With its dazzling sunsets and iconic landscape, Tucson provides local artists with a wealth of inspiration to draw from. As a result, the local art scene constantly produces a variety of magnificent works of art that encapsulate the Tucson spirit. We asked five local artists to shed some light on their creative process. You can find what they said, along with where to find their work, below.
"Catalina Salmon": "The scenery around Tucson and especially in the foothills informs and inspires my work. The landscape painter’s challenge is to take the totality of the scene, reduce it to a small flat rectangle while capturing as much of its essential quality as possible. When tackling the majestic Grand Canyon, a fantastic brilliant sunset, colorful Sabino Canyon saguaros or romantic monsoon clouds, I try to show versatility in a wide range of Arizona subject matter. While living here, I have kept a constant connection to and appreciation of its ever-changing beauty.”—Tom Murray
Where to Find His Work: Jane Hamilton Fine Art—What began as a request for spiritual guidance on a career path in a teepee in Taos, New Mexico, is now a flourishing art gallery in the Catalina Foothills. After stepping out of her teepee to "gallery sit" for a friend one morning, Hamilton became an art dealer, traveling throughout New Mexico and Arizona, before opening Jane Hamilton Fine Art in Bisbee, Arizona in 1992. Jane and her gallery switched locations to Tucson, where they are now situated, amassing a substantial collection along the way. The gallery now boasts over 40 artists—including Tom Murray—and a variety of styles from abstract to three-dimensional.
Precarious Rock Series: "Reflecting": "This series plays on the organic, earthy theme of rocks. The rock series came about by exploring shape-making techniques, whose consequent was not a vessel. The ‘precarious’ notion comes from the fact that the rocks are laminated in seemingly gravity-defying positions.”—Tom Philabaum
Where to Find His Work: Philabaum Glass Gallery & Studio—This eponymous gallery located seven blocks south of Downtown is run by Philabaum and his wife, Dabney. Dabney runs the gallery, exhibiting Tom's designs along with the works of artists from across the country, while Tom spearheads the studio of blown glass.
Carly Quinn Designs: “I draw inspiration from my Southwestern surroundings to create unique, one-of-a-kind, hand-glazed tiles.”—Carly Quinn
Where to Find Her Work: Carly Quinn Designs—After being scouted by a Tucson tile company that specialized in the mass production of hand-glazed tiles in 2008, Quinn ventured off on her own in 2011 and created her own studio and gallery space downtown. She works with some of the top designers in Southern Arizona to create one-of-a-kind, limited-edition specialty tile lines, custom counter tops, backsplashes and other various tiles that can be found in numerous galleries and businesses throughout the Southwest, New Mexico, Colorado and California.
Shirley Wagner's Sculptural Series: “Jewelry is a natural extension of my sculptural work. In the same studio where I construct dimensional wall sculptures of wood, metal and minerals, I now use these same materials in the construction of art necklaces.”—Shirley Wagner
Where to Find Her Work: Limited Additions—A local favorite for over 30 years, you can find "art to wear" from both European and American designers at Limited Additions. Store owner Margrit travels to fine craft shows all over the U.S., Paris and Berlin to search for new artists and bring back some of her favorite finds to share with Tucson fashionistas.
"Trail in the Desert": “Driving back from California, I saw a magnificent cloud formation over mountains. I knew I wanted to paint the scene, so I snapped a few photos to preserve details for future reference.”—Diana Madaras
Where to Find Her Work: Madaras Gallery—This 2,800-square-foot gallery features the largest collection of Tucson art, showcasing the paintings of Diana Madaras alongside the work of 22 guest artists. In addition to paintings, art aficionados can also find canvas reproductions, prints, sculptures, ceramics, hand-blown glass, gourd masks, jewelry and carved mesquite by renowned Arizona artists.