One artist's long journey brings art to Midtown

Video by Zhanna Lagunova | Multimedia Reporter

As you walk through a stark white gallery, you're filled with a consuming sense of space and strength. It is a silent strength that echoes its presence not through the obvious, the bold or the flashy, but rather by lurking in the distance, luring you in like a siren on the cliffs of the rocky bluffs.

Every wall is a canvas absent of color, save the art, which whispers of secrets and mystery, of lives and life so reflective of our own. This world of reflection, intrigue and beauty has been a life-long dream finally come to fruition, from nearly every corner of the globe, Lisa Sette has managed to create a sanctuary of art that feels aesthetic and decorative but exudes life and energy with such refinement that in the silence of the gallery you can hear and feel the sound.

It was the '70s when gallery now-owner Sette first put her passion for art to the test. A broke art major and studio photographer at ASU, Sette was faced for the first time with her first set of blank walls, her first apartment. It was ambition and a need for fundamental furniture that led Sette to open her first gallery, a pop-up show of sorts. In the very apartment she hoped to furnish and on the same walls she hoped to decorate, Sette debuted the art of her fellow peers and art enthusiasts.

“It went as well as you would expect it to have gone,” Sette said. “We didn’t make any real money, but we had fun.”

It was this very passion and love of art that inspired Sette to one day own a gallery of her own.

Inspired the words of then-ASU professor Bill Jay’s book, "Negative/Positive: A Philosophy of Photography."

“I dropped everything and transferred to ASU the next semester,” Sette said. This decision is one that, to this day, she insists she would do again.

After nearly a lifetime in the business of art, Sette has proudly opened the gallery she dreamed of 30 years ago.

IMG_8634 "Pollinium" by Alan Bur Johnson. The Lisa Sette Gallery is located in Midtown Phoenix and is open Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. (Photo by Zhanna Lagunova)

Humbly set in Midtown Phoenix, the Lisa Sette gallery exudes an aura of ultra sophistication, from the minimalist style achieved by the sunken entrance to the modern use of traditionally cold textures such as cement and stark walls the Lisa Sette Gallery exudes a feeling of sleek coolness.

This eye for subtle sophistication is most prevalent in the art displayed in the gallery. With pieces form all corners of the globe from local Phoenix pieces to New Zealand, England, Guatemala, India, Mexico and Vietnam, Sette is determined to feature “art that makes you think and feel but I still true to the modern aesthetic of the gallery space.”

Among the many pieces featured one of the more provoking creations is that of local Phoenix resident and associate professor of art, Angela Ellsworth. Entitled "Seer Bonnet XIX (Flora Ann)," the free-form structure is assembled using over 3,000 pearl tipped corsage pins, mounted atop a steel post and anchored in wood. The piece a pioneer bonnet serves as Ellsworth’s interpretation of the traditional fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints culture in which she was brought up, but no longer practices. Externally, the bonnet exudes a demure beauty as it glints atop its pedestal under the glaring gallery lights, which much resemble the beating sun the bonnet is constructed to block. Underneath the beautiful functionality of the pearl bonnet, one can see the needles of each of those more than 3,000 corsage pins. Suggesting that beneath the beauty and traditional allure hides the pain and struggle of her childhood culture.

Another captivating piece is "Pollinium," a photographic wall spread created by local Phoenix artist Alan Bur Johnson. Made up of 266 photographic transparencies whose subject is inspired by the idea of natural swarms, Johnson’s art is a whimsical story of when nature meets science. Utilizing X-rays of the human body in collaboration with biological scans of insects’ swarms found after Arizonian monsoons, Johnson represents the quintessential modern artist, taking traditional photography and elevating it to the incredible. Each of the various 266 transparency pieces is mounted in to the wall via dissection pins, further driving home the union of science, nature and art.

The Lisa Sette Commercial Gallery is located on the corner of 210 E. Catalina Dr., Phoenix AZ 85012. Admission is free and all pieces on display are available for sale.


Reach the reporter at or follow her on Twitter @OliviaRichard1

Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.



This website uses cookies to make your expierence better and easier. By using this website you consent to our use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie Policy.