SMoCA Revisits the Work of Mel Roman

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All images courtesy and copyright of SMoCA and Rossitza Todorova

by Nicole Royse
Arts Editor

In correlation with the impending election and the anniversary of the Marriage Equality Act, Scottsdale Museum of Contempoary Art (SMoCA) revisits the engaging and challenging work of Mel Roman: Coming Out Under Fire. This much anticipated exhibition utilizes a provocative combination of text, found objects and fervent symbolism in 12 installations, sculptures and photos centered on issues facing society that are still relevant today.

Mel Roman was an accomplished artist, Civil Rights activist, and psychologist with an impressive 50 year career and a valley resident until his death in 2002. “Roman’s artwork addressed the human psyche and social inequity, racial discrimination, gay rights, gender equity, the right to die, intentional communities, and paternal custody rights”, states the SMoCA website.

mel roman 04Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Mel Roman’s original exhibition at the SMoCA in 2000 and previously at Bentley Gallery 1998, was incredibly controversial. The exhibition was based off of a book and documentary of the same name, which chronicled gay and lesbian service members during World War II. Through his art, Roman examines important issues of equality, freedom and privacy, aiming to create reactions and commentary in hopes of creating action. SMoCA has included extensive biographical information about Roman as well as photographs from Roman’s original exhibition giving viewer’s further context for this powerful exhibit.

mel roman 01Highlights of Coming Out Under Fire include the stirring, self-titled piece “Coming Out Under Fire”, featuring an American flag placed over a casket with a small monitor playing. It is truly heart wrenching, an engaging and difficult to piece to view. One of the gallery rooms is filled with mirrors with text of derogatory words and phrases including “fag” and “dyke” and “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and lastly “how can one be what one is”. Another excellent work titled “Nature/Nurture” employs powerful text “Desire” that is depicted in neon in front of a map of the human genome, commenting on how “Desire” is apart of everyone.

Coming Out Under Fire will be on display through Sunday, October 2nd. SMoCA museum admission is only $7 for adults, $5 for students, and children under 15 are free. Don’t forget that every Thursday the museum offers complementary admission as well as Friday and Saturday evenings after 5 PM. Located in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale at 7374 East Second Street, visit their website for more information about exhibitions and events.


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Go Have a Sunday A’Fair in Scottsdale

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Yes, that’s right, the Sunday A’Fair is back in Scottsdale at the Civic Center Park with a bright patch of green grass just aching to be sat on by you. Put on by the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, this A’Fair has been going on for 27 years!

Spanning from January to April, this FREE event happens most Sundays and lasts from Noon to Four PM. Grilled foods, adult beverages and “softer” drinks will be available for purchase as well. If you missed the January kick off month (including a sweet opening day featuring Dry River Yacht Club and Walt Richardson) you still have plenty of opportunities to make it out. This upcoming Sunday Feb. 9 will feature Teneia Sanders with her “Motown era vintage vibe,” and the Pete Pancrazi Quartet offering “nimble guitar work, warm vocals and original jazz compositions.”

But wait…there’s more. Not only will there be music and food, but plenty of Arizona artist/vendors will be under tent with their magnificent fares and awaiting your arrival. As if this couldn’t get any better, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art will be open and FREE during every A’Fair event until 5 PM. You can even participate in free, docent-led tours of the art both inside the museum and out in the Civic Center.

“Guests are invited to bring blankets, lawn chairs or pic-a-nic baskets and enjoy a relaxing afternoon of great entertainment.” Ok, I made the “pic-a-nic” part up but you get the idea. Bring your partner, go with family or friends and giddy on up to Scottsdale to have one helluva A’Fair! For more info, including complete showtimes and directions, visit the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts website here.

Get Outta’ the Heat and Into an Art Museum!!

Here in the Valley of the Sun, were given ample opportunity to gain some culture through our many art museums. If you haven’t been to any in a while (or ever), they have revolving exhibits that you should definitely look into. Check out what’s going on now and get outta’ the heat!
A staple in Tempe since 1950, the ASU Art Museum houses more than 12,000 pieces. Although one of their current exhibitions Zoomorphic is ending in a week, I still highly recommend Turn off the Sun: Selections from la Colección Jumex (through Sept. 7) and Plate • Silk • Stone: Impressions by Women Artists (through Dec. 8). Also make sure and check out Crafting a Continuum: Rethinking Contemporary Craft (Sep. 7 through Dec. 7 with opening reception Sep 27), I know I will! Admission is free.
Wesley Anderegg Swimming With Piranha 2006
Your desk ever feel like this?
At the corner of Central and McDowell, the Phoenix Art Museum is worth the trek to downtown Phoenix alone!! I apologize for the outburst. Multiple floors chock full o’ world renowned art will do that to me though. As if current exhibitions Hidden Meanings of Love and Death in Chinese Painting and The Art of Video Games isn’t enough to whet your artistic palette, upcoming exhibits Rufino Tamayo: Master Printmaker and Hollywood Costume look downright awesome. Admission is free every Wednesday from 3 to 9 PM and First Fridays.

Guest admires art.

… the hell?


SMoCA: Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

The SMoCA truly is a gem for modern art enthusiasts in the Valley. With its smaller size and focused galleries, it can make for a great date night too. James Turrell’s Knight Rise anyone? Current exhibition Stocked: Contemporary Art From the Grocery Aisle gives you the chance to see some Warhol soup cans along with many other fascinating pieces. David Maisel/Black Maps American Landscape and the Apocalyptic Sublime is an absolutely thrilling exhibit which features large-scale photographs of landscapes that have been “transformed through the physical and environmental effects of industrial-scale water diversion projects, open-pit mineral extraction, and urban sprawl.” With the new addition of the “Arizona by Design” section of the SMoCA Store, Arizona artists and designers can now sell their wares right from the museum! Click here to find the Application. Admission is free on Thursday from 12 to 9 PM.