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Exhibit looks back on professor's work

Photo courtesy of Alfred J. Quiroz
Alfred J. Quiroz's, "Alla en el Rancho Grande, Medal of Honor Series #15," 1990, an oil on canvas and masonite with mixed media piece, is part of an exhibition of the artist's work at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
By Lisa Schumaier
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday September 11, 2003

Cramming thirty years of your life into a gallery exhibition seems masochistic. Especially when you imagine all the people that will be viewing these personal artifacts from the '70s and '80s. As college students, most of us do not even have thirty years to look back on much less that anyone would want to see, unless you are Alfred Quiroz. On sabbatical from his professorship here at the UA, Quiroz is an internationally renowned artist that has been plugging away since before we were born. On September 13 th, the Museum of Contemporary Art will present "Razor's Edge," a compilation of works from Quiroz's past thirty years as an artist.

Paul Ivey, art professor and long-term colleague of Quiroz, is curating the show.

He chose pieces that would portray the various stages of Quiroz's career in an attempt to give a mini-retrospective of the visionary.

"He was interested in mysticism and esoteric spirituality, his war experience from 1964-66 in Vietnam formed much of his imagery about war, especially his medal of honor series, and then there is a lot of pieces from his presidential series which are very critical of politics and politicians," said Ivey.

Relying on personal experience as a central component towards creating, and contrasting between subject matter make the visual timeline of his work unpredictable and surprising. His Catholic upbringing takes form in some pieces, as well as his interests in numerology and astrology in others. Perhaps even more of an inspiring force for his art was his experience in Vietnam.

"He represents another viewpoint of someone who has been in war. It is important to go in and look at work that is more controversial because the media is so one sided about the present administration," Ivey said.

"It is terribly interesting with the mix of personal experience and his understanding of how propaganda works in American society. He tells this story about how he waited and waited to go to Vietnam and there was no announcement, no one thought they would go and then all of the sudden they went and the media were there and it was totally orchestrated.

Just because the media say something does not mean it's true."

Behind Quiroz's art is not only an innately talented being that can engage just about anyone in his pieces, but an academic who intensely researches topics before even picking up the paint brush..

"Alfred is an avid history buff; he really loves it and what he tells his students is to read and research, leave no stone unturned when it comes to investigation." His assistant and wife Marsha Quiroz, said, "His particular voice as an artist is to reveal and to be truthful. Certainly there is creative license involved but he hasn't tried to stray from the important point."

In his past works, Quiroz took a more distant view when it came to the political, but perhaps something in thirty years as an observer and witness of history made the artist realize that distance does not take any stand. And many of his pieces appear to be a parody or critique of events that we ignore as absurd and ironic.

"In light of our current situation, things are reflected in the past that are happening today. In his current work he cuts closer to the bone, covering things about Bush and Clinton."

His style has been called "comic book." Paintings are not one-dimensional, they are constructed, using shaped canvases or panels. Scenes and people are colorful and exaggerated.

"He relies on caricatures to convey an emotion. Some of the stuff he makes are so serious that the viewer would be turned off, but he has this playful style and really understands renaissance technique and composition," Marsha Quiroz said. "He uses the rudiments of beauty to engage the viewer but then the message, the message takes a little work. That's more than most of us are asked to do when viewing art, but then you see how everything comes together and is extremely meaningful."

An opening Reception for Razor's Edge is open to the public Saturday, Sept. 13 from 7-9 p.m. The Museum of Contemporary Art is located at 191 E. Toole Avenue, downtown between North 6th Avenue and North Stone. The exhibit will run Tuesday through Saturday noon-6 p.m. through Oct. 25.

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