2015 – 2016 Season Exhibitions
Arizona Biennial 2015
July 25, 2015 – October 11, 2015
First organized in 1948, the Arizona Biennial is a juried exhibition that provides an opportunity to see some of the most interesting new work being created in Arizona. For emerging artists, it provides an opportunity to show in a museum setting or to introduce their work to the public for the first time. For established artists, it provides an opportunity for museum visitors to see works that are recognized statewide, nationally, and even internationally. This exhibition is open to artists age 18 and older who currently reside in Arizona. Works are selected by a guest curator through an open call for submissions. The Arizona Biennial 2015 was curated by Irene Hofmann, Director and Chief Curator, SITE Santa Fe, New Mexico. There are 50 works in the exhibition selected from 1,490 works submitted.
Museum as Sanctuary: Perspectives of Resilience
July 17, 2015 – January 3, 2016
This year marks the 20th anniversary of The Hopi Foundation’s Owl & Panther Project, an organization working with refugee families and asylees. The Tucson Museum of Art has worked with the Owl & Panther Project since 2010 and provides a space for these individuals to share their artwork and stories.
Museum as Sanctuary: Perspective of Resilience explores multiple points of view and varied perspectives. Using sculpture, painting, photography, and mixed media participants created personal timelines, sketchbooks, self-portraits, and kites. Through these projects, participants reflect on their creative expression, role in the community, past experiences, present identity, and aspirations for the future. The works of art in this exhibition highlight ways in which individuals can express themselves through art—shining a light on creative expression as a method of fostering resilience.
Banda Calaca: Installation by Hank Tusinski
September 26, 2015 – January 3, 2016
Banda Calaca is a community memorial altar rooted in the Mexican Day of the Dead tradition. This installation, created by Tucson artist Hank Tusinski, is a large-scale, seven piece skeleton band marching atop a platform and beneath a circus tent top. The band marches toward an altar whose central element refers to Teotihuacan culture’s (daily) death of the sun. In Teotihuacan myth, the sun is re-born each morning – underlining the belief in the cycle of life/death/rebirth.
For the past 15 years, Tusinki’s artwork has focused on the Mexican celebration of Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead. Fueled by yearly trips to various Mexico states and a deepening interest in the present-day worldview of Mexican indigenous cultures, Tusinski’s work is informed by Mesoamerican cosmovision (a particular view or understanding of the world, esp. the view of time and space and its ritualized representation and enactment by Mesoamerican peoples) and comunalidad (the principle and practices of communal likeness and the source of indigenous identity and resistance). His art in recent years has expanded to include sculptural installations in the form of altars that celebrate and commemorate these unique cultural traditions. Community members visiting the installation participate in the evolution of the piece by adding notes and/or photographs in memory of their departed loved-ones.
A 2011 journey to the lands of the indigenous P΄urhépecha peoples which surround Lake Pátzcuaro in the state of Michoacán is the well-spring of Banda Calaca. To create each skeleton, Tusinski began with gestural drawings, then welded metal armatures which were then covered with foam and papier mâché, then finally painted. The final installation measures approximately 12 feet high, 25 feet long, and 6 feet wide.
Shen Wei in Black, White, and Gray
October 9, 2015 – December 6, 2016
Choreographer, director, dancer, painter, and designer Shen Wei is internationally renowned for the breadth and scope of his artistic vision. Born in China’s Hunan province in 1968, the son of Chinese opera professionals, Wei was trained from youth in the rigorous practice of Chinese opera performance, traditional Chinese ink painting, and calligraphy, and was a performer with the Hunan State Xian Opera Company from 1984 to 1989.
During his student years, Wei studied Western visual art, which propelled an interest in modern dance. The lead choreographer for the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Wei is the winner of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship (2007); a U.S. Artists Fellow Award; and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, among other international awards.
As a visual artist, Wei has had solo exhibitions in both New York and Hong Kong. Recently, his work was shown at the Crow Collection of Asian Art in Dallas, Texas, and in December of 2014, his work was shown at Miami’s Freedom Tower during the Art Basel/Miami art fair.
The Tucson Museum of Art exhibition will present a selection of Wei’s recent expressive calligraphic works in conjunction with his dance performance November 22, 2015, at Centennial Hall presented by UA Presents.
