New Acquisition Spotlight: Extensive Collection of Modern and Contemporary Indigenous Art from James T. Bialac
Julian Martinez (1879-1943), San Ildefonso, Barnyard Excitement, watercolor. Collection of the Tucson Museum of Art. Gift of James T. Bialac.
TMA has received a collection of about 400 Indigenous artworks from Scottsdale collector James T. Bialac, including paintings, prints, multimedia work and exhibition posters of historic significance. Most of the works date to the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
Included in this donation is a broad spectrum of artists and styles. Prominent names include David Bradley (Chippewa), T.C. Cannon (Kiowa), Michael Chiago (Tohono O’odham), Woody Crumbo (Potawatomi), Helen Hardin (Tewa), Hyrum Joe (Diné), Julian Martinez (San Ildefonso), Dan Namingha (Hopi), Kevin Red Star (Absáalooke), and Fritz Scholder (Luiseño), who have work in important collections across the United States.
T.C. Cannon (1946-1978), Kiowa, Diné, linocut. Collection of the Tucson Museum of Art. Gift of James T. Bialac.
TMA has had a permanent collection gallery dedicated to the exhibition of Indigenous arts for many years, and recent efforts demonstrate an increased commitment in that area. In March 2021 the Indigenous Arts gallery was completely reinstalled following a collaborative project with a team of Indigenous community curators, reopening with a larger footprint within the museum than past exhibitions and an approach to storytelling that incorporates collaborative stewardship and multivocal interpretation. Concurrent with these visible changes were revisions to TMA’s collections policy, refining a focus on collecting works that are most relevant to surrounding communities, including the Indigenous communities of the Southwest.
“This transformative gift is a pivotal moment in the history of TMA and its ability to represent, elevate, and exhibit Indigenous artists from our region,” said Jeremy Mikolajczak, the Jon and Linda Ender Director and CEO. “This collection will help our visitors enjoy a richer understanding of the people and cultures who have been stewards of this land for generations.”
David Bradley (b. 1954), Chippewa, Another Minnesota Folk Legend, 1987, oil on canvas. Collection of the Tucson Museum of Art. Gift of James T. Bialac.
The Bialac gift is a true Indigenous artistic archive of work that greatly enhances TMA’s existing collection. “This vast collection will be a dream to work with because there are many artists, themes, and ideas to explore for future exhibitions,” says Christine Brindza, Senior Curator, Glasser Curator of Art of the American West. “It represents a survey of Indigenous art being made within the past several decades that is often hard to come by in one place. It’s very exciting.”
The collection will debut in an exhibition in the 2022/23 season. Enduring Legacies: The James T. Bialac Indigenous Art Collection will open January 19, 2023, in the John K. “Jack” Goodman Pavilion. Additional works will be on view in future iterations of the Indigenous Arts Gallery.
Harrison Begay (1917-2012), Diné, Fawn Under a Rainbow, watercolor. Collection of the Tucson Museum of Art. Gift of James T. Bialac.
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