Check out these Southwest art exhibitions for fall 2023, featuring the churning creativity of community, the crisis of climate change, and cowboys.
While the corporate powers-that-be have long declared it pumpkin spice season, temps in much of the Southwest are only just now approaching sweater weather (finally!) or are otherwise continuing to blaze like it’s high summer (sorry, Arizona). So might as well grab yourself a latte (iced, no doubt) and check out this fall’s most anticipated exhibitions, featuring the churning creativity of community, the crisis of climate change, and cowboys.
Arizona Art Exhibitions
September 16, 2023–January 7, 2024
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
This essential survey of three decades of work by Los Angeles-based photographer Christina Fernandez traveled to Scottsdale via Riverside’s California Museum of Photography. The images feature formal invention to show scenes of labor, migration, and motherhood that feel familiar yet haunting.
October 20, 2023–February 18, 2024
Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson
MOCA Tucson is hosting the first solo museum exhibition by New York-based artist and performer Keioui Keijaun Thomas of her world-building of speculative futures surrounding Black and trans identities. Using utilitarian objects like recycled cardboard, latex-free gloves, packing tape, and plant matter in an immersive installation in the museum’s Great Hall, Thomas will build “a post-apocalyptic geography to imagine new ways to relate to the American landscape centering interdependent systems of care for all living beings.” Which sounds awesome.
Colorado Art Exhibitions
September 1, 2023–February 3, 2024
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
Colorado College’s Fine Arts Center, in Colorado Springs, is worth the drive for its robust collection of modern, contemporary, and historical art from the Southwest, housed in its own dedicated and extensive gallery of the museum. For Mi Gente, curator Savanah Pennell drew from the collection to explore Chicanx/a/o, Hispanic, and Mexican American identities and the complexities of community.
September 29, 2023–February 18, 2024
Museum of Contemporary Art Denver
As mythos, the American cowboy is primed for complication and re-evaluation, as a spate of recent exhibitions, lectures, and books attest. The highly anticipated exhibition Cowboy at the MCA Denver has big guns like Richard Prince and Luis Jiménez, along with sly wranglers rafa esparza and Gregg Deal (Pyramid Lake Paiute), among many others.
October 13–November 18, 2023
Colorado Photographic Arts Center, Denver
Photographs by Alexander Heilner, Kalen Goodluck, Martha Ketterer, and H. Jennings Sheffield focus on disappearing communities, lands, and lifeways across the U.S. as climate change contributes to rising sea levels and drying rivers–from Pueblo communities to Virginia beaches.
Nevada Art Exhibitions
September 8–December 7, 2023
Nuwu Art Gallery + Community Center, Las Vegas
Curated by Geovany Uranda, Cesar Piedra, and Las Vegas-based artist collective Scrambled Eggs, Hija/e/o/x(s) de Su debuted up north, at Reno’s Holland Project, over the summer, and is now open at Las Vegas’s Nuwu Art Gallery. The curators, one from Reno, and one from Las Vegas brought together artists from both cities—including Ruby Barrientos, Emmanuel Muñoz, and Häsler Gómez—for a playful show of childhood nostalgia and evolving Latinx identities.
October 7, 2023–June 2, 2024
Nevada Museum of Art, Reno
Cannupa Hanska Luger (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota) may be the hardest-working contemporary artist in the country. With exhibitions, residencies, and speaking engagements spanning venues all across the land, in both major cities and minor regional hubs, Luger’s work is in high demand and he is fired up to show it. He continues to evolve his project Future Ancestral Technologies and spreads its message like an evangelist—a message this country needs to hear. His solo exhibition Speechless at the Nevada Museum of Art concerns the connections of colonialism, consumerism, communication, and the suppression of Indigenous voices.
New Mexico Art Exhibitions
September 30–December 30, 2023
516 Arts, Albuquerque
Curated by Rachelle B. Pablo (Diné), Fluid Gaze brings together works by thirteen artists exploring queerness from a multiplicity of perspectives. Artists include the Texas-based dissector of machismo José Villalobos, māhū mixed-Native Hawaiian Kānaka Maoli artist Lehuauakea, and New Mexico-based elder lesbian artist Harmony Hammond.
October 6, 2023–February 5, 2024
SITE Santa Fe
Enigmatic, spare, and evocative, the precise paintings/assemblages by New York-based artist N. Dash “directly engage with collective ecological anxiety” and reward close looking.
Texas Art Exhibitions
September 7, 2023–July 28, 2024
Ruby City, San Antonio
Mostly drawn from the Linda Pace Foundation/Ruby City Collection, including new acquisitions like Mona Hatoum’s kinetic installation Mobile Home II (2006), Water Ways was inspired by the opening of the newest phase of the San Pedro Creek Culture Park, a waterfront park in the heart of San Antonio, with Ruby City as a key anchor.
September 28, 2023–January 28, 2024
The Contemporary Austin
With works from five artists—Vivian Caccuri, Raven Chacon, Minerva Cuevas, Danielle Dean, and Jamilah Sabur—This Land investigates the intersection of land and histories of colonialism and capitalism, from offshore mining to mosquitos, “while also speaking to the changing landscape of Austin.”
October 15, 2023–January 21, 2024
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, Memory Map is “the largest and most comprehensive showing” of the work of Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation) to date. A long-time acclaimed resident of New Mexico, Smith is the first Native American artist to have a solo retrospective at the Whitney. This celebration of decades of her work is a must-see.
Utah Art Exhibitions
September 16, 2023–March 3, 2024
Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City
Photographic images have shaped and constructed the idea of the West in profound ways. Shaping Landscape draws from over 150 years of the UMFA’s collection to show the various ways photography has represented the Utah landscape, from William Henry Jackson’s documentation of the Union Pacific Railway in the 1870s to Russel Albert Daniels’s (Diné and Ho-Chunk) photojournalistic views of the current fracking industry.
October 6–November 17, 2023
Finch Lane Gallery, Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City-based artist Alise Anderson continues to dissect the quirks of Mormon visual culture in this new body of work, based on Hand-Book for the Bee-Hive Girls of the Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Association of the Church of Latter-day Saints, written in 1915. In unruly, Anderson examines “place-specific oddities and introducing queerness into the language for Beehive belonging.”