Catch up on recent art news headlines in the Southwest region, including people on the move, grants, and more.
City of Mesa, Artists Remain Mum on Postponed Exhibitions
In mid-August, Southwest Contemporary’s Lynn Trimble reported that the City of Mesa, Arizona faced accusations of art censorship after four solo exhibitions and one group show were abruptly pulled—apparently in response to a work by Shepard Fairey—from Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum’s fall 2023 lineup. Hours after SWC’s story went live, the City of Mesa provided a prepared statement, explaining that the exhibitions were back on, albeit slightly delayed. However, despite the media statement, rumors, and a number of unverified reports, it remains unclear if the exhibitions will indeed go on as scheduled, and, if so, how many artists might be willing to participate.
Grants and Awards
New Round of Joan Mitchell Fellows Includes a Southwest Artist
Ana María Hernando of Niwot, Colorado, is one of fifteen recipients of a 2023 Joan Mitchell Foundation Fellowship, a high-profile honor that gives artists $60,000 in unrestricted funds. Mikayla Patton (Oglala Lakota), an Institute of American Indian Arts alum and one of Southwest Contemporary’s 12 Artists to Know Now in 2022, also won the award.
SITE Santa Fe Receives Ellsworth Kelly Award to Support Major Solo Exhibition by Diné Artist
The museum has received a $45,000 invitation-only grant to support a 2025 solo exhibition by artist Dakota Mace (Diné). The award, established in 2016 and administered by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, is given annually to support a solo show of a contemporary visual artist at a United States art museum, university, or college art gallery. Mace’s exhibition, DAHODIYINII – SACRED PLACES, plans to include over 2,000 newly commissioned cochineal chemigraphs and archival photographic prints, displayed singularly and in grid format.
Tucson-Based Raquel Gutiérrez Awarded Irene Yamamoto Arts Writers Fellowship
Raquel Gutiérrez, who recently published Brown Neon, a debut essay collection that explores queer Latinx identity—named by The New Yorker as one of the best books of 2022—has received the inaugural Irene Yamamoto Arts Writers Fellowship by the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy (Democracy Center). Gutiérrez will be granted $5,000 to support their work over a six-month period.
Judy Tuwaletstiwa Wins New Mexico Governor’s Award
Painter, sculptor, poet, storyteller, and teacher Judy Tuwaletstiwa has been named the recipient of the 2023 Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts from New Mexico Arts and the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. According to a press release, the award is “given to New Mexicans who have made a significant lifetime contribution to the arts, and who reflect their people, their communities, and their culture.” Tuwaletstiwa’s works have been showcased throughout Santa Fe, including in the large 2019 solo exhibition The Dream Life of Objects at the Center for Contemporary Arts and Pie Projects earlier this year.
Artpace San Antonio Receives Frankenthaler Climate Initiative Award
Artpace San Antonio has been awarded a $100,000 grant through the Frankenthaler Climate Initiative, a grant-making program established by the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation in collaboration with Environment and Culture Partners and RMI. The award will be used to install solar panels on the renovated rooftop of the Artpace building.
National Endowment for the Humanities Announces Next Round of Grants
The NEH recently awarded $41.3 million to 280 nationwide humanities projects. Southwest-area recipients include:
- Arizona State University, Tempe
- Latinos in Heritage Conservation, Tucson
- Native American Connections, Phoenix
- Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Scottsdale
- University of Arizona, Tucson
- Town of La Veta
- University of Colorado, Boulder
- University of Denver
- Churchill County Museum Association, Fallon
- Nevada State Library and Archives, Carson City
- University of Nevada, Reno
- University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
- Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe
- City of San Antonio
- Houston Grand Opera Association
- Lydia Pyne, Austin
- Rice University
- Mary’s University of San Antonio
- University of Houston, Clear Lake
- University of North Texas, Denton
- University of Texas, Austin
Leadership Changes and Appointments
Leader of 516 Arts Announces Departure
Susanne Sbarge, founder and executive director of 516 Arts, will depart the museum effective October 15, 2023. Sbarge, who has worked for the Albuquerque arts institution for seventeen years, will hand the reins to current deputy director April Chalay, who will become interim director as the organization searches for a new executive director. According to a press release, Sbarge will remain in Albuquerque as a working artist and consultant.
Arizona Cultural Leader Chosen for Arizona-Mexico Commission
Donna Valdés, executive director for the Phoenix-based arts and cultural nonprofit Xico, has been appointed by Arizona governor Katie Hobbs to the board of directors for the Arizona-Mexico Commission, which is charged with fostering cross-border initiatives impacting economic development, cultural exchange, and community safety. Xico was founded in 1975 to serve Latino and Indigenous artists.
Phoenix Art Museum Curator of Asian Art Retires
Janet Baker, Asian art curator at the Phoenix Art Museum, retired effective August 31. A press release states that a national search to replace Baker, who worked at the museum for twenty-three years, will begin later this year.
Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West Names Assistant Museum Director and Chief Curator
Tricia Loscher, the former assistant director of collections, exhibitions, and research at Western Spirit, has been promoted to assistant museum director and chief curator. Loscher has been with the museum since 2014.