Western Heroes of Pulp Fiction: Dime Novel to Pop Culture
October 24, 2015 – February 14, 2016
Bang! Bang! To children and adults alike, the imagined West of shoot outs and damsels in distress has been ingrained into the American psyche. This exhibition examines how dime novels, pulp fiction art, comic books, and other forms of visual art created these fictional, often sensational, versions of people, places, and historical events of the West.
Beginning with dime novel covers in the mid-19th century, the wild, fictional West served as the perfect backdrop for stories that captivated imaginations and built legends. Pulp fiction magazines and comic books, which emerged in the early 20th century, continued this trend. Illustrators created cover images of stories in Wild West Weekly, New Western Magazine, and Western Story, among hundreds of other publications available to mass audiences.
These images portrayed stereotypes of Native Americans, cowboys, gunslingers, “delicate woman”, and outlaws, but also perpetuated ideas of violence and prejudice. Along with original Western pulp art and illustrations, the exhibition includes works of today’s artists who look at these materials and incorporate them into their art.
Big Skies/Hidden Stories: Ellen Wagener Pastels
January 16 – June 26, 2016
Inspired by the landscape traditions of the Hudson River School, American Luminism, and twentieth-century Iowa artists, Ellen Wagener is a keen observer of the atmospheric and tactile qualities of the sky and land. Known for her stormy clouds, burning fields, dust storms, and tornadoes moving across prairies and fields, Wagener took a new approach after her move to Arizona in 2001. This exhibition will present works that portray the Arizona landscape, inspired by the “hidden stories” behind the beauty of the land.
String Theory: Contemporary Art and the Fiber Legacy
December 19, 2016 – June 5, 2016
String Theory: Contemporary Art and the Fiber Legacy is a group exhibition that explores the influences of weaving and fiber arts in contemporary art practice. Inspired by traditional techniques and craft-based art forms, contemporary artists have created fiber and mixed media works that pay homage to the past while addressing current issues and aesthetic concerns. This exhibition will coincide with the national Friends of Fiber conference taking place in Tucson February 18 – 21, 2016.
Ai Weiwei: Circle of Animals /Zodiac Heads
February 13, 2016 – June 26, 2016
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is internationally renowned for work that defies the distinction between art and activism. In this installation, Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads: Gold, Ai Weiwei has reinterpreted the twelve bronze animal heads representing the traditional Chinese zodiac that once adorned the famed fountain-clock of the Yuanming Yuan, an imperial retreat in Beijing. Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads is the artist’s first major public sculpture project.
Designed in the 18th century by two European Jesuits serving in the court of the Qing dynasty Emperor Qianlong, the twelve zodiac animal heads originally functioned as a water clock-fountain, located in the magnificent European-style gardens of the Yuanming Yuan. In 1860, the Yuanming Yuan was ransacked by French and British troops, and the heads were pillaged. In re-interpreting these objects on an oversized scale, Ai Weiwei focuses attention on questions of looting and repatriation, while extending his ongoing exploration of the ‘fake’ and the copy in relation to the original.
The Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads: Gold series has been exhibited worldwide since the official launch of the Circle of Animals / Zodiac Heads sculpture project in New York City at the historic Pulitzer Fountain at Grand Army Plaza in May 2011.
Waterflow: Under the Colorado River: Photographs by Kathleen Velo
January 23, 2016 – June 12, 2016
This exhibition presents the new body of work by Arizona photographer Kathleen Velo which expands on her previous explorations of water–its sources and the ramifications of over usage. Water Flow Under the Colorado River focuses on the water flowing in the Colorado River, from its headwaters deep in the Rocky Mountains north of Denver as it travels through five states and empties into the Gulf of California in Mexico. Captured at night as photograms, the photographs reflect the location and the water quality of sites along the Colorado River.
Velo was born in Chicago and lives in Tucson, Arizona. She earned her BFA from the University of Wisconsin and MFA from Vermont College. Growing up in the Midwest where water was plentiful, she moved to the desert Southwest in the 1970s, where she gained a new respect for the transcendent qualities of this life force. As a process-driven artist, Velo has created a simplified technique to maximize her interaction with the natural alchemy of light, chemistry, and space, using camera-less, pinhole and plastic camera techniques to capture her imagery.
Velo’s work has been shown in many galleries and museums nationally and internationally, including the Palace of the Governors Museum in Santa Fe, Tucson Museum of Art, Southeastern Museum of Photography, and The Center for Fine Art Photography. Velo is a Fulbright alumna and teaches traditional and digital photography in Arizona.
