Randy Slack is an artist, collector, surfer, and a renaissance connoisseur of nostalgia. His work captures elements from his own Phoenix past, and his slant on our shared pop culture memories: long-haired beachy girls, VW buses, and surfboards. While many of his images yearn for surf and sand, he is firmly rooted in his own Phoenix past. On Friday, December 5, for one night only, the Luhrs City Center will play host to the Randy Slack Retrospective: From the Luhrs Basement and Beyond, showcasing the ongoing life of this historic building and the growth of Randy’s life as an artist from his early days, nearly two decades ago, in its basement.
As Randy tells it, back in the mid-late 90’s the then owner of the Luhrs Building gave the boys in Three Car Pile Up (Randy Slack, David Dauncey and James Angel) a studio to work in the Luhrs basement, and a small gallery space to show their work in the Luhrs Annex. He was generous to them and for payment, just asked that they paint murals in the hall that led from the Annex to the main building.
The building has special meaning for Slack who grew up visiting it with his dad, Rick, who worked on the elevators. “I was invited by the Hansji Corp. to do the show, and at first I wasn’t going to. But the more I thought about it, well, that’s the bottom line for wanting to do this retrospective. I have so much personal history here. I grew up running after my dad in this place,” said Slack. “I remember thinking, when we had our studio, that as an artist I didn’t belong there. We were kids down in the basement painting and upstairs were all the lawyers and guys in suits.”
“Randy Slack Retrospective: from the Luhrs Basement and Beyond” will include some of Slack’s earliest work, created in the Luhrs studio, as well as his recent larger-scale pieces. When the Luhrs Annex was being demolished, the murals were brought to light. One section, which included Randy’s piece showing the skyline and Patriot’s Park, had been painted on some old wallpaper. Randy was able to peel it from the wall before it was destroyed. This mural, along with a large-scale installation piece called “My Grandmother’s Livingroom” and two dozen additional paintings spanning the last 20 years of his work will fill the raw storefront space in the bottom of the soon to be renovated Luhrs. This show will be a celebration of the raw, young energy that artists like Slack have infused into downtown over the last twenty years, and the rebirth of a wonderful example of historic downtown architecture.
“This is all going to be gone forever, the raw space, the window frames, the details,” said Slack about the storefront space. “What they’re doing (Hansji Corp.) is great. For Phoenix, we don’t have a lot of these old buildings. The idea behind the retrospective is to get the community together and celebrate what we have and what these guys have done. It’s not just about me, they’re inviting me as a conduit to the community…. I joke that I’ve become my dad and know all these people. It’s cool.”
If You Go:
What: Randy Slack Retrospective: From the Luhrs Basement and Beyond, one-night only pop-up gallery
When: Friday, December 5, 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Where: 11 W. Jefferson St.