Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is reimagining its former Smart Space as a new community area called _____ space, or “blank space.”
The museum, which is operated by the nonprofit Scottsdale Arts, opened the Smart Space behind the museum store, Shop@SMoCA, in 2014 as an educational area, offering hands-on activities and additional information about exhibitions.
“After 11 years, we wanted to rethink Smart Space and shift the vibe to create an area in the museum to hang out, meet up, take a break and experience art activations,” said Julie Ganas, curator of engagement and digital initiatives at SMoCA. “It’s called _____ space because it is meant to be open for interpretation. It can be anything. It is my hope that the community has meaningful experiences in _____ space and uses it as their spot instead of us limiting their experience or defining what it is.”
Due to its location in SMoCA near the retail area, _____ space will remain free and accessible during museum hours. No admission will be required to enter, similar to the museum’s courtyard, which includes the James Turrell Skyspace “Knight Rise.”
Two new art installations will kick off the opening of _____ space on Sept. 22, during SMoCA’s Fall Opening Celebration.
Dutch artist Roelof Knol, whose exhibition “the space in between” is also opening at SMoCA on Sept. 22, will premiere a small interactive artwork in _____ space titled “paper shapes.” The artwork comprises visuals projected onto a table that will respond to viewer participation.
The second installation is a video work by Phoenix-based artist Kenaim Al-Shatti that will wrap around the walls of _____ space, transforming it into a colorful, dreamlike environment. Al-Shatti’s artistic discipline revolves around video art and large-scale installations, experiences that transcend conventional artistic boundaries. The artist has been commissioned to create work for many popular artists and brands, including Bad Bunny, Alicia Keys, Drake and Lululemon.
Al-Shatti describes his artwork as “an absorbing, large-scale motion fantasy.” He said he hopes SMoCA patrons find his work both contemplative and poetic.
“I’m excited by the opportunity to be collaborating with SMoCA’s skilled and committed team in breathing life into this new, large-scale work,” Al Shatti said. “Having grown up in Arizona, this opportunity carries a special significance in my artistic journey.”
Attendees of SMoCA’s fall opening celebration Sept. 22 will be among the first to experience the reimagined _____ space and the new installations by Al-Shatti and Knol. The celebration includes three parts: a preview for Scottsdale Arts ONE Members from noon to 2 p.m., a ticketed artist conversation and performance from 5 to 7 p.m. and a free public opening from 7 to 9 p.m.
The ticketed portion of the evening features an artist conversation between SMoCA architect Will Bruder and exhibiting artist Phillip K. Smith III, whose site-specific “Three Parallels” installation opened at the museum in October 2022 and will remain on view until Jan. 24, 2024. This portion of the evening will also feature a movement performance by Nicole L Olson (NicoleOlson|MovementChaos), in collaboration with intermedia artist Shomit Barua, within the “Three Parallels” exhibition.
The free portion of the evening will also include a performance by Olson, but this one will be in Knol’s “the space in between” installation, which will visually respond to the dancer’s movements. Those attending any portion of the Fall Opening Celebration will be able to view the artworks in _____ space.
“I hope _____ space keeps evolving and serves as a spot inside SMoCA that supports an openness that could spark collaboration, conversations and memorable reflections of your time at the museum,” Ganas says. “It is intended to be a flexible, experimental space where we can continue to work with artists to share their work and activate the museum in new ways.”
Scottsdale Arts’ SMoCA is located at 7374 E. Second St. It is open 11 a.m.-5 p.m, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursdays.
Visit SMoCA.org for information.