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Converging Trajectories: Crossing Borders, Building Bridges Exhibition


Ted G Decker Facebook page (photo album with exhibition title)


Intersecting Paths, Blurring Lines

Converging Trajectories: Crossing Borders, Building Bridges is an invitational group exhibition of works by 42 artists I have encountered through travel and ongoing research. Each is on a personal trajectory in pursuing a career as a visual artist. My own trajectory of reinvention began three years ago as I transitioned into starting and building my art consulting enterprise. Through me there is an intersection of paths that marks a moment in our histories. With their participation in this exhibit, the artists become connected with one another and with viewers from the Phoenix area and elsewhere who visit Modified Arts during the exhibition. Most of the artists are from Arizona and Brazil with others from Brooklyn, Buenos Aires, Charlotte, Chicago, Mexico City, and San Francisco. The vast majority of the artists started producing work during the past 10-15 years in times of rapid technological advancement, increasing globalization albeit polarization, and the end and beginning of centuries and millennia. Of the 42 artists in the exhibition, 21 are currently based in Brazil making this the most ambitious showing of contemporary art from Brazil in Phoenix and the Southwestern United States.

With rapid-fire changes, and especially with the rampant development and use of technology, social networks, and cheaper air travel, our own worlds continue to both expand and contract exponentially. More than ever before, we are able to recognize that the people of Earth strive for similar things in life and share dreams for the future. Artists made the works in this exhibition in response to personal, social, political, and economic issues of the human condition thereby blurring mapped nationalistic and cultural boundaries.

The art and exhibition concept are more relevant than ever in Arizona and the United States through the lenses of globalization, shifting populations, economic volatility, and human rights and dignity. The artworks are as diverse in content as in the origins and experiences of the artists who made them. Unbelievably, it is still easier for art to cross lines drawn on political maps than it is for many of the art makers to obtain visas for travel to Phoenix for the exhibition opening. This is especially true for artists living in the Americas south of us.

A major goal for this exhibit is to provide Arizona viewers with fresh and vital art for multi-faceted viewing, interpretation, and enjoyment during seemingly endless, hot summer days and vituperative political and social debates. Another is to provide opportunities for the artists in the exhibition and in our community to see their work in a broader context and different arena than they may have previously.   

I am assembling the art, bringing it to Phoenix, and providing opportunities for people to connect with art and artists, many of whom are showing their work in the United States for the first time. Information about the exhibition is being broadcast from Phoenix to people around the world through the use of technology, thereby making it possible to be interconnected across political, language, social, and cultural borders.

Building bridges through lively discussions of themes relating to art and culture, rather than subjects like politics and religion, allows us to establish common ground for understanding others and improving our lives and those of others in our community and beyond. This exhibition requests viewer response to and reflection about the art and offers interconnection and understanding between people while abating fear of the other or the unknown.

Ted G. Decker

August 2010

This exhibition is made possible by support from Kim Larkin and Adam Murray/Modified Arts and Ted Decker Catalyst Fund.* In-kind support was provided by Chico Fernandes (Rio de Janeiro), Bill Fielder/Bill’s Custom Frames, Joe Jankovsky, Lisa MacCollum/Lisa Mac Studio, Paul Jacques, and to Verónica Villanueva and Brent Bond.

Special thanks to each of the participating artists, Justin P. Germain, those who made the journey to Phoenix for the opening, Valber Silva, (Niterói, Brazil), and to the following galleries for their support: in Recife, Galeria Mariana Moura; in Rio de Janeiro, A Gentil Carioca, Amarelonegro Arte Contemporânea, Anita Schwartz Galeria de Arte, Galeria Artur Fidalgo, and Laura Marsiaj Arte Contemporânea; and in São Paulo, Novembro Arte Contemporânea and Zipper Galeria.

 *The Ted Decker Catalyst Fund is affiliated with MARS, Inc., a private, not-for-profit 501(c)3 educational organization committed to arts advocacy and education through its programming. Donations are encouraged and graciously accepted.

