Sculpture Tucson Presents Installations by Two Accomplished Southwest Artists

Apr 19th – May 30th

  • Time10:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Sculpture Tucson, the non-profit organization located at 3420 E. River Rd. that promotes large-scale public art and places sculpture in public places throughout Tucson and Southern Arizona, is pleased to showcase the sculptures of esteemed Southwest artists Julia Arriola and Hector Ortega. The installations include 17 large-scale sculptures in total. These sculptures are now on view until Thursday, May 30 at Sculpture Tucson’s Sculpture Park.

Arriola’s exhibition titled “Remember Me: Bringing My Story to Light” features nine life-sized steel cut-out dresses. Her pieces are surrounded by Hector Ortega’s exhibition “Emanate”, which features eight new steel sculptures.

“We expect to interact with solitary works of art, but it is another thing when they interact with each other,” said Sculpture Tucson Co-founder and artist Barbara Grygutis, who carefully curated the pairing of the sculptors’ works for the exhibitions. “The works of Arriola and Ortega do just that.”

“Remember Me: Bringing My Story to Light” is on view in the lower center of the Sculpture Park and showcases nine steel dancing dresses. These disembodied dresses of six women and three children represent the lives of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. Emblazoned with bright red paint, these sculptures summon viewers to see the mostly invisible lives of threatened girls and women in the community.

The dresses refer to the flimsy paper clothes of paper dolls; the unwavering strength of steel melds with the whimsical nod to dress-up to carry their message. “Remember Me” follows Arriola’s piece titled “We Need To Give A Damn: She Lived, She Inspired” for the Tucson Museum of Art collection in 2020. This latest collection is a continuation of Arriola’s involvement in bringing attention to this national crisis of missing and murdered women.

Arriola, of Mescalero/Mayo descent, was born in Tucson in 1952. She studied music at the University of Arizona before joining the Navy. After the Navy she spent several years at Hughes Aircraft, now Raytheon, learning manufacturing skills. She then returned to the UArizona where she earned a BFA in metal arts followed by an MFA in sculpture and a master’s in landscape architecture. She is a retired curator of the Arizona Historical Society. Her artworks include ledger drawings, sculptures and assemblage sculptures allowing her to interpret her own ideas and experiences. She is passionate about connecting art and history, which she calls “the perfect combination for design, interpretation and creativity, a beautiful braid of endless possibilities!”

Ortega’s “Emanate,” featuring eight abstract steel sculptures, encircles the park’s center amphitheater. This collection of pieces represents Ortega’s sense of thermodynamics, “where a central energy goes out and changes into other things” as well as how that relates to his creative ideas and geometric emanations from his soul. He adds: “I am inspired by these mountains, you can look right up at them. Those mountains are right there.”

These one-of-a-kind abstract yet simplified geometric forms in steel serve as interpretations of gentle arcs, rolling waves, branches, boulders and the moon. Geology—erosion, oxidation, time and nature—is visibly present in each piece.

Ortega creates these pieces to both comfort and inspire viewers. His inspiration is drawn from his early mentors including his father, a trained architect, as well as architects Christopher Coover, who designed the Heard Museum in Phoenix, and Bob Bacon of the Boulders Resort in Scottsdale. A first-generation Mexican-American Latino, Ortega earned AAs in both architectural drafting and studio arts from Phoenix College. From 2004 to 2009, he apprenticed with the ARC Form Studio. He lives and works in Phoenix and is a regular exhibitor at the Shemer Art Center Sculpture Show in Phoenix.

Ortega is also participating in the Sculpture Tucson Festival, which takes place on Saturday, March 16 and Sunday, March 17 at Brandi Fenton Park. This event is free and open to the public. On Thursday, March 15, a special reception and preview party