By Keri Hayes
Arizona Daily Wildcat
The Dinnerware Gallery's newest show, "Tucson Collectors Collect," celebrates both the art appreciation of local enthusiasts and the successful history of the gallery itself. Dinnerware, which was so named because it used to house a dinnerware store, was opened in 1979 by an informal group of artists and has since grown to be an important member of the growing Tucson arts community. The latest exhibition includes pieces by Tucson artists and others from 1979 until the 1990s, all the while reminding viewers of the importance of a supportive community and generous patrons.
One Tucson private collector who remains anonymous described his discovery of Dinnerware, shortly after its founding: "It offered financially accessible, quality contemporary art. Collecting became a possibility."
The collection he has accrued provides a unique view of what Tucson artists were doing in the late 70s and early 80s. Works by David Andres, Bailey Doogan, Michael Lee, Alfred Quiroz, Kevin Sloan and Tom Savage are similar in some aspects of their visual composition , yet different in subject and theme. Jerre Johnson's "Nautilus Man," a 90s piece, is one of the most interesting. A laser transfer print, the piece is a conglomeration of marine life, plant life and human life that together form a multi-species being.
Another collector, Carol Freundlich, said she looks for intellectual surprise in art Ä "visuals that comment as well as depict," and her collection definitely accomplishes this.
One of Freundlich's pieces, "Far Out West" is a mixed media booklet compiled by Margo Burwell and Alan Harrington which includes an array of prose and art. The booklet features a computer image of a drawing of Buddha by Alan Ginsberg from the 1991 Tucson Poetry Festival. Another of Freundlich's pieces, "Jewelry Box," by Gary Mackender, interestingly depicts the sexual roles of life in the 1950s.
John Wells described collecting art as "one of my favorite forms of madness." His collection includes a beautiful piece by Andrew Rush entitled "Six Stages of Woman." The 1973 piece is an etching depicting the spiritual and societal roles women play.
Mel Ritter's collection includes a very striking self-portrait by Charles Littler as well as a photograph by Robin Stoutenberg entitled "Fritz Scholder." Also in the collection is "Bull's Head," by Pablo Picasso and an Alfredo Castaneda piece entitled "Youth Grows With Me When I Look For You." Ritter described the collection's growth: "because of my love of beauty, the arts, and my history, I simply began to surround myself with beautiful things."
One of the most striking pieces in Louise Serpa's collection is a photograph of Georgia O'Keefe taken by Todd Webb in 1964. O'Keefe's facial features in the photograph seem to tell a story about the artist Ä the lines and expression around her eyes conveying her years of insight.
Minnette Burges' collection contains pieces from many different artists and mediums. A collage by A.C. Huerta entitled "Famous Last Words" addresses the myth of America as the "land of the free," opening her arms to the weak and impoverished from other countries. The collection also includes some beautiful gelatin silver prints and an interesting piece by Dianne Ferris, "Leaf and Egg," constructed from an ostrich egg and ceramic.
Also included in the show is the collection owned by Dr. and Mrs. Gene Gary Gruver, who described their enjoyment of collecting art as "an opportunity not only to support artists but also to share the experience of art with others."
The "Tucson Collectors Collect" will run at the Dinnerware Gallery, 135 E. Congress St., through Sept. 3. Admission is free, and the gallery is open Tuesday-Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. For more information, call 792-4503.
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