habit to evolutionary survival. Radical Adaptation, a collection of Penn’s recent works, will be exhibited at Lisa Sette Gallery from January 8 to March 5, 2022 in an examination of the aesthetic relationship between botanical forms and human experience in a time of climate change and species decline. Penn’s works present both a memorial to the lost primacy of the botanical world, and an allegory for survival, imagination, and radical adaptation.

A collector of specimens, Penn’s botanical knowledge is extensive; her studio doubles as an archive of plant forms that are robust enough to withstand the casting process: Agave, Antelope Horn Milkweed, Bulbine, Coyote Brush, Canada Thistles. Penn duplicates these structures in bronze using centrifugal casting, a jewelry-making method that is capable of capturing the minute details of vining stems, thistles and seed pods.

Collections of cast botanicals are the raw materials that begin Penn’s process, which she likens to drawing or painting:

“I really do not know what the outcome is going to be when I start. It can become an exercise in variety, contrasting large and small botanicals, or a snapshot of a time and place. For example, a collection of thistles from where I live now in Central Texas, combined with thistle I brought from my childhood home in Maryland. Or plants picked from the four corners of my garden in each season. These are all connected for me, but each narrative is different.”

Centrifugal casting must be executed in small scale, so each of Penn’s initial components is no more than five or six inches; the sculptor uses nails and templates to composite these parts into large-scale wall pieces in forms that swirl and twist several feet in each dimension. She then solders the pieces together, polishing each solder-mark so that it is nearly invisible, then immerses the whole into patina chemicals such as copper nitrate, ferric chloride, or ammonia chloride.

In each part of this complex process, Penn relies on the organic forms themselves to enact a transformation; the shape of the smallest component contributes to the overall composition, while the chemical patinas interact with the crooks and crevices of the original stems and blossoms:

“I’m trying to think about these plants as individuals, that the individual species are reacting to a global situation, and I’m trying to use patinas as a parallel natural process. The color and shape is not only about a physical or visual description, but a stand-in for a process that affects ecosystems as a whole.”

Increasingly, remarks Penn, her subject matter is the dwindling ecologies of flora, both in memoriam for the the living things that are leaving the earth, and as a means of moving forward from these losses:

“I am idealizing native plant compositions as a way to bring attention to the devastation of climate change, but in recent work I am also paying attention to the weeds, the invasives, because right now there’s simply a need to have green stuff in the earth that attracts pollinators and adds nutrients to the soil. Saying a plant is “good” or “bad” doesn’t address the incredible nuances in the ecology of plants.”

Recently, Penn remarks, she has been paying attention to the jungles of diverse and surprising specimens that spring up in neglected freeway median strips, shapes structured by one of the most mundane and destructive of human activities–vehicular travel–that nevertheless provide an untouched place for hardy and uncultivated plants to thrive.

Penn’s keen botanical knowledge, her library of flora and her metalworking skills combine in an enchanted process that results in conflagrations of bronze vines, buds and thistles in arrangements resembling vessels, vortici, or tumbling spirals. Each sculpture is illuminated in such a way that casts fugitive ecologies in shadow form, drawing our attention to the patterns of absence and structure that make up biological life. Penn’s sculptures are not exact recreations of plants, nor are they pure botanical ornamentation; each work is a formal composition, conjured from secret narratives and gathered in wild places, that speaks to the exquisite intimacy between humans and plants, and the unknown transformations wrought by our changing planet. Penn has remarked that through her casting process–in which the original organic material is burnt from the wax mold–these works may be thought of as memorials to plants that once were, yet

“a memorial also links us to desire, so it is equally hopeful, because it is in idealized nature that we cultivate in our imagination.”


Temporary in Nature

Fall 2021 Exhibition

October 9 – December 31, 2021

As the hot summer months increase, Arizona’s palo verde trees burst into bloom earlier each spring–a bright reminder of seasonal changes wrought by human activity and a harbinger of ecosystem upheavals to come. “It’s glorious and concerning,” remarks Lisa Sette, founder of Lisa Sette Gallery, for whom the palo verde’s precocious bloom provoked a consideration of many recent alterations to human and natural cycles–from Japan’s cherry blossom celebration, which took place earlier in 2021 than almost any year since 812, to the decline of Western Monarch butterfly populations. “There’s been a lot of talk lately about the anthropocene era. What is the human role in both altering nature and destroying natural systems? How can artists counteract what humans have done?”

