Tucsonans love art, they adore parties, so naturally they go nuts over art parties. Luckily for the town’s party-hearty aesthetes, the visual art season opens with a sparkly series of soirees.
The fun starts this Saturday night, Sept. 1, at two small, feisty galleries at Sixth and Sixth. Raices Taller hosts a Closing Celebration for Chubasco! The entertaining annual monsoon show may not have brought on many rains this dry summer, but the closing party will give it one last chance to open up the heavens. The celebration, from 6 to 9 p.m., goes poetic at 6:30 p.m. with live readings by the Mujeres Que Escriben. Refreshments provided. raicestaller222.com
As one season closes at Raices, another opens down the street at Contreras, where the city’s finest political cartoonists assemble from 6 to 9 p.m. to mark the opening of Rational Lampoons. In this prickly show, the Weekly’s Rand Carlson, the Star’s David Fitzsimmons, aka Fitz, and Gary Asgaard show off their cutting wit, sharp drawings and political smarts. More good food can be had, especially the salsa homemade by painter and gallery co-owner Neda Contreras. contrerashousefineart.com
The parties keep rolling along the following week at the city’s bigger art institutions. On Thursday evening Sept. 6, in a free bash running from 5 to 8 p.m., Tucson Museum of Art bids farewell to its blockbuster Arizona Biennial and to an excellent small show paying tribute to the late Tucson painter James G. Davis. (The two exhibitions close Sept. 16). Three of the Biennial artists make an appearance during the evening: painter Brooke Grucella, who runs the UA’s Joseph Gross contemporary gallery and ceramicist Hirotsune Tashima, a Pima art prof, discuss the links between psychology and contemporary art with psychologist pros. Performance artist YeRin Kim puts on a show live. Also: Hawkinsdance dancers interact with the art; and party-goers get a chance to make their own art. Cash bar. Tucsonmuseumofart.org.
Friday, Sept. 7, kicks off an unusual painting exhibition at the Temple of Music and Art, with an opening reception from 4 to 7 p.m. The Many Sides of Sanasardo introduces the visual art of renowned choreographer Paul Sanasardo, now nearly 90 years old, who once led Israel’s acclaimed Batsheva Dance Company and an eponymous troupe in NY. A serious painter before he turned to dance, Sansardo trained at the Art Institute of Chicago in the late 1940s. One hundred of his lush paintings, curated by Doug Nielsen, a retired UA dance prof who danced with Sansardo, and Tucson painter Craig Cully, will be on view through Sept. 30. arizonatheatre.org/atc-tucson/
At the same time, 5:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 7, renowned photographer Steve McCurry will be giving a free talk at the Center for Creative Photography. McCurry, known for his über-famous portrait “Afghan Girl,” she of the piercing green eyes, does a Q&A with CCP director Anne Breckenridge Barrett. ccp.arizona.edu
The talk is a lead-in to Saturday’s opening reception at Etherton Gallery of a major show of McCurry’s intensely colored photos of life in Asia and the Middle East. McCurry, a new Tucson resident, will be on hand to sign copies of his book Steve McCurry: The Iconic Photographs. The exhibition, The Unguarded Moment, running through Nov. 10, also exhibits Japanese photographer Takeshi Ishikawa’s photos of transgender Hijra communities in India. The gallery’s free art party goes from 7 to 10 p.m. ethertongallery.com.
And at the same time on Sept 8 that the photo fans are chilling at Etherton, MOCA-Tucson stalwarts will be partying hard at a Surrealist Dinner Party inspired by Salvador Dalí’s cookbook, Les Dîners de Gala. Prankster and performance artist David Henry Nobody Jr. is the host of this decadence ball, a fundraiser featuring “an edible buffet of food porn,” hot dogs and a Nobody fashion show of “edible wardrobe malfunctions.” Performances by The Pork Torta & Shooda Shook It; video installations. Tickets $75 before Aug. 31; $100 after. Moca-tucson.org.
We Have Something to Say, a show of political art fresh from a run in Bisbee last spring, transplants itself to Tucson for a short run Oct. 5 to 7 at the Steinfeld Warehouse Community Arts Center. Some 22 Arizona artists—including current and former Tucson Weekly artists Héctor Acuña, Royce Davenport, Rand Carlson, Andy Mosier and Kay Sather—as well as David “Fitz” Fitzsimmons, Barbara Brandel, Michael Hyatt and William Lesch— have plenty to say about the nation’s current state of affairs. The opening reception from 6 to 9 p.m. Oct. 5 features readings by former Tucson Poet Laureate William Pitt Root and poet Pamela Uschuk at 7 p.m. 101 W. Sixth St. www.facebook.com.
