The Flagstaff Arts Council is welcoming its newest artistic director in time for the upcoming exhibition, “Southwestern Invitational,” at the Coconino Center for the Arts. Travis Iurato is knocking out his second week in the new position, and as an artist in his own right, he already is coming into his own.
Exciting new ideas involving audience participation, video and performance art are just a part of the influence Iurato hopes to have on the local art world.
Originally hailing from Tucson, Iurato spent the better part of a decade on the East Coast where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Two years ago, he left the city’s bustle where he worked as the exhibition assistant at BRIC Rotunda Gallery in Brooklyn for a more laid-back way of life in Rimrock, a small community just north of Camp Verde.
Once settled, he and Allison Klion opened a gallery called New Age Drinks — named after an aisle in Food City grocers — in the old high school in Jerome. Though the space has closed for now due to lack of foot traffic in the building, Iurato is always developing and learning within the context of his own modern artwork.
“I’m always looking for the way to communicate with people using the visual language,” Iurato said. “I keep thinking about this in this new job, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot for the last couple years, which is architecture, but less in the making of buildings and more in the approach to architecture.”
The young artist explained a driving force behind his work is a book series by British architect Christopher Alexander, who worked for decades in Berkley, Calif. The architect’s “timeless” approach to building influences Iurato in its intuitive approach and emphasis on human emotion over style and design.
“It was the book I’ve been needing to read for my whole life,” he continued. “I never thought about the spaces that we live in at all. I started looking around everywhere and noticing how messed up every city, every house, every building really is and how it has an effect on your emotional and mental state. Alexander breaks it down to objective qualities. He’s not the only person or philosophy I like to think about while working. But architecture is a big thing for me.”
Further into his own artistic movement that at times play out like meditative, conceptual art pieces, Iurato explained he makes work for himself, and relies on repetitive patterns and movements in a therapeutic manner.
He noted, “I think about artwork and let that inform it as well. I want the work to be very alive. It’s healthy for my mind.”
This pattern of forward thought, he said, will inform his approach to curation at CCA, too, including the upcoming “Youth Art” and “Local Color 2016” exhibitions. His style will use his connections and broad knowledge of the art world to achieve the goal of bringing fresh artists, topics and works unusual to Flagstaff and northern Arizona.
“I think people want something that’s outside of their world and comfort zone,” he added, “and we can start building it.”
At the Coconino Center for the Arts, Iurato works along side of Elizabeth Vogler, who serves as deputy director. The center and Flagstaff Arts Council are overseen by John Tannous, executive director. See Iurato’s artwork at Satellite Contemporary Gallery in Las Vegas and on Facebook.