The Art of Healing — Through Art

Thunderbird Artists Gallery offers a safe, spacious, inspiring way to rejoin the outside world

By Nancy Pellegrini

Best-selling author Julia Cameron said that “art opens the closets, airs out the cellars and attics. It brings healing.” We may have spent our stay-at-home period reorganizing and decluttering, but we’ve probably been neglecting our souls. But as Phoenix emerges from its long, solitary spring and enters an uncertain summer, we can use art to help reorder our lives and rejuvenate our spirits. Thunderbird Artists, known nationwide for their award-winning fine art and wine festivals in Arizona, has reopened its Thunderbird Artists Gallery in Carefree — closed for COVID-19, and now open for business.

For those eagerly — but still cautiously — rejoining the outside world, the gallery offers a low-traffic, relaxed environment for visitors to absorb and enjoy the work of fascinating local and global artists hailing from Brazil to Zimbabwe. Be it oils, acrylics, photography, watercolors, stone, steel, gourds, glass, bronze, wood, textiles, ceramics and a wide variety of one-of-a-kind jewelry, Thunderbird Artists Gallery has something for every palate — and every budget.

Artwork by Guilloume

Renowned and award-winning artists include Virgil Ortiz, the world-famous ceramics artist who combines Pueblo traditions with fashion, film and a contemporary edge, Phoenix’s own Jeanne Bonine, who creates vibrant florals in oils and watercolor, and Brazilian Guilloume, whose vision of shared humanity comes in oils, bronzes and bronze wall sculptures. Sculptor and painter Jacinthe Dugal-Lacroix captures elegant bodies in motion, and wife-husband artist team Jeanne and Tod Steele align their vastly different western styles on the same canvas. And that’s just the beginning.

An eclectic, vibrant space offering both stimulation and safety, Thunderbird Artists Gallery welcomes buyers and browsers alike to ease back into the familiar, and to remember everything we love about Carefree.

Thunderbird Artists Gallery, open Tuesday–Sunday (closed July and August), from 10am to 4pm*, is located at 99 Easy Street, (southwest corner of Ho Hum and Easy Street), in Carefree. For additional information, call 480.688.4960, visit or follow the gallery on Facebook.


*Since publication in our JUNE 2020 issue, the Gallery’s temporary hours are Wednesday thru Saturday, 10am to 4pm. Visit the website or call for current gallery hours before visiting. —EDITOR

Disney’s Magic Touches Arizona Fine Art Expo Artist — Expo runs through March 24

In the last few weeks of the Arizona Fine Art Expo, one artist’s mind is off in a far-away land. Jacinthe Dugal-Lacroix may be sculpting and painting at the fine art show in North Scottsdale, but she’s deep in thought at a remote snowy kingdom where a Snow Queen’s icy spell has caused all kinds of chaos.

An acclaimed artist from Canada, Dugal-Lacroix recently began working with Wyland Gallery in Florida, where she was invited to showcase her work at the Epcot Festival of Fine Art in February. She also has been commissioned by the gallery to create licensed bronze sculptures with the Disney film Frozen as her inspiration.

“The invitation to exhibit my work at the Epcot Festival of Fine Art was quite an honor,” Dugal-Lacroix said. “I’m particularly proud of my new work, The Bluebell Collection, which depicts two whimsical characters, a dog named Blue and a dragon named Bell. The name Bluebell comes from the translation of my name, Jacinthe, which is the flower ‘bluebell’ in English. I plan to have both Blue and Bell in every sculpture interacting with different story line including kids in most of them. As of now, I have about 22 scenarios written down. I can’t wait to transform these scenarios into whimsical bronze sculptures and paintings.”

Living in a far-away land is actually something Dugal-Lacroix can relate to. Several years ago, she and her husband, Marc, gave up their home to travel and exhibit her work throughout North America fulltime in their RV, which they affectionately call ‘the Vagabond Bus.’

“It’s quite an adventure,” Dugal-Lacroix said. “Our RV is 43 feet long and we have a 27-foot trailer hooked to the back. Bumper to bumper we are 70 feet long. I can sculpt smaller pieces inside of the RV, but most of my work is done either in my trailer studio or outside at campsites and other stops.”

While The Bluebell Collection will be available for sale at Arizona Fine Art Expo, Dugal-Lacroix’s “Frozen” sculptures will only be available for sale through Disney. She has several other pieces from her “Dancer” series that are for sale at the fine art show, including life-size and table-top sculptures and paintings.

Arizona Fine Art Expo is open daily through March 24 from 10am to 6pm in the white tents located at 26540 North Scottsdale Road, on the southwest corner of Scottsdale and Jomax Roads next to MacDonald’s Ranch.

Season passes for the Arizona Fine Art Expo cost $10. Seniors and military can purchase a season pass for $8 and children 12 and younger are free. Parking is free. For details, call 480. 837.7163 or visit

Thunderbird Artists Gallery Opens in Carefree

Glass and metal chandelier by Carefree artist David Bennett.

After 37 years of producing award-winning, juried fine art and wine festivals, Thunderbird Artists is expanding to open its first fine

art gallery, Thunderbird Artists Gallery, in Carefree Thursday, Dec. 6. The new gallery, located at 99 Easy Street, Suite 235, will showcase and sell the works of renowned artists, including David BennettGuilloume, Jacinthe Dugal-Lacroix, Sandy and Dave Daniel, Valentine, Dan Hale and others.

“We’ve been partnering with the Town of Carefree and the Carefree Cave Creek Chamber of Commerce on our Carefree festivals for 26 years. It only makes sense that we would consider Carefree as our home base for an art gallery,” said Thunderbird Artists president Denise Colter.

A special ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at noon Dec, 6 with key Town and Chamber officials present. Guests to gallery will also enjoy refreshments throughout the afternoon.

One of the highlights of the new gallery will be a stunning, LED-illuminated, glass and metal chandelier that depicts figures in motion. The captivating piece was created by glass artist David Bennett, of Carefree.

Bennett spent 25 years working as a trial lawyer before finding his passion for sculpting glass. A native of Oregon, he was vacationing in Florida celebrating his 50th birthday when he met a glass blower who inspired him to learn more. Within two weeks, he was making paperweights and within the next year, he began studying with Robert Carlson and Petr Novotny at the Pilchuck Glass School.

Bennett is best known for his metal and glass animal and human figures in motion. Each piece includes 10 or more glass and metal pieces welded together. Bennett uses a proprietary method that protects the glass during the welding process.

While artisans have been blowing glass into metal forms for 2,000 years, Bennett said he and others are pushing the technique.

“We can make complex forms in glass and bronze that we could not do in either medium alone. As we’ve stretched the technical processes of blowing glass into metal, I’ve had more and more artistic freedom. Our figures can be lighter and wilder in their motions, and we’ve become able to manipulate the glass around its armatures in increasingly playful ways,” Bennett said, adding that the LED lights inside his glass sculptures often glow like embers in a fireplace, resulting in a warm, comforting feeling.

Located near the intersection of Ho Hum and East Streets in downtown Carefree, Thunderbird Artists Gallery will be open from 10am–5pm, Tuesday through Sunday. For more information, call 480.688.4960 or visit


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