Nine artists represent Scottsdale at 29th Annual Celebration of Fine Art

Equal parts gallery, working studio, and art show, it’s no wonder the Celebration of Fine Art has been drawing art lovers from across the country for nearly 30 years.

And the good news for locals? It’s held in Scottsdale, the heart of the Southwest’s vibrant art scene.

The tradition, passion, and dedication of connecting people to art has remained the constant focus of Celebration of Fine Art, sparking conversation and fostering newfound friendships between art lovers and the 100 artists that participate in the show.

Among this year’s cohort of notable artists, nine are local to Scottsdale, and include Hannah Friel, Heidi Rosner, Jan Griggs, Jenny Foster, Jon Linton, Mark Lewanski, Priscilla Nelson, Rollande, and Suzanne Brown.

Here’s a glance into these nine artists’ vastly different mediums and techniques, and their takes on what it’s like to live, work and create art in Scottsdale.

Hannah Friel (submitted photo)

Hannah Friel

Ms. Friel, who is in her second year with the Celebration of Fine Art, works predominantly with resin to create abstract, colorful pieces that draw inspiration from her natural surroundings.

Originally from Pennsylvania, Ms. Friel moved to Scottsdale after graduating from the University of Delaware with a Bachelor or Fine Arts. Ms. Friel finds inspiration wherever she goes, however, since moving to Arizona, she has found herself in an environment that continuously sparks her creativity.

“Living in Scottsdale is incredibly influential to my artwork because there is such a diverse array of natural phenomena which inspires all of my work,” said Ms. Friel. “Scottsdale is also a melting pot of diverse culture, landscape, and architecture which forces me to think outside the box and grow artistically.”

Heidi Rosner (submitted photo)

Heidi Rosner

A mechanical engineer by trade, Ms. Rosner didn’t pick up a paintbrush until 1994 when she attended a painting workshop. Since then, she has attracted collectors from all corners of the world with her vibrant watercolor pieces.

Ms. Rosner has developed her own methods of working with watercolors, producing one-of-a-kind results that recreate the sweeping landscapes she encounters during her travels. Living in Scottsdale and being exposed to the desert flora has only helped to drive her creativity.

“Currently, my creative focus is on botanical and bird art,” said Ms. Rosner. “In north Scottsdale, I am surrounded by my muse every single day. I spend a lot of time out on the hiking trails and collect different plant specimens. Now I grow them in my yard, and have added a number of bird feeders over the years to entice these beautiful creatures to pose for me.”

Jan Griggs (submitted photo)

Jan Griggs

A well-known acrylic artist, Ms. Griggs’ paintings are recognizable for her ability to evoke energy and light. Since moving to Arizona from the Northwest, not only has she begun to incorporate new desert-inspired colors into her pieces, she has also been able to interact with other talented artists who reside in the area.

“Where I live in Scottsdale, I have wonderful views of the mountains at all different times of day,” said Ms. Griggs. “The sunsets are also spectacular and their colors ––- vibrant reds, oranges, and pinks –-– inspire my palette. The whole move has just allowed me to expand my art and find a community that is like no place else.”

Jenny Foster (submitted photo)

Jenny Foster

Ms. Foster is a native Arizonan who has been painting since she was seven years old. Having studied fine art at Arizona State University, she continues to build upon her artistic training with the creative, youthful outlook she has maintained since she was a child.

Today her primitive and contemporary paintings inspire joy by celebrating the fun in bright colors, quirky creatures and the spirit of life.

“As a native Arizonan, I’m sure my work has been influenced by the desert palette although I don’t consciously think about that,” said Ms. Foster. “I paint from what I feel, not what I see. However, each year I look forward to being with the artists at the Celebration of Fine Art. There is great creative energy here and we all enjoy learning from each other.”

Jon Linton (submitted photo)

Jon Linton

Now a renowned photographer, Mr. Linton’s first experience with a camera came when he was an early teen and would borrow his mother’s camera and take photographs of his neighborhood. Originally from Chicago, Mr. Linton has called Phoenix home for nearly three decades and, during that time, has branched out from the fashion industry to embrace a life in the fine art business.

