Photo Courtesy Claire A. Warden
Laura Spalding Best
I have been studying and painting the urban landscape of the southwest for many years now. Working with oil paint on metal and found objects, I have long viewed my groups of paintings as installations. In my work, I seek to analyze and quantify the complex infrastructure that makes our desert cities livable while also appreciating the unexpected beauty that can be found in power lines and transformers. Through the visual metaphors of the oasis and the mirage, my paintings often reflect each other, distort, and even appear to melt from their surface. I start with the mirage as a melting point and blur the line between something which is a tantalizing promise on the horizon and something that we may always pursue but never actually reach. These depictions of the contemporary urban desert, featuring banal locations like highways, parking lots, and man-made waterfalls, explore the legacies of romanticism in the American West and tell stories of unfulfilled promises of paradise and the future effects of climate change.
Laura Spalding Best received her BFA in painting from Arizona State University in 2003, since then she has been the recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, has completed several public murals in downtown Phoenix, is the recipient of a 2017 Phoenix Art Museum Contemporary Forum Artist Grant, and was selected to exhibit in the 2018 and 2020 Arizona Biennial at Tucson Museum of Art. Best completed an artist residency at Tempe Center for the Arts Gallery in 2019 and her Tempe Public Art installation Rise , a field mural comprised of more than 120 decommissioned street signs was on view at Tempe Town Lake from 2019 to 2021, it is now installed in a new location at Danelle Plaza in Tempe.