The Rising Arts Writers Program is an initiative created by The Arts Beacon to encourage, mentor, support and post writings by aspiring locals writers. With the intention of fostering critical responses to art and artists in the Valley, the RAW Program creates an opportunity for up and coming writers to comment on their own art scene using the platform of The Arts Beacon website while also being a valuable resource for local artists seeking insights into their practice.
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Leslie Barton and Steve Weiss are a dynamic team in their new show at the Found:RE Hotel in Downtown Phoenix. The show titled, “It’s All About Us,” pairs two very unlikely artistic styles to create an intriguing exposition. Steve Weiss is a silver print photographer capturing images of everyday life in unique ways. His unique photos show the viewer that art can be found anywhere.
The image above, titled, “Downstairs,” could be seen as just a photograph of an old staircase, but to Steve Weiss it is a perfectly symmetrical form of lines created by light and shadow. Each of Weiss’s scenes could be considered subtle and harmonious. Every image is centered with no bright colors and mostly only one main item in each photo. This eye for centrality and harmony could also have something to do with Weiss’s previous experience as a professional filmmaker. Today, Weiss runs the company NFR, or No Festival Required, with Leslie Barton. They founded the company in 2002 as a way to showcase their films without a festival having to be involved.
There is a short film playing in the center of Weiss and Barton’s gallery which included scenes of a mannequin moving in a luxurious home, a television playing colorful moving images, and a black and white film of a woman dancing. Just like Weiss’s photographs, everything in the film is centered and pleasing to the eye. The only uncomfortable aspect of the movie is the small amount of movement in each scene. The movement is sometimes off center and sometimes right in the middle, like in the scene below, the television is centered, and shows a woman in black and white dancing. The centered and pleasing image of a room created by Weiss blends perfectly with one slightly off center and strange element created by Barton.
Leslie Barton’s work is slightly displeasing to the eye. It feels a little uncomfortable, but is edgy and interesting to see. Barton’s piece titled, “Cock-a-doodle-do,” feels awkward, but shows the artist’s sense of humor, and very different style from Weiss. Barton’s work is vibrant and animated while still relaying an interesting message. The piece titled, “Self Portrait of the Artist as Donald Trump,” is another example Barton’s animated and humorous style. She also uses pop culture references, like Trump, in a satirical manner.
The juxtaposition between Barton and Weiss, the edgy compared to the centered, the harmonious with the uncomfortable, and photo versus painting created a captivating show. It also helped that Weiss’s work was on one side of the wall while Barton’s was on the other, and their film played in the center. It created a nice balance that helped the viewer realize how different the works were.