Best Art Gallery--TIE
Tucson Museum of Art
140 N. Main Ave.
135 S. Sixth Ave.
READERS' AND STAFF PICK: In a surprise race, the reinvigorated
Tucson Museum of Art caught up to perennial favorite Etherton
Gallery and ended up tying with the gallery for first place.
(Our staff stuck with Etherton, voting it alone the Best Art Gallery,
although we like the Museum, too.) TMA technically shouldn't even
be in the running in this category--a big institution with a long
history, a board and some measure of public funding has many advantages
over a small private art gallery--but who's quibbling? TMA has
been doing a bang-up job lately, balancing contemporary art shows
with traditional and historic exhibitions. The past season saw
the TMA veering from the disquieting, modernist meditations of
painter John Wenger (who had the solo Stonewall show) to the charming
New Mexican tin art displayed at Christmas time. And who can forget
the smelly snails in Joyan Saunders' room-size installation in
the spring? The Saunders show was one in a commendable series
of shows by local artists. It's true TMA keeps showing a lot of
that cowboy and cowgirl art (we hear the cattle crowd on the board
is always feuding with the contemporary art lovers) but director
Robert Yassin has come up with an ingenious compromise. The western
art is being transferred over to a historic building in the museum
block, freeing up more space in the main building for changing
exhibitions. Over at Etherton, the season was an entertaining
and educational journey through the history of photography, filled
out by some knockout painting exhibitions. The opening show celebrated
the wandering photographer: We glimpsed the hollow eyes of mountain
people in Appalachia and the broken limbs of war victims in Cambodia.
At Christmas, we learned how photographers have captured motion,
starting with Eadweard Muybridge's early experiments on up to
Harold Edgerton's famous exploding drop of milk. Transcendent
landscape photographer Christopher Burkett showed us the sacred
in the details of nature and mixed media painter Jeffrey Jonczyk
celebrated the kooky rhythms of the city. Pinturae fabulosae
Bailey Doogan and Holly Roberts finished off the season, Doogan
with her riveting paintings of women's bodies and Roberts with
her haunting paintings-on-photographs of bodies and beasts and
READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: WomanKraft, 388 S. Stone Ave.