To determine who comes out on top, maybe we could stage an old-time dance marathon between these two very different artists, along the lines of They Shoot Horses, Don't They
? Simon Donovan is a big-time public artist (the Rattlesnake Bridge is his) who brings sterling craft, impeccable aesthetics and mischievous humor to every project. His most outrageous project is last December's Prick
, a luminous installation that turned the Temple Gallery into a saguaro forest, its prickly cacti reaching phallic-ly for the ceiling. Diana Madaras draws on Southwest themes, too, but the brightly colored watercolors she shows in her two galleries more realistically capture the Sonoran Desert. Tucson's canyons, architecture and animals all find their way into her work. Come to think of it, horses--not for shooting--unite these two artists. Madaras' recent Red Period series evoked the emotions elicited by her own horse's illness. And Donovan decorated a Pony del Pueblo for a public art project, enveloping the equine form in prickly saguaro green.
Runner up: Chris Rush
Vote of note: "God, for creating Gates Pass"