Tag: douglas nielsen

‘A Show of Hands’ at Tucson Museum of Art

September 20th, 2013 | No Comments

a show of hands at tucson museum of art

My 2005 neo-pop painting, Hands, will be on view throughout this fall and early winter at the Tucson Museum of Art, in the exhibition A Show of Hands.

As one might expect, this show will bring together works of art — paintings, photography, works on paper, and sculptures — that explore the metaphorical potential of hands. A partial list of artists included in this exhibition includes Fernand Léger, Alice Briggs, Enrique Chagoya, Robert Colescott, Dan Collins, Bailey Doogan, Enrique Martinez Celaya, Christopher Pelley, Craig Smith, Buffie Saint-Marie, and others, including yours truly.

Looking back, I consider Hands a transitional painting in the evolution of my work, for it’s one of my last true pop art paintings. Following the tried-and-true path of painting what one knows, Hands is a mash-up of packaging elements from household products — including Reynolds aluminum foil, instructional illustrations on the back of a noodle packet, and the bubbles found on a box of cleaning product.

Bringing these elements together, this painting could just as easily be titled “The Pure Products of America Go Crazy” — the great opening line from the poem “To Elsie” by William Carlos Williams. It seems to ask, what if everyday products were to go haywire, in a hallucinatory way? Perhaps this painting pokes fun at the gimmickry of consumerism, and perhaps it also points the way to an imagined world where everyday products could be completely unpredictable.

This marks my sixth time exhibiting at Tucson Museum of Art over the past 10 years. In addition to participating in the 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2009 editions of the Arizona Biennial, I also showed in Thanks for Being with Us: Contemporary Art from the Douglas Nielsen Collection, in 2010.

A Show of Hands opens September 21, 2013 and will remain on view through February 9, 2014. More details at tucsonmuseumofart.org.

Farewell to ‘Thanks for Being with Us’

October 15th, 2010 | No Comments

Sunday, October 10 marked the closing of Thanks for Being with Us: Contemporary Art from the Douglas Nielsen Collection, which had been on view at Tucson Museum of Art (TMA) since mid-July.

Bringing a spirit of celebration and closure to the exhibition, Nielsen — a professor of dance at University of Arizona — choreographed a dance titled Looking Up/Looking Down. Performed by 24 University of Arizona dancers, the piece was conceived with the TMA’s signature, spiraling square ramp in mind. With characteristic inventiveness, Nielsen intended for the performance to be viewed from above. Shoulder-to-shoulder, with little room to spare, the audience watched enthusiastically from the concrete helix.

Thanks for Being with Us Closing Dance: Looking Up, Looking Down
Hundreds gathered to view Looking Up / Looking Down, the dance choreographed by Doug Nielsen to accompany Thanks for Being with Us. In the distance is one of my paintings, Hands.

A physically demanding performance that is accompanied by numerous tempo changes and otherworldly sound effects, Looking Up/Looking Down references many of the works in Thanks for Being with Us. Dancers twist their mouths in homage of Bruce Nauman’s Studies for Holograms series. They point up toward the audience just as the boy points to his obeisant pet chick in Dean Styers’s Now Do You Understand? Rubbing their hands together, dancers re-enact my neopop artwork, Hands.

“With dance, when it’s over, it’s gone! But your painting will remain!” Doug remarked to me in an after-dance chat. He observes this essential fact in the exhibition’s catalog, as well: “… [Artists] can get famous after they die, my dances evaporate. There is something about the permanence of visual art. […] When I wake up in the morning, the art on the wall is still here, but my dance at Stevie Eller [Dance Theater] has disappeared. I go back to the studio and there is nothing there — it is a totally empty space.”

To be sure, dance is an in-the-moment, ephemeral medium. It must be experienced in time, much like film. Conversely, a painting can remain on a wall indefinitely. However, there is no guarantee that a painting will survive time. Ask any museum conservator that! Likewise, we change, as viewers. Our personal, individual relationships to any given work of art will change throughout our lives.

I am sure I am not alone in admitting that I was sad to say goodbye to the show. It is frightening how quickly time passes; not long ago, I was envisioning the exhibition as if it were several months away. Now it is a memory. Like all things, fleeting and impermanent.

I am thankful to have been there.

Douglas Nielsen, Art Collector

September 9th, 2010 | No Comments

I’d like you to meet Douglas Nielsen, a collector of my art who is the unifying force behind the 75 works of art on display in Thanks for Being with Us: Contemporary Art from the Douglas Nielsen Collection, at Tucson Museum of Art (TMA) through October 10, 2010.

The following video offers a glimpse into the life of a person who collects art with a passion — buying art that interests him, not promises a return on investment. His collection — which includes hundreds of works from legendary and lesser-known artists of our time alike — completely eclipses the walls of his Tucson loft.

A professor of dance at University of Arizona, Nielsen is one of the most genuine, tuned-into-the-moment persons you could meet. And I don’t say this because he owns two of my paintings: Hands (in the current TMA show) and Open System (in the 2009 Arizona Biennial at the TMA). I truly admire Nielsen for his open-mindedness, willingness to take creative risks as a choreographer, and enthusiasm for learning and changing as a person.

Despite his wealth of professional accomplishments in the field of dance (recipient of four fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, for starters), he is remarkably down-to-earth and approachable.

I’m proud to call Douglas Nielsen one of my collectors. But don’t take my word for it. Watch the video!