Arts HQ Gallery in Surprise Illuminates Works of Local Talent

Surprise has the ‘”littest” sculptures in the Valley.

On August 26, the Arts HQ Gallery in Surprise shut off the gallery’s lights. The attendees viewed art pieces created by local artists Kevin Caron, Ceri Jones, and Larry Ortega — in the dark.

Enter Illuminate.

“This was the first of its kind exhibit where the first two weeks of the exhibit are under the gallery lighting so you can enjoy and notice all of the details of the sculptures,” said Daisy Brady, the gallery manager and exhibition preparatory. “And then, as of August 26, we turned off the overhead gallery lights, and the pieces [are] illuminated.”

Brady spoke with Phoenix New Times on Friday, just minutes before the lights were shut off and the gallery reopened up to the public.

“The pieces are going to be illuminated by themselves,” Brady continued. “Some are lamps that cast fantastic shadows on the walls. Others are 3D printed pieces that illuminate; they light up.”

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Larry Ortega cast resin sculptures from molds off aloe and agave leaves and a totem pole cactus.

Daisy Brady

Larry Ortega cast 30-inch resin sculptures from molds derived from aloe and agave leaves and a totem pole cactus he found nearby their studio in the Sunnyslope area of Phoenix. “The shape of the agave leaves reminded me of the shape of surfboards,” he said in a recent Phoenix New Times interview. “The sharp edges and point reminded me of the surfboard designs.”

His designs have a strong ocean connection as he grew up surfing in Huntington Beach, California, before moving to Hawaii, where he continued to surf. On the islands, he learned to work with resin and an airbrush for a surfboard builder; when he returned to the mainland, both resin building and airbrushing became prominent components in his artistic repertoire.

In the last five years — as the bioluminescence of deep-sea fish — Ortega’s sculptures became luminous “when they’re hit with a black light or a laser light,” Brady explained. “It’s because they have rare earth minerals inside with the resin that is photosensitive and [the laser] excites the minerals and the minerals kind of come alive with the light, and they glow. We have overhead backlights to bring out the effects.”

The gallery invites folks to participate in the artistic display by handing them laser pens; from a distance, the attendees can draw onto Ortega’s sculptures.

“The rare earth elements have the ability to store light like a battery,” Ortega said. “In the dark, they re-emit that light at what physicists say is ‘excited light.’ UV light has strong illumination properties, and the light and color are at their strongest when absorbed.”

Kevin Caron creates larger pieces on an eight-foot-tall 3D printer. One sculpture resembling a glacier set up on a display pedestal in the gallery is translucent and has a baby blue tinge with LED lights inside. Caron also created a sculpture he calls “SuperSize,” which glows in a yellow-gold color and resembles an upside-down scalp massager. He also creates unique fabricated metal sculptures for private and public places. “That intuitive force, fueled by the intellectual challenges of physical creation, drives me to create artwork that breathes its own life,” he said on his website.

Ceri Jones made the “Hanging Gardens,” a collection of almost sphere-like metal sculptures resembling plant life and handpainted in different colors. The pieces are internally lit, which cast equally artistic shadows on the gallery’s walls, ceilings, and floor. “An integral part of my daily life is the practice of constant creating, metal sculpting being my primary medium — new season, new body of original works,” she wrote on her website.

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Kevin Caron (left) creates his larger pieces on an eight-foot-tall 3D printer.

Daisy Brady

The exhibit that runs through September 9 is free to attend, but donations are welcome.

Arts HQ Gallery is located at 16126 North Civic Center Plaza in Surprise. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
(623) 584-2626

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