Toward a New Community: Uniting Separate Paths


We all follow our own path and, by design of fate or coincidence, individual paths cross those of others.  Converging Trajectories: Crossing Borders, Building Bridges is one of those intersections.  The show brings together diverse examples of contemporary art without a predisposed thematic element—seemingly the only link between the artists is the curator.  But the exhibition is not only a tool to organize and build interest in contemporary art.  It serves as a framework to construct a community in which the cultures of the curator, the artists, and the viewers are brought together to re-code assumptions about group identity.  The artists are forever connected through the exhibition.  The viewer engages with the art and therefore with the artist.  Thoughts and ideas create a dialogue.  Inferences are made.  Connections become clear.  The experience of the exhibition unifies and defines the constructed community.

Each of the works serves as a window into the artist’s complex relationship with our world.  They have constructed their visual language from personal experiences derived from views both unique and shared.  They each interpret existential and cultural anxiety, clash and engagement between cultures, socio-economic realities within communities, cultural integrity, and self-affirmation.  But they all express personal views unique to the people they represent.  The act of bringing together various people hints towards a human community, not by promoting a universal concept of culture, but instead by celebrating diversity.

Because it is unrealistic to define contemporary art with any degree of finality Converging Trajectories serves as a glimpse into test cases of evocative global art.  These instances of originality and experimentation intersect in the exhibition, and from within the interstices between cultures, a complex community develops and further shrinks our world by breaking down liminal boundaries.


Justin P. Germain

August 2010


When the Water Came: Evacuees of Hurricane Katrinia

When the Water Came:
Evacuees of Hurricane Katrina



Interview-poems by Cynthia Hogue. Photographs by Rebecca Ross





Published by University of New Orleans Press, August 2010

When the Water Came: Evacuees of Hurricane Katrina is a compelling collection of interview-poems by Cynthia Hogue and photographs by Rebecca Ross that portrays the experiences of twelve evacuees. These evacuees include ordinary people from all walks of life–people like Freddie Munn, a disabled man who built a raft of doors, then swam to safety after his raft capsized, spending the next week on a bridge before being rescued, and Ardie Cooper, a casino bartender, who clung with her daughter to the roof of their home while being inundated by the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. When the Water Came gives form and voice to the resourcefulness of individual evacuees expressed through their own words and in the photographs of faces, rescued possessions, and lost homes. Through images and words, these survivors tell us about courage, dignity, and resilience.

A number of events are planned in conjunction with publication of the book, including an exhibition coordinated by Scottsdale Public Art as well as an exhibit and signing at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe. Your purchase or donation at the $375 level or above ensures your name listed in the acknowledgments at each venue.

When the Water Came: Evacuees of Hurricane Katrina





Pre-Publication Order Form for Signed Books and Limited-Edition Photographs





Pre-publication prices offered through July 31, 2010. Estimated order shipment date: August 31, 2010.



____Signed book, $25 (while author supplies last)

____Signed book / one 8”x8” photograph, $150 (after July 31, $200)

Acknowledgement at exhibition venues included with the following:

____Signed book / one 13”x13” photograph / acknowledgment, $375 (after July 31, $500)

____Signed book / five 8”x8” photographs / acknowledgment, $550 (after July 31, $750)

____Signed book / nine 8”x8” photographs / acknowledgment, $950 (after July 31, $1,250)

Please indicate your image selection(s):



____Emily’s studio floor ____Kid Merv ____Claiborne Avenue Bridge



 ____Ardie’s box of photographs ____Freddie’s house, 2009 ____Richard

____Jim’s jade figurine ____Catherine’s front porch ____Untitled, New Orleans, LA



____I wish to support presentations of this project with a donation of $______ 



Donations to the Ted Decker Catalyst Fund may be tax deductible. Please check with your tax advisor.



