Downtown's Sacred Machine gallery plays host to science-inspired works

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Galina Swords | Arizona Daily Wildcat

Sacred Machine’s intimate front gallery, with its simple clean lines and excellent lighting allows Diaz’s bold work to captivate visitors.

Downtown Tucson is home to an eclectic variety of burgeoning artist galleries, historic buildings and unique venues.

The Sacred Machine Museum and Curiosity Shop is nestled in a small space on east Congress Street, inviting people to investigate what is behind the lush red curtains covering its windows.

Inside is an intimate art gallery featuring the work of prominent local artist and musician Daniel Martin Diaz.

“We were invited to a meeting about the revitalization of Downtown Tucson in February 2010 and it was in the unfinished space where the museum is now,” said Diaz’s wife, Paula Catherine Valencia, who is also the owner and curator. “I whispered into Daniel’s ear that we need to have that space. We never had any intention of opening a museum, but the space called out to me.”

The museum was opened on May 10, 2010 and is home to Diaz’s art. Mostly influenced by science and anatomy, Diaz’s work largely features skulls. “… We don’t really see the museum as dark. I think if people see skulls in art they automatically associate it with darkness. We see it as beauty. There can be beauty in anatomy, the arcane, and even death,” Valencia said.

The collection does have a haunting beauty, with elements that range from historical and religious to modern and scientific, Diaz’s work holds intrigue for guests with a wide variation of interests.

His Soul of Science series, which is featured in his book by the same name, is the first part of the collection museum visitors are introduced to. Occupying the left wall of the front gallery, the Soul of Science brings together qualities in technology, human anatomy and the creation of art, to compose a truly remarkable arrangement.

When asked if she had a favorite piece in the gallery Valencia said, “There are several pieces that are my favorites. I especially like Transmutation and Self-Aware System from the Soul of Science Series.”

Transmutation is indeed one of the stand-out works in the gallery, a drawing featuring the outline of a human profile that is filled with intricate machine-like parts, and mysterious curling veins which flow out into appendages that look as though they’re the roots of a plant. It was created exclusively for the “Soul of Science” book.

According to the Sacred Machine website, Diaz also produced a limited edition print version of Transmutation.

“I was invited by Master Printer Andrew Polk to produce the limited edition stone lithograph “Transmutation” for the University of Arizona. It was an amazing experience,” Diaz said.

For those with interests in the human body, science, art, religion or history, Sacred Machine is a staple to the downtown Tucson art scene.


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