In these days of hot temps, how better to spend your time than looking at cool black-and-white photos in elegant air-conditioned spaces?
Luckily, this weekend, Tucson helps out by living up to its rep as a photography town. No fewer than three major photography exhibitions will open this Saturday, June 9. Two are at the Center for Creative Photography—the coldest (temperature-wise) art space in town—and one is at Etherton Gallery.
A fourth show, the 10th Annual Curious Camera exhibition at ArtsEye, opened in April but will be on view through the end of June.
While ArtsEye is featuring only work by living photographers, all of them using quirky cameras and alternative techniques, Etherton and the CCP will be trafficking mostly in the classic photo giants of the 20th century. You can expect to see plenty of Edward Westons and Ansel Adamses and Dorothea Langes, along with work by contemporary photographers from Kate Breakey to Stephen Shore to the youthful Giorgia Valli, born in 1984.
Here's the rundown:
The Center for Creative Photography inaugurates the Heritage Gallery, a new exhibition space that will pair older treasures from its archives with works by contemporary artists. The CCP has for years debated its mission. Should it primarily exhibit the late great photographers in its archives, like Adams, Weston and company (the artists whose work visitors most want to see)? Or should it move forward with the art form, and give equal time and scholarly attention to today's artists?
The Heritage Gallery is the latest effort to bridge that gap.
The gallery will house changing shows that pair works of the old guard with the newly acquired photos of the new. In its first exhibition, Adams's pristine gelatin silver prints will hang alongside the photographic collages of Patrick Nagatani, a Japanese-American who died in 2017. Nagatani's work evokes not only the U.S. internment camps that imprisoned his parents but the Americans' nuclear bombing of Japan.
Edward Weston's daybooks will be coupled with the work of Joan Liftin, a photographer and book artist born in 1935. Finally, the street photography of Garry Winogrand will adjoin images by the youthful Italian artist Giorgia Valli.
By placing "new acquisitions alongside important historic works," says new director Anne Breckenridge Barret in a statement, the center can "encourage dialogue about how photography has evolved over its lifespan."
Longer Ways to Go: Photography of the American Road is a sprawling exhibition in the CCP's main galleries. Opening just in time for the road-trip season, Longer Ways"concentrates on photos of Route 66 shot in the 1990s by Kz Miyoshi, a Japanese photographer then a CCP artist in residence.
A host of other artists of the open road are also along for the ride, from Dorothea Lange, famed for her Depression-era Dust Bowl migrants, to Richard Misrach, Stephen Shore, Danny Lyon and, of course, Ansel Adams, indefatigable explorer of the wilderness West.
Both shows open Saturday, June 9, and run through Nov. 24 at the Center for Creative Photography, 1030 N. Olive Road, on the UA campus near Park and Speedway. Open 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Closed Sunday and Monday; closed Fourth of July. 621-7968; ccp.arizona.edu.
Etherton Gallery has put together a star-spangled summer show, a vast collection of Masters of 20th Century American Photography. Remarkably, all the works in the show are drawn from the 37-year-old gallery's own archive, a feat for a private gallery. The space has been given a museum elegance for the occasion, with the mostly black-and-white works hung on walls painted the color of sand.
Some of the artists are also being shown at the CCP, notably Ansel Adams, but the Masters show has a different emphasis. It concentrates on post-World War II photographers who were pushing toward modernism and a new aesthetic.
Robert Frank, a Swiss photographer lionized for his images of America in the 1940s and 1950s, is represented by "Men of Air, Macy's Day Parade, New York," 1948, a haunting take on the parade's familiar floating balloons. The balloon pictures is a muscle man who seems to be flying upward past the skyscrapers and slowly on toward the sky. Shot in the years just after World War II, it hints at the catastrophic loss of lives in that conflagration.
Among the dozens of other artists are photojournalists Margaret Bourke-White and Annie Leibovitz; Diane Arbus, photographer of the strange; Harry Callahan, the Chicago master who veered toward abstraction; and Danny Lyon, famed for his early civil rights images and his pics of the hell of Texas prisons.
W. Eugene Smith's famous image of two children hand-in-hand in "Walk to Paradise Garden," from 1946, is luminous; another postwar image, this one postulates the possibility of innocence and peace.
"American photographers documented and defined the 20th century," owner Terry Etherton says in a written statement; the show "brings this period to life in an incredible array of images and artists."
In the pop-up gallery, Kate Breakey is showing Summer Color, her hand-painted photos of flowers and birds. A separate exhibition features limited edition skateboards emblazoned with printed artworks by the likes of Shephard Fairey and Robert Rauschenberg.
Etherton Gallery, 135 S. Sixth Ave. Reception for From the Archive: Masters of 20th Century American Photography and Summer Color will be from 7 to 10 p.m., Saturday, June 9. The shows officially opened on June 5 and run through Aug. 31. Free. Open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Call for gallery hours in July. 624-7370; ethertongallery.com.
ArtsEye Gallery is already up to its 10th iteration of the popular Curious Camera competition. Entries come in from photographers from around the world. The artists experiment with techniques and equipment of all kinds, from 19th-century printing practices to homemade pinhole cameras and cheap plastic point-and-shoots.
The gallery is inside Photographic Works, 3550 E. Grant Road. Hours 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Curious Camera runs through June 30. 327-7291; artseye.com/home.