The Gallery at Mountain Shadows was established in 2017 when the resort relaunched as a completely updated version of the 1959 original. For the arts community, it was encouraging to have Arizona modern and contemporary art on view for the resort’s globetrotting guests. The inaugural exhibition, a (posthumous) retrospective of Arizona icon James G. Davis, was organized by the gallery’s founding curator John Reyes.

Fast-forward four years, Reyes has stepped down and Cece Cole has assumed the curatorial helm. Cole is perhaps best known for her fine art career, which has taken her work around the U.S, to Berlin, Germany, as well as Japan, Slovakia, Hungary, and Mexico. She recently founded Cole/Lab (, an extension of her art practice that includes collaborative design projects, creative professional partnerships and community engagement work.

Cole also runs a multidisciplinary project studio and online shop called Good Company Contemporary ( that sells a rotating selection of one-of-a-kind and limited edition artworks and accessories. Thirty-percent of the proceeds from sales go directly toward grant and scholarship opportunities to benefit local creatives.

Portraits by Fausto Fernandez

We had the opportunity to ask Cole a few questions about her new role as curator.

JAVA: Please discuss the difference in creative process between making your own work and curating shows. 

Cece Cole: I tend to consider the similarities in the two efforts. You have to trust your eye and your instincts. Strategize, edit, remain open to new things, and adapt. As a multi-disciplinary and installation artist with an active studio practice, I am energized by the idea of creating experiences. Curating is an extension of that for me. 

J: What are some of the goals you hope to achieve with the gallery?

CC: The Gallery at Mountain Shadows offers a unique opportunity to consider themes of connection, place and travel. I am looking at ways to engage visitors with arts activation by integrating temporary and performative exhibitions into the programming. 

J: Will you be showing all Arizona-based work as the gallery has in the past?

CC: I am relatively new to the Valley. I will be discovering many established, local artists for the first time and I am eager to showcase our emerging talent. Also, I firmly believe that inviting artists from other places is vital to establishing Phoenix and the metro area as an arts destination. 

Left: Matt Magee, “Double Red Thought Forms”; Right: Matt Magee, “Orange Chart”
Matt Magee, “Red Poem for Dublin”

Cole’s first curatorial effort at the Gallery at Mountain Shadows will showcase the work of Matt Magee, which opens June 1. Magee was featured in a cover story in the July/August 2018 print edition of JAVA Magazine. His work evokes secret codes and symbols that act as markers of our time. “Recent Work,” on view through August 1, is a celebration of the color red – the color of energy, passion, and action, according to the artist.

Matt Magee studio