March 7 – August 29, 2020
Lisa Sette Gallery, an internationally-recognized advocate of contemporary art, will commemorate its 35th anniversary with a March exhibition entitled Serenity Now: Meditations on Humanity. The midtown Phoenix gallery, housed in a strikingly renovated Al Beadle office building, has maintained its unique aesthetic vision and relationships with artists, collectors, and the arts community for over three decades, defying the notoriously transitory art market. Lisa Sette Gallery is recognized for its radical and inclusive curatorial vision, working with significant regional, domestic and international artists and exhibiting work that addresses urgent social and political issues. These essential values give rise to the gallery’s March anniversary exhibit.
The show’s title, Serenity Now: Meditations on Humanity, is both a plea for introspection and a reference to Seinfeld episode 159. The exhibition’s moniker reflects the curatorial philosophy of the gallery as a whole: fierce, poignant, and when necessary, unapologetically irreverent. The exhibition will open on March 7, 2020 and run through May 2, 2020, and includes works by David Kimball Anderson, Enrique Chagoya, Long-Bin Chen, Sonya Clark, Binh Danh, Claudio Dicochea, Ben Durham, Angela Ellsworth, Máximo González, Siri Devi Khandavilli, Mark Klett, Mayme Kratz, Carrie Marill, Mark Mitchell, Marie Navarre, Reynier Leyva Novo, Beverly Penn, Charlotte Potter, Ato Ribeiro, Mike & Doug Starn, Julianne Swartz, James Turrell, and William Wegman.
Works included in Serenity Now revolve around the notions of selfhood and introspection that are inextricably tied to our relationship to the world. Artworks included will examine the ways in which our own painful and exquisite awareness of others is what defines our own individuality.
Charlotte Potter’s hand engraved glass portraits and texts take on contemporary personalities and characters. The tension in her work comes from the interplay of traditional laborious handcraft representing modern day topics. In or through glass, familiar faces bend and warp, and our sense of recognition wavers with surface fluctuations and changes in perspective. Potter’s new work will chronicle a selection of world leaders in ancient Roman style glass portraits, the faces of these figureheads committed to perpetuity, for better or worse.
Ato Ribeiro’s Main Race speaks of the artist’s recent travels in search of American griot—the bearers of stories of cultural survival, from the industrial workspaces of Detroit to the Red Willow People of the Taos Pueblo. Ribeiro found himself collecting these individual narratives and ultimately joining the fragments together to create works that celebrate a timely new paradigm of American survival.
Siri Devi Khandavilli’s rows of inkblot-shaped mirrors, presented on traditional Hindu temple lotus-like padmapeeta pedestals, explore a sense of individuality as part of the much larger phenomenon of consciousness: “I am interested in mirrors not only as a medium, but also as an object with metaphysical connotations,” says Khandavilli. Each mirror, entrancing in its presentation, signifies a meditative moment, according to the artist, “a visual exposition of an otherwise unconscious thought process.”
In Detention at the Border of Language, Enrique Chagoya defangs the stereotype of Native Americans depicted as primitive savages in The Abduction of Daniel Boone’s Daughter by the Indians, the 1853 painting by Charles Ferdinand Wimar. The mask and the Mayan head team up with a third character to form a fictitious, original, trans-continental Border Patrol. This work is a humorous reminder that all nations in the Americas were created by undocumented immigrants from Europe. Today, some politicians call refugees from Central America and other countries “illegal aliens” but to Enrique, they are no different from the Pilgrims or Daniel Boone’s daughter. Says Enrique, “Xenophobia goes against the spirit of this great country I immigrated to and adopted as my home when I became an American citizen.”
In his Graffiti Map series, Ben Durham collects found graffiti imagery and transcribes them with graphite and ink onto handmade paper. Like architectural supports or internal skeletal systems, this crisscrossing of streets cut across the face of the drawn image visualizes the programmatic structure within our cities, neighborhoods, and selves. Consciously or not, our experience of place is embedded within us, inseparable from our understanding of self. To this end, graffiti acts as a visual memory of the experiential bonds between place and self. Like memory, these marks mapping movement through space begin to fade and are quickly crowded and overwhelmed by others, leaving only traces.
Overlooking the works of Serenity Now are Binh Danh’s supremely serene images of Buddha statuary. Danh’s daguerreotypes gleam with an otherworldly reflectivity, and viewers will likely see themselves in the silver surfaces of each piece; on the luminous expressions of these deities, Danh’s images record a secret energy at play in all human endeavors. As we contemplate the mysterious machinations of human destruction, we must also return to the generative mystery of the Buddha’s form.
With Serenity Now: Meditations on Humanity, gallery founder Lisa Sette turns from the daily crush of division and conflict that threatens to indelibly shape our lived experience, and instead contemplates our human capacity for introspection and perseverance, and how these qualities endure regardless of external circumstances. “I do not want the current political climate and torment to define us,” remarks Sette. “I’d like to think about how we move through our current adversity with hope and compassion.”