Whew. After all this merrymaking, it’s time to turn to the art. Let’s start with the museums. The big show at TMA this fall is “30 Americans: The Rubell Family Collection,” a sweeping gathering of important African American artists active in the last 40 years. Artists include the late Robert Colescott, a painter of lavish works who taught at the UA and who once represented the U.S. at the Venice Biennale; Nick Cave, painter, performance artist and dancer who once worked with Alvin Ailey; painter Kerry James Marshall; and Mickalene Thomas, a multi-media painter who mixes acrylics, enamel and rhinestones. At the museum’s free Thursday evening Dec. 6, the Barbea Williams Performing Company dances and leads activities inspired by the show. Runs Oct. 6 to Jan. 13. Also: Arthur Lazar Photographs, featuring work by a widely published New Mexico artist, and Watercolors from the Art of the American West, early to mid-20th century works drawn from the collection, will both open Sept. 18 and close Sept. 8, 2019. Tucsonmuseumofart.org.
The University of Arizona Museum of Art, still giddy with the recovery last year of the stolen de Kooning painting “Woman-Ochre,”is hosting a cascade of exhibitions this fall. Picture the World, a photography show already up, showcases three series by Turkish artist Burhan Dogançay, including “Walls of the World” and “Brooklyn Bridge and Ironworkers.” Through Dec. 9. Also on view: Frohawk Two Feathers, a.k.a. Umar Rashid, tells the tale of the Frenglish Empire come to Tucson (Sept. 15 to March 24) and the sober Encountering Death examines responses to the end of life (Sept. 29 to Jan. 6). Albrecht Dürer’s engraging “The Sea Monster” is the star of Renaissance Prints from the Permanent Collection. (Oct. 20 to Feb. 17) artmuseum.arizona.edu
Right next door, the UA’s Joseph Gross Gallery, a reliable exhibitor of cutting-edge contemporary art, stages Legacy, a show celebrating its 40th anniversary. Legacy also honors Dr. Joseph Gross, a UA chemistry professor and gallery supporter who loved contemporary art as much as he loved science; the gallery is named for his father. Gross died on Aug. 3, and the planned exhibition became a celebration of his life. Show includes works selected from the gallery’s many exhibitions, by artists include Bailey Doogan of Tucson and Gregory Euclide. Legacy runs Sept. 6 through Nov. 15. A closing reception 4 to 6 p.m. Nov. 15, will pay tribute to Gross. Art.arizona.edu.
Travel mavens Jane and Michael Stern turn up at the Center for Creative Photography in conjunction with the long-running show Longer Ways to Go: Photographs of the American Road. The authors of more than 40 books for hungry travelers will add a culinary angle to an exhibition about the classic road trip. The Sterns’ free talk is at 5:30 p.m., Oct. 25; the exhibition runs through Nov. 24. A second, ongoing show in the new Heritage Gallery, pairs iconic works by old master photographers in the collection—Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, etc.—with new works by contemporary photographers. Be on the lookout for the big Richard Avedon show opening Dec. 15. Ccp.arizona.edu.
Life Along the River: Ancestral Hopi at Homol’ovi at theArizona State Museum is a comprehensive exhibition of artifacts and maps, enhanced by the voices of today’s Hopi, that tells of Hopi life in the 1300s along Arizona’s Little Colorado River. The show is based on 30 years of fieldwork by the Homol’ovi Research Program, directed by Dr. E. Charles Adams.A companion photography show, The Resiliency of Hopi Agriculture: 2000 Years of Planting, examines Hopi farming practices. Both shows run through June 29. statemuseum.arizona.edu.
Once the surrealist supper gets packed away, MOCA Tucson will swivel to a decidedly different art movement. Blessed Be: Mysticism, Spirituality, and the Occult in Contemporary Art “explores religion, ritual, cult mentality and the human impulse to belong and participate.” Curated by director Ginger Shulick Porcella, the exhibition includes about 19 artists. Alison Blickle uses oils and ceramics to conjure women performing ceremonies. Adam Cooper-Terán creates a ritual site; the one-name artist Cassils crafts a “Ghost.” The show opens Sept. 15 (another shindig!), with members arriving at 7 p.m. and the public at 8, and closes Dec. 30.
On the Sixth and Sixth gallery scene, Davis Dominguez revs up the fall season with Lay of the Land (Sept. 21 to Nov. 3), a cornucopia of landscapes by painters James P. Cook, Eric Twachtman and the late Bruce McGrew, and mixed-media photo artist Keith Marroquin. The opening party is delayed until Oct. 6, when Davis Dominguez joins up with other members of the Central Tucson Gallery Association for The Big Picture, an evening of multiple gallery openings. Next, painter Alfred Quiroz and printmaker Katherine Polk fill the space with Alternate View works, from Nov. 9 to Dec. 29. Reception is Nov. 17. Davisdominguez.com.
At Contreras, following September’s Rational Lampoons, Tacos y Tamales debuts at The Big Picture, Oct. 6, and remains up through the month. November brings eight photographers,including Charles Hedgcock, famous for his photos of glistening black-and-white bugs, as well as border landscapes. Sacred and profane Milagros will fill the gallery in December and January. contrerashousefineart.com.
