Ahwatukee Artists group ready for its annual show

The founding five artists of the Ahwatukee group now known as AHW Artists are, from left, Kathie Kelly, Debborah Charboneau, Eric Kruse, Deb Stanger and Cayden Martin .(Special to AFN)

Local artist Cayden Martin says she’s excited to see a trend towards the arts in Ahwatukee.

Martin and four other members of a unique Ahwatukee band of artists first came together three years ago and are doing their part to keep that arts interest trending.

On Saturday, May 17, at the 5-month-old Copper Moon Yoga Studio at Warner Road and 48th Street, the Ahwatukee artists are staging a show called “Art in the Afternoon.”

The group has shortened its name to AHW Artists as they work toward achieving non-profit status.

From 2-7 p.m., area residents are invited to view — and purchase — the work by Kathie Kelly, Eric Kruse, Deb Stanger, Debborah Charboneau and Martin.

It is the group’s third art show in as many years.

“We’re so excited to see that there’s a growing trend happening here and now in Ahwatukee,” said Martin, noting:

“We’re seeing more local artists coming together, collaborating to bring more opportunities for the community to get involved in the arts.

“You can see it with the opening of Art in the Garden, Be an Artist’s Tiny Mobile Studio, and local arts shows like Esperanza Lutheran’s annual Garden of Eatin’, Art Attack AZ, and more.”

She also said the group hopes to one day hold an even more encompassing show “garnering more exposure for our community as a place to visit, shop our local shops, support our local artists and come back again.”

Another founding member of AHW Artists, Eric Kruse, said he’s also encouraged at the burgeoning art scene.

“I cannot be happier as I see more artists coming together in Ahwatukee. There are a lot of artists here, and I think they just need an avenue to bring out their talent,” said Kruse.

A wood artist and owner of Signed in Wood who started his company four years ago, Kruse creates human and pet portraiture in reclaimed wood.

“One of our goals as a group is to host an art walk with local artists,” he said. “I ‘ve always wanted to shut down a street for a day and bring local art to Ahwatukee. Although, I am not sure where that is yet, we’ll still be planning something.”

The promotional poster and postcards for their Art in the Afternoon Art Show is indicative of this group’s varied art forms and styles.

On it are five images of a Gambel’s quail.

“We all worked from the same image in our own distinct styles as another way to market ourselves as a group,” explained Martin, adding:

“Originally, I’d wanted an example of each person’s work, but they’re all so different in style, color, texture and theme so it looked a bit hodge-podge. Enter the quail project.”

A work of art in itself, the poster has on the top row Kruse’s woodcarving and Stanger’s acrylic on canvas; in the center Charboneau’s oil pastel on paper; and on the bottom row Kelly’s watercolor and Martin’s oil on canvas.

Kelly, who teaches watercolor and acrylic painting classes in her home studio, will also be teaching en plein air painting classes this summer in Italy.

“I’ll be taking a small group to Tuscany to paint the countryside. This will be with a long-standing art tour group, Il Chiostro, who have been doing such trips for 22 years,” she said, adding:

“I continue to teach in the Phoenix area, adults and children. This will be my 19th year of teaching art in one form or another.”

An artist for 40 years, Kelly is also a dedicated teacher of arts for seniors, hosting classes at Generations; senior facilities in Gilbert and Chandler; and Chandler’s Solterra Senior Living.

Charboneau, who works mostly in oil and pastel, is a landscape and pet portraiture artist who grew up in Montana.

Charboneau shares her works at festivals and art shows throughout the Valley and says she finds their collaboration a boon to her own art.

“I love being a part of our group of artists. We encourage, inspire and give each other needed feedback on our artwork,” she said. “We’re trying hard to bring more awareness of art to the Ahwatukee neighborhood, and in the future be able to create venues for the other artists in the area to promote their art as well.”

In AHW artist Sanger’s opinion, art is “essential to the soul.”

“I think Picasso was right when he said every one of us is born creative, an artist. I would encourage everyone to not only view art, but to enjoy the process of being free to create. Come to our show and be inspired,” said Stanger.

She taught art in private and public schools and volunteers at The Art Resource Center in Tempe.

“After retiring I’ve decided to pursue my passion and paint. I’ve done many large commission pieces for private homes and a few for offices,” she said.

AHW Artist members say they hope to be a beacon to other Ahwatukee artists.

“Our group is just starting to build ourselves into a hub, a place for other artists and art enthusiasts to come together for information, exchanging of ideas and a place for collaborative opportunities to take flight,” said Martin, who illustrated two books.

“We encourage those seeking support from a community of like-minded artists to visit us on Facebook (AHW Artists) and Instagram (@AHWArtists) to keep updated on upcoming shows, gatherings and local happenings.”

Copper Moon owner Tina Trevino said she was delighted to host this year’s AWA Artist Art Show.

“I enjoy art myself and welcomed the opportunity to promote local artists,” she said.

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