Tucson Desert Art Museum, November 3-28
This story was featured in the November 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art November 2015 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story
Women Artists of the West’s annual national exhibition is one of the group’s largest shows ever, with more than 200 works from 110 artists. It opens on November 3 at the Tucson Desert Art Museum. “It’s a beautiful venue, very large and spacious, and easy to see the work,” says participating artist Paula Holtzclaw of the 25,000-square-foot space. Holtzclaw makes her home in North Carolina and joined Women Artists of the West in 2008, after the group began including artists from across the United Sates, simultaneously broadening the scope of the subject matter presented in its annual show. Many of the artists in this diverse group are on hand for the reception on Friday, November 6, from 5:30 to 8 p.m.
Although the group has expanded its membership, it remains the oldest established organization in the country dedicated to women artists—and it maintains a strict jurying process for its show. Seven panelists—who don’t know the identity of the artists whose works they are considering, nor do they know each other’s identities—select the artworks. “We have one of the most unbiased jurying systems of any show,” says show chair Sarah Kennedy. “The jurying process [results in accepting] artists regardless of status or name. It’s strictly [based] on the quality of their work.” Thus, for collectors, the show becomes a place to discover up-and-coming or under-the-radar artists. This year’s show includes creatives from 30 different states and Canada. Among them are new member Victoria Castillo and longtime participants Carol Amos, Cecy Turner, and Kathy Anderson.
Janel Maher, who draws continual inspiration from her horse farm in Franklin, TN, shows a tabletop bronze featuring her typical subject. “I think everything ‘horse,’” she observes. For her WAOW national exhibition debut, Maher presents an equine sculpture entitled GALILEO, for which she created a unique patina in a marbled golden color.
This is the second time Maryland painter Nancy Peach is exhibiting at the show. Her selected piece also reflects her typical subject matter of rural scenes, depicting a tranquil Victorian farmhouse blanketed in snow. “I try to do universal paintings, but I do paint pretty close to home. I want people to get that sense of place, that they feel like they’ve been there even if they haven’t,” she says.
For the members, the show is part exhibition, part community building, with sketching field trips to a local ranch and plein-air painting in the nearby town of Tubac slated for the weekend. The public can join in on part of the activities as well: On Saturday, November 7, Carol Swinney leads off a series of artists’ demonstrations from 1 to 4 p.m. (Her demonstration features her palette-knife painting technique.) Swinney is also serving as show judge and determines which pieces will earn the awards presented at the artists’ reception. —Ashley M. Biggers
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