Photo: Artists Jacki Cohen, left, (photo by JMB Photography) and Judy Paxton Bruce in their studios.
After 23 years, it’s hard to believe that some people don’t know that Arizona’s largest and longest-running artist studio tour takes place in November. It’s called “Hidden in the Hills,” and it literally refers to a large, diverse group of talented artists who live and work in the scenic Desert Foothills community of Cave Creek, Carefree and North Scottsdale.
A signature event of the nonprofit Sonoran Arts League, this year’s Hidden in the Hills event features 199 artists at 47 studio locations. The free, self-guided tour takes place from 10 am to 5 pm during the last two weekends of November (Nov. 22-24 and Nov. 29-Dec. 1). Each studio has one or more guest artists who will demonstrate how they create their art while displaying and selling their work.
Finding a Passion for Fused Glass
Scottsdale glass artist Jacki Cohen is one of 199 artists participating in the free, self-guided tour. Her most popular pieces, centered around bright, bold colors, home décor pieces and Judaica themes, will be on display at Marty Roop’s Studio No. 25 in Cave Creek.
“Fused glass ignites my spirit,” says Jacki, who has pursued her passion for fused glass full-time for the past six years. “My work speaks to the joy and exuberance I feel in my everyday surroundings and community.”
She’s discovered social media provides the quickest, simplest way to test market her newest designs. When she receives strong positive feedback, she delves deeper into creating a collection similar to the piece.
Once she’s decided on a theme and sketched out her ideas, she heats the glass to a minimum of 1,500 degrees to make it soft and pliable. She plans, cuts and pieces together the glass during the day and then runs her kilns overnight or after she’s finished creating for the day. Having a home studio allows her to check on her pieces in the kiln at all hours of the day or night.
When the pieces have fused together, they must be cooled extremely slowly to avoid cracking.
“I love creating fused glass,” says Jacki. “When I don’t do it for a while, I miss it. I hope that passion shines through in my work.”
Hope and Healing Through Art
One artist couple who will open their home during Hidden in the Hills recently found themselves turning to their art to help them overcome one of the biggest challenges in their 51-year marriage.
Acclaimed painter Judy Paxton Bruce, and her husband, sculptor Jim Bruce, are long-time members of the Sonoran Arts League and well-known in the Cave Creek community for being arts advocates.
In March 2018, Judy was diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer. It was a shock that jolted her and Jim into a chaotic cloud of emotions. Life as they knew it suddenly changed as they sought treatment options and researched everything they could about the insidious disease.
The next year tested the couple’s strength as Judy received aggressive chemotherapy. Now, more than 18 months later, Judy is in a much better place, thanks to her hard work battling the disease and a new medication that many oncologists are watching with optimism.
Judy’s work is highly influenced by Francis Bacon, Max Ernst, the Chicago Hairy Who artists and the Chicago Imagists, Schiele and many others.
“My work has always been about vulnerability and suffering with beautiful colors and patterns, textures and lines to show resilience, hope, love and joy,” says Judy. “My first series, when we moved to Arizona from Chicago, was called ‘Ravaged Faces’ and the first painting I did was my mother, who had died just years before from a devastating two-year battle with lung cancer. Until the end, mom was beautiful, hopeful and totally at peace. I am still working on that series and utilizing the ovarian cancer teal color for some pieces.”
Her artwork, although often consisting of many layers, is still spontaneous art that is more process than product, and not a formula.
“I almost always deal with the human condition. Vulnerability fascinates me as does strength and power in my women, children, and creatures,” she says.
Lately, she has been reworking a lot of older work and seeing very upbeat, happy, bright “people” popping out in her work. The Ravaged Faces are appearing again, but she also has a new series that she’s excited about called “Couples” or “Who Loves Who More.”
“I have always been fascinated with the dynamics of long-term couples, something that often changes over time and circumstances,” says Judy. “Though my work often portrays heavy, solemn subjects, I hope that my color, pattern, texture, line and funky shapes help to lighten and brighten the pieces, bringing about hopeful, love-filled feelings.”
For more information, visit hiddeninthehills.org or call 480-575-6624.