Tag: tucson museum of art

‘Arizona Biennial 2015’ Opens at Tucson Museum of Art

July 26th, 2015 | No Comments

arizona biennial 2015 opens at tucson museum of art
Now on view in Arizona Biennial 2015: Confluent, The Lake a Lilac Cube, and A New Way of Thinking About Everything by Grant Wiggins.

Arizona Biennial 2015 was unveiled at Tucson Museum of Art on Friday night, and I was absolutely delighted to experience the show in person at the opening night celebration.

You’ll be able to find the three paintings I’m showing at the very end of the exhibition — where the abstract works are located — on what I believe is the museum’s tallest wall. I fondly call this the “Great Wall.” It has an epic, almost monolithic quality, and for me holds a special meaning.

In 2007, I showed my painting ff0000turo in this exact same location. Having the opportunity to exhibit here eight years later, on the full breadth of the wall, I could not ask for more. I feel both a circularity and a sense of advancement — an awareness of how much my work, my thinking, and my life has changed.

arizona biennial 2015 opens at tucson museum of art
A return to Tucson Museum of Art’s “Great Wall”: From left, ff0000uturo in Arizona Biennial 2007 and the same wall today.

The curator of Arizona Biennial 2015 is Irene Hofmann, Phillips Director and Chief Curator of SITE Santa Fe. For this exhibition, 530 Arizona artists submitted nearly 1,500 works. Ms. Hofmann selected 50 works by 33 artists.

In her statement discussing her curation of the exhibition, Ms. Hofmann observes that while she “didn’t initially set out to develop a thematically structured show,” several “strains of exploration” emerged in her review of works submitted. The show is arranged according to those themes.

Works that reflect upon nature, and humankind’s impact upon it, open Arizona Biennial 2015. The theme of reclamation is later explored by works that give new life to discarded materials, as well as overlooked, everyday objects. Violence and control are then addressed in a variety of media.

At the conclusion of the exhibition — where my work hangs along with sublime paintings by Mike Stack and Angie Zielinski — “the Seduction of painting offers the last word,” Ms. Hofmann affirms. By exploring color, design, and imaginary worlds, she writes, these abstract pieces “insist on the enduring power of painting and offer us the reprieve of visual delight.”

arizona biennial 2015 opens at tucson museum of art
The sedution of painting: Abstract works by Grant Wiggins, Angie Zielinski (right), and Mike Stack conclude the show.

I am deeply honored to be showing in Arizona Biennial 2015. It is energizing and inspiring to be exhibiting among so many gifted, accomplished artists, who were united by masterful curatorial judgment. I offer my gratitude to Ms. Hofmann and the entirety of the Tucson Museum of Art’s staff, who have staged an exhibition that proudly represents the artistic currents flowing through our state.

‘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!

Exhibition catalog for ‘Thanks for Being with Us’

July 25th, 2010 | 3 Comments

thanks for being with us exhibition catalog

A high point of my recent trip to Tucson Museum of Art (TMA), to see the opening of Thanks for Being with Us: Contemporary Art from the Douglas Nielsen Collection, was picking up the exhibition’s impressive catalog in the museum’s bookstore. This is a very thoughtfully produced volume, and I credit TMA Chief Curator Julie Sasse for leading the effort to produce it. Likewise, I thank those who generously provided financial support to publish the catalog.

Turning the corner into the bookstore and seeing the stack of catalogs (above) was an amazing feeling — an experience I shall not forget. I was so happy to see Doug Nielsen — the collector who made the exhibition possible — photographed among his works in his Tucson loft. What’s more, to see my painting between the covers made me think about what it was like when I first started painting, so many years ago. I never had any intention of showing my work, let alone in a museum, or be shown in a museum catalog between Andy Warhol and Joel-Peter Witkin!

The catalog opens with a dialogue between Sasse and Nielsen, covering how Nielsen got started as a collector, why he collects, why he doesn’t sell pieces in his collection, and advice to other collectors (“Buy what you like and what you can afford!” he urges.). There’s also one paragraph where he discusses the emerging artists in his collection, myself being one of them. (Pardon the self-absorption — I just think Nielsen has a pretty interesting perspective here.)

Sasse: Some of the artists are already famous when you get them and others are emerging. Does that give you a feeling of satisfaction that you might be nurturing some new talent?

Nielsen: Oh it’s always nice. Like Grant Wiggins and Vonn Sumner have current shows in California, and I’m happy to hear it, because I know how hard they work. You know, an artist works primarily alone in the studio. I’m with dancers all the time. Choreographers need people; artists need paint. You know it’s very different; it’s almost anti-social, like writing. It’s between you and the canvas or you and the page. And I always think how isolating it must be to be by yourself, and then have to bring everything out and put it on the wall. It’s like your guts, it’s like your whole psyche is being exposed.

Nielsen makes a very perceptive point — one I had not given much thought before. Painting can be really anti-social! In fact, you need to be anti-social — to tune everything out, and shut yourself in — to be able to have the focus to get it right. While maintaining an inward focus is imperative to painting, it’s also very difficult to coax myself out of that anti-social purview, so that I can participate in the world around me. I haven’t put much thought into it, but, now that I think about it, shifting between private and public spheres can be very challenging.

Thanks for Being with Us: Contemporary Art from the Douglas Nielsen Collection will be on display at Tucson Museum of Art through October 10, 2010. Take some time to check it out if you can.

‘Hands’ now showing in ‘Thanks for Being with Us’ at Tucson Museum of Art

July 18th, 2010 | No Comments

thanks for being with us at tucson museum of art

On Friday evening Tucson Museum of Arts hosted the opening of Thanks for Being with Us: Contemporary Art from the Douglas Nielsen Collection. I was there to celebrate the occasion, and to congratulate Doug Nielsen, a University of Arizona dance professor who owns two of my paintings.

In this exhibition I am showing Hands, a 2004 acrylic-on-canvas painting that represents the beginning of the end of my early neo-pop art style. Overall, 75 artists are in this show, which will be on view at Tucson Museum of art through October 10, 2010.

To be showing my work among legends of contemporary art — John Baldessari, Annie Leibovitz, Raymond Pettybon, Ed Ruscha, Cindy Sherman, and Andy Warhol — was a remarkable feeling. To see one of my paintings in the same catalog as these artists was an utterly amazing, as well.

As I left the museum, I felt as if I had turned a corner in my life as an artist. I felt as if I had made it. I could “hang with the gang,” so to speak. A torch-bearing angry mob, chanting “Take it down!” never appeared next to my painting.

I am proud to call Nielsen one of my collectors. He is a straightforward, genuine and generous person. What’s more, his philosophy on collecting art is equally genuine: He buys what he enjoys seeing. He’s the furthest remove from those who collect art based on perceived value. He’s a true collector.

I also thank Shawn Miller, also a collector of my art, for his generosity in making the exhibition catalog possible.

Postscript, August 8, 2010: Please take a moment to view this video profile of Doug Nielsen, produced by the University of Arizona.

Postscript, August 25, 2010: An interview with Doug Nielsen by the University of Arizona’s student newspaper, the Arizona Daily Wildcat.