Raices Taller goes political in the months before the midterms, with Cruzando Lineas/Crusando Fronteras (Crossing Lines/Crossing Borders), a mixed-media group show that “addresses the plight of immigrants and refugees.” Running Sept. 8 to Oct. 20, the gallery gears up at The Big Picture, Oct. 6. A festive closing celebration Oct. 20 will feature music and pot luck refreshments.
November’s Día de los Muertos show debuts joyfully on Nov. 2, 6 to 9 p.m., with mariachi music, a pot luck and a candlelit blessing. Families and organizations display their Day of the Dead altars and ofrendas, and artists contribute works carrying out the theme.
Downtown, after the McCurry/Ishikawa show comes down, Etherton Gallery opens Danny Lyon: The American Southwest and Mexico. The show includes photographs that have never before been exhibited, as well as images that were featured in Lyon’s recent international traveling retrospective exhibition Message to the Future. Etherton again partners with the Center for Creative Photography. This time around the CCP will screen Lyon’s movie Wanderer, on Nov. 16, time to be determined. etherton.com; ccp.arizona.edu.
Glass artist Tom Philabaum is still creating, and his glass rocks and flowers are climbing the walls at his downtown Philabaum Glass Gallery & Studio. The current show features 35 glass artists hailing from points all around the country. After the long, hot summer, art makers will fire up the furnace on Sept. 5 and start glass-blowing again in the studio. Visitors who want to watch can call 520-884-7404 to confirm dates and times. Philabaumglass.com
Arte de la Vida/Galería Senita came up with a cool idea: an art show based on the popular Mexican Lotería card game. The twist is that artists had to make Lotería cards adorned with images that represent Tucson: think places, plants, people and food. The resulting Loteríade Tucson 2018 opens Oct. 5 with a reception and continues until Nov. 24. artedelavidatucson.com
Over at the Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery at Pima College West, curator extraordinaire David Andres has put together a show on the sky, poetically named Cielo. The six artists all look to the heavens differently and use different media. Alejandra Platt, Bill Lesch and Tom Willett are photographers; Rebecca Wilder is a painter; Joan Marum is a sculptural constructionist who works with soda cans; and Iolandra Palmer makes installations of cut paper and wood. The show runs from Sept. 4 to Oct. 5; a 5 p.m. reception on Sept. 13 will be followed by a talk by Palmer at 7 p.m. Sustained Visions, Oct. 29 to Dec. 7, honors five celebrated Tucson arts who’ve been in the game a long time: painters Bailey Doogan, Jim Waid and Barbara Rogers; glass artist Tom Philabaum; and sculptor Fred Borcherdt. A reception on Nov. 1 at 5 p.m. will include a gallery talk. pima.edu/cfa.
Two women who paint works about Tucson will join forces in an exhibition at the westside YWCA Frances McClelland Community Center. Native Tucsonan Lisa Kanouse, partially influenced by Mexican folk art, paints wild images of downtown buildings. Transplant Jacqueline Chanda cites the influence of her teacher, the renowned Richard Diebenkorn, in her loose, painterly works. Show runs Sept. 18 to Jan. 1; reception is 6 to 8 p.m., Sept. 21. ywcatucson.org/contact/
Kate Breakey, a prodigiously gifted photographer and mixed-media artist who lives outside Tucson, exhibits works from her Trees series at the Legacy Gallery in the Tucson Botanical Gardens. A collaboration with Etherton, Breakey’s usual gallery, Trees runs Oct. 1 to Jan. 13. tucsonbotanical.org.
Just last week, Tohono Chul Park opened Sonoran Stories, a big group exhibition whose many artists interpreted the stories both mythical and factual in our borderlands. “Behind every rock,” writes curator James Schaub, “stories abound.” Artists include Patrick Hynes, Alonso Delgadillo, Robert Renfrow and Jeremy Frey. Runs until Nov. 7. A second show, Call and Response III, highlights fine objects in the permanent collection made by indigenous people. Through Sept. 30.
During the art season, don’t forget to ferret out the open studio tours that pop up in suburban garages and downtown warehouses alike. The Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance runs a self-guided tour to locations south of River Road on Oct. 27 and 27; a second tour, north of River Road, is Nov. 3 and 4. openstudiotours.com. Keep your eyes peeled for other open studios in the neighborhoods and downtown.
Let us close with the biggest art party of all. GLOW! 2018 Nighttime Art Experience sprawls over four different Saturday nights, each one close to the nights of the full moon. Set at the lovely Triangle L Ranch in Oracle, GLOW is part art exhibition, with art lovers wandering desert paths to see sculptures lit up by the moon; part music concert; part costume party; and part food fest.
The nights of fun and their themes are Sept. 22 (GLOWflorescece); Sept. 29 (Steampunk GLOW!); Oct. 20 (Wild Kingdom GLOW!) and Oct. 27 (GLOWeen!) Take your pick or go to them all.
And on the drive up, don’t forget to look at nature’s own art: the moon rising over the Catalinas.