Unintended Consequences: Artistic Collaboration between Three Past Contributors

Artists Carolyn Lavender, Monica Aissa Martinez, and Mary Shindell, known for their previous exhibit Creature-Man-Nature at Mesa Art Center, have come together for a project titled Unintended Consequences to be showcased at Center Space at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. The project tells the story of life in Arizona through a combination of biology, botany, and zoology, all expressed in paintings done by the three artists.

Registration and directions can be found by visiting the Center Space’s website here. Their project’s opening ceremony is on Friday, February 17th from 7:00PM to 8:00PM Arizona time. Tickets are free. Beyond the opening ceremony, the group’s paintings can be viewed at the Center Space from February 17th through May 28th.

Carolyn Lavender and Monica Aissa Martinez’s drawings were featured in issue 9. Mary Shindell’s artwork appeared in issue 11. Learn more about them and their works: Carolyn Lavender’s website, Monica Aissa Martinez’s website, and Mary Shindell’s website.

#ArtLitPhx: “Southwest Contemporary Today” Art Exhibition at Royse Contemporary

Royse ContemporaryNicole Royse’s debut show at Royse Contemporary opens Thursday, September 14. It is titled “Southwest Contemporary Today” and features art from Angel Cabrales, Charmagne Coe, Monica Aissa Martinez, Daniel Shepherd, Marilyn Szabo, and Fred Tieken. Royse notes that she “selected artists based on their distinctive voice, accomplished work, connection and history with the American Southwest, as well as their commitment and impact in the arts.”

The opening reception will be from 5pm to 10pm on September 14, but the exhibit will be on display until September 30. It is at the Royse Contemporary Gallery, which you can find at 7077 E. Main Street, Suite 6, Scottsdale, AZ 85251.

The opening will be a part of the Scottsdale ArtWalk in Old Town Scottsdale. Royse, the owner and curator, will give a brief talk about the artists and work featured in the exhibition; guests will also have the chance to meet the artists, enjoy live music, and munch on light hors d’oeuvres. For more information about the exhibition, visit Royse Contemporary’s website.

LA Artcore’s “Connections to the Natural World” ft. Sarah Kriehn, Monica Aissa Martinez, Carolyn Lavender, and Mary Shindell

Are you in LA this weekend and looking for something to do? We suggest checking out the last weekend of “Connections to the Natural World” exhibit at the LA Artcore Brewery Annex. This collection features the personal responses to nature through various media of seven unique artists, four of those artists being past SR Contributors. Sarah Kriehn, a printmaker, uses nature as a visual framework for intuitive play. Monica Aissa Martinez works to experience and understand nature through human anatomy in her intricately rendered paintings. Carolyn Lavender explores natural preservation while portraying the fake and the real of flora and fauna in detailed graphite drawings. Mary Shindell reframes nature’s geometry and reorganizes its special relationships in her large-scale installations.

This collection is only on view until January 30th during normal gallery hours (12-5 pm Thursday- Sunday). Be sure to admire these artists’ brilliant work in SR. Sarah’s paintings were featured in Issue 10, Monica’s drawings in Issue 9, Carolyn’s drawings in Issue 9, and Mary’s work in Issue 11.

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Guest Post, Carolyn Lavender: One Less Wild One

My identity is as a visual artist who is connected to the natural world. I have mostly maintained that connection through my urban yard. A real naturalist would live close to nature, or at least go there regularly. I usually go to my studio. And my work plays with combinations of what I see as real and fake. Such as the drawing Baboon-Baboon, based on a photograph a friend took for me when we were at the zoo, and an object I own. The zoo animals are still wild, but in captivity, which is a situation where something natural is not completely natural.