The group show Temporary in Nature, on view October 9 – December 31, 2021 at Lisa Sette Gallery, explores the complexities of art made in a time of planetary change. Works included in Temporary in Nature both interrogate the destructive global systems we’ve built, and suggest that the present geological moment offers an opportunity for radical and hopeful new expressions of self and nature. Artists include: Edward Burtynsky, Kim Cridler, Binh Danh, Alan Bur Johnson, Mark Klett, Michael Koerner, Mayme Kratz, Yao Lu, Michael Lundgren, Matthew Moore, Marie Navarre, and James Turrell.

Historians often date the start of the anthropocene era to the detonation of the atomic bomb in 1945. Photographer Michael Koerner’s mother was 12 at the time and living in Nagasaki; his father served on a Navy ship in close proximity to the Bikini Atoll nuclear experiments. Temporary in Nature features Koerner’s Cherry Blossoms, a series of six photographic constellations of collodion on tin, in which crystalline structures bloom in eerie relief against black lacquer backgrounds. A professor of chemistry, Koerner researches and reverse-engineers the intriguing developing “flaws” he finds in his collection of turn-of-the century tintypes, devising acid and salt solutions that result in unpredictable mutations like passing clouds or ghostly flowers strewn across the photographic plates. Although his work relies on technical research, “in the darkroom,” says Koerner, “It’s all spiritual and emotional. Eventually, suffering must be processed here.” While working, Koerner communicates with his parents and siblings, all of whom have died as a result of cancer or genetic disorders, asking them for permission to tell his family’s story. Because, as he remarks, “there’s beauty in this damage.”

Whether as deeply personal experiments or documentary evidence, Sette regards photographs as uniquely positioned to capture this precarious time and register “a certain veracity” about human activity on earth. Mark Klett’s Fence separating the US/Mexico border south of the Gila Mountains, May 2015, in which a lone steel gate has been thrust on the boundless and indifferent high desert topography of the Gila Mountains, conveys the absurdity of human geopolitical division. In a striking critique of the global culture of extraction and accompanying destruction, Yao Lu’s New Landscape Part I-06 View of waterfall with rocks and pines mimics a bucolic natural scene; in fact Lu’s work is a photo collage made up of images of industrial refuse piles covered in green netting. Lu ingeniously arranges these industrial idyls in the compositional form of a traditional Chinese landscape painting.

Edward Burtynsky re-envisions the notion of landscape itself in Uralkali Potash Mine #3, Berezniki, Russia, in which concentric drill scars have shaped a brightly striated mineral wall, creating a landform entirely generated by large-scale resource consumption. Burtynsky’s works remind us of the scale of the earth-altering anthropocene endeavor, but they are also fascinating and exhilarating studies of shape, line, and color of the material of our earth.

In an acknowledgment that the compulsion to transform the world around us is also an essential element of making art, Temporary in Nature includes two photographic portraits of Spiral Jetty, Robert Smithson’s renowned 1970 earthworks piece on the shore of the Great Salt Lake. Michael Lundgren’s Flares over Spiral Jetty, an expansive image of the lake in the black of night, is punctuated by thin strokes of launched flares caught in their brief moment of illumination; the jetty itself is in pale outline against a vast horizon. This contradiction is at play throughout Temporary in Nature: the transitory measure of human life, and our corresponding drive to make an irrevocable mark on the world.

