From Land Art in Nevada to abstraction in Denver, demons in Dallas to the legacy of Elaine Horwitch in Santa Fe: visit ten art exhibitions across the Southwest before summer ends.
The year 2021 continues to be a difficult one for arts organizations recovering from the pandemic. While institutions continue to adapt and pivot to changing circumstances (hello, Delta variant), there are still many stellar exhibitions taking place across the American Southwest this summer.
Here are ten art exhibitions that you should definitely check out before the season’s end. For those of you avoiding air travel, many of these are just a road trip away.
The dates listed are subject to change, so please check the venue’s website before visiting.
Arizona Art Exhibitions
Jacob Meders: And It’s Built on the Sacred
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
May 8–October 17, 2021
In Jacob A. Meders’s (Mechoopda/Maidu) installation And It’s Built on the Sacred, a circular, hand-built earthen floor occupies the space and brings the viewer into the center of the work in order to view cheap Christian tchotchkes (some with visible price tags) that have been hand-painted with traditional markings of Indigenous people. By creating a space of contemplation and introspection—and importantly, placing the viewer at its center—Meders’s layering of references and materials invites visitors to consider what is sacred, what is commodity, what is holy, and what is expendable.
Things We Carry: Merryn Omotayo Alaka, Sam Fresquez, Angela Ellsworth
Lisa Sette Gallery, Phoenix
June 5–September 25, 2021
In Things We Carry, three women artists navigate the knife’s-edge complexity of presenting selfhood and self-identity in public spaces. In the series It’s Mine I Bought It, Merryn Omotayo Alaka and Sam Fresquez’s large-scale suspended sculptures of synthetic hair reference rituals of self-expression in elaborate hairdressing as well as societal expectations on the hair and appearance of Black and Brown women in public and popular culture. In Angela Ellsworth’s series Sister Wives, informed by her female Mormon pioneer ancestors, her corsage-pin sculptures delicately examine the private language and power of communities of women.
Colorado Art Exhibitions
Applied Matter: New + Recent Abstraction
Robischon Gallery, Denver
July 17–September 25, 2021
Robischon Gallery, a Denver arts landmark with a sprawling downtown location, is currently showing Applied Matter, an exhibition of abstract works by eleven of the gallery’s roster of national and regional artists: Barbara Takenaga (NY), Terry Maker (CO), Omar Chacón (NY), Wendi Harford (CO), Deborah Zlotsky (NY), Marcelyn McNeil (TX), David Fought (CA), Jonathan Parker (NM), Ted Larsen (NM), Derrick Velasquez (CO), and Reed Danziger (CA). The far-ranging exhibition invites users to practice close viewing to examine composition, materials, scale, and visual motifs and would make a nice companion to viewing The Stubborn Influence of Painting at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (through September 6, 2021).
Cerith Wyn Evans: Aspen Drift
Aspen Art Museum
June 11–October 10, 2021
Cerith Wyn Evans’s site-specific installation work utilizes media such as neon, sound, photography, and glass to create immersive environments that challenge the senses. His works often bleed over their own spatial boundaries and into new forms, such as neon works that leave retinal after-images with the viewer, or reflections that “drift” and refract across gallery spaces. Aspen Drift is the United Kingdom-based artist’s first United States exhibition in more than seventeen years.
Nevada Art Exhibitions
Land Art: Expanding the Atlas
Nevada Museum of Art, Reno
June 26, 2021–January 2, 2022
Presented in conjunction with the Nevada Museum of Art’s 2021 Art + Environment triennial, Expanding the Atlas draws on the museum’s extensive Land Art collections to examine and question the canon, which is still most strongly associated with the monumental desert works made by artists such as Michael Heizer, Walter De Maria, and Robert Smithson in the 1960s and ‘70s. This exhibition turns the spotlight onto contemporary artists that critique, contextualize, and engage in environmental and social dialogue about art of the land.
New Mexico Art Exhibitions
Exposure: Native Art and Political Ecology
IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, Santa Fe
August 20, 2021–January 23, 2022
MoCNA, the recent recipient of a major grant from Mackensie Scott and Dan Jewett, presents a blockbuster exhibition this summer that documents Indigenous artists’ responses to the impacts of nuclear testing, nuclear accidents, and uranium mining on Native peoples and the environment. Featuring an international group of Indigenous artists and an international line-up of co-curators, the show addresses the long-term effects of nuclear disasters on Indigenous communities in the U.S. and around the world.
Southwest Rising: Contemporary Art and the Legacy of Elaine Horwitch
New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe
April 17, 2021–January 2, 2022
Art dealer Elaine Horwitch is a legend in contemporary art of the Southwest, having played a major role in ushering in genres such a Southwest Pop and “new Western art,” and being a pivotal part of the Southwest art boom of the 1970s and ‘80s. Across her four galleries in Santa Fe, Scottsdale, Sedona, and Palm Springs, Horwitch launched the careers of hundreds of regional artists. Featured in this exhibition are Tom Palmore, Billy Schenck, John Fincher, James Havard, Fritz Scholder, Georgia O’Keeffe, Louise Nevelson, Robert Rauschenberg, Larry Rivers, Bob Wade, Bunny Tobias, and more.
Everton Tsosie: Urban Native
Ellsworth Gallery, Santa Fe
August 27–November 7, 2021
Albuquerque-based artist Everton Tsosie’s solo exhibition Urban Native combines the artist’s abstractive style, palettes inspired by the New Mexico landscape, and the disquieting pulses of urban city environments. Fresh off of a stint in New York, Tsosie’s figures are rendered in fervent lines of color with city landscapes encroaching on and around them carrying markers of the turmoil of the current social and political landscape. Tsosie was recently featured in Southwest Contemporary’s fall 2021 issue, Inhale Exhale.
Texas Art Exhibitions
Francisco Moreno: Demons
Olivier François Galerie, Dallas
July 10–September 4, 2021
At the recently re-opened Olivier François Galerie in Dallas, Francisco Moreno’s solo exhibition Demons features the titular creatures rendered as cartoonish imps and beastly nightmares. The paintings pull tropes from art history, current times, and the artist’s singular visual language to create a vision of demons lurking around, haunting even the most mundane of activities with detached irreverence. In Girl Holding Orange Calcite (2020), a girl stylized as the Virgin Mary holds a crystal to her heart site with a goofy red demon perched atop an Amazon box at her side (the box reads ”FCKU”). The presence of the smiling, dog-like creature takes what might have been simple commentary on hollowed-out new-age spiritualism and throws it into the territory of the garishly absurd.
Sherry Owens: Promise Me the Earth
Grace Museum, Abilene
April 17–October 2, 2021
Dallas-based artist Sherry Owens has been exploring the material capabilities of the crepe myrtle tree. Working from her roots as a weaver, she uses the trees’ lithe forms to assemble sculptures that are bound, piled, stained, or cast. She approaches the material with an intimate knowledge of and reverence for its capaciousness—its ability to carry a wide range of tonal notes and speak to concerns ranging from death and personal spiritualism to the precarious state of the environment. Her solo exhibition is presented simultaneously with The Grace Collects Women Artists (also through October 2), made up of more than 100 works by women artists in the museum’s permanent collection.