If art is subjective, then selecting a definitive list of Scottsdale’s “best” art galleries may be an implausible task. The city has nearly a hundred galleries, and many are conveniently clustered downtown in the arts district along Marshall Way, 5th Avenue and Main Street, just west of Scottsdale Road. Traditionally, Western art has dominated the scene, with residents and out-of-town buyers snapping cowboy portraits, big landscapes and Native American pottery and textiles. In the ‘90s, a new wave of contemporary galleries popped up, and though many remain, a few of the more notable ones have moved 20 minutes away to neighboring Phoenix, where urban renewal has attracted burgeoning creative community. The easiest way to become a part of the Scottsdale art scene—at least for an evening—is to join the weekly Thursday night Scottsdale ArtWalk. Socialize with artists and collectors from 7 to 9 p.m., when most downtown gallery owners open their doors and a few bottles of wine.
Bentley’s beautifully curated paintings, sculptures and photographs make it one of Southwest’s best contemporary art galleries. Its impressive roster of established artists includes Richard Serra, Dominique Blain and Jun Kaneko, just to name a few. The gallery made a permanent move from Scottsdale to its spacious downtown Phoenix warehouse space a few years ago.
Lisa Sette Gallery
My favorite “Scottsdale” gallery now has a sleek new home in a re-imagined midcentury building in Phoenix. The white-on-white setting provides a minimalist backdrop for the gallery’s thoughtful artworks, which are often driven by political or social commentary. Among the notable artists represented by Sette: Arizonan Mayme Kratz and “light artist” James Turrell.
For a survey of Western and Native American art, stop in at Trailside, which sells a diverse lineup of artwork, from wildlife scenes and expansive landscapes to traditional tableaux of the Old West painted by members of the Cowboy Artists of America. The collection of Western sculpture is particularly strong.
This gallery specializes in abstracted work by contemporary artists, with paintings, sculpture and photography that leverage shape, color, light and material. With sister galleries in Santa Fe and Venice, Calif., Gebert has a particularly strong collections of Western artists, including contemporary Native American artist Fritz Scholder and sculptors Travis Constance and Ed Mell.