Binh Danh’s works are meditations on self, art, and nature, etched upon the stormy, polished-silver surfaces of small Daguerreotype plates. In Spiral Jetty, Utah (#2), Smithson’s project resembles a recently unfurling organic structure, reaching tentatively into the abyss of the primordial waters, while Untitled #17 from Danh’s “Aura of Botanical Specimen” series reveals the intricate arterial system of a leaf as an impressive and sensuous architecture. Both pieces invite the viewer to consider how our individual existence is a distinct but connected part of a larger biological whole. When you look at the mirror-like surface of a Daguerreotype, Danh remarks, “You become part of the image. You are able to reflect yourself onto this landscape.”

Coaxing form from land is an age-old mode of exercising both spirituality and power: James Turrell’s Roden Crater project literally imprints his aesthetic vision on the earth, reconstructing an extinct volcano into a series of massive interconnected chambers designed for the observation of celestial phenomena. Turrell’s Site Plan with Projected Section and Survey Net chronicles one phase of this four decades-long project. Mayme Kratz creates more minute chambers for observation of the natural world, collecting biological fragments like seeds, plant materials, and bones from the desert floor and arranging these pieces in transfixing resin where they hover timelessly like small galaxies. Kratz has commented that she is “desperate, foraging for the things in nature that are disappearing.”

Alan Bur Johnson’s a flock, a swarm, consists of 183 photographic transparencies of bird, butterfly, and insect wings in sharp anatomical relief, each vivid specimen contributing to the whole. From a distance, the collection of delicate, fluttering transparencies hanging on dissection pins might resemble the coruscating shadow of human form. Johnson remarks: “[This] is my response to our threatened natural environment, while addressing all fleeting life cycles, including our own. Life and death, but also birth and rebirth.

In previous eras as in the present time, it is artists who continue to envision and embody new conceptions of self and place; their work feels particularly urgent in the anthropocene, as we recalibrate our relationship to the world around us. Whether operating on monumental or molecular scales, the artists of Temporary in Nature examine our willingness to destroy and as well as our ability to generate new frameworks for existence. As their work reveals, humans exist within a system of creation and survival that is refulgent, resilient, and mysterious.


Things We Carry

Things We Carry

Merryn Omotayo Alaka & Sam Fresquez, Angela Ellsworth

Nature & Structure

Nature & Structure

Mayme Kratz, Marie Navarre, and Kim Cridler



A Call to Action Exhibition in Arizona

September 12, 2020 – January 2, 2021
Currently Available to View by Appointment

View Exhibition Catalogue

The color blue is a latecomer among hues; ancient peoples in Arizona and around the world created the first known artistic expressions in marks of ochre, brown and yellow—colors that could be quickly obtained from the earth. Enduring and effective blue pigments are a product of generations of human experimentation, resulting from processes formulated by natural philosophers and artists from diverse cultures and traditions. When blue pigment did finally enter the story of human expression, its cultural and spiritual impact was unprecedented. Aquamarine, cobalt, and indigo arrived like a miracle, changing the nature of artistic and cultural expression, suggesting the brilliance of the sky, and embodying human aspiration.

blue, a timely exhibition opening this fall at Lisa Sette Gallery, traces the significance of the color blue in art history, while drawing from it a powerful metaphor for the politics of our time. The exhibition was conceived before the coronavirus pandemic, and was set to open in September, 2020, ahead of the presidential election.  The opening reception is now delayed until we can gather in a smart and safe manner.

The color blue becomes an agent of change, in both its physical manifestation and in the political philosophy that it represents—and Lisa Sette, the gallery’s founder, sees Arizona as a state on the verge of transformation. All of the artists in blue are from Arizona, or have a strong connection to the state.

David Kroll – Fragile Nature – Exclusive Online Exhibition

David Kroll:
Fragile Nature
Exclusive Online Exhibition

David Kroll - Fragile Nature header - mockup installation

Still lifes that hum with movement and energy, David Kroll’s limpid oil-on-linen paintings delineate a compelling new dimension, a deliberate and serene juxtaposition of motion and time in contemplative space. The compositional center of many of Kroll’s paintings is a patterned or filigreed vessel displayed along with a collection of living creatures or organic matter; these subjects are foregrounded against deep, mysterious natural landscapes. As in the practice of meditation, the viewer’s attention hovers between the silent, unknowable distance beyond and the vivid now before our eyes, and in witnessing Kroll’s paintings we are drawn into an uncanny place between.