Baboon-Baboon, 2014  12 x 12” graphite, acrylic on canvas panel
Baboon-Baboon, 2014 12 x 12” graphite, acrylic on canvas panel

My yard attracts about as much wildlife as central Phoenix yard can, with the largest mammals being the endless feral cats. Some are strays, but some are true ferals, having reverted back to a wild state. Apparently cats are only 10% domesticated, so it is not difficult for them to make the transition. Last summer when a female and 3 kittens showed up in the yard I decided I was up for another taming project. This is the 4th time I have trapped and tamed a wild cat. Kittens are much easier, though the first cat I tamed was an adult. I had my eye on a pure white kitten who peered at me through the window a few times.


Feisty in yard
Feisty in yard

And by luck, he is the one who ended up in my trap. He was one of the wildest cats I have ever trapped even though he was still a kitten. So I named him Feisty, put him in a crate, and moved him into my studio. Having a wild cat in my studio mimics some of what happens in my work, but the cat is real. And it is again a case of nature that is no longer in a completely natural state. Feisty was an extra big challenge in the beginning because he kept hurting himself trying to get out of the crate. Usually cats give in to being in a cage after a day or so, but not Feisty. The cage speeds up the taming, the smaller the space, the faster they tame. The first step in taming is to get the cat to eat while you are in the room. Their motivation to eat is the only reason they can be tamed. I also wrapped a stick in a rag and started reaching it into the cage and petting Feisty with it.

Everything I did was with my protection in mind. He showed aggression many times. He charged the cage when I walked by, attacked the rag stick with his teeth, spit, swiped, and hissed regularly. After 6 days I was able to reach into the cage with a bare hand to pet him at times. But he was still hurting himself, so I released him into the studio early. After a couple days of letting him hide, I blocked all his hiding places, and started over with the taming. It took a couple weeks to get him as tame as he was in the crate. And it took about a month to get him completely tame to me. It is an amazing transformation to go through with an animal. They hate you in the beginning and love you completely in the end. Their love feels like an extra special gift.



The next step was to get him tame to other people. And I needed help from friends and my husband for this. I bought some extra yummy treats that he only received from people other than myself. And lots of people came out to my studio to help with his taming and to give him treats. This eventually worked after really generous help from my friend Monica and her husband.

Monica with Fesity 8-23-14
Monica with Fesity 8-23-14

For the next step my husband and I screened in the porch between the house and the studio to use it as a space to introduce Feisty to our 3 indoor cats. First you allow the cats to smell and hear each other before seeing each other. We also have a security door that allows seeing each other, but not getting at each other. And this is the where we are now. Eventually Feisty will be moved into our house to become our 4th cat. The introduction process can take a couple days, or a couple of months, depending on the cats involved.

Feisty and Bandit thru window 2 1-1-15
Feisty and Bandit thru window 2 1-1-15

It has been 6 months since I trapped Feisty, and he demands quite a lot of attention while I work. I have chronicled his taming on Facebook, and people I see who would normally ask me about my art, are more likely to ask, “How is Feisty?” All cats carry a sense of the wild with them, but for me I think back to what he was like when he was wild, and think about that difference. Here I have taken a wild animal, have gotten to know him intimately, and have turned him into a loving and affectionate creature. What is the place of animals in our world? There are lots of answers and opinions on that. At some point the truly wild animals and places will be nearly gone, and we will need to decide as a whole whether we are going to let them go. This is one of the big questions of my work as an artist. Feisty is a great example of what wild was.


Feisty looking at my art 3 9-6-14
Feisty looking at my art 3 9-6-14

And as an artist I need to have interesting life experiences that I can take into the studio. But in this case, a little white cat is already waiting for me every day.

Feisty looking up at me 9-16-14
Feisty looking up at me 9-16-14

Interview with Monica Aissa Martinez

SR conducted this interview with Issue 9 contributor Monica Aissa Martinez.

Monica Aissa Martinez

Superstition Review: If you could give your past self any advice what would it be?

Monica Martinez: I would tell my past self to get out of her comfort zone more readily and as often as possible where art is concerned.

SR: How did you first get involved in your field? 

