Julie Sasse remembers 10 favorite exhibitions from 20 years at TMA
Monday, July 6, 2020 marked 20 years since Dr. Julie Sasse, chief curator, began her tenure at Tucson Museum of Art. In that time she has organized more than 100 exhibitions at TMA and authored more than 20 books and catalogues. Her expertise, dedication and passion for her work are invaluable contributions to the museum.
Here, Dr. Sasse shares her top ten curatorial projects from the last 20 years and a personal remembrance about each one, listed in reverse chronological order. How many did you get to experience?
February 29, 2020-March 13, 2020; July 2-September 20, 2020
“This exhibition is dear to me because of the many artists that have been a big part of my history in the arts, stretching back more than thirty years.”
Works by more than 80 artists, including: Tom Palmore, Billy Schenck, John Fincher, Fritz Scholder, Georgia O’Keeffe, Bob Wade, David Bradley, Joe Baker, Douglas Johnson, Merrill Mahaffey, Anne Coe, Suzanne Klotz, Susan Hertel, Marilyn Levine, Larry Rivers, Paul Brach, Douglas Kent Hall, Lynn Taber, Beth Ames Swartz, David T. Kessler, Masoud Yasami, Dick Jemison, Paul Jenkins and others
Inspired by Dr. Sasse’s book by the same name, this exhibition features some of Elaine Horwitch Galleries’ most prominent artists with whom she worked in the 1980s.
Julie visits Billy Schenck’s studio, 1980s
October 21, 2017 – February 25, 2018
“For this exhibition, I enjoyed discovering new artists and the wide range of creative expression and insightful messages that clothing has inspired.”
Works by more than 50 artists, including: Sama Alshaibi, Joseph Beuys, Willie Birch, Christian Boltanksi, Bob Carey, Nick Cave, Kate Daudy, Jim Dine, Bailey Doogan, Angela Ellsworth, Fausto Fernandez, Adam Fuss, Valerie Hammond, Graciela Iturbide, Robert Longo, Robert Mapplethorpe, Mark Newport, Wendy Red Starr, Miriam Schapiro, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Andy Warhol and others
This exhibition examines works of art that include the image of garments, which become powerful signifiers of who we are as people. The show examined how clothing delivers compelling messages about power, identity, desire, status, protection and transformation.
Visitors at the opening reception for Dress Matters, October 2017
February 27, 2016- July 10, 2016
“I’ve always been haunted by scenes of the night—not only are such works difficult to convey, but they are also loaded with metaphoric content.”
Works by more than 65 artists, including: Georges Braque, Kate Breakey, Gregory Crewdson, Marsden Hartley, Maki Kaoru, Rockwell Kent, Mark Klett, Richard Misrach, Lisa Robinson, Lynne Saville, Rocky Schenck, Amy Stein, Jamey Stillings, Masao Yamamoto and others
This exhibition examines mystery, drama, the esoteric and otherness in paintings, photographs and works on paper that investigate psychological concepts of darkness, the dreamscape and its connection to the night, and the inter-connectedness of the environment with cultural and artistic concerns through the enigmatic notion of the night.
4. Desert Grasslands
January 26 – July 7, 2013
“This exhibition was important to me because I learned so much about the desert region in which I live. While researching for this topic, I found so many wonderful artists who made the grasslands come alive for me.”
Works by Michael P. Berman, Kate Breakey, Stephen Capra, MF Cardamone, Diane Dale, Dornith Doherty, Matilda Essig, Deborah Springstead Ford, Moira Marti Geoffrion, Heather Green, Michael Haykin, Ben Johnson, Karen Kitchel, Mark Klett, Mayme Kratz, Joseph Scheer, Stephen Strom and David Taylor
This exhibition is part of the Desert Initiative Project: Desert 1, a multi-state visual arts collaboration.
5. Borderlandia: Cultural Topographies by Einar and Jamex de la Torre
February 12, 2011-June 12, 2011
“This exhibition was important because Tucson was facing widespread backlash due to stricter immigration laws enacted in our region. While conventions and public events were being cancelled and artists boycotted Tucson in protest, the de la Torre brothers persevered and presented their exhibition to educate and enlighten audiences. They were a joy to work with.”
