Do You Walk the (Art) Walk?

Scottsdale LeadershipGenia Kehayes, Class 27
VP, Finance & Administration, Scottsdale CVB

The Class 27 Blog: This is a blog series about the experience and impact of Scottsdale Leadership’s core program. The program informs, inspires and empowers leaders to champion and strengthen the interests of the community. Scottsdale Leadership is an Arizona Leadership Program.

Have you ever been to a Scottsdale Art Walk? If you haven’t, you owe it to yourself to attend one soon.  It takes place every Thursday night from 7 – 9 p.m. and it’s free! There is energy in the air and a remarkable assortment of art to see.  Class27 enjoyed a very special art walk and visited the Scottsdale Museum of Modern Art (SMoCA) and three galleries featuring very different types of art;  Contemporary (The Marshall/LeKae Gallery of Fine Art), Native American (River Trading Post) and African (Hatuma African Gallery).  Throughout the night, I wondered how we define what art is and what it means to us.

One of the statements made by our host at SMoCA was that contemporary art needs to be explained; it needs context.  As the night went on, I thought about that statement a lot. In discussing this issue with a classmate, we concluded that perhaps artists seeking to make a social or political statement need to have their art explained, but this is not true of all contemporary art.  There have been many times that I have enjoyed a piece of art because of the energy conveyed by the brushstrokes or the feelings evoked by the use of color.  For example, the featured artist at Marshall/LeKae Gallery used a stained glass painting technique that created energy and movement.

At the River Trading Post, we met a young artist named Harold Stevens who is also an apprentice medicine man.  He told us that his father taught him everything he knows about their culture.  His sand paintings used beautiful natural pigments and he believes that through his art, he can heal.  Have you ever looked at a piece of artwork or listened to music that made you smile or that made you think of a happy time in your life?  Maybe that’s what Mr. Stevens meant.

By the time we arrived at Hatuma African Gallery, it was more crowded and noisy and our host said that he didn’t need to speak because his art would speak for him. That was an important moment for me. When I looked around the gallery I realized that the artwork made an emotional impact.  Moreover, it seemed that the artists must have enjoyed the process of making their art because it seemed to celebrate life in all of its phases.  The joyful spirit was further enhanced by the musicians playing percussion instruments just outside the door.

Some artwork can be very cerebral and thought provoking but I truly enjoy art that makes an emotional impact.  Maybe that’s because I have a career that requires me to be very analytical and the emotional response I get from seeing a vivid landscape or listening to uplifting music is a welcome respite.  It was fun to notice that different people were drawn to different styles of art.  Perhaps art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

How do you define art?


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