Downtown exhibit showcases Arizona artists

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Downtown Tucson features many specialty art galleries and traveling exhibits that add to the impressive collection of art already available to students at the UA.

Running now through Sept. 29 at the Tucson Museum of Art, Arizona Biennial 2013 is a selective exhibit that only displays the work of highly talented Arizona-based artists. Chief Curator Julie Sasse said this year’s pieces are of the highest quality.

“[The artists’] work is on par with the best work being produced in this country, while still retaining unique aspects of our special geographic, conceptual, political and cultural place in the world,” Sasse said.

Sasse also stressed the importance of the opportunities the Biennial creates in showcasing local artists.

“The Tucson Museum of Art is committed to supporting artists from this region and showcasing their work in its myriad forms,” she explained. “The Biennial is one of the few exhibitions where one can see such a wonderful variety of quality video art, installations, works on paper and canvas, ceramics, sculpture and photography — all created by Arizona artists.”

Tucson-based artist Daniel Martin Diaz’s piece titled “Self-Aware System” was among those selected to appear in the exhibition this year.

In the work, Diaz takes a unique approach to the typical anatomical figure sketch. He not only explores the layers of the human body through the intricate details of muscle fibers and tiny heart veins, but also entwines religious and scientific symbolism to prompt a deeper emotional reaction in the viewer.

Part of the magic of Diaz’s work is its quiet balance of human emotion, scientific knowledge and historical mysticism — on one side of the drawing, a heart valve leads to a tiny fetus with a crown of thorns upon its head.

“I was excited and honored to have my piece … accepted,” Diaz said. “It is one of the signature drawings from my new series of drawings, which my wife and I self-published into a book titled ‘Soul of Science.’”

Diaz’s artwork is just one piece among a varied selection of mediums and aesthetics that visitors can appreciate at this year’s Arizona Biennial exhibit.

The guest juror for 2013 was René Paul Barilleaux, chief curator and curator of art after 1945 at the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio. Barilleaux selected the 80 pieces now on exhibit out of more than 1,250 submissions, with the aim of representing the varied talents of artists throughout Arizona, he said.

“Hopefully, one sees in the 2013 edition of the Arizona Biennial this curator’s attempt at … assembling an exhibition that both well-represents artists working in Arizona and offers a cohesive perspective,” Barilleaux said in his personal juror statement.

The exhibit reveals “the broad range of images, approaches, and materials employed by artists presently living and working in the state,” he wrote. As a distinctive representation of the creativity of the Southwest, the Arizona Biennial exhibit should be a draw for any art student or enthusiast looking to explore what Tucson has to offer beyond the UA campus.

“This exhibition allows us all to celebrate Arizona’s rich cultural heritage,” Sasse said.

Admission to the Tucson Museum of Art is $5 for university students with ID and $10 for the general public, but anyone can visit the museum for free on the first Sunday of every month.


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