Modern Art at TMA

Emily Mostoller
December 4, 2022

Painting the Picture

Visual art has a special talent in making us feel a certain way, while also creating a unique experience for each person. This drove me to experience the Tucson Museum of Art for myself. The outside presence of the building may be deceiving, painted a pale yellow with not much decoration or windows coating the residence. However, this unremarkable facade allowed me to dive deeper into art as the exterior contrasts with the explosion of color and expression waiting on the other side of the doors. 

An Individual Experience

The Tucson Museum of Art is very much a self-paced and individual experience. There are a rare amount of museum experts placed throughout the museum. The majority of staff being security guards to protect the pieces of artwork. The Tucson Museum of Art has incredibly diverse pieces of art, which are easily categorized into different owners including: Anne Y. Snodgrass, Sandra and Robert Maxfield, and more!

Since there is so much to view and experience I focused mainly on the Modern Art section. This is located in the Permanent Collection gallery, owned by Anne Y. Snodgrass. Although it is far down in the building, the gallery belongs in a small, quaint room away from the usual spreads of artwork. This differs from the normal spreads of pieces which are out in the open and allow for art genres to blend more easily. 

Modern Art Exhibit

While the entirety of the museum offers a sense of peace through the observations and calm in others, this corner of the exhibit exudes complete silence and serenity. The only sound comes from the ongoing air conditioning giving cool bursts of air while you make your way down the cascading walkways, moving through the pieces of art. Additionally, the light shade of sea glass green tinted across all four walls gives more calmness. This is done through the use of light, cool colors which add to the experience. This specific exhibit showcases postmodernism art from both Europeans and Americans. It includes works from Randall Davey, Helen Sawyer, Frederick Carl Frieseke, and more.

My favorite painting was done by Frederick Carl Frieseke entitled “Morning Sun”. The main focus of the painting is a woman as she sits at her desk chair. However, she appears to be staring at herself in the mirror with a beautiful white dress stitched with a dark aqua green. The painting incorporates mostly cool toned colors like blue and green, which made me feel calm. However, there is a lingering sense of melancholy I feel, wondering what is on the woman’s mind, and the purpose and intent of the details that Frieseke is trying to convey to viewers. 

Fun Gift Shop

The gift shop is the first thing visitors are greeted with upon entering. We encountered a chorus of chatter and the welcoming faces of two smiling young women. My eyes were immediately drawn to the massive shelves filled with all sorts of trinkets. In one section, there are key chains, tote bags, and small paintings and wood carvings donated by local artists. These artworks consist of saguaros, coyotes, tortoises, and plenty of other pieces pertaining to Arizona’s landscape.

All these items in the gift shop are unique and beautifully crafted from different artists with differing interpretations of what the city of Tucson means to them. In a separate section of the gift shop, art supplies sporadically decorate the shelves. The art supplies range from children’s coloring books to oil paints, pastels, and charcoal. The museum allows for artists’ of every skill level to participate in art while also giving them inspiration from successful, well-known artists.  Although there is more ‘hustle and bustle” in the gift shop, there is a stillness and calm that encapsulates you throughout the journey through the museum. 

Check it out!

Whether you possess the admiration for art, or you are looking for something new to explore in Tucson, the Tucson Museum of Art is the place to be; located at 140 N Main Ave, Tucson, AZ 85701 you’ll find the joy and tranquility you’ve been searching for. To see their website, click here.


Emily Mostoller is a student attending the University of Arizona. She wishes to earn her undergraduate degree in the Neuroscience & Cognitive Science program.