featured exhibitions 



Joan Collins & Elaine Kessler

Phoenix, AZ



In an era more uncertain than ever, two US born artist-activists, from wildly distinct walks of life, engage in an intimate dialogue that takes them across continents, oceans, and time. With one artist wielding a lens and the other a brush, Elaine Kessler and Joan Collins delve into a conversation elaborated upon with color, motion, and light. The initial “push” is a photograph to which an abstract painting will respond and, to and fro, the artists’ conversation will ensue. Swaying to the beat of their unique perspectives, the exhibit will present the expressions of their dialectic, in some respects, many years in the making. In an interactive twist, the artists will invite the audience to SWING with them to produce a culminating multi-media art piece. The exhibit will debut in 2020.

Artwork will be revealed at Show Opening.

To learn more about this exhibit or these artists, please contact:
Elaine Kessler or Joan Collins



Phoenix, AZ

Fall 2019-Spring 2020


In a fusion of visual art and music, Joan is an Artist-in-Residence for Helios, a unique vocal ensemble in Phoenix, Arizona whose aim is to illuminate early music with contemporary insight. Five years ago, Executive Director of Helios, Kenny Miller, had an open call for art to celebrate Da Vinci in music and visual art. Joan responded with a piece of art painted for the event, and named it "Da Vinci’s Whisper." Although an abstract piece, two cornerstone elements of the piece include a radiating sun sparkling with gold leaf in tribute to the origin of Helios and its greek, mythological god, personified as the sun. The second element in the work, she used a feather to paint a breath of transparent color,  representing the beautiful Helios singers whispering Da Vinci’s genius in the concert.


Celebrating its 5th Anniversary, Miller and singers invited Joan to license this piece for use in the promotion of it’s anniversary.  Joan has made available a limited edition run of thirty Da Vinci’s Whisper giclees, signed, numbered and marked with gold leaf. 


Public Works for Humanities in Medicine

Scottsdale, AZ

Fall 2019-Winter 2020


Mayo Clinic Cancer Center

Phoenix, AZ

Spring 2020


My painting is physical and messy. I tend to paint like a sculptor, moving, adding, and scraping paint around the canvas.  This technique results in contours that I seek, made of heavy, opaque color and texture against thin, filmy transparency. I make many of my own brushes for effect, using feathers, ropes, springs, wire, and other desert, beach and urban findings. When people ask about my creative process, I tell them it’s like jumping off a cliff into an abyss, then floating in the adrenaline of the experience.  My aim is to capture modern impressions of nature - majestic mountains, sweeping skies, the ever-healing sea and primitive landscapes.  All around us is a compelling spirit of nature mixed with culture that dots the landscape of our lives. I try to grab this energy and infuse it into my work. People always ask me, when do you know you are done? It’s like the concept of kiki umami, you can’t really explain it, it just feels warm and good and you know it’s right.  Whatever it is that brings you to this moment, I hope that these pieces make you feel, if only for just a minute, it’s all right.


Olney Gallery 

Phoenix, AZ
April 2019


Urban Ethos is inspired by a move I made last year. I took a leap from a little rural haven at the foot of Black Mountain and landed in an urban loft.


I wasn’t sure how the shift would affect my art. For 16 years, nature was my muse. Then I felt a flicker of inspiration. It was the whir of a red helicopter’s blade casting long shadows as it landed on a rooftop across the street. This is captured in “Whirred in the Misty Air.” After that, acrylics have flowed onto the canvas right up to this show.


“Unsurfaced City” is the cornerstone of the collection. The very large 48x72 piece was the first one I painted after moving. It captures a new urban vibe anchored by left-behind, natural elements in the center.


My eyes can’t keep up with the visual shifts of this dynamic environment. It’s thrilling as an artist. The pixels in the frame change constantly. You might see this change in a new and expansive color palette. I’ve also incorporated angled planes, springs and loops like wire and metal fittings, and blocks of cascading industrial rooftops into my new work. I’ve dropped in hints of florescent green, orange, and blue paint strokes that dangle like the cranes sculpting my new neighborhood. I enjoyed reimagining exposed siding on a building construction site in blocks of vibrant hues of violet, blue and red.


Living on a top floor, the sky has become ever present in my daily life. Watching it shift and change throughout the day could be an entire collection on it’s own. So a few of these are in this series. I found myself sneaking away from the hard lines of this series and creating soft, visual respites. I was inspired by city gardens and waterfronts I’ve found moments of peace visiting. These references are from Portland to NYC, Galway to Paris, and Florence to Istanbul. I also painted the rain. I wanted to represent how the rain washes away the dust grime of a city.


Lastly, sometimes you need more than imagery to tell your story. I ended this run with a collection of small vignettes that include phrases that capture the essence of my transition.

© 2014 by Joan Maureen Collins. Art at Black Mountain

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