Trying to capture the essence of Phoenix as a non-native is often a difficult task. Initial reactions revel in its flaws: the traffic, air pollution, sprawl and guns. After passing the years in the valley, the positives seem equally apparent: the untouched desert, thunderstorms, wild life and community. It’s starting to feel like home to me, this hot dry arid place. I feel like one of it’s “folk”.
Depicted in ‘A Big Small Town’ are the strongest impressions of phoenix by a non-native, thru a folk art aesthetic. That aesthetic might be best described by Holger Cahill in American Folk Art, “A varied art, influenced from diverse sources often frankly derivative, often fresh and original and at its best, an honest and straight forward expression of the spirit of a people.” These paintings are based on the character of the people and environments that mold our lives in the desert. Viewing these realities through a folk art perspective turns back the pages of Phoenix history to times where a new urbanism wasn’t the buzz, but laws of southwest survival prevailed in the struggle to define community.