Exploring the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum | by Nicole Royse



On our most recent adventure we headed to downtown Mesa. I decided to take the kids to the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum located at the architecturally impressive Mesa Arts Center. Exhibitions at the museum typically run for three months so it gives you plenty of time to make it down to their shows. I avoid going to the exhibition openings with my children due to large crowds and our ability to fully enjoy the art. There are five galleries which feature local and international contemporary art, so there is always something to explore. Most people do not realize that this amazing museum is free to the public!


When first arriving I always encourage the kids to decide which gallery we will explore first, our options today were “American Dream”, “Arizona Catalyst”, “The Dogs of Ron Burns”, and “Bipolar.”


Today we headed to the North Gallery, which was showing “Arizona Catalyst: Artists working in and beyond the state” featuring four artists: Wesley Anderegg, Angel Cabrales, Fausto Fernandez, and Angela Young. I automatically recognized these artists work; they began their careers here in Arizona having a strong connection to our local art community, as well as Arizona State University. My children were drawn to the small-scale clay sculptures by Wesley Anderegg, connecting with the simplistic characters especially the Flying Date which depicted a couple flying in the night sky. The exhibition had a simple cohesiveness of interesting designs, overlay of patterns, nature, and everyday objects drawing in the viewer. I was impressed by the intricate paintings by Fausto Fernandez with their muted color palette, overlay of shapes, floral patterns, and space imagery. My attention was grabbed by an eerie glass case filled with colorful grenades and the interesting assemblages of objects: military boots, helmet, guns of were incredibly powerful and moving, especially the piece “Generation Boom.” Angela Young’s large-scale drawings were mesmerizing with her use texture and patterns. At first glance one does not realize the subject matter is the human body and when reading further it is the artists’ body as the subject. Over all the exhibition was visually beautiful, subject matter was intriguing and I enjoyed the layering of mediums, colors, and imagery. The combination of art and images in this show were incredibly powerful and moving.


We visited the remaining galleries ending our visit in the SRP Gallery, which featured a retrospective of beloved animal portrait artist Ron Burns. Everyone has seen the work of Ron Burns at one time or another since he is the Artist in Residence for the Humane Society. His artwork is simply fun, colorful, and lively in his depiction of dogs and cats bringing them to life. It was wonderful to see a variety of paintings and sculptures, many pieces I had not seen before. The children had a great time taking a closer look at the pet portraits, examining the details of each painting and sculpture. The sculptures were delightful and brought giggles and questions from my children. Once a child is interested or to get them interested in the art ask them questions about what they see: what accessories, what type of background, etc. Overall it was a great representation of his vast body of work and a great exhibition for all ages. We thoroughly enjoyed exploring the galleries and our visit do to the Mesa Arts Center! We will be back again when the museum reopens with their new exhibitions:

968881_10151625407843120_68870652_n-1For more information on the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum visit:


Artists Referenced: Ron Burns:

http://www.ronburns.com/, Fausto Fernandez: http://faustofernandez.blogspot.com/, Angela Young: http://angelayoungart.com/home.html, Angel Cabrales: http://www.angelcabrales.com/, Wesley Anderegg: http://www.wesleyanderegg.com/

Photos taken by Nicole Royse, Children shown are Drake Royse (L) & Connor Royse (R)

Nicole Royse Art Blog:



IMG_1255My name is Nicole Royse, I currently reside in Chandler, Arizona with my husband Robb and our 3 beautiful children Connor, Drake, and Ava. I was raised in Orange County, California moved to Tempe, Arizona at age 14 with my incredible grandparents. I graduated from Marcos De Niza High School and went onto graduate with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Art History from Arizona State University.  I am currently pursuing my art career and I am the Associate Curator at the MonOrchid an amazing venue with two art galleries specializing in local contemporary art located in downtown Phoenix.


This post is sponsored by:


The Brett Saks Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, hopes  to make our Arizona communities safer for bicyclists by teaching adults and children about road safety and mutual respect between drivers and cyclists in fun and engaging ways. We are “Shifting Gears to Saves Lives,” as more than 600 cyclists are lost each year to car-bike accidents. Learn more at gearupaz.org.


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