Artworks From the TMA Collection Link Northern Mexico and the U.S. Southwest in La Grandeza de México
By Dr. Kristopher Driggers, Assistant Curator, Schmidt Curator of Latin American Art
Héctor Martínez Arteche, Madre Seri, 1962, Oil on canvas. Collection of the Tucson Museum of Art. Gift of the Instituto Mexicano Americano de Relaciones Culturales, A.C. 1972.6.
TMA was honored to loan artworks for the major international loan exhibition La Grandeza de México, which opened in Mexico City in late September 2021. Organized by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) and shown at the National Anthropology Museum and the Ministry of Public Education, the exhibition brings together a selection of exceptional works of art from all periods of Mexico’s history from antiquity until today. Two works from the museum’s collection made their way to Mexico City last month: Héctor Martínez Arteche’s painting Madre Seri (pictured above), and Stanford Stevens’ watercolor Caborca Mission, Sonora, Mexico.
Explaining the theme of the exhibition, Rafael Barceló Durazo, Consul of Mexico in Tucson, noted, “La Grandeza de México exhibition was carefully and thoughtfully prepared by the National Institute for Anthropology and History (INAH) to celebrate the Bicentennial of the Triumph of the War of Mexican Independence. This exhibit is all about greatness and it collects the most refined historical and artistic works, portraying the diversity of our cultural formation as a country.”
Each of the paintings sent by TMA to the exhibition speaks to the deep interconnectedness of the U.S. Southwest and the region of Northern Mexico. Martínez Arteche’s Madre Seri depicts a mother from the Indigenous Seri community of the state of Sonora, where the artist lived and taught. The painting by Stanford Stevens shows a view of the mission in Caborca, Sonora, a church built by the same master builder responsible for San Xavier del Bac in Tucson.
A crate with TMA artworks in the building of the Secretaria de Educación Pública in downtown Mexico City. Murals by Diego Rivera appear outside the gallery of the Sala Iberoamericana.
Loaning works of art for an international exhibition requires a dedication to cooperation and logistical coordination. To accomplish this loan, TMA staff and members of INAH agreed to collaborate toward a plan for the sharing of the artworks, which traveled to Mexico in a custom-built crate. In the photo above, you can see the crated artworks entering the exhibition space at the Ministry of Public Education; in the photo, they pass in front of a famous mural cycle by artist Diego Rivera from the 1920s. On site in the gallery, TMA curator of Latin American art Dr. Kristopher Driggers worked with INAH conservators and installation staff to ensure that the work was ready for exhibition.
The exhibition La Grandeza de México installed at the Sala Iberoamericana in Mexico City.
Reflecting on the nature of this international collaboration, Consul Barceló Durazo said, “When INAH asked me to request the Tucson Museum of Art some of its works for a loan that would contribute to this select recollection of the Mexican heart and soul, I was thrilled to find once again that a part of Mexico lives in Tucson, and that Tucson breathes Mexico, so to speak. I was humbled to witness the generosity and willingness of TMA director, Jeremy Mikolajczak, curator Kristopher Driggers and other members of TMA leadership and staff to make everything work in such expedited and efficient ways to make this beautiful collaboration possible. It brought Tucson closer to Mexico and I will always be thankful for it.”
La Grandeza de México opened in September 2021 and will be on view through April 2022. Watch this video to learn more about the exhibition.