Art is no longer just for stuffy museums and pretentious galleries.
Instead, it’s migrating to where everyday people — not curators or collectors — do everyday things, like shop or mail packages.
Art has long been a mainstay at coffeehouses, restaurants and even hair salons to provide ambience, but paintings and photographs also pop up at places like wine stores, tanning salons and even the post office. While this isn’t an exhaustive list, we thought we’d turn you on to a few places around town you might not think would have art.
So be on the lookout for other unexpected PDAs — public displays of art. No need to stand around in awe pretending to analyze the works, either — just take a gander, enjoy and then run your next errand.
U.S. Postal Service
500 S. Mill Ave., Tempe. (480) 350-5287.
Hours: 24 hours a day
The post office in downtown Tempe has had art in its front windows since April 2002, courtesy of a joint effort among Arizona artists, the Tempe Cultural Services Division, the Downtown Tempe Community and the U.S. Postal Service. The current exhibit features works by Steve Long, Catherine Hammond and Brent Bond.
Long’s paintings are dreamy and abstract, done in desert-friendly shades of terra cotta, brown, yellow and gold. Hammond’s paintings owe much to Jackson Pollock, with thick clumps of paint protruding from the canvas. Bond’s quirky collages are . . . well, you have to see them. One can most closely be described as Gray’s Anatomy meets Sears catalog circa 1910 with a twist.
This exhibit is on display through July 9. For more information, visit www.tempe.gov/arts and under "Art Exhibitions," click on "U.S. Post Office."
960 W. University Drive
Suite 114, Tempe. (480) 557-7861. Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
The waiting room here includes the typical potted plants, candy machine and a coffee table carpeted in fashion magazines. But the walls boast bold, geometric paintings by Armando Rascon of Tempe, a graduate of the Arizona State University art program.
The previous owner of this tanning salon set up the room as an art gallery, and when Brennan Obray took over the business about a year ago he kept the idea. Rascon keeps Obray well-stocked, changing his collection every other month.
Obray said he gets two or three people a week who come in solely to see the art, and he sells quite a bit to out-oftowners who come in from nearby hotels. He recently sold an oversize painting by Rascon for $1,200. The ones left are marked $350 to $600. But, of course, it’s free to browse.
House Wines and Cheese
7001 N. Scottsdale Road, No. 141, Scottsdale. (480) 922-3470. Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday
Brian Mahoney’s wine store doubles as a mini-gallery for paintings by Sandy Soliz of Ahwatukee Foothills and fine art photographs by John Samora of Phoenix. "Because my mother’s an artist," Mahoney said, "I knew I could get work in here on consignment as a cheap way to decorate the store and support the local art community." Soliz’s paintings are simple, Tuscan-themed still lifes done in vibrant, primary colors. They range from $550 to $2,200. The photos are hard to pigeonhole: "It could be anything from nudes to still lifes to unusual architectural pieces," Samora said. "One of the images at House Wines is of the Arizona Meteor Museum in Two Guns, Arizona.
"I never thought about putting pictures up in a wine shop before, but once I saw the space and put the images up, it seemed like a natural spot," said Samora, who is also a commercial photographer. His works at House Wines and Cheese sell for $150 to $500.
Zelma Basha Salmeri Gallery of Western American and Native American Art
Bashas’ corporate office 22402 South Basha Road, Chandler. (480) 895-5230, option 4. Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday; call first for any closings
OK, so this is a real gallery, with 11,000 square feet of floor space and more than 1,500 works hand-selected by grocery mogul Eddie Basha. But it’s still an unusual place for art, being housed at the Bashas’ corporate headquarters.
The exhibit includes paintings, sculptures, baskets, jewelry, kachinas, fetishes and a commemorative pistol collection. The works are organized into two groups: American Indian art, all of which was done by Indian artists, and Western art, most of which was created by members of the Cowboy Artists of America.
Employees wander in on breaks or at lunch, said Tammy Fontaine, the gallery director. And when they have family in town, they’ll bring them in.
Anyone can visit during regular hours, but Fontaine urges people to call first because they sometimes close for corporate functions or maintenance.