Show Preview | American Women Artists

Tucson, AZ
Tucson Desert Art Museum, October 13-December 3

Sally Maxwell, Full Moon, colored scratchboard, 24 x 48.

Sally Maxwell, Full Moon, colored scratchboard, 24 x 48.

This story was featured in the October 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  October 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

“Museums are the glass ceiling for women artists, and we are determined that we will break through it,” says Robin Knowlton, executive director of American Women Artists. For years, the representation of women artists in museums has been low, with their work making up an estimated 3 to 5 percent of museum collections. Now the organization, which is dedicated to expanding representation of women artists across the art world, is responding with an initiative called “25 in 25.” The organization’s goal is to host 25 museum shows over the next 25 years that feature works solely by women artists.

The first exhibition in this initiative opens on Friday, October 13, at the Tucson Desert Art Museum. An artists’ reception and awards ceremony is held on Friday, November 3, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. The organization also hosts a symposium on Saturday, November 4, where five speakers discuss various topics relating to women in the arts. Knowlton says the show takes the place of the organization’s annual juried exhibition and features work from all levels of membership. Master Signature and Signature members were guaranteed one piece in the show, while those with Associate or
Associate-With-Distinction memberships were juried in. Three guest artists were also invited to participate: Laney, Kathy Anderson, and Heidi Presse, whose extensive research of pioneer journals helps her produce detailed paintings of the journey westward. Knowlton says this year was extremely competitive, as 680 entries were juried down to just 63 pieces. Overall, the exhibition features 144 artworks in a wide range of styles.

The theme for the show is Under a Vast Sky, which gave the artists free reign for subject matter. “A lot of the artists did interpret it with a western theme,” Knowlton says. “But there is a very broad range from traditional styles to those working in a modern sensibility, which is what I love about the organization as well.” Visitors can expect to see landscapes, figures, still lifes, and wildlife depicted in both painting and sculpture. Artists featured in the show include Donna Howell-Sickles, Terry Cooke Hall, Star York, Bonnie Conrad, Lori Kiplinger Pandy, Cathy Rowten, and Erin Schulz. “Everyone has had to up their game,” Knowlton says. “The expectation is that this work will be the best, and there is a lot of pressure on the artists to put their best foot forward. But I think they have more than delivered.”

Knowlton says that the organization anticipated the move from showing in galleries to showing in museums would be difficult. However, they have received enthusiastic responses from several institutions and have already booked shows in museums across the country through 2020. “I’m incredibly pleased and honored by the museums that have accepted us,” she says. “I can’t wait to see what the future holds for this organization, and in 10 years when we have 10 shows down, I think it will place us at a very high level of prestige within the art world.” —Mackenzie McCreary

contact information
www.americanwomenartists.org

This story was featured in the October 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  October 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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