Internationally recognized artists Einar and Jamex de la Torre live and work on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, providing them with an insider-outsider perspective. Their blown glass and mixed media works examine and confront the complexities of this geographical, cultural and historical divide with a sense of humor that is playful yet compelling. The de la Torre brothers simultaneously reference and erase the boundaries between “high” and “low” art and between “fine” and “folk” art. Central to their creative process are collaboration, humor and self-discovery. Their subject matter shifts between history, politics, immigration, identity, religion, popular culture, food and Meso-American symbols.
Julie Sasse with James de la Torre
6. Trouble in Paradise: Examining Discord Between Nature and Society
February 28 – June 28, 2009
“This exhibition was one of my favorites because I have a passion for nature and caring for our environment. These artists are similarly invested in highlighting nature’s dynamic forces as well as addressing the pressing issues of climate change.”
Works by more than 57 artists, including: Edward Burtynsky, Susan Crile, David Maisel, Richard Misrach, Robyn O’Neil, Tom Uttech, Ellen Wagener, Diane Burko, Sue Coe and others
Pollution, hurricanes, deforestation, tornadoes, wildfires – society is pummeled almost daily by stories of our turbulent world and artists are responding to the rapid environmental changes facing this generation through stunning visuals. Portraying both terror and beauty in the forces of nature and the ravages humans inflict on the land through war and waste is at the center of the exhibition.
Julie Sasse leading a tour of the exhibition Trouble in Paradise
7. The Grand Canyon: From Dream to Icon
August 18, 2006 – January 7, 2007
“This exhibition opened my eyes to the myriad ways that artists see the Grand Canyon, whether through an environmental lens, sociological perspective or the appreciation of its sheer beauty.”
Works by more than 47 artists, including: Thomas Moran, Merrill Mahaffey, Beth Ames Swartz, Jack Dykinga and others
The Grand Canyon is known as one of the most compelling places on earth and a symbol of the grandeur of the American West. Capturing its vastness and beauty has been a creative challenge for artists since the mid-1800s and continues to be a source of inspiration for contemporary artists. This exhibition touches upon a range of works including early historic depictions of the canyon, twentieth century illustrations of this natural wonder, contemporary interpretations of its beauty, and conceptual investigations of the canyon’s impact on our senses and society.
Julie Sasse with four of the artists featured in The Grand Canyon: From Dream to Icon
8. Florence Pierce: A Light-filled Domain
Contemporary Southwest Images XX: The Stonewall Foundation Series
September 10, 2005 – January 1, 2006
“This exhibition was special to me because no other museum had given Florence a solo exhibition. It was a highlight of my career to visit her studio and talk with her about her work. She experienced so much of New Mexico art history!”
This exhibition highlights the resin works from the 1980s and 1990s of New Mexico artist Florence Pierce. She was a member of the Taos Transcendental Painting Group in the late 1930s studying under Emil Bisttram.
9. Paint on Metal: Modern and Contemporary Explorations and Discoveries
January 21 – May 1, 2005
“This exhibition is the first large-scale group exhibition that I organized at the museum and it gave me an opportunity to look at artists from around the country and Europe. It was also the first time I could write about a topic in depth.”
Works by more than 67 artists, including: Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, Nancy Graves, Alex Katz, John Baldessari, Carlotta Boettcher, Imi Knoebel, Sally Elesby, Margaret Evangeline, Tom Wesselmann and others
This exhibition brings together artists working with the use of metal as the canvas or the form upon which color is applied in a symbiotic melding of surface and substrate. Artists using metal upon which to paint look to the qualities of light inherent in the material as well as the stable, smooth surface, and the ability of the material to be manipulated into multiple forms.
Julie Sasse with artist Barbara Rogers in 2005 at the Paint on Metal exhibition
10. Jaune Quick-to-See Smith
Contemporary Southwest Images XIX: The Stonewall Foundation Series
October 16, 2004 – January 9, 2005
“I am especially fond of this exhibition because I got to work with a legend in contemporary Indigenous art. My MA thesis focused on Native American art, so this exhibition provided an opportunity to continue my interest in working with this important area of art.”
Jaune Quick-to-See Smith draws on her Flathead Salish, Metis (French-Cree), and Shoshone heritage as inspiration and motivation for her work. She is an enrolled member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation, Montana.
Wednesday – Sunday,
10 am – 5 pm