NAME:____________________________________________ PHONE:________________________




CITY:_____________________________________ STATE:________________ ZIP:_____________


Make checks payable to: Ted Decker Catalyst Fund

For more information, call (480)557-8295 Mail to: Ted Decker Catalyst Fund email or visit

When the Water Came: Evacuees of Hurricane Katrina, are supported in part by: Arizona Commission on the Arts with funding from the State of Arizona and the National Endowment for the Arts; City of Tempe, Arizona; Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University; and the Ted Decker Catalyst Fund.

The Ted Decker Catalyst Fund is affiliated with MARS, Inc., a private, not-for-profit 501(c)3 educational organization committed to arts advocacy and education through its programming.

All Photographs © 2010 Rebecca Ross.













Artist Katherine Zsolt Returns to The Icehouse, Phoenix with “Leaving My Father’s House” Installation

ICEHOUSE Alternative Arts Museum
 429 west jackson street . phoenix

march  12th – 6pm  to 10pm         13th – noon to 10pm        14th – noon to 10pm
                     20th noon to 10pm        21st noon to 10pm


“Leaving My Father’s House”                    
   by Katherine Zsolt

“The first parts of the exhibition are about finding one’s own voice,
 and achieving a balance of personal power,” says show creator
 Katherine Zsolt.  “The final section of the show concerns the use of
 that power. It is – both figuratively and literally – a platform from
 which I urge the audience to consider the trust our children have in

 Zsolt’s multimedia installation was inspired by a favorite book,
 Leaving My Father’s House, by Jungian analyst Marion Woodman.  
 The book parallels a Grimm’s Brother’s Fairy Tale with
 explorations of personal development.

 Set against the backdrop of the historic Icehouse in downtown
 Phoenix,visitors to the exhibit follow a path through three rooms in
 the 12,000 sq. ft. venue, each depicting a stage in a  development and
 growing personal awareness. A powerful combination of relief wall
 panels, body cast installations and video offerings challenge the viewer
 to reflect upon their role in the world community and accept responsibility
 for the fate of our children.

For information call        415.312.1353 

Dining with Ted’s Artful Travel in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

When traveling in Brazil, plan to be in Rio de Janeiro over a weekend for many fun reasons. On Saturday afternoons, head to the bohemian neighborhood of Santa Teresa high above Rio with breaktaking views of the City and Guanabara Bay. Here you will find very cool shops with work by artisans, some fun bars, street artists, and good restaurants. An obligatory stop for me each time I am in Rio is Bar do Mineiro in the heart of Santa Teresa. You can get there by taxi though take the name and address with you, take bus 214, or even better by the bondinho street car which actually passes directly in front of the restaurant (get off at the Largo dos Guimarães stop). 

One of the best things about Bar do Mineiro is the lively atmosphere. Many artists, residents of Santa Teresa and Rio, and now tourists come together in family style tables to eat, drink, and be merry. Even waiting for a table (usually required) outside the bar and flowing into the street (watch for the bondinho!!) is a kick which is saying a lot for someone who hates to wait for tables in restaurants! Make sure to give your name to Angela for the waiting list. And if owner Diógenes Paixão is around, make a point of saying hello to him. This guy is the real deal and also is an amazing art collector. Make sure to check out art, artisan works, and antiques on the walls of the restaurant.

On the food front, I recommend the feijoada (a rich stew made with black beans, meat, sausage, and other stuff) which is traditionally served on Saturdays. Also, the carne seca is muito bom (very good)! Even though I am not much of a beer drinker, I immediately order a large bottle of my favorite Brazilian beer, Antarctica Original (the same company also makes the popular soft drink in the green cans, Guarana Antarctica). They also serve an amazing variety of cachaça, the potent sugarcane liquor found in caipirinhas. Watch out for the drunken fruit in those caipirinhas!! The portions of hearty food are generous. They have great appetizers and the frango com quiabo (stewed chicken with okra) is pretty hard to beat. You might also experiment with the Feijão tropeiro, thicker than feijoada and made with brown instead of black beans.

The prices are very reasonable considering the large portions and the fun atmosphere: Main course run $7-12.

