Best Art Gallery

Etherton Gallery
135 S. Sixth Ave. 330 S. Scott Ave.

READERS' PICK: One of the more gratifying transformations to take place in Tucson over the last few years has been the plethora of art galleries to spring up in and around the downtown area. One of the most established is the Etherton Gallery, with both the gallery proper on Sixth Avenue and a satellite location in the upper level of the Temple of Music and Art. Featuring the work of local, national and international artists in media ranging from textiles to neon, Etherton's shows are invariably avant garde. We almost always leave Etherton lamenting our lack of disposable income. Until we win the lottery, we're glad to have Terry Etherton curating the living room to which we'd like to become accustomed. There's nothing sterile about this space: From the warm yellow walls and wooden staircase of the entryway into the naturally lit open studio with those beautiful polished wood floors, art viewing has never been more inviting--just four walls and a wide open space for interpretation. Be sure to stop by next time you're meandering around Downtown Saturday Night.

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Tucson Museum of Art, 140 N. Main Ave.

STAFF PICK: We hate to stray from the Downtown Arts District, which needs all the help from the arts that it can get, but Davis Dominguez, 6812 N. Oracle Road, is a foothills gallery that's hardly your run-of-the-mill foothills gallery. Its typical office-plaza location on North Oracle is not exactly our cup of tea, but for nigh on 20 years now, Davis Dominguez has been a foot soldier in the continuing struggle to promote Tucson artists. The gallery, run by wife-and-husband team Candice Davis and Mike Dominguez, has about eight shows a year, almost all of them showcasing locals drawn from the gallery's strong circle of artists. The exhibitions typically feature such top-of-the-line Tucsonans as James Cook, Bruce McGrew, Joy Fox and Ben Goo, but the gallery is also committed to showing young newcomers. Each fall they kick off the season with the annual New Artists Series, introducing the work of at least one young hopeful. And each and every summer, Davis Dominguez runs the Tucson Collects shows, a now-classic summer sampler of Tucson talents, offering up tiny works by some 70 local artists. Our favorite last year was a Christmastime showing of butter-thick Arizona paintings by Cook.

A PERFECT 10: A couple of years ago, Beth Wachtel and Rob Sidur left Connecticut to find a place with cheap rent that was amenable to progressive photography. Luckily for us they decided to stop in Tucson and found BeRo (for BEth and ROb) Gallery, 41 S. Sixth Ave. Most of the year it's dedicated to non-traditional photography, and in the summer to a blending of art forms, including experimental music, film, and their annual "Poet's Gallery" of works combining words and images. Some of the most memorable shows of the last year include True Fiction by Ken Rosenthal, which featured color ink-jet prints transferred to wood to make unusual, pixelated monoprints; Light Cone, an experimental film/performance by Stacey Richter featuring a 16mm film of a white circle on a black background projected out the door of the gallery, with smoke blown across the field of projection to produce an eerie, lighted tunnel; and Cheap Camerawork, Gordon Stettinius and Woody Woodroof's use of cheap cameras with limited focal range to produce unusual, blurry pictures that attempted to move beyond the monolithic grasp of Kodak paper, processing and products. While the UA Center for Creative Photography provides a showcase for some of the biggest names in photography in the country, BeRo acts as a necessary supplement, reminding us of what can be done beyond traditional methods by artists working at the fringes of the form.

Case History

1998 Winner: Etherton Gallery
1997 Winner: Etherton Gallery
1995 Winner: Tie: Tucson Museum of Art + Etherton Gallery

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