Visitors to Scottsdale usually spend time in the Old Town area. Leaving behind the touristy old west facades and souvenir shops, you can cross Scottsdale Road to the Gallery District for some high-quality fine art. The galleries along Main Street feature a variety of local, national, and global paintings, sculptures, and other types of art.
Many of the galleries are open mainly by appointment. On Thursday evenings, however, enjoy the longest-running art walk in the country when the galleries are open to all from 7–9 p.m. During special gallery walk nights, you can also get a glass of wine and snacks. Often you can speak to the artists that live locally and watch them work. In select months, Gold Palette Art Walks has specific themes such as Demonstrate and Donuts or Western Week.
The galleries range from small, single artist spaces to large galleries with multiple international artists. A few of the galleries tend to catch my eye and the following are my favorites.
With the goal of filling your home with culture, Anticus combines a bookstore and art gallery. Phillip Payne, the owner, grew up in a world of art and started creating art in his teens. His completed sculptures and works in progress can be enjoyed here. The gallery also features various emerging and established artists. Colorful paintings include vibrant trees by Troy Collings, stylized celebrity portraits by Seth Gordon, and fun Dr. Seuss prints. Bronze sculptures of cowboys and horses rest on coffee tables and side tables crafted from stunning slabs of wood. A few glass cases also showcase beautiful jewelry.
Anticus also strives to feature the art of literature. Classic and contemporary books line shelves throughout the two large rooms. As an independent bookstore, they are trying to maintain literature as part of the local community. They offer book clubs that meet monthly. The ones I have attended sparked interesting discussions and have introduced me to new books I would likely not have picked out for myself.
Named after the legendary city where Kubla Khan gathered art treasures from his vast kingdom, Xanadu is intent on creating an artistic ideal. Although his father is a recognized oil painter, Jason Horejs was more drawn to the business side of art. He and his wife, Carrie, created Xanadu 20 years ago to offer a wonderful array of artwork that is interesting and delightful.
Their eclectic collection consists of various styles of paintings and sculptures. Ancizar Marin’s wall-climbers are fiberglass people several inches tall in different poses grasping strings that anchor them to the wall. Stephen Hansen adds comical paper mache painters to his copies of famous works. One of my favorites is Charlie Barr’s depiction of Seattle street scenes. He applies a thin layer of cement over wood then paints with acrylics to create a wonderful texture and hue.
3. Paul Scott Gallery
The Paul Scott Gallery presents international artists that are classically trained and have something unique to say with their art. As a family-owned business, they strive to create a friendly, comfortable environment for collectors or browsers.
The owners believe that Russian and Ukrainian artists are the best trained in the world and therefore emphasize their work. The artists at the Academy in St. Petersburg are rigorously trained but also encouraged to express their own views of the world.
4. The Marshall Gallery Of Fine Art
Since 1998, The Marshall Gallery has anchored the Old Town gallery district. Attorney DeeAn Gillepsie created this space for contemporary painters and sculptors. Her and her husband’s philosophy is that art can create lasting impressions that linger. The power in true beauty does not need an interpreter and can be found in various art forms.
The large two-story space feels like a small museum when you enter, with smaller rooms delineated by diagonal walls. From the abstract paintings to the paintings of boats or horses, to the extensive display of glass sculptures, there is something to interest everyone.
Debra Corbett’s 3-by-3-foot abstract paintings catch your eye from across the room. She layers on plaster, paint, and glaze materials to bring texture to the colors and trigger emotions in the viewers. Stuart Dunkel’s humorous depictions of mice carrying a piece of food remind us that art doesn’t have to be so serious. Scott Harley’s delicate ribbons of intertwined glass evoke movement and balance.
Pro Tip: Follow the stairs up to the balcony to view the glass collection and beautiful colorful metal tables.
5. Gebert Contemporary
The 6-foot-tall smooth blue head with closed eyes out on the sidewalk in front of Gebert Contemporary draws your attention from down the street. The stark open floor plan of the gallery draws attention to the artwork. Contemporary paintings and sculptures from Belgium, Germany, Mexico, Spain, and the United States mainly feature well-established artists. Many of the works have a three-dimensional element.
Three 6-foot-tall towers created by Kevin Corbett are inlaid with intricate painted wood designs. Howard Hersh is a Californian artist who’s geometric designs seem to move towards you. From afar Kaori Takamura’s works look like beautiful pastel patterns. Close up, you see the laser-cut individual shapes stitched onto the canvas.
6. T.H. Brennen Fine Art
This gallery resides in the oldest home in Scottsdale. You can wander several cozy rooms and imagine yourself at home with beautiful art on your walls. The gallery has been family-owned for over 25 years and was passed down from father to son. They showcase Impressionist, Post-impressionist, Realism, and contemporary artists. Consignment for Early American and contemporary paintings and consultation for placement of monumental bronze sculptures are also offered.
Some of my favorite works here include Richard Boyer’s night street scenes and Jean Luc Messin’s landscape of golden fields against a dark blue sky. Angela Mia De La Vega’s bronze sculptures in life-like poses are also very interesting.
7. Mainview Gallery
David Guglielmo, the owner, is an Arizona native and has been in the fine art world for over 25 years. The gallery is divided into smaller rooms to create an intimate feeling with the art. You can enjoy an array of gorgeous, interesting paintings and sculptures depicting nature and people.
Karen Noles’s oil paintings of Native American girls draw you in with their authenticity and attention to detail. In Ed Copely’s majestic paintings, vibrant animal faces fill the canvas. Born in England, Alan Wolton became a professional artist at the age of 20. He painted out in nature creating vibrantly colorful flowers with thick layers of paint that appear to come off the canvas towards you.
Pro Tip: Be sure to walk all the way into the back of the gallery to view Wolton’s floor-to-ceiling paintings of flowers and Venice scenes in elaborate frames.
I recently discovered this small gallery featuring the work of owner Cyndy Carstens. At the back of the narrow room is her studio with her easel and paints. Carstens started her schooling in art at 6 years old and she has learned from several art schools.
The beauty and tranquility of the sky helped her through challenging times. She strives to bring that same serenity to others through her work. Her landscape paintings vary in size from miniature to large scale. They present fabulous sunsets in an array of vivid colors.
Take A Break
If you need some sustenance to continue your art journey, there are many restaurants and bars within a few blocks. Malee’s Thai Bistro has been amongst the galleries on Main Street for over 30 years. It serves delicious authentic Thai food including many vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dishes.
The Beverly is a hip cocktail lounge with a dark upscale interior and a cute patio area. The menu offers over 50 different cocktails along with a good selection of wine, beer, and cider. Casual food items include salads, taco, burgers, and 13 options of tasty appetizers. Sit at the long bar and chat with the bartender or cuddle up in a leather booth before heading back to the galleries.
Canopy by Hilton is a recent addition to the gallery neighborhood, sitting just a block off Main Street. The lobby bar is comfortable and bright. Head up to the rooftop bar, however, for a fun space with a view over the galleries and beyond to all of Scottsdale. On many evenings you can view a beautiful natural work of art of an Arizona sunset over Camelback Mountain. You can order small plates and a good choice of cocktails, wine, and beer while you discuss your artistic findings.
If you are a collector or just enjoy perusing wonderful art, the Old Town Scottsdale galleries offer one of the best ways to enjoy art in the country. You can visit many galleries within a walk of a couple of blocks. Enjoy the warm Arizona evening and the friendly community atmosphere.
Pro Tip: Ask questions. The gallery owners or assistants always welcome questions and conversations. I have learned much about the various art pieces, the galleries, and Scottsdale in general.
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