With the air balmy and the skies sunny, it's time to take an art stroll. Here's a look at three galleries all in the 100 block of East Sixth Street, between Sixth and Seventh avenues.
Rosanna Marmont traded the green rural landscapes of her New Zealand childhood for the dry vistas of the American Southwest.
After spending her teenage years in Canada and studying art at Concordia University in Montreal, Marmont decamped to Tucson, where she's been painting Arizona landscapes.
Her big oils on wood, now on view at the year-old Gallery 2 Sun, seem at first to check off all the boxes in conventional Western landscapes.
In "Looking North," for example, a brand new oil on maple, she paints big skies, vast spaces and brilliant sun. Her wooden "canvas"—a long horizontal almost 7 feet long—seems as sweeping as the land itself.
But Marmont more often subverts the landscape genre, adding in the real-life encroachments that we prefer to "edit out" of our wilderness, as she puts in in an artist's statement.
"Navajo Power Plant," from 2018, an oil on birch, drops a generating station right in the middle of a vast stretch of desert. Marmon lets the plant sneak up on you. First you admire the big view of Navajo Nation land, with skies opening up over a distant horizon, subtly rendered in earth-toned beiges, browns and ochres. But eventually you spot the towers of the power plant. Dwarfed by the immense landscape, the towers belch out smoke, despoiling the once-pure wilderness.
"Navajo," also big at 4 feet wide by 7 feet tall, featuring a dazzling sunset, with clouds lit by the dwindling sun, and earth below, zeroes in on the contradiction between the Southwest's natural beauty and its human struggles. It takes a minute to see the banged-up old trailer hugging this lovely land, and the power lines in the distance. There's poverty amidst the richness of the terrain.
Marmont also tunes into poverty closer to home, painting sun-drenched trailer parks in Tucson. Delicately colored in whites and pastels, these captivating works emphasize the blocky geometry of the mobile homes. Some of these parks, with names like "Adobe Manor Mobile Lodge," are inhabited by footloose seniors, but many are the tumbledown homes of the Old Pueblo's poorest.
Marmont's imaginative technique also deserves attention. She layers the oils in her paintings so thin that the wavy grains of the wood underneath are visible. Part stained wood, part painting, the dual-identity works mirror the contradictions in the lands they depict.
Manifest Destiny: Rosanna Marmont continues through April 27 at Gallery 2 Sun, 100 E. Sixth St. Open 1 to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Free. 360-8074; gallery2sun.com.
A few foors away at
Davis Dominguez Gallery, painter Jenny Day has a major exhibition of large-scale paintings and small collages. An MFA graduate of the UA, Day has been rising rapidly in the art world on the strength of her fractured landscape paintings.
I first saw Day's work at a show at the Tucson Botanical Gardens six years ago, and called it an "exhilarating solo show of energetic paintings by an ambitious young painter." That's still true.
Her new acrylic and mixed media paintings are filled with discordant objects. In "Bifurcated Translation," a powder blue pick-up is atop a swimming pool in what looks like a wintry landscape. A golden arch that seems half McDonald's, half church architecture, presides over a junk yard overflowing with chopped-up computer screens and record albums in "Miscalibration: Sacred Profane."
But these pieces are more kaleidoscopic than these descriptions make them sound. The elements are topsy-turvy, cut-off, stretched out, floating here and there, like images in a dream, or a nightmare. As the exhibition's notes suggest, these are broken, cubist-inspired landscapes.
The colors are intoxicating: fuchsia red atop the truck's pale blue, brilliant green leaves against white. And in a strange homage to an upside-down white horse (the painting "Startup Prometheus, horse horse unicorn"), hot pink flowers lie against blood red.
An array of small collages clues us in a bit to the artist's process. They're made of cut paper, with found images clipped from magazines or advertisements, perhaps, alongside drawings and painting scraps of her own. Day takes these fragments and assembles them into compositions that may defy physics and logic, but hold the power to excavate memory and dreams.
On Our Watch: Environmental Group Show, featuring Day's paintings and collages, lithographs by Andy Polk and sculpture by John Davis, continues through April 20 at Davis Dominguez, 154 E. Sixth St. Open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Free. 629-9759; davisdominguez.com.
In between gallery 2 sun
and Davis Dominguez, the Contreras Gallery is in the last days of a popular show by watercolorist Frank S. Rose. Now 91 years old, the long-time Tucson painter and retired preacher regularly hikes the Catalina Mountains and occasionally leads trail hikes for groups.
But he devotes plenty of time to painting the many delights of the Catalinas. The 31 watercolors in this show catalogue the mountains in snow and in summer, in the vivid oranges of fall and the delicate greens of spring.
Sometimes Rose paints the mountain peaks, others times he zeroes in on the intricacies of rock formations. Elsewhere he concentrates on the sheltering forests, where Tucsonans flee to escape the summer heat. In "Deep in the Forest," Rose's wife wanders in the tree's cool shadows; a tiny figure far ahead on the trail, she's overshadowed by the massive pines. "Ski Run Snow" is a charming small painting of the big tree trunks casting shadows on the snow, diagonal landscape.
Rose takes on the skies as well, capturing mist over Thimble Peak and painting the mountaintop where the red lookout station is perched on a mountaintop. And let's not forget water. Rose paints a stream tumbling down the rocky hillside at Seven Falls. His pièce-de-résistance is a grand panorama of the entire south face of the Catalinas, seen from afar, its long outlines sketching the view Tucsonans cherish every single day.
The paintings in the gallery are reproduced in Rose's book Catalina Mountains: A Guide Book with Original Paintings. Available at Antigone Books.
The Art of Frank Rose: Watercolor Landscapes of the Catalina Mountains closes this Saturday, March 30, at Contreras Gallery, 110 E. Sixth St. Regular gallery hours 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Wednesday to Saturday. Free. 398-6557; contrerashousefineart.com.