Whimsical and Eclectic: Artist Susan Paige sponsors exhibit for sculpture students

Susan Paige creates her papier mache sculpture, “Flying Goddess,” with her husband, Lt. Col. Barry Rosenblatt. (Susan Paige/Submitted)

By Morgan Owen

This November, Susan Paige and her husband, Barry Rosenblatt, will sponsor an exhibit in the OneOhOne Gallery for the sculpture students at the Mesa Arts Center. 

“Mesa Arts Center Students Sculpture Exhibit” is one of several exhibitions Paige and Rosenblatt sponsor each year at the OneOhOne gallery to support emerging artists in the Mesa area.

The show will feature whimsical sculptures produced by Matt Smith, head of the sculpture department at Mesa Arts Center, and his students, who used welded metal, paper mache, concrete and mixed media to produce their sculptures. The majority of these students have never had the opportunity to display their artwork, making this an exciting and rare instance for them.

Paige, an abstract artist and gallery director by trade, says many talented artists never get the opportunity to display their art because the gallery scene is competitive. For Paige, sponsoring these exhibitions is not only rewarding, but the students “produce great art because they have a show to look forward to.”

“Eclectic” is how Paige would describe this particular exhibition. For her, that descriptor captures the show’s essence, from the medium of the sculptures to the artists’ ages, as some of the artists featured are over 80 years old. 

Many of the student-artists attend classes through the Mesa Arts Center’s Veteran Program. Classes for veterans are free at the center, made possible through funding provided by Boeing. Rosenblatt is a retired lieutenant colonel and has been taking free classes at Mesa Arts Center for years. According to Paige, the veterans love the sculpture classes because of the required hand-eye coordination and the satisfaction of seeing something they formed. 

A concrete sculpture by Matt Smith.
(Matt Smith/Submitted)

“They’re excited to show off their stuff,” Smith adds.

Smith instructs many sculpture classes at Mesa Arts Center including a metal sculpture and papier mache.

“The average person takes (my) classes to learn about the creative process, and next thing you know, they become artists. They do really good work (and) it’s exciting that the students are all looking forward to it,” Smith says.

Shows like Paige’s also allow emerging artists and students to sell their artwork. 

“That is one of the most gratifying things, is that they are actually selling their art because I give them a show,” Paige says.  

In support of the students, Paige adds the sculptures for sale in the “Mesa Arts Center Students Sculpture Exhibit” would be well displayed in a yard or home.

Smith recounts that many of the students in his sculpture welding class have gone on to use their new skills professionally. They’ve sold their works at art fairs, and several students have started generalized welding businesses. Smith adds that the Mesa Arts Center is a valuable resource for emerging artists because it grants them access to more expensive equipment they may not be able to afford at home, such as plasma cutters.

The Mesa Arts Center offers a diverse range of educational programming in addition to hosting visual and performing arts concerts and the Mesa Contemporary Art Museum. But students at the center rarely get the opportunity to exhibit their work beyond short two-week exhibitions twice a year. By sponsoring an exhibit in the OneOhOne gallery, the sculpture students get a whole month to display their artworks, Paige says.

The “Mesa Arts Center Students Sculpture Exhibit” will be open in the OneOhOne Gallery from November 4 to November 26. On November 11, there will be a Meet the Artists Reception for anyone who wants to meet the artists as part of OneOhOne’s monthly “Second Friday Night Out” event.

“Mesa Arts Center Students Sculpture Exhibit”

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, November 4 to November 26

WHERE: OneOhOne Gallery, 101 W. Main Street, Downtown Mesa

COST: Free admission

INFO: 214-207-9277