|"Illumination" by Photographer Wayne Rainey|
Phoenix photographer Wayne Rainey, a longtime artist and activist in Roosevelt Row who owns the monOrchid building, opted for provocative rather than pleasing. He showed a large-scale photograph that’s both strangely alluring and deeply disturbing.
Titled Illumination, it’s a nighttime capture of construction debris from the properties destroyed in March 2015 to make way for iLuminate, which is one of two Baron Properties multi-level housing developments currently under construction at the intersection of Roosevelt and Third streets, iLuminate sits adjacent to monOrchid, Rainey's arts and events space.
Rainey’s intention with the piece is clear. He’s voiced strong criticism of Baron Properties through social media, and expressed his concern that artists who partner with Baron Properties or other developers who demolish beloved buildings are taking part in the demise of their own arts community.
Within hours of Artlink wrapping up its single-day exhibition, Rainey posted comments on his Facebook page that included the following, and he's posted additional comments since:
"Well that was an interesting night. It had all the components of a good drama with no casualties except perhaps an arts district. If only there were an organization present, that promoted the arts and artists, that could have stood erect and told Baron Properties that we are not the cheap sluts you take us for and what you're trying to buy is not for sale."After Baron Properties demolished a building bearing Lauren Lee’s Three Birds mural to make way for iLuminate, it commissioned Lee to create mural-inspired panels collectively called Three Birds in Flight, which they’ve already mounted on iLuminate’s west-facing façade.
Rainey also called out Artlink in his post on exhibition night, writing, "ArtLink is dead. It died the minute it wed the Dev that tore into our heart." For Rainey, art took the form of activism. And activism took the form of art.
The bold nature of Rainey’s work, an exquisite composition even without its powerful context, made everything around it look safe – including the trio of works chosen for special recognition.