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New Scottsdale art exhibit blends audible, visual arts

Painting by Cam DeCaussin (KTAR News Photo/Taylor Kinnerup)

PHOENIX — Can you hear a sunset?

Have you ever seen a sound?

A new art exhibit in Scottsdale is blending the audible and visual arts to compel audiences to fully engage with art.

“Did you know that when people go into a museum, the average amount of time they spend looking at [each piece] is about 7 seconds,” said Laura Hales, curator of learning and innovation for Scottsdale Arts. “I think that this will help visitors really take their time, listen and take the visual art work as well and see things that you just can’t see at first glance.”

The exhibit features seven Arizona-based visual artists and seven Arizona State University graduate students as the featured sound artists.

When you first enter the intimate space, you’re greeted by a painting by Cam DeCaussin.

“It has an old airstream trailer parked in front of an older style house that was probably built in the 1940s or ’50s,” Hales described. “It’s at sunset and it’s really beautiful on one level but on the other hand if you look at it more closely you might sort of see layers of kind of an eerie quality to it.”

The audible art that accompanies the hauntingly nostalgic visual piece is called “Mermaid Soup is a Bowl of Melted Ice Cream” by Shomit Barua.

The audio instantly engulfs you like the sound of waves on a shoreline with other layered components of sounds from nature along with spoken excerpts added in.

Another piece that instantly draws your eye is the set of painted silver trays and platters in a found objects series by Laura Spalding Best.

“I think it’s a road trip she took through Arizona,” said Hales. “They’re scenes of what you would see in the drivers seat as you’re looking in front of you, the road that goes off into the distance and also the mirage in the distance that you can never quite reach.”

It’s accompanied by a twangy sound created by Devin Arne. The sound is reminiscent of a western film and evoking the hazy heat you feel only on a long, summer road trip.

Other pieces were also inspired by Arizona, while others are more abstract.

Hales emphasized the exhibit as a showcase of true, local talent.

“We have such a talented group of artists in Arizona that a lot of people don’t really know about,” said Hales. “Not all of the artists are native Arizonans but a lot of them have been here for a long time and I think that you can see in the way that they paint, you know with the bright colors and the Arizona landscape that it reflects their experience in Arizona as well.”

The exhibit is open to the public at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts until April 26.

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