Art Moves Outside For The Roadside Attraction Event As Pandemic Keeps Museums Shut

By Lauren Gilger, Steve Goldstein
Published: Thursday, July 9, 2020 - 3:31pm
Updated: Thursday, July 9, 2020 - 3:34pm

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You may be realizing about now just how long it’s been since you’ve been able to see art in Phoenix. Many of the museums and galleries have been closed because of COVID-19, and social distancing would be hard in some of the smaller galleries even if they were open.

That’s what the creators of Roadside Attraction are trying to address. Roadside Attraction is an art roadtrip of sorts throughout Phoenix, where select artists were asked to showcase new pieces around town — outside — that people can drive up to and view.

One of the creators, Patricia Sannit, said that one of the main focuses of her group, Art Farm Phoenix, was already to get art outside of the gallery.

Patricia Sennit
Patricia Sennit
Patricia Sennit, organizer of the Roadside Attraction outdoor art museum.

“We really have always believed that it’s important to put art in places that it’s not necessarily — that it’s a surprise to find the work so people that don’t necessarily think of themselves as art people, might see something that might be intriguing," Sannit said.

The socially-distanced art experience features over 50 artists with pieces all around the Valley. To find them, you can log onto the Practical Arts website where there is an interactive map with location pins to different exhibits or performances. One of those pins will bring you to a Made in Arizona alumni


Laura Spalding Best art
Laura Spalding Best
Laura Spalding Best with her art.

The Show spoke with Laura Spaulding Best last November to talk about her large scale murals that are reminiscent of the warm desert landscape. She said that even though she spent part of quarantine trying to help her kids finish the last bit of school and painting nearly every surface in her house, this down time has been helpful.

“I’m trying to come on the other side of how stressful this time can be and kind of see the gift that it is in having time to really focus without distraction and without stress to experiment and to make new work,” Best said.

Roadside Attraction Art
Laura Spaulding Best
Art in the Roadside Attraction outdoor gallery.

Best used a 24-foot wide mural surface and attached street signs to create a mirage landscape. Thinking outside of the box when it came to materials was a challenge she wanted to empower.

“I had all these mural paints from all these previous projects and there’s so much about a feeling right now of necessity being the mother of invention, kind of looking at things in a new way, kind of problem solving different things, and for me one of them was using up all of the resources that I have at my fingertips,” Best said.

Roadside Attraction currently runs through the end of July with plans to extend it into the fall. On July 11 and 12, there will even be a video art portion played behind the Practical Arts building on Central Ave.

Sannit hopes that this exhibit will help showcase some of the artists that don't get the kind of attention that they could and that people are able to take a little break with some art.

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