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Local Artists Featured in Arizona Biennial Exhibition in Tucson

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When local print-maker

Kathleen Scott Moore

first learned that her work was chosen for this year's edition of the

Arizona Biennial

, it took her breath away.

Widely venerated as one of the most preeminent modern art showcases in the Southwest, the Arizona Biennial features contemporary works by big names and burgeoning talents from across the state.

The summer-long show, which is held every two years at the Tucson Museum of Art, is extremely eclectic and includes art from almost every medium -- from fashion and photography to cutting-edge performance art and dance.

See who's on the local list and a peek at the show after the jump ...

It's also extremely exclusive. According to museum curator Julie Sasse, more than 1,300 works by 476 different artists from throughout Arizona were submitted for the showcase. Only 45 creative types are featured in the biennial, 19 of whom are based in Phoenix.

"Obviously there's a lot of competition involved amongst artists who want to be included," Sasse says. "A lot of new artists want a chance to be shown in a museum for the first time while more established artists want a chance to reaffirm their work is current and vital."

In addition to Moore, the list of Valley artists includes painters Fausto Fernandez and John Randall Nelson, installation artist Saskia Jorda, and sculptor Christina You-Sun Park.

William LeGoullon, whose avant-garde photographs of bottlecaps and antique beer ephemera from vintage Arizona breweries are featured, says that the biennial's diverse and quality nature helps make it worth the two-hour drive to Tucson.

"There's definitely has a high-caliber of work being displayed. It sets the mark for being one of better group shows of artists on the statewide level. " he says. "There are a number of well-known group shows in both Tucson and Phoenix, but they usually only include artists from their [respective] communities."

Moore's room-like installation piece His and Hers (consisting of Colt revolver wallpaper screen-printed on silk and adorned with old-timey cyanotype photos) was one of the 73 pieces featured at the biennial, the largest exhibition in which she's shown her work. 

"Getting into the show was important to me because, as a professional artist, it felt like a necessary step along the way," she says.

​Another of the exhibition's major attractions, Moore adds, was its high-profile juror.

Anne Ellegood, senior curator at UCLA's cutting-edge Hammer Museum, pored through a sea of submissions before making her selections.

Sasse says that Ellegood, who also curated at the esteemed Venice Biennale, was "very conscientious" in her choices.

"She didn't just ask for a disc and say, "I'll do this over the weekend,'" Sasse says. "She asked for the artist's statements. She went through each work over and over again, and really had a strong commitment to choosing her selections."

Nelson, who contributed a mixed-media installation painting "Rise Up," says that getting the nod from Ellegood can "definitely be a validation" for emerging artists, and is an opportunity for continued support and exposure.

The Arizona Biennial 2011 is on display through October 2 at the Tucson Museum of Art, 140 North Main Avenue in Tucson. Click here for hours and admission info. 

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