MM: I made the decision to attend college and headed right to art school. It was the only thing I thought I could really do. One thing led to another and here I am. Continuing to make art is probably my greatest achievement continuing to exhibit follows. But I am also pleased that private and public collectors have purchased my work, as it continues to be seen and experienced. That means a lot to me. I want my work out in the world. And it is.

élan vital, my first solo was a hugely important experience for me. It was a beautiful space, with a professional organization. The brochure was well written. The show ran six months; many, including foreign visitors, saw it. I sold numerous works. It stands out as a turning point because I solicited them and they accepted my proposal. I had that wonderful experience as an initiation exhibit, which lead to many more opportunities, and solidified the idea that I could work as an artist.

SR: Have you ever tried to work in other creative areas?

MM: I have a knack for illustration but I’ve not thought of going into that area. I enjoy photography, and photograph people now and again. Not for exhibition, but yes, professionally. I did do stage design. I have been a teaching artist for a number of years now.  I used to go into the schools around the valley and teach mask making, story telling through art making. Currently I am an adjunct at Phoenix College. I teach Drawing. I enjoy the work very much. And with all my years of experience it allows me to pass on what I have learned, and what I know.

SR: Please give us some background biographical information. 

Monica’s Studio

I am originally from El Paso, Texas. I come from a large family. Education, arts and culture are a priority in my family. I am currently living in Phoenix with my husband and cat.

I received a BFA in Ceramics and Metals, at the University of Texas at El Paso.

I received my Masters of Fine Arts at New Mexico State University. Area of emphasis was Drawing and Printmaking. I covered 2D AND 3D both before I settled into my current areas of work: drawing, painting and printmaking. I also make masks. Though I don’t exhibit my masks.

I have been awarded solo exhibitions. That’s pretty valuable for development and growth as an artist.

My work has exhibited in the Phoenix Art Museum (Local’s Only), the Tucson Museum of Art (AZ biennial ’09), the ASU Art Museum (Here and Now), and Tempe Center for the Arts, Mesa Arts Center, and the Scottsdale Center for the Arts (solo). My work has been seen internationally, and is part of numerous private and public collections including: New Mexico State University, Mesa Arts Center, Phoenix Municipal Court House, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary of Art, Arizona State University, and Brigham Young University.

My drawing, paintings and prints are featured in three publications through the Hispanic Research Center and Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingue of Arizona State University. Both ASU and the University of Norte Dame have commissioned me to create limited edition prints. My alma mater, New Mexico State University has purchased four of my works, three of those purchases were more recent. They invited me to come back as a visiting artist and lecture. It was a bit out of body. I also exhibited and lectured at the University of Texas (my other alma mater).

My work has been published in a number of books put out by the Hispanic Research Center on the ASU campus a number of years ago. Since then I have received emails from students across the country, and including an MFA student in Monterrey Mexico connecting with me only to discuss my artwork. The latter included my work and commentary in her thesis. All of that means a lot to me.

SR: Do you have any projects or pieces you’re currently working on?

MM: Right now I am preparing for a 3-person exhibit scheduled to open January 25 and run thru May 5, 2013, at the Mesa Center for the Arts. The artwork in Superstition Review will be featured.

SR: What inspired you to create your piece for Issue 9 of Superstition Review?

MM: That particular drawing is influenced by a book I am reading titled New Self – New World by Philip Shepherd. It deals with planet earth, man and animal, the connection between them. It also deals with the need for balance of the masculine and the feminine / matriarchy / patriarchy, in current times.

It’s my very current direction, all new artwork. A new direction. I am working out new ideas. The one main piece is the largest I’ve ever worked on, and it took such a long time to complete. I am glad to have a photo for you. This image I am including with this text, is the second large work of the series.

SR: Do you have a website or is your work linked to any other websites, blog posts, or news stories?

You can read more about Monica Aissa Martinez at http://monicaaissamartinez.com/ and  http://monicaaissamartinez.wordpress.com/

Work in Progress, Detail