Biennial local art exhibition at TMA continues to Oct. 2

June 13, 2011

The Tucson Museum of Art once again is staging its “Arizona Biennial,” the museum’s tradition every other year of supporting the arts in Arizona by highlighting many of the talented artists working in the state.

Arizona Biennial ‘11 will be on view at the Tucson Museum of Art from June 25 to October 2.  It is considered the longest running juried biennial in Arizona,

The museum culled 75 works from 45 artist out of the 1,318 art works submitted by 476 artists to create the show. These include two videos by Simon Donovan, and a performance piece by artist Gary Setzer that will be performed at Art After Dark on June 24 at 8:00 pm.

Most of the artists are from Tucson however other cities represented are Phoenix, Tempe, Jerome, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Gilbert, Bisbee, Tubac, and Sedona.

Some of the artists have been selected for previous Biennials and have established names, and some have never been shown in a museum environment. 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” and “Cathedral Rock” are sensual abstractions in lush and colorful striations of thick, even pigment. Kelsey Viola Wiskirchen’s  ”A Week in Review” is a thought-provoking sculptural work created by weaving a long roll of newspaper print, obscuring the message within.

A.T. Willett’s powerful large-scale photograph, “Larger than Life” pays homage to the strength and character of beloved congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords.

In each work presented in this exhibition, a breadth of 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. 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 will also be on view from June 11 to September 18.

“Faces of Transformation: Mexican Masks from the Lazar Collection” represent 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.

The Museum is open Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm and Sunday 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm. The first Sunday of each month is free. It is located at 140 North Main Avenue in historic downtown Tucson and can be found on the web at

by Teya Vitu