Bar do Mineiro
Rua Pascoal Carlos Magno, 99
Santa Teresa
CEP: 20240-290  Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
+55 (21) 2221-9227

Flicker, Spark, Flame

Flicker, Spark, Flame


The sudden, unexpected death of Rose Johnson, for years a Downtown Phoenix fixture and player in the City’s developing contemporary art infrastructure, caused our cultural community’s lights to flicker. It sparked me to look back at the rise of contemporary art in our Valley and to identify, acknowledge, and celebrate those trailblazers who came before, their legacies, and their influences which paved the way to where we are at the beginning of a new year and a new decade. It seems appropriate that Kim Larkin and Adam Murray are taking the torch from one such trailblazer Kimber Lanning, the founder of Modified Arts on Roosevelt Row in Downtown Phoenix.


Recently, after being introduced by Kimber to Adam and Kim, I went off on one of my tangents about the impressive, but actually short in retrospect, rise of the cultural Phoenix, an idea that resonated with the new guard at Modified Arts. They too had been impressed by who they were meeting, the art they were seeing, the places they were visiting, and trying to synthesize it all as they settled into their new lives here.


Paralleling the rapid growth of Phoenix, the cultural infrastructure has blossomed in the past fifty years. At one point several years ago, there were four museums being built, remodeled or added on to simultaneously. That is impressive by anyone’s standards! From a linear perspective, 1960 was a baseline year for our contemporary art community when a group of civic leaders including artist Philip C. Curtis and Walter Bimson, the chairman of the Valley National Bank (then Bank One, then Chase), founded the Phoenix Art Museum. There had been significant art practice here before by artists and illustrators who came to the desert for the natural beauty, amazing light, and new commercial opportunities, such as Jesse Benton Evans, Marjorie Thomas, John Stuart Curry, George Elbert Burr, Augustus Dunbier, Andy Chuka, and Robert Harris. Artists, like Curtis, Lew Davis and wife Mathilde Shaefer, and Phillips Sanderson, came to the Valley to work on Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.) projects starting in the mid-1930s. Many stayed and others came. Artists survived through commercial work, corporate and private commissions, collector investment groups, and through sales in galleries including Scottsdale’s first gallery, The Stable Gallery, founded in 1960 by Avis Read, the Thompson Gallery on North Central Avenue, the Riva Yares, Elaine Horwitch, Suzanne Brown, Marilyn Butler, Lisa Sette, and Bentley galleries in Scottsdale.


Like other cities, we share a legacy of artists banding together to promote their work and advance their careers. Founded in 1937, Arizona Painters and Sculptors was a predecessor to groups that were either similarly organized (Phoenix Artists Coalition) or formed due to common aesthetic and/or personal interests (The House Studios, 3-Car Pileup, TRE 25). Since the early 1970s, Phoenix has benefited from resilient artspaces with long life spans such as Alwun House (founded 1970), Movimiento Artistisco de Rio Salado [MARS] (1978), 11 East Ashland (1986), and The Icehouse (1990). They paved the way for more recent iterations – Modified Arts (1999), ersonName w:st=”on”>Eye LoungeersonName> (founded in 1999 and spearheaded by visionaries Cindy Dach and Greg Esser), 515 Arts (also Dach/Esser and others), as well as Perhelion Arts (2002) and Pravis Gallery (2006). In 1989, lead by ersonName w:st=”on”>Beatrice Moore and Tony ZahnersonName>, Artlink inaugurated Art Detour and in 2004 launched First Fridays which has become the largest monthly art walk in the United States.


