Art Affaire

Right, “Cloud Story” by abstract painter Jan Griggs. Left, “Waiting to Enter the Arena” by bead artist Karen Johnson. (Submitted)

Delicate bead paintings, colorful abstract paintings, whimsical ceramics and mixed media will be on exhibit during The Finer Arts Gallery’s special “Art Affaire” event from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, May 19.

The evening will showcase the diverse works of its 50 artists, all of whom are Arizona professional artists. The gallery is located inside the historic Treehouse building, 6137 E. Cave Creek Road, Cave Creek. 

One common theme among many of the gallery’s artists is a natural desire to experiment with different mediums and styles. Sometimes, pushing themselves out of their comfort zone leads to an exciting discovery that changes their focus as an artist.  

Discovering passion

Originally from Washington, Jan Griggs has been an artist all her life. But she says she was a “late bloomer” to discovering her passion for abstract art. Not long after she moved to Scottsdale, she took a special week-long mentoring session in Taos, New Mexico, that challenged her to be intuitive and spontaneous as she painted. That was 13 years ago, and since then, she has been laser focused on creating abstract art.

“I love painting abstracts. My work is a collection of places, feelings of color, light and dark, movement and stillness that I translate into abstracted forms,” Griggs said.

Energy, color, light and intuition are the elements that characterize Griggs’ paintings. She works with acrylics on canvas or heavy watercolor paper with a variety of tools to move and manipulate the paint. 

“My artistic process is intuitive and spontaneous. My parameters are the color pallet I choose and the shape and size of the surface I am painting on. I have a very basic idea of what I want to create and let the flow of color and paint guide me,” she said.

While much of her work is inspired by the beauty of the desert, she continues to be influenced by the cool grays, blues and greens of the Puget Sound area.

Pivoting to ‘paint’

Karen Johnson has always been passionate about art. She attended The Atelier LeSueur in Minnesota where she worked on figure drawing, still life and plein air landscape painting. But her focus changed when she discovered Native American beadwork. 

“I collected so many different glass beads, I decided to start ‘painting’ with the beads,” said Johnson, a Scottsdale resident. “Beads don’t translate like paint. It’s a very timely process.”

She begins with a photograph, and then chooses from shiny, matte, metallic, opaque and different-sized beads that she can incorporate into the picture. 

“Colors and values are limited so it can be a challenge to get the look that I’m after correct,” she said.

She draws the picture onto a stabilized cloth and then begins sewing the beads on them. It usually takes a three-inch-by-three-inch area before she can tell if it’s looking right. 

“Oftentimes, the beads get ripped out and I start over. It is a timely process. It’s all about the beads,” she said.

Her subject matters range from plants to people. 

“When creating, it’s always a story or an emotion that I hope to portray,” she said. “The beauty of nature is always there. The challenge is translating what I see into a work of art that creates a lasting impression.”

The May featured artists also include ceramic artist Robin Ray and mixed media artist Joyce Hagen. For details, call 480-488-2923 or visit