The big white tents are up, the artists have arrived and the air is full of creativity. Renowned artists from across the globe are making the beautiful Sonoran Desert in north Scottsdale home for 10 weeks as they create original pieces of fine art during the Arizona Fine Art EXPO.
Now in its 13th year, this popular event takes place from 10 am to 6 pm daily from Friday, Jan. 13 through Sunday, March 26 at 26540 N. Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale on the southwest corner of Scottsdale and Jomax Roads, next to MacDonald’s Ranch.
Produced by the award-winning Thunderbird Artists, the Arizona Fine Art EXPO features 110 patron-friendly studios within a 44,000-square-foot space, where guests have a rare chance to meet the artists, see them in action and learn about their passion, inspiration and techniques.
A Deep Respect for Nature
One artist traveling to Scottsdale for the EXPO is Dennis Doyle, an acclaimed photographer who loved nature as a kid, lost his connection to it as an adult, then rediscovered his deep respect for it after leaving a successful career in construction.
Dennis grew up in Lake Tahoe, Nevada back when it was a small community of people who loved the mountains. He was an adventurous kid who loved being outside and often camped out in the meadows. As a teenager, he would take his Leica camera with him wherever he went to photograph the scenic landscapes that surrounded him.
That all changed when he took a job working in a darkroom developing forensic 8-by-12-inch glossies for police departments and district attorneys. For several years, he saw the most gruesome images a camera could capture. His most famous case, on which author Joseph Wambaugh based his bestselling book, The Onion Field, involved two Los Angeles police officers who were kidnapped and taken to an onion field near Bakersfield. One of the officers was fatally shot and the other escaped.
“It was very serious work and I got to see how ugly humanity could be,” Dennis says. “I learned the technical side of my craft, but there was no time or place for creativity.”
When he was 25, he started working in construction and later worked for a large homebuilder in Lafayette, California. For more than two decades, he built multi-million-dollar homes for celebrities, CEOs and other wealthy clients.
Living in Walnut Creek, California, most people would say Dennis had it made. But his fast-paced lifestyle lacked passion. “Money is a cruel mistress,” he says. “I decided to quit my job and go back to pursuing my passion for photography.”
Joking that he is “downwardly mobile,” Dennis lives the life of a semi-vagabond, dividing his time between traveling in his RV and living in Lake Tahoe. An avid skier and hiker, he has rekindled his love for nature and photography – and this time he’s determined never to let that go.
“Now I have a much deeper understanding about what’s important for me in life,” he says. “Just sitting outside on a rock under the moonlight makes me happy.”
This will be Dennis’ fourth year exhibiting at the Arizona Fine Art EXPO. He plans to display a combination of color and black-and-white photography of trees and old abandoned farmhouses along with flowers, petroglyphs and ancient building remnants from Canyon de Chelly.
Sculpting Paper into Unique Wall Compositions
Sedona artist Ross Mazur is new to this year’s show but not to Thunderbird Artists. The talented artist, who is spiritual in his Jewish faith, began exhibiting in Thunderbird Artists’ weekend festivals in 1987. He credits the family-run business with helping him gain valuable exposure for his mixed-media work.
Like Dennis, Ross started his career in photography. A Chicago native, he served in the Korean War and later received a scholarship to the Chicago Art Institute. He then spent more than 20 years working as a commercial photographer, shooting everything from food to fashion but specializing in furniture.
“I became an interior designer by virtue of the furniture photography,” says Ross. “I was always setting up rooms for photo shoots and I had a good feel for design.”
Concurrently, Ross collaborated with his wife, Marcia, first sculpting clay, then creating handmade paper and mixed media sculptural wall compositions. They were an instant success.
“We were perfect together, always knowing what the other was thinking and working so well together,” says Ross. “People could not tell which one of us created a piece.” He adds that Marcia had a great spontaneity to her work.
The couple opened an art gallery, Mazur & Mazur, outside of Highland Park, Illinois, and watched their careers soar.
“At that time, hand-made paper art was just exploding. It was really phenomenal,” he says. “We sold all over the world and we even had our paper wall sculptures in Christie’s gallery in New York.”
Then everything stopped cold after 9/11.
“It was a very tough time,” says Ross. “I started doing large, air-brushed paintings and abstracts. I’ve really had many different styles during my career,” Ross says.
While Marcia had retired, she still created small pieces while Ross continued creating larger, more complex artwork. “I kept challenging myself to create better pieces each time,” he says.
Sadly, Marcia passed in 2004. It was a huge loss, not only for Ross and his family, but for the art community and collectors worldwide who loved her work.
“She was a fantastic talent. She really changed our lives when she took her first paper-making workshop in 1980,” he says. “Because of her, I am doing work that I love. I’ve worked with a lot of media, but I really love the tactile aspect of the paper.”
Ross creates textured sheets of pressed cotton fiber matrix, resulting in a heavy, durable paper lavishly embellished with acrylics in an infinite range of colors and sizes. Multiple pieces are layered, four to seven inches in depth, to create freeform sculptural paintings in a large format.
During the Arizona Fine Art EXPO, Ross will exhibit colorful, contemporary mixed-media wall compositions, sharing a booth with bronze artist Paula Yates.
Season passes for the Arizona Fine Art EXPO cost $10, $8 for seniors and military and are free for children under 12. Parking is free. For more details about participating artists or events during the show, call 480-837-7163 or visit ArizonaFineArtEXPO.com.