Scott McNeill, “Artist tries different approach to his craft,” AZ Republic 2007




Artist tries different approach to his craft

Michael Senft
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 17, 2007

Visitors to the West Valley Art Museum are already familiar with the intricate woodcarvings of Scott McNeill.

"I've had two solo shows there already, and I've been in four or five group shows as well," the 38-year-old artist says in a recent interview. "It's the place where my career began. They were the first people who took my work seriously, they convinced me I had talent."

However, McNeill's latest show, which opened at the museum on Friday, is a new direction for the Scottsdale-based artist.

For the past several years he has experimented with molded plastics infused with strontium aluminate, an industrial-strength glow-in-the-dark compound. McNeill said this is likely the first show of its kind.

"Strontium aluminate isn't common. It's used in commercial projects, but it isn't an art supply. And it's dreadfully expensive, about $8 an ounce," he says. "The stuff is amazing, it only takes a few minutes in sunlight to charge and it will glow for eight hours. My whole backyard glows from the cast-offs and shavings from my pieces."

The show will feature some of McNeill's more familiar woodcarvings such as "Jungle Boogie" recast in glow-in-the-dark plastic, as well as several large Warhol-esque reliefs of vivid multicolored fish.

McNeill's work will exhibit in the main lobby of the West Valley Art Museum and a smaller gallery that is curtained and black-lit.

"It will give the public the chance to see the pieces in both natural light and glowing. These pieces don't need to glow to look beautiful. There will also be small LED flashlights available for visitors to play with the glow-in-the-dark properties of the pieces," says McNeill while shining a flashlight beam on a lighthouse in one of his pieces, creating an intense illuminating effect.

He hasn't abandoned the woodcarvings that he learned 15 years ago while working with the Peace Corps in Central America, but his glow-in-the-dark work is currently occupying most of his time. He said he's looking to develop larger commercial installations for hotels and nightclubs.

"I picture a giant wall with a dance floor. Can you imagine how amazing this would look under a DJ's strobe lights," he says excitedly.

McNeill also is trying to develop new methods to introduce the multidimensional qualities of his woodworking into his plastic work.

"I like being able to express multiple concepts in a single space, and I'm trying to do that with different colors under different light conditions," he says. "Once you get bit by the creative bug, you just gotta go with it."


Scott McNeill: Works in Relief

Scott McNeill's latest show at the West Valley Art Museum departs from the intricate woodcarvings he's known for to show works that glow-in-the-dark.

Scott McNeill: Works in Relief

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays, through March 16.

Where: West Valley Art Museum, 17420 N. Avenue of the Arts, Surprise.

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