Here’s a look at fresh culture news in Phoenix, including 2021 Guggenheim Fellows, new murals and exhibits, upcoming performing arts seasons, and significant leadership changes.
2021 Guggenheim Fellowships
Two Arizona-based photographers, Tempe-based Stephen Marc and Tucson-based Sama Alshaibi, were recently awarded 2021 Guggenheim Fellowships in the field of photography. They are among 184 artists, writers, scholars, and scientists whose fellowships were announced on April 8 by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, which reviewed more than 3,000 applications for the prestigious award that includes funding to pursue projects of the fellows' choice. Previous Arizona recipients include photographer Liz Cohen.
Emerging Artist Awards
Phoenix Art Museum has replaced the Contemporary Forum Artists’ Grants program that ended in 2017 with the Lehmann Emerging Artist Awards named for donors Sally and Richard Lehmann. The program will make up to three $1,500 awards each year, and recipients works will be featured in a museum exhibit the following year. The museum will issue an open call for submissions in May (for the May 15 to July 15 submission period), and the first exhibit will take place in 2022.
Arts Commission Change
Jaime Dempsey is leaving her position as executive director for Arizona Commission on the Arts, a state agency designed to foster the creative and professional development of the arts sector, in June. Dempsey will assume the newly created position of senior vice president for philanthropic initiatives with Arizona Community Foundation, which facilitates philanthropy in many sectors, including arts and culture. As of this writing, the commission had not announced its specific plans for conducting an open search to fill the executive director position.
Mesa Live Performances
Mesa Arts Center plans to return to live performances for the 2021/22 season, with a lineup that will include a Classical Music Inside Out series featuring five concerts. Featured musicians will include Grammy Award winners Attacca Quartet and Zuill Bailey. Fall performances at MAC include Wardruna, whose Nordic-inspired music has been featured on the History Channel’s Vikings series.
Art School Leadership
Joanna Grabski is leaving her position as director for the School of Art at ASU, and will become the dean of the university’s College of Integrative Sciences and Arts on July 1. The university had not formally announced the name of an interim or new director for the School of Art, which is part of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, as of this writing.
Women’s Art Collection
Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West recently accepted a gift of over 300 works by 25 women artists that comprise the Fran and Ed Elliott Southwest Women Art Collection. The collection is still being assessed and the museum has yet to announce its monetary value. Featured artists include Dorothy Bergamo, Marjorie Reed, and Lillian Wilhelm Smith. All the artists studied, worked, or lived in Arizona at one time.
Jesse Yazzie and Isaac Caruso recently collaborated on a mural honoring Calvin C. Goode, a civil rights champion who served 22 years after being the second African American elected to the Phoenix city council. The mural is located on Roosevelt Street near Second Street. El Mac and Thomas “Breeze” Marcus recently completed a mural that honors indigenous people, which is located on Monroe Street near First Avenue in downtown Phoenix.
The Heard Museum is one of 25 museums included in a Bank of America initiative called Masterpiece Moment, which spotlights key works of art. A recently released video features David Roche, the museum’s director and CEO, discussing Allan Houser’s Earth Song, the sculpture that greets visitors at the museum’s entrance.
New metro Phoenix exhibits include “The 13th Edition Anniversary Group Show” at Practical Art, “Distorted Mythologies” featuring work by Brandi Read at ASU Harry Wood Gallery in Tempe, “The Something to Do” group exhibit curated by Melanie and Michelle Craven of Tilt Gallery for AzoKoza Art Space in Tempe, “Play Hard” at Vision Gallery in Chandler, and “Future Intercept” featuring work by Douglas Miles at Modified Arts.
Arizona Opera Season
Arizona Opera has announced the lineup for its 2021/22 season, which includes four live productions in Tucson and Phoenix. The company plans to perform a prequel to Cruzar la Cara de la Luna called El Milagro del Recuerdo at the Herberger Theater Center in December, as well as three works at Symphony Hall in Phoenix in 2022 — Carmen in January, A Little Night Music in March, and Così fan tutte in April. The season also includes The Copper Queen film, which was inspired by stories surrounding a Bisbee, Arizona hotel.
Tempe Arts and Culture has several open calls for literary, performance, and visual artists, for programs that include Art in the Parks and the Tempe Playlist. Most deadlines fall in late April or early May. The Mesa Arts Center Foundation is accepting letters of interest through May 7 for its Arts at the Center program, which provides grants and opportunities or up to six groups to present works in MAC spaces.
Children's Museum Reopening
The Children’s Museum of Phoenix will reopen its indoor spaces on May 29, when it will also welcome its first traveling exhibition. The “Very Eric Carle: A Very Quiet, Hungry, Lonely, Clumsy, Busy Exhibit” will be on view from May 29 to September 6.
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