Ben Johnson has been the curator of exhibits at Tohono Chul Park since May 2010. Lately, he's been putting together Artworks in Glass, which opens Friday, March 29. The exhibit features works from 12 local artists that showcase the many forms glass art can take. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the cost is included in admission to the park, which ranges from $2 to $8. For more information, visit tohonochulpark.org.
What's your favorite part about working at Tohono Chul Park?
Just being here is an incredible experience day to day. But I'll say my favorite part of the job is interacting and networking with our local artists. We have so many talented artists right here in the Tucson area and I feel so privileged to be able to work with them as regularly as I do and to show the incredible work that they create.
Can you tell me about the upcoming exhibit?
I'm really excited about it, in that glass is such a versatile artistic medium. I feel like so many of us have a certain idea of what glass work is. It seems like glass artists are always pushing the envelope of what glass can do ... and really exploring new zones within the realm of working with glass. It's been wonderful to collaborate with the Sonoran Glass School on this exhibit. They are really highlighting what a hotbed Tucson is for glass artists. The work is so varied ... and there's an inherent magic in glass that's just undeniable. The transparency, the color, the sheer luminosity—it's just a beautiful medium.
How did you come up with the idea for the exhibit?
We currently have in our main gallery the exhibit Paper: From All Sides, an exhibit focusing on a single medium. It's exciting to see all the ways in which a medium can be used, so that was my first inspiration. And talking with the folks at the Sonoran Glass School expanded my notion of the directions that glass can and does go in.
How did you find the local artists for the exhibits?
We do issue calls for entries for most of our exhibits. Those calls are sent out through an artist mailing list that we keep here at the park. I want our exhibitions to reflect the soul of our artist community here in Tucson. I love to see the artists basically showing us what the particular theme means to them. That's always quite magical to me. I want our exhibitions to serve our artists, to serve our visitors, to serve our entire community as a place where the creative conversation that is naturally happening can be condensed around a particular theme.
What do you hope people take away from viewing the exhibit?
I'd love for every visitor who walks into our galleries to leave thinking, "I didn't know glass could do that" and "I had no idea that we had artists who can make glass do that right here in our midst."