The Tucson Museum of Art is proud to continue the tradition of supporting the arts in Arizona by highlighting many of the talented artists working in the state. Considered the longest running juried biennial in Arizona, the Arizona Biennial 2011 is on exhibit at the Tucson Museum of Art, 140 N. Main Ave. in downtown Tucson, now through Oct. 2.
The exhibition is an opportunity for artists in the region to gain broad exposure for their work. Of the 476 artists who entered with 1,318 objects, 45 artists were selected to show a total of 75 works. They include two videos by artist Simon Donovan, and a performance piece by artist Gary Setzer that was performed on June 24.
Most of the artists are from Tucson; however, other cities represented are Phoenix, Tempe, Jerome, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Gilbert, Bisbee, Tubac and Sedona. Together they help show Arizona’s artistic strengths, trends, and the potential of our art and artists.
This year’s selections tap into the aesthetic tradition of abstraction, examine the poetics of space, express semiotic structures of sign and signifier, and reveal broad interpretations of the human condition.
For example, Michael Stack’s two large paintings, “Bathers,” 2010 and “Cathedral Rock,” 2010, are sensual abstractions in lush and colorful striations of thick, even pigment. Kelsey Viola Wiskirchen’s “A Week in Review,” 2010, is a thought-provoking sculptural work created by weaving a long roll of newspaper print, obscuring the message within.
And A. T. Willett’s powerful large-scale photograph, “Larger than Life,” 2010, pays homage to the strength and character of Congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords. In each work presented in this exhibition, a thoughtful meaning is conceived and executed with intellectual sophistication and technical mastery.
To give a fresh perspective, a juror from outside the state was chosen to make the selections. This year’s guest curator was Anne Ellegood, senior curator at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, Calif.
In addition to being the Arizona Biennial 2011 guest curator, she organized the sixth Hammer Invitational exhibition, “All of This and Nothing,” with chief curator Douglas Fogle. It featured the work of 14 artists, half of whom are based in Los Angeles and the other half from around the world. Ellegood is also serving as the curator for the Australian Pavilion for the 2011 Venice Biennale, presenting the work of Sydney-based Hany Armanious.
Two exhibitions of work from the Museum’s permanent collection are also on view from now through Sept. 18. “Faces of Transformation: Mexican Masks” from the Lazar Collection represents beautifully crafted folk art objects that reflect the deep cultural heritage of masks and dance traditions in Mexico. The collection was recently gifted to the Tucson Museum of Art.
“The Legacy of Surrealism: Selections from the Permanent Collection” presents works by several artists who are identified as Surrealists along with modern and contemporary artists who have been influenced by Surrealist philosophy and stylistic tendencies.
For more information, visit www.tucsonmuseumofart.org.