Inside a Cottonwood building that was designed by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright to be a dentist’s office in the 1950s, two art lovers have merged their galleries in what is one of the best showcases of contemporary art in the Verde Valley. Patt Manheim, who opened The Manheim Gallery in 2006, and artist Robert Siracusa, who has owned three galleries in the area including, most recently, ARC Contemporary Fine Art, sit side by side in one of the gallery’s brightly lit rooms. “We both have longevity in the region, so we have a local following,” says Robert. “People know what they are going to get from us.”
What those visitors are going to get are paintings that are not your typical red rock landscapes and figurative ceramics that are a far cry from practical pottery. During our most recent visit, the exhibition space that was once a waiting room featured fanciful figurative sculptures by eight different artists and soft, tranquil paintings by Nancy Ruby. This month, ceramic and mixed-media sculptor Barbara Harnack and painter Natasha Pudalov will be in the spotlight. In the back of the gallery, Phoenix-based Winery 101 has a wine bar, so it’s not unusual for art lovers to peruse the gallery with a glass of wine in hand. Patt and Robert represent about 20 artists. Many of them are from Arizona while others reside in far-off places like Poland and Tel Aviv. “We want this to be an art gallery that doesn’t just exhibit and sell art but educates and presents the art like a museum,” says Robert, who is a sculptor, special-effects makeup artist and a character and concept designer in addition to being a gallery owner. “We’re always thinking about content and what the art means in a broader sense, even to people who’ve never been in the gallery.”
The partnership between Patt and Robert began in April. Patt, who first lived in Arizona in the ’60s and has memories of roller-skating the hallways of what was then the abandoned United Verde Hospital (now the Jerome Grand Hotel), says the merger makes her excited to come to work. “I’ve learned so much from Robert,” she says. “It’s important to realize that good art isn’t a single genre. We’re looking for work that moves people’s minds.” – Erika Ayn Finch. Photo by Barbara Harnack.
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