“Inspiration is abundant here in Scottsdale,” said Mr. Linton. “Our purple mountains, brilliant blue skies, wide open spaces, and verdant deserts never cease to amaze me. Art has always been important to the culture of this city and as a landscape photographer, the flavor of the desert greatly influences my work.”

Mark Lewanski (submitted photo)

Mark Lewanski

Mr. Lewanski is a true master of glass work. His trademark glass boxes and mosaic mirrors have garnered attention by thousands of art collects and art lovers worldwide. Recently, he has begun to create intricate glass weavings, woven glass vessels and sculptures.

He splits his time between Portland, Michigan and Scottsdale, and says the desert inspires him to push his artistic limits even further.

“I’m motivated to work bigger here, in both size and concept,” said Mr. Lewanski. “There is a tangible sense that this area is drawing in amazing talent from around the country. I feel like I am a part of that movement, but due to this influx, I perceive a sort of creative ‘pressure’ to get better and better at my work to keep up with all the great art here.”

Priscilla Nelson (submitted photo)

Priscilla Nelson

A self-taught oil on canvas painter, Ms. Nelson has been exploring her evolving artistic talents for more than 35 years. Now, Ms. Nelson focuses on figurative works in a contemporary-realistic style that explore textiles and clothing, including how the subtle movement of cloth can convey certain moods.

As a result, Ms. Nelson takes photos of her models submerged in water to accurately capture the flow of their clothing. This begs the question, why Arizona –-– a destination known for its arid climate and desert landscapes?

“As an artist that likes to incorporate water into most of my paintings, you’d think I would have chosen a different city to live in other than Scottsdale,” said Ms. Nelson. “But the many months of warm temperatures, the intense light, and abundance of swimming pools make it easy for me to work year around. It’s all about the light and water reflections for me.”

Rollande, on right. (submitted photo)

Rollande

Rollande is a jewelry designer who works with precious and semi-precious stones as well as sterling and fine silver to create ultra-feminine works of art. Above all else, she designs each piece with the sole intent to make its future owner feel beautiful when they are wearing it.

Having always had a need to create, Rollande finds Scottsdale to be a fitting place to do so.

“The beauty of Arizona in itself is incredible,” said Rollande. “God is one of the greatest artists and, in my opinion, Arizona is God’s country. That’s why all the artists love to come here! They are able to get in touch with their mind’s eye and explore what they’re all about.”

Suzanne Brown (submitted photo)

Suzanne Brown

Ms. Brown is another fine art jeweler who creates distinct handcrafted pendants, bracelets, cuffs, earrings, and rings that incorporate colorful gemstones, gold, silver, and, of course, copper. No two pieces are the same as Ms. Brown will only buy one of any given stone.

A former award-winning master quilt maker who hails from Arkansas, Ms. Brown relocated to Scottsdale in 2002 where she continues to implement the time-intensive techniques drawn from the fiber art world to create her bold jewelry.

“Living in Scottsdale has provided me with so many opportunities to connect with local artists, such as the Sonoran Arts League,” said Ms. Browne. “It’s a wonderful place to learn and improve my craft. And as for inspiration, all I have to do is look out my window at Pinnacle Peak, which has Saguaro cacti everywhere.”

No matter where each of these Scottsdale artists draws their inspiration from, the main benefit of living and working in this city is its rich supply of artistic talent, a perk that is made even more accessible with the Celebration of Fine Art.

“The Celebration of Fine Art has taken my artistic relationships to a whole new level,” said Ms. Rosner. “I have been participating in the show for 18 seasons and have met hundreds of artists over the years -–– both as participants in the show and as visitors. Many of these artists have become dear friends, welcome sounding boards and talented collaborators. Within the Celebration of Fine Art community we are there for one another ––- both personally and professionally -–– and I consider myself so fortunate to be a member of this family.”

The Celebration of Fine Art is at the southwest corner of Hayden Road and the Loop 101, exit 35. It’s open daily until Sunday, March 24 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Go to celebrateart.com.

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