Writer Fadi Sitto
Photography Courtesy of Practical Art
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]here’s a unique aspect that comes from buying and uplifting local art that you just can’t get from buying a mass produced print or vase from IKEA.
You get the sense that there’s a story to each and every artful piece, making it more special.
It’s as if you’re buying the artist’s countless hours of trial and errors, as well as their flashes of pure happiness. You’re not just buying an object that you can see and hold; you’re buying a small piece of that artist’s life and personality.
Sometimes you walk into a store or a space and you feel its personality surrounding you. That’s the feeling you get when you set foot into Practical Art, a boutique art store and craft gallery space in Central Phoenix.
Late philanthropist and Valley attorney Jane Reddin, who had a passion for locally made handcrafted artisan works, founded Practical Art. Jane had a genuine love for local contemporary art, and she was instrumental in helping to raise awareness for a growing Phoenix art scene.
Practical Art opened its doors in April 2008, just three years before Jane lost her fight against leukemia. Her vision lives on through this unique artistic space.
Jane Reddin is fondly remembered as a true ambassador to the Phoenix community who spent a significant portion of her life helping others. She served on the boards of many organizations, including the Foundation for Blind Children, ALS Association and Valley of the Sun United Way.
Lisa Olson, who is now the owner of Practical Art, had worked closely with Jane and her philanthropic and creative passion.
“I think if you surround yourself with creative people, you will live a creative life,” Lisa says.
Lisa has a degree in photography from Arizona State University and was working as a photojournalist when Jane, a family friend, opened Practical Art.
“This store is definitely my baby, definitely my passion. I find myself constantly inspired by and in awe by artists,” Lisa joyfully says.
Practical Art is renowned for being the first gallery experience for many up-and-coming artists in Arizona. It has helped to launch Valley art mainstays such as Ray Delmuro, Annette Weaver and Troy Moody, just to name a few.
Practical Art provides space for local emerging artists looking to showcase their paintings, wares and creative works to a larger demographic. The store provides a platform for local artists who might have never had the opportunity to reveal their gift and creations.
It sets itself apart because it is the only place in Phoenix that works exclusively with Arizona artisans. Today, the store space showcases 175 local artists and their functional use for practicality and art.
“We try to be a space for local artists to showcase their works and to make a living doing that,” Lisa says.
In addition to housing local fine art, as the name implies, Practical Art also carries art that is useful in some way shape or form.
You’ll find one-of-a-kind jewelry, kitchen tools, soaps, clothing, furniture and much more.
“Art doesn’t have to be unaffordable or unattainable. We really try to carry something that everyone can have,” Lisa explains.
Some of the best art to be found is when you least expect to find it. There is always something new and unexpected to find just around the next corner at Practical Art.
The store also hosts make-and-take classes each Saturday that are taught by featured artists. Whether it’s oil paintings, pottery, bead crafting or jewelry making, you can learn a new craft and talk to local artists.
It’s an intimate setting with about 10 students per room, a great immersive experience and something unique that is not offered anywhere else. The best part is that you get to take your very own piece of practical art home with you.
If you like homemade pie and giving back to the community, bring your appetite to Practical Art’s Charity Pie Night.
Charity Pie Night, held every fourth Friday of the month, is the store’s most popular event. It raises money for local non-profits and charities and has raised over $50,000 to date.
Lisa’s sister is the talented baker who makes all the pies for Charity Pie Night. Patrons donate $10 or $20 and get to eat all the pie they want. All the money goes to charity.
Practical Art cherishes the important role of being an amazing community space hosting many different events and fundraisers. It’s no small feat that the staff’s tireless work is helping Phoenix to flourish by spreading local love through art.
It’s probably true that you can’t truly buy happiness, but you can buy local art.
Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–7 p.m. | Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. | 5070 N. Central Ave., Phoenix | 602-264-1414 | practical-art.com