Into the Night: Modern and Contemporary Art and the Nocturne Tradition
February 27, 2016 – July 10, 2016
Into the Night: Modern and Contemporary Art and the Nocturne Tradition examines the long tradition of the nocturne in art and how that tradition has expanded to encompass various ways that contemporary artists consider the enigmatic notion of the night. This exhibition – comprised of paintings, photographs, and works on paper – investigates the psychological concepts of darkness, the dreamscape and its connection to the night, and the interconnectedness of the environment with cultural and artistic
discourse. The night is a loaded image and concept associated with mystery, drama, terror, and death. It is also associated with notions of safety, protection, and the womb.
The origins of these broad and conflicting aspects of the night in the form of the nocturne derive from eighteenth-century musical scores composed in several movements meant for performance at night as a kind of serenade. In traditional painting, with equal dreamy, pensive moodiness, nocturnes are visual depictions of the night, in particular the night sky in context with the rural landscape or the architecture of urban areas. Such works are a kind of visual language that acknowledges a keen awareness of place. Each of these approaches has its own unique quality that allows for artistic experimentation and reflection on the human condition as it relates to the idea of darkness.
Permanent and Special Exhibitions in 2015 – 2016:
Welcome to the American West!
Now – Ongoing in the John K. Goodman Pavilion of Western Art and the Count Ferdinand von Galen Gallery
Welcome to the American West!, in the John K. Goodman Pavilion of Western Art and the Count Ferdinand von Galen Gallery, showcases the Museum’s growing and varied collection of American West artwork spanning 200 years to the present. This collection was established in the 1980s with a generous donation of paintings, drawings, and sculpture by Ileen B. and Samuel J. Campbell.
The American West embodies diverse cultures, traditions, and histories that can be traced through many art forms. Artists’ representations help define this unique, awe- inspiring, and sometimes mysterious place. From the early nineteenth century and its age of exploration through the twentieth century with cinema and television, visual arts have provided audiences with glimpses of certain qualities deemed authentically “Western.” From traditional Native American arts such as pottery and woven textiles, to painting and sculpture, artists continue to discover and interpret the rich themes of the American West.
This selection features artworks from Native American artists including Maria Poveka Martinez, Emmi Whitehorse, and Fritz Scholder; late 19th and early 20th century American West painters Charles Marion Russell, Rudolf Cronau, and Maynard Dixon; and contemporary Western artists Howard Post, Ed Mell, and Bill Schenck.
Selections from the Permanent Collection of Pre-Columbian, Spanish Colonial, and Latin American Folk Art
Now – Ongoing in the Palice Gallery of Latin American Art
The Tucson Museum of Art’s Pre-Columbian collection features nearly 600 objects including jewelry, ceremonial vessels, figurines, masks, sculptures, textiles, and feather arts. Collectively, the works represent approximately 3,000 years of history and 30 cultures spanning Mesoamerica (Mexico south through Central America, today’s Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, and El Salvador), the Intermediate Area (Panama, parts of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador), and Central Andean region (Peru and Bolivia). The aim of this online catalogue is to provide a widely accessible, digital resource to support humanities-based scholarship centered upon the Museum’s permanent collection and to highlight the collection’s diversity and scholarly value.
November 21, 2015 – March 20, 2016
El Nacimiento on display in La Casa Cordova is a traditional Mexican nativity scene, an artistic expression originating in Colonial Mexico. For centuries, celebrations of Mexican families have created joyful and colorful Nacimiento displays in their home as a central part of the Christmas celebration.
The largest and longest-running Nacimiento in Southern Arizona, this exhibition is an elaborate and very special version of this cultural inheritance. In an intricate arrangement of hundreds of miniature figures, it combines the symbolism of the Spanish Colonial Catholic Church with the simplicity and faith of everyday existence in rural Mexico. Some of the scenes are from the Christmas story of the Bible; others show traditional Mexican village life with an accuracy that extends even to the tiny replicas of kitchen utensils in the country dwellings. The glow of a myriad of tiny lights binds the multifaceted collection of scenes into a magical fantasy world.
The installation of this beautiful Christmas vision is a labor of love. For many years, Maria Luisa Tena devoted months of loving care each year to preparing and arranging the Nacimiento in memory of her mother. The installation at the Museum is exactly how Maria Luisa lovingly created it herself. Thanks to this devotion, an age-old Mexican family custom is preserved and shared annually with visitors who respond with wonder and delight!