Artist comes home to curate

By Randi Eichenbaum
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 15, 2005

UA alumna Julia Latane claims that in the past her art has been arranged in exhibits in such a way that she does not even recognize it. So, as the first "curator as artist" in a new exhibition series at Tucson's Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), she intends to let her fellow artists' work speak for itself.

Latane, a Tucson native brought home 10 colleagues' work from her new residence of Los Angeles to demonstrate her idea of progressive energy in her exhibit called "Quickening."

Latane was initially inspired by the works of her fellow colleagues, Timothy Nolan and Jaime Scholnick.

"Seeing the two pieces right one after another got me thinking about different levels of energy in artists' work - not to sound too new-agey because I'm from California and everything," said Latane.

The curator differentiated between Nolan's stark pieces and Scholnick's penetrating work.

"Tim does this white on white oil work, extremely subtle," said Latane.

Whereas, Latane found Scholnick's penis drawings to be more "in your face," gestural, loud and abrasive.

"Jamie's (Scholnick) work puts me in severe conflict very often because she is so politically conscious in her work, and I'm deliberately not," Latane said.

MOCA's public opening of the exhibit and panel discussion on Sunday featured Latane, Scholnick and one of the other featured artists, Sherin Guirguis. Latane said that Guirguis' work, aluminum cutouts, were "mid-range" on the energy scale between Scholnick and Nolan.

The women discussed the importance of being a curator, as Latane has done for the fourth time at MOCA, and how it has recently made its way into the limelight, overshadowing the works of artists.

"I think curators become cocky enough you almost feel that the artist maybe didn't know what their work was," said Latane.

Because of bad experiences with curators with her own work, Latane did everything but that. Latane has given freedom to her exhibit not only to form of art (the exhibit contains both sculpture and painting) as well as a range of subject matter that has no central theme. Latane noted that she chose pieces for the exhibit on the main premise that they exuded energy.

When asked by an audience member about the influence that Los Angeles has had on the artists' work, the women were responsive.

"The amazing thing about Los Angeles is that I think is a wonderful thing and a very difficult thing," Scholnick said. "Anything goes here so you can do anything and be anything and show anything you want to, and that's a great thing."

Latane added that Tucson requires an effort for getting artistic exposure, but it is well rewarded.

"Still to Shrills" and "Zero to Sixty" were Latane's original ideas for the title of the exhibit but she found that they were too corny.

"'Quickening,' I arrived at because I like the word, the way it sounds, and I was hoping that as you walked in and looked around your pulse would quicken," said Latane.

MOCA is located at 191 N. Toole Ave. The exhibit will be up until Jan. 7. Admission is free for members and $5 for non-members.