UArizona Art Exhibition Explores Universal Subject of Food

artwork of cherries on a plate in front of a forest

"Histrionic Beauty Suite: Cherries/Mountain" by Sherrie Wolf. Photo by Aaron Wessling Photography

The University of Arizona Museum of Art this month will unveil an art exhibit that's good enough to eat.

Fitting for Tucson, the first UNESCO City of Gastronomy in the United States, "The Art of Food: From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation" will open at the museum on Oct. 24 and run through March 20, 2022.

Offering something for every palette, the exhibition features more than 100 works in a variety of media by known artists such as Andy Warhol, as well as lesser known artists such as Lorna Simpson, Enrique Chagoya and Hung Liu.

"This is the largest UAMA exhibition of the last decade," said Jill McCleary, deputy director and acting head of the museum. "In terms of both the number of works and prominent artists featured, as well as because of the significance of the subject matter."

The exhibition captures the myriad ways that artists of the 20th and 21st centuries have considered food – a universal subject made even more topical by the ongoing pandemic.

"Food is complex," said Olivia Miller, the exhibition's curator. "Not only is it a physical necessity, but it is also integral to our communities, relationships, cultures and memories. It's a commodity, it's a livelihood and it has ethical implications. This exhibition explores all of these facets of food and prompts us to consider our own relationships with it."

The art on display comes to the museum from the renowned private collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer, a businessman and philanthropist who generously lends his works to qualified institutions. Schnitzer, who began collecting in 1988, now counts over 19,000 works in his collection.

"The University of Arizona Museum of Art is a wonderful museum," Schnitzer said. "This exhibition's title, 'The Art of Food,' is so appropriate for a university and community that realizes the importance of food in our lives. The artists represented are some of the most important of our time. Visit the exhibition and let these artists speak to you."

Schnitzer is president of Harsch Investment Properties, a privately owned real estate company based in Portland, Oregon, that acquires, manages and develops properties for its own portfolio. The company owns and operates 28 million square feet of office, multitenant industrial, multifamily and retail properties in six Western states. Harsch acquired its first property in Arizona in 1963 and opened a regional office in Tucson in 2020. Harsch now owns and operates over 1 million square feet of buildings in Tucson.

Exhibit Includes Community Voices

The exhibition will open with a free "The Art of Food" Community Day on Oct. 24 from 12-4 pm. The event coincides with the reopening of the museum, which has been closed to the public since March 2020 due to the pandemic and a subsequent construction project. On Community Day, visitors can enjoy hands-on art activities including a community food-themed mural as well as demonstrations by local artists and performances by community organizations.

The Tucson community is prevalent throughout "The Art of Food" and related programming. Fifteen works in the exhibition are accompanied by community labels authored by locals who share what the art means to them. Each piece directs visitors to a mobile guide with additional background, stories and media.

The museum is also presenting a monthly "At the Table" speaker series to complement the exhibition. The series will draw from thinkers in the campus community, including Joela Jacobs, assistant professor of German studies in the College of Humanities. Jacobs will present "Sexy Salad and Manly Meat: Are We Really What We Eat?" on Oct. 28.

A companion exhibition, "Our Stories I Acts of Love and Community: Sharing Experiences with Food and Art," also opens on Oct. 24 and runs through Dec. 19 at the museum.. The exhibition showcases a collaboration between ArtWorks – an art studio and gallery for and by Tucson artists with intellectual and developmental disabilities – and university students in the course "Theory and Practice in Art Museum Education."

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