Arizona Biennial 2018 at TMA

Why haven’t I been here yet? That was my first thought when I walked in on a rainy Sunday.

Tucson locals have been recommending a trip to TMA for as long as I have lived here and for one reason or another I hadn’t gone. Maybe I didn’t want to pay the $12 admission (for adults, it’s less for kids, seniors and students)? I know, I know, I’ve been spoiled in DC with all their free museums! Maybe I was worried that parking would be difficult? It’s not, in fact, on Sunday street parking is free and if you get there early, like I did, there are dozens of open spots less than a block from the lower entrance – added bonus, I parked next to the Old Town Artisans building so I could have lunch and shopping after my time in the museum.


I owe big thanks to Tucson Weekly  and Margaret Regan’s July 12 cover story, “From Ordinary to Transcendent” for getting me to the Museum. I was drawn immediately to their cover photo of Papay Solomon’s self-portrait.

As Regan states, “It’s a beautifully rendered oil of his face in close-up, but something is off: a turban wrapped around his head is punctured with holes. Peek into the holes and you’ll see yourself in a mirror behind the canvas.”

It’s truly a powerful piece and no photo can adequately capture the detail and the depth of feeling as you merge into the painting – seeing yourself in the mirror in the turban.


Solomon’s painting is one of the 85 pieces in the Arizona Biennial 2018 exhibit. There are 70 artists from across Arizona and 37 Tucson artists, represented in this juried exhibition. “Guest curator Rebecca R. Hart, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Denver Art Museum, culled the winners from 1,507 entries,” states Regan.

I’m only sad that I missed the performance piece, “Mansplaining Help Desk.”!


I was particularly moved by Christopher Jagmin’s piece, “I Will Sleep Tonight.” created with a label maker and black push pins. As someone who has had my share of sleepless  nights, brought on by own nocturnal worries, this piece captured that sense exactly.

The color and detail in Bill Dambrova’s “You Are The Next to be Eaten,” a mixed media on canvas piece really caught my attention.

The texture and the depth of feeling in “Cloth” by Kareem Ferreira, had my attention for a good 15 minutes before I was able to move on.

To be honest, I was moved by nearly every piece in the show.  Some photograph better than others but all are worth seeing and experiencing for yourself.

Have you been to see this exhibit  yet? What are your favorites?



Arizona Biennial 2018 is at the TMA through 9/16.
TMA is located 140 N. Main Ave. 10am-5pm Tuesday through Sunday.
First Thursdays hours extended 5-8pm
$12 adults; $10 seniors 65+; $7 college students and kids 13-17; free for kids under 12, veterans and members.
First Thursdays are free to all from 5-8. Free for Arizona and Sonora residents on 2nd Sunday of the month from 10am – 5pm.
TMA Website