Fred Borcherdt: The Stone Walk, shows at the Tucson Museum of Art, 140 N. Main Avenue, through May 3. Call 624-2333 for gallery hours.

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The cost of twenty years in the desert

By meghan tifft
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 22, 1999
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Arizona Daily Wildcat

photo courtesy of Tucson Museum of Art "Artifact #8" by Fred Borcherdt, is part of The Stone Walk, currently on display at the Tucson Museum of Art.

Are most city museums free or do they cost money? I'm wondering because to get in to see Fred Borcherdt's sculptures at the Tucson Museum of Art, one has to pay. I got in free because I'm clever. But you won't. Without some well-designed excuse, you'll have to pay. And then you'll be rewarded with the chance to see three collections of un-fantastic constructions in wood, steel, stone and leather.

One collection, called "Markers," comments on Humans' attempt to own and connect with nature in tangible and spiritual ways. It illustrates how we mark the natural world with things like homesteads and crosses. One marker, called "Traverse Marker," does stand out - if not by virtue of its simple, technical accomplishment then by virtue of it's ability to remind my boyfriend of a game he used to play with stones on long walks. He was impressed by the spaces communicated by the metal arc between two rocks. He said it implied a vast expanse in one's imagination - one rock could be in Mexico, and another in India. I thought the sculpture was rather plain.

Another collection, called artifacts, makes the viewers pretend they have just discovered primitive refuse and must ask themselves questions to figure out what it is. The collection, "Implements," which focuses on making pieces that resemble machinery is supposed to provoke other questions - like what is this thingy's function? And why is it used? I was actually asking myself how many exhibits with themes just like this one had I been to in the last year, and shouldn't I stop if I can?

Everything in the room seems heavy and has some sort of semblance of harmony or function, and I suppose that is fascinating in its own way. I don't get the appeal of art that is influenced by 20 years in the desert; it just can't move me the way a trio playing classical music can. Lucky enough for me, there was one such trio the playing in the gallery the day I was there. Maybe there will be one for everybody else who goes. But I wouldn't bet money on it.