Phoenix Artist Paints Urban Desert Landscapes On Everything. And They Are Beautiful.

Artist Laura Spalding Best IIHIH

Scenes of the southwest, purple desert mountains against pink skies, puffy white clouds, tumbleweeds and signs of urban development embellish everything from ironing boards to muffin tins in the work of artist Laura Spalding Best. The intention behind her work is to both honor and protect our deserts from climate change and human impact.

Meet Artist Laura Spalding Best

laura spalding best new american painting
Kaleidoscope, oil on found objects, 30 x 18 x 2 inches

Artist Laura Spalding Best, originally born in the midwest, studied at Arizona State University where she received her degree in Fine Arts in 2003. She has since been an active member in the Southwest Art Scene. Serving as the Exhibitions Manager at The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art since 2006, she has several public murals to her credit and has been a member of several group exhibitions and solo shows in downtown Phoenix.

Artist Laura Spalding Best in her Phoenix studio
Artist Laura Spalding Best in her Phoenix studio

painted found objects

Her work, which at first may appear as prettily adorned objects with hand-painted scenes actually combines her interest in anthropology, the environment, climate change and city infrastructure.

She finds the objects she uses as canvases at thrift shops and antique stores. Often these objects are associated with the domestic role of the female (muffin tins, irons, serving platters and teacups) representing the many different burdens that are put on women, including the environment.

painted ironing boards
The Bountiful Mirage (recently acquired by the Tuscon Art Museum) Oil on found objects ,2018

Best focuses on the complex and challenging relationship between the desert environment of the southwest, human impact on the landscape, and the emotions associated with addressing climate change.

desert island series
Desert Island, Promises I, oil on found object 5″x3″, 2018
laura spalding best teacup
Reckless Decorum I, oil on found objects, 4″x5″ 2018

Hunting for things that have a natural frame to hold a landscape, she effectively turns them into vessels that depict her love and concern for the desert.

Laura Spalding Best, Heirloom, I, 2021, oil on found object
Heirloom, I, 2021, oil on found object, 7 x 10 in.
Trickle Down Ecologics, oil on found objects, 12″x6″, 2017
art installation
Tributary I, oil on found objects, 52″x24″
laura spalding best artworks
Tributary II, oil on found objects, 68″x30″
Vanished Tempest,
Vanished Tempest, Installation and detail, Phoenix Airport Museum, 2022

The artist, who recently spoke about her work in progress with Southwest Contemporary.

I really like to look at the landscape and the environment, and where I always begin here is the Sonoran Desert. I’m always exploring the landscape in my everyday life, looking at utility lines and other infrastructure we create to make our desert cities livable. I like to show how functionality meets natural beauty.- Laura Spalding Best

laura spaldng best hard hat and hoe IIHIH
Hard Hat and Hoe, painted found objects

Best recently received a Contemporary Forum Artist Grant and a Pollock-Krasner grant and has appeared on Arizona Horizon Art Beat to discuss her artwork.

Laura Spalding Best

Images courtesy of the artist’s website and her instagram feed.