I paint personal refuges in the form of still lives and imagined landscapes—places to visit for solace, meditation and sanctuary. I work intuitively to create a connection between the viewer and the power of place, the web of life, the idea of nature itself.

-David Kroll

Such congruences of stillness and action, life and dream, captured flawlessly in stately layers of oil and lacquer, take time to create, and an opportunity to view David Kroll’s recent works is rare and significant. Kroll, who divides his time between Washington state and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, has been exhibiting work in North America for four decades; his work’s luminous verisimilitude captivates and confounds viewers in a way that connects it to both contemporary, conceptual painting and traditional realism. In Nature as Manifesto, an essay about Kroll’s work, the artist Buzz Spector writes, “Kroll is not a moralist; his deliberately spare arrangements of pictorial elements are a way to push back against our yearning to find a narrative in these exquisitely crafted scenes.

Kroll says “Thematically I am interested in the interaction between man, and manmade objects, and nature. In a painted still life these ideas collapse on each other and raise many questions. Which is more beautiful—a rural landscape or a Chinese vase? Which is more alive, which is more still?”

An immediate and fascinating contradiction in many of Kroll’s works are his depictions of living things. Fish, birds, and reptiles populate the paintings’ centers with a quickness of pose and clarity of expression that suggest dynamic movement; the sinewy curve of a koi mid-turn, or the hesitant, transfixing glance of a small bird perched atop a vase, are intriguing and surreal in contrast to the timeless vessels and backgrounds around which these living things hover and shift.

Gilbert Garcin – Existence is Elsewhere – ONLINE

Gilbert Garcin:
Existence is Elsewhere

Sadly we are not able to see our friends and supporters in New York City at Paris Photo NY/AIPAD this spring.  Please find some joy in Gilbert Garcin’s photographs and stay safe and well!   – Lisa Sette

Gilbert Garcin
Born 1929
La Ciotat, France

Gilbert Garcin: Existence is Elsewhere

Gilbert Garcin’s photographs engage us as philosophical archaeology, as surrealist theater, and as contemporary allegory.

The artist himself, often portrayed in a dark overcoat, serves as an every-person character, his works honed upon humanity’s current, perhaps timeless, crisis of conscience: the unbearable frictions of our relationships to ourselves and one another in an overwhelmingly complex and interconnected world.

Garcin’s dream-like constructions produce seamless manipulation of light, depth and proportion.  Each carefully arranged scene is unconcerned with digital distractions and uncluttered with extraneous objects – created from handmade sets and cut-out figures.

Garcin’s ingenious photographs remind us that even amidst monumental darkness, we can continue to find unexplainable sources of light.

Most images are available as 8 x 12”, 12 x 16” and 20 x 24” gelatin silver prints made in editions of 8 or 12 in each size, depending on the image.

Please call: (480) 990 – 7342 or email sette@lisasettegallery.com for prices of specific pieces.  Please note: additional works are available beyond exhibition images shown below.

The Gallery and our artists are so grateful for your continued support.
Our physical space may be temporarily closed but we would love to hear from you.

Exhibition Catalogue


Gilbert Garcin at Paris Photo New York Presented with AIPAD

Gilbert Garcin at Paris Photo New York Presented with AIPAD


Paris Photo logo


Pier 94, New York City

Show Dates

Opening Preview: Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Thursday, April 2nd to Saturday, April 4th, 2020: 12 – 7pm
Sunday, April 5th, 2020: 12 – 6pm

Purchase Tickets HERE

Gilbert Garcin: Existence is Elsewhere

Gilbert Garcin’s photographs, an interconnected series of dream scenarios and ingenious constructions, engage us as philosophical archaeology, as surrealist theater, and as contemporary allegory. Each carefully-arranged scene communicates a narrative about lived humanity’s essential themes—this ongoing spectacle of shattering heartbreak and magnificent ridiculousness. That Garcin’s images also unfailingly deliver a shot of humor—the absurd delight of recognition—as an essential ingredient in this existential drama, is a tribute to the acuity of the creator. Garcin spent forty years managing a lamp manufactory in Marseilles; his career as an artist commenced at age 65. Now 90, the photographer accesses a remarkable breadth of perspective, experience, and illumination.

