Electro-Symbio Phonics for Phoenix

By Nam June Paik

Terminal 4, level 3 Gallery
Through July 2021

Nam June Paik

This art installation was commissioned for Phoenix’s new America West Arena (now Talking Stick Resort Arena) in 1992. The work was originally installed along the doorways leading to the arena from the food court and was removed in 2002 after renovations.The robot figures, each standing 10 feet tall, represent a mother, father and child and contain 63 televisions activated by four custom video channels. The fast-paced footage includes manipulated imagery from sports, popular culture and the Sonoran Desert. Neon panels depicting symbols of technology, biology and language flank each figure. The symbols include DNA strands, Chinese characters and Egyptian Hieroglyphs.

Artist Nam June Paik was a pioneer of electronic art, who began experimenting with audio and video technology as an artform in the early 1960s. He recognized video broadcasting as the primary medium for public communication and believed artists could help it become a tool for representing art and culture.

Through his work, Paik imagined a future where technology would be integrated with nature, instead of in conflict with it. His use of robot figures reflected a desire to make technology appear closer to humanity, rather than a complex and mysterious scientific process.

Image caption: Nam June PaikElectro-Symbio Phonics for Phoenix, 1992, aluminum frame, televisions on four-custom video channels

Series: Works Together

Drawings, Prints, Paintings 

Janet Towbin
Terminal 4, level 3, in two locations (east and west of food court)
Through Aug. 23, 2020

Morris Mirror by Janet Towbin, graphite on paper

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. A series may be a group of related television episodes, sporting events, books or artworks presented together to create a more complete story. For artists, working in this format allows for exploration, investigation and opportunities to go deeper into a theme resulting in a more unified body of work.

This exhibition presents paintings, drawings and fine art prints created by Janet Towbin. Artworks are displayed in their themed groups allowing one to simultaneously observe the nuance of individual pieces and the continuity of the series. Viewing artwork this way gives one a better sense of the art and what the artist may be trying to convey. 

Motivated by curiosity and an obsession to see “what if...”, Towbin continually experiments with concepts, themes and materials. In her series, Towbin creates one artwork, then related additional works that are similar, yet different. With each new work she may change the color, scale or medium - developing a series that works together.

Image caption: Janet TowbinMorris Mirror, 2013, graphite on paper

Memory and Mystery

Paintings by James G. Davis

Terminal 4, level 3, eight cases on east and west ends
Through Fall 2020

Berlin; Man with Electric Hair by James G. Davis

James G. Davis (1931-2016) had an affinity for observation. As an artist, he incorporated his personal recollections into paintings, creating narrative art or artwork that tells a story. He integrated reflections from his travels, experiences and everyday scenes along with surreal elements. His visual stories may not be totally clear or complete, allowing the viewer to fill in the gaps with their own imagination.

Growing up in Springfield, Missouri, Davis suffered trauma when his foot was pinned beneath a train. During his recovery, he was mostly immobile, which led him to discover a passion for drawing. He later studied art at Wichita State University in Kansas and eventually arrived at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where he taught for 21 years. Davis was a long-time resident of the Rancho Linda Vista artist community in Oracle, Arizona, but exhibited his work around the world.

This exhibition presents thirteen large-scale, colorful and complex paintings in eight display cases. The work offers a glimpse into Davis’ personal view of the world, from a bar scene in Barcelona to everyday scenes like working as a bellhop. Davis’ paintings are layered with rich textures, collaged elements and found objects as well as metaphor, memory and mystery.

Image caption: James G. DavisBerlin; Man with Electric Hair, 1987, oil paint on canvas, image courtesy of the Tucson Museum of Art

Shaping Sound

The Art of Guitar Making

Terminal 4, level 2, near ticketing
Through Fall 2020

Scott Walker, 'Santa Cruz' patina-finished guitar

In our fast-paced, technological world of seemingly endless mass production, there are still some who desire to create with their hands. This is especially true for guitar players who design, build and repair their own instruments. The art of guitar-making, or Luthiery, allows skilled craftsman to turn raw materials into unique instruments. 

The Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery, based in the heart of Phoenix, has supported aspiring guitar builders for over four decades. Students from around the globe come to attend North America’s oldest and only accredited guitar-making school. At Roberto-Venn, people that are passionate about music can learn the old-world craft of creating a guitar by hand. 

From selecting wood to finishing techniques, students learn every aspect of guitar construction. They discover how the design and assembly of each element affects how the guitar will play as well as the instruments visual aesthetic and artistry. By merging tradition with innovation and creativity, students at Roberto-Venn are shaping sound

Image caption: Scott WalkerSanta Cruz Patina, patina-finished guitar on mahogany wood