Culture Undiscovered: Cat Paintings (and more) in Downtown Phoenix

I love spring break just as much as the next stressed out college student, but too much sitting around drives me nuts. Three days of doing nothing is usually my threshold, and then I have to get out before I become a danger to myself and others. That’s why I headed out to Downtown Phoenix’s Art Detour 24 on March 17 to browse galleries for stuff to decorate my room with, and get out of my family’s hair for a while. Art Detour is a two-day, self-guided tour of downtown’s many and varied art venues organized by Artlink Phoenix, a volunteer-run arts organization dedicated to enhancing First Friday’s art walk and organizing events and fundraisers for the arts throughout the valley. Below are three galleries that I had to share.

Gallery Hazel is a small gallery on 4th and McKinley streets that supposedly features “Arizona art,” but really nothing there looks like it could be hanging in a Taco Bell just off the freeway so don’t take that label too seriously. Gallery Hazel shows Arizona art the way Stephen Colbert hosts a news show, so naturally I loved it. They’re currently featuring local artist Fred Tieken, whose cat painting (painting of a cat, not painting by a cat) was enough to win me over all by itself. I’ve talked before about how close cat paintings are to my heart, so really this should come as no surprise.

Fred’s take on Arizona art was even better, and his painting “Western Civilization” is a pretty accurate portrayal of about 90 percent of all of Arizona’s political representatives. Also at Gallery Hazel is some of Sebastien Millon’s work. His small prints are affordable (if I can afford them, anyone can), and are mostly of adorable animals doing things like drunkenly attempting to ride bicycles or wielding machetes. These are exactly the kind of high-class art piece that need to get on my walls, and you can even grab one for yourself on his website as well as at Gallery Hazel.

Right around the corner from Hazel is Suhu, another gallery with even more cat paintings and some of the nicest artists ever. While I was there I met Tony Di Angelis, a featured artist at Suhu who may be one of the friendliest people ever. His work is bright and textured, and even though it wasn’t always of cats, I have to admit that I liked it. Like the artists at Hazel, Tony’s smaller prints go for fairly reasonable prices and would look great on a dorm room wall. Also featured at Suhu is Su Humphrey, whose cat paintings are all over the gallery, as well as in miniature, more affordable sizes. Her painting of a cat as an angel was so fabulous that it was nearly too much for me to handle, so just don’t buy that one.

Absolute Flowers studio is not an art gallery, but flower arranging is an art! They have tons of cool flower vases (personally, I’ll just stick with mason jars), and even throw flower parties where you bring your own wine/whiskey/flower arranging drink of choice, and everyone learns how to make their own flower arrangement. I’m not usually one for flowers, but I think maybe putting a bouquet of these babies on my desk will distract people from the mess that surrounds it. Absolute Flower Studio is right next to Suhu and Hazel, so go out and get some bona fide art for your blank walls, and then someone please throw me a flower party!

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