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Best Art Gallery

Etherton Gallery
135 S. Sixth Ave.

READERS' PICK: Thus spake the readers, again and again and again. It's Etherton by a landslide: Our readers have voted it the best, most cutting-edge, most consistent contemporary art gallery year-in and year-out. And right you are, dear readers. Last season Etherton celebrated its 15th anniversary with a splendid exhibition of artists featured over the years, proving once and for all just how central the gallery is to the city's cultural life, not to mention the downtown area.

Last year's season showed that the gallery also looks beyond the local community of artists. It kicked off with the traveling show Kissing, a charming and slightly off-the-wall show of the kiss as captured throughout the history of photography. Then there was the big painting show that, typically, paired a set of heavy hitters--Bailey Doogan of Tucson, and Holly Roberts of New Mexico--with up-and-coming Tucson newcomer Chris Rush. Then the gallery switched to a brand-new medium (and new pedestals and shelves) for the citywide Glass Lollapalooza. Etherton's show of Italian glass-masters was a scintillating assembly of sculptures surreal and splendid.

READERS' POLL RUNNERS-UP: Readers also voted for the Tucson Museum of Art (140 N. Main Ave.) and the Center for Creative Photography (UA Fine Arts Oasis, on Speedway and Park Avenue); but with their big budgets and boards and what-not, these institutions are not in the same category as a gallery. Both did a good job throughout the year in putting up compelling shows: TMA's Jim Waid exhibit ranks right at the top; its own glass show was fab--and all that Tibetan hoopla, complete with performing monks, took the TMA in a new direction. Some highlights of the Center's year included the opposing desert views of Richard Misrach and Lee Friedlander, a wild camera obscura show, and the heartfelt, exalted snapshots of Sandra Semchuk.

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