Establishing themselves and their business in Phoenix, Larkin and Murray’s approach includes fresh enthusiasm, open-mindedness, intense curiosity, and an admirable desire to understand the Phoenix visual, sound, and performance arts landscape. They have encountered an abundance of artists, other gallerists, collectors, curators, arts administrators, and business people, several whom they asked to make oral histories on video for the exhibition and for their website. Their strategy is smart, genuine, and passionate. From their acculturation adventure, they selected art for this exhibition which deeply resonated with them. While appearing eclectic and in no way an encyclopedic survey, the art in this inaugural re-launch of Modified Arts celebrates and spotlights the legacies of people who came before and of people still actively working today. It also demonstrates rekindled enthusiasm and response to Kim and Adam’s efforts and shared vision by artists, collectors, galleries, and private dealers who have generously lent art work for this noteworthy exhibit. Viewers will delight in seeing works which they may not be familiar with by artists Philip C. Curtis, Lew Davis, Dorothy Fratt, Phillips Sanderson, ersonName w:st=”on”>Beth Ames SwartzersonName>, and Fritz Scholder. They also will enjoy seeing current and historic work by Downtown Phoenix pioneer artists like Beatrice Moore, Janet de Berge Lange, Jeff Falk, Annie Lopez, as well as offerings by Bob Adams, Lew Alquist, Mark Klett, John Armstrong, and Sean O’Donnell. The exhibit includes art by artists who emerged on the scene in the 1990s including Randy Slack, Steve Yazzie, David Dauncey, ersonName w:st=”on”>James AngelersonName>, and Sara Abbott. Photos by ersonName w:st=”on”>Joe JankovskyersonName> document performances as well as the actual space at The Icehouse and MARS.


Is there an aesthetic or stylistic common thread connecting the art works in this exhibition? What effect does a rapidly growing urban environment whose cultural infrastructure naturally lags behind basic city infrastructure, i.e. water/sewer, streets, fire and police stations, have on artists and their art-making practices? Does the art deal with issues that are unique to Phoenix or is the content more of a universal nature? I suggest the common thread is not readily visible, but instead intrinsic to the work made by artists who give voice to ideas, emotions, and social and political concerns while living in a fused naturally beautiful yet harsh, arid, and sprawling, gridded urban environment. These are ideas to think about when viewing this exhibition and afterwards. This work, like all contemporary art, asks the viewer to respond, to finish a statement, or to ask a question.


For many years, La Phoeniquera was an annual juried exhibit at MARS Artspace during the hotter-than-hell summer months. I always anticipated and enjoyed it because it was like taking a pulse on what art was being made in Phoenix and who was making it. In the same vein, Modified Arts: Looking Back to the Future offers opportunities to ponder what is “Phoenix-like” in artistic production here. We are encouraged to celebrate an art community whose flame burns brighter because of contributions made by those who came before us, those here today, and to optimistically anticipate future torchbearers of a rich legacy. 


Ted G. Decker

Phoenix, Arizona

January, 2010



Ilcio Lopes – Inside, Outside, and the Space in Between

Inside, Outside, and the Space in Between

A visitor to Espaço Cultural Sérgio Porto, Rio de Janeiro to see O Cubo dentro do Cubo, the exhibition of new works by visual artist Ilcio Lopes, may immediately recognize characteristic elements of past exhibitions and public interventions such as cube-shaped adhesives that form urban maps, DNA double helix-like chains of pattern, and exquisite lines. Lopes’ lines emerge from the design, continuity, density, and color of cube placement. They offer routes to somewhere while not clearing identifying or even suggesting destinations. In the rich tradition and vibrancy of carioca (Rio de Janeiro) art practice since the mid-20th Century, the exhibition includes drawings, video, and installation.

However, as life repeatedly reminds us, never judge a book by its cover. More pertinent to this exhibition, it is wise not to be judgmental about the familiarity of materials, patterns, and past interactions with this artist’s work. This exhibition serves as a platform for Lopes to make an unexpected departure from the depiction of two-dimensional geometric forms and offers opportunities for viewers to make multi-faceted investigations and memorable personal experiences with the allegoric and metaphoric cube. Whereas Lopes previously sought to create things or objects, now his focus is to open the cube and to make a giant leap of faith towards opening up his own life. He is aware that such action is accompanied by potential risks, but already feels the joy and freedom from embarking on this strategic course.

