United States, born Canada, 1959–2014
Beneath the Wave, 2011 – 2014
Latex paint, packing pallets, vinyl upholstery, telephone, audio recording, and video
Scottsdale artist and designer Janis Leonard created SMoCA Lounge’s inaugural installation in 2011. The Red Room was vivid in color and innovative in its use of retrofitted packing pallets. Suspended from the ceiling, they formed an undulating wave and cast enigmatic shadows on the walls. On the floor, they became benches, tables, and a multipurpose bar/lectern. All elements were the same deep scarlet as the room’s walls and ceilings.
Explaining her bold, monochromatic color scheme, Leonard noted that red “is the color of love, the color of passion and the color of blood . . . it belongs to us, it runs inside all of us.” That universality was noted in a corner audio installation where visitors could pick up the receiver of a red telephone and listen to speakers say the word “red” in multiple languages and speak about its importance to them personally and culturally. Leonard further activated the space with a looping video projection of brine shrimp swimming serenely, yet surreally, through a dimly lit red liquid accompanied by a gentle piano score. On these additional components, she collaborated with local artist Anna Vivette, No Festival required executive director Steve Weiss, and pianist Brian Cox.
A graduate of Parsons School of Design, Leonard worked internationally creating unique spaces. Her prestigious projects received attention and recognition, including the James Beard Award for excellence in restaurant design and the Design Distinction Award from ID Magazine. Here in the Valley, she was celebrated as a design icon and admired for her innovative restaurant designs of local favorites such as AZ88 and Hanny’s.