Geoffrey Gersten | Mona Lisa Smile: Artist Reception: Thursday, January 6, 7-9pm

3 - 15 January 2022 Scottsdale

Solo Exhibition | Scottsdale, AZ


Altamira Scottsdale is pleased to present a solo exhibition for Arizona artist Geoffrey Gersten.


Please join us Thursday, January 6th from 7-9pm for an Artist Reception during the Scottsdale ArtWalk.


Mona Lisa Smile


Inside the museums, infinity goes up on trial.

Voices echo this is what salvation must be like after a while.

But Mona Lisa musta had the highway blues;

You can tell by the way she smiles.

“Visions of Joanna” by Bob Dylan


From the corner of his eye, Geoffrey Gersten glimpsed a smile on the face of the neon diver, famously posted up outside the Starlite Motel in Mesa, Arizona. Startled by the expression, he checked his photo reel from his impromptu morning shoot of the iconic mid century sign. His library of images, built over several pilgrimages to the Mesa motel at different times of day, spoke to the visual dance of light across the divers’ monumental physique. But never an expressive twist. Until now. However, when he checked his source material, he realized: No, the neon tubing was not upturned, but rather stoic and quiet in its figuring of her headlong focus. Again, he raised his lens amid the sunrise solitude surrounding him (and his Maltipoo puppy); again, the glinting grin flashed in his peripheral vision. “It’s like the Mona Lisa smile,” he recalls saying aloud.


“I was thrilled to see a similarity to that elusive expression that keeps art lovers debating the nature of the most famous female portrait,” Gersten says. “Here was another mysterious woman, a spirit trapped in metal forms and neon tubing but somehow whispering indications of a living soul. A lady of the lake. Another Mona Lisa.”


This sensitivity to place and character distinguishes Gersten’s aesthetic, defined by his rare attunement to both cultural and personal history. Immersing himself in his art, he spends eons researching and revisiting subjects, such as the Starlite Motel diver—a roadside attraction he discovered only recently but now knows well having spent countless hours stationing himself and his camera across the street, amassing an almanac of reference photos. By his hand, an icon as regionally familiar as the diver becomes heroic in her complexity: his experience of her evanescent smile—and his resulting painting, “Mona Lisa”—radiates with the force of a figure frozen in flight, resolute in her leap yet unresolved in result. A character as charismatic as she is complex. Tapping the tactile nature of photorealism with the color-driven profundity of Abstract Expressionism, the self-taught artist delights in the ambiguity of culture colliding with reality, of history inflecting humanity, of icons escaping museum walls for the freedom of the open road (as Bob Dylan decreed of Mona Lisa). A distinctively Southwestern talent, Gersten creates from an awareness of convergence and migration. His subjects move as much as they meditate. They write and they reason. They defy infinity and salvation by flashing cryptic smiles hard-won on the highway of life.


Pre-sales available. 

Contact the gallery for details:, (480) 949-1256.