Ilcio Lopes was born in Rio de Janeiro (1961) and raised during one of the most productive and rich periods of Brazilian art and culture characterized by intense creative activity and societal, cultural transformation. He establishes direct linkages with those who came before, particularly the Neo-Concretists, in conceptual language of repetition of geometric forms, the use of simple, everyday materials, encouraging public participation, creating art outside art hegemonic constrictions in a space where art and life are joined, dematerializing experimentation (analogous to concurrent Body Art and Land Art movements), and revising the visual semantics of art – line, plane, color, space, and absence and presence. At the same time, he engages in an ongoing, synergistic dialog with contemporaries who deal with issues of identity, post-industrial residue, globalization, and urbanization. Lopes reveals fascinating personal experiences and demonstrates extraordinary expertise in working with a broad spectrum of media. His research is rooted in the knowledge of art history and a keen awareness of street life and contemporary culture. 

The cube has been the focus of Ilcio Lopes’ research and art practice since 2001. Metaphorically for Lopes, the cube represents the essence of life itself. It has a base, height, depth, and volume, as well as an almost infinite number of mathematic permutations which he continually works to investigate and deplete in drawings and as building blocks in his work. His art recalls the later and most recognized works of Brazilian mid-20th Century artist Alfredo Volpi with the reduction of geometric shapes and elements of urban landscapes. Lopes recognizes that art transcends its materiality by creating new and wide-ranging meanings which integrate artist, art, and the public. 

Entering and passing through the exhibition space, one feels a floating, disorienting sensation while embarking on an exploratory voyage to discover Lopes’ own life cube…both inside and out…in the gallery he has transformed into a virtual multi-dimensional sketch book and studio. A voyeuristic feeling is evoked by the opportunity to gaze at intimate evidence of drawings, exploratory ideas, landscapes of triumph and loss, and fresh aspirations. 

A clear cube is more easily imagined, having transparent, though defined, interior and exterior spaces. The cube’s geometric shape loses its objective nature, becoming an abundant space for reflection, imagination, and expression. The basic shape of the cube suggests secure shelter from where the liberating, but perilous outside space can be viewed, imagined, and yearned for. Looking from the outside in, one imagines a contrasting point-of-view of tantalizing security. However, it comes with the potentially high price of losing freedom and being bound. Initially, there appears to be a distinct and impenetrable separation between the two spaces and in the way Lopes has practiced art making and, as he affirms, has lived in the past. 

In his art, working conceptually with the idea of simultaneous presence and absence, Brazilian-based artist Waltercio Caldas sought to inhabit and navigate the space in between things. These spaces are the highly-sought after fertile lands where the sweetest fruit grows and that yield the most bountiful harvests. They are the destinations that Ilcio Lopes’ new art works provide maps and routes to. In the past years, Lopes has lived on both sides of the cube while experiencing and enduring the ongoing, raging, and universal struggle to navigate the rigid dichotomous space between private and public, absent and present, performer and spectator, and being a part-time versus a full-time working artist. With this exhibition of new works, it is evident that he has discovered the spaces between and has harnessed the emancipating power of art to liberate his art making practice and himself from previous bindings. 

Currently, Lopes lives and works in the greater Rio de Janeiro metropolitan area, with studios in Niterói and Cabo Frio. Lopes attended the Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage and the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). Also, he studied art in Paris and Barcelona during a year of living abroad. His public art works and interventions, installations, paintings, sculptures, prints, and drawings have occurred and have been exhibited in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Niterói, Belém, Buzios, Uberlândia, and Vitória, as well as internationally in China, England, France, and Spain.  

Ted G. Decker
May, 2009

Posted by Melbourne, Australia (recently moved from Phoenix, Arizona) artist Eliza Gregory.

For anyone looking for a meaningful way to give back via the arts, I think philanthropist Ted Decker is an excellent example. His Catalyst Fund, set up in 2003, is designed to help artists market themselves—an expensive and yet crucial component of getting your work out into the world and moving your artistic career forward. He supports both international artists and Phoenix-based artists, and is a strong presence in the Phoenix arts community. His often-small—sometimes less than $300—grants make a huge difference. By helping a few individuals, he builds stronger ties between many people within a disparate city.


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Ted G. Decker

Ted Decker Fine Art Consulting
Ted Decker Catalyst Fund