Unconcerned with digital distractions and uncluttered with extraneous objects, Garcin’s photographs produce seamless manipulations of light, depth and proportion, each expertly art-directed in the photographer’s own home. The artist himself, often in a dark overcoat, serves as an every-person character—Garcin remarks that he aspires to “Tarzan, Charlot (Chaplin) or Hulot (Tati).” Mister G, as this character is known to Garcin’s admirers, is represented by a small cut-out portrait of the artist, with a flatness of physical countenance and clipped edges that are perceptible or not, as the composition requires. Amidst an ingeniously simple landscape of sets and props, Mister G enacts moments of triumph, narcissism, obsession and inquisitiveness.

“It’s a little naïve as systems go,” says the artist, “People always think I use all sorts of sophisticated technology. Not at all.”

While the artist may take pride in his prosaic methodology, the discrete poetic concepts Garcin employs to illustrate his notions arrive directly from the land of myth. And in the manner of myth, his works are honed upon humanity’s current, perhaps timeless, crisis of conscience: the unbearable frictions of our relationships to ourselves and one another in an overwhelmingly complex and interconnected world. In Le Paon (The Peacock), Mister G holds aloft a formidable structure of picture frames, each featuring an identical self portrait. While nothing in the image itself refers specifically to digital culture, a contemporary viewer is immediately and poignantly brought to mind of the endless proliferation of eager self-portraiture and self-promotion in the social media era. In the image, the small man and his photographic trophy appear as a miracle of dimension; the viewer might wonder how Mister G keeps his balance holding up this immense contraption. How does one move forward with such an encumbrance of ego? The proud expression on the character’s face shows that he hasn’t considered this problem yet. Of course, for the viewer the punchline is apparent.

L’Attraction du Vide (The attraction of the void) is a composition of devastating simplicity, as Mister G, his back facing the viewer, peers into a bright, empty void beyond a gilt picture frame. No other information is offered; we must decide for ourselves whether the central character looks so intently toward this void with dread, hesitance, or curiosity, or some combination thereof. How to proceed, when faced with the unknown? It seems an urgent question at the heart of our current forward-speeding existence. And in the vein of 20th century Surrealism that Garcin’s work traces, such a question is countered quite succinctly: There is no correct way forward, no final, comprehensive means of expression. In the penultimate sentence of his 1924 Surrealist manifesto, Breton asserts:

“It is living and ceasing to live which are imaginary solutions. Existence is elsewhere.”

Nonetheless, life presents decisions that must be made. A series of impressions and automatic reactions, as both methods of Surrealist practice and means of existence, bring forth no concrete answers, but transitory and occasionally transcendent moments of art. Le Yin et le Yang (ou les Malevich choisissent un tapis) (Yin and Yang (or Malevich’s choosing a carpet)) pays homage to—and pokes fun at—the notion that a momentous instant of global aesthetic change, from representation to abstraction, say, might in fact relate the malleable moments of our own lives. Mister G and another figure—charmingly played by Garcin’s wife—hover over squares of black and white, making both an interior design decision and a reference to Malevich’s iconic Black Square. Aesthetic insight is a mysterious property, not to be confused with an assumption of reason and rightness, and it is telling that the figures in Yin and Yang seem as flattened as the black and white geometries they hover above.

La Vie Est Belle (Life is Beautiful) presents a diminutive Mister G hemmed in by an ominous suggestion of man-made cliffs and angles. At the edge, the composition’s small hero stands above an enigmatic glow, arms raised in triumph. The source of this brilliance is unknown, and the surrounding darkness is fierce. In such circumstances it would be easy to deny the premise of the title, but Mister G’s posture, and the radiance illuminating him from below, make this a bittersweet tableau—amidst monumental darkness, we continue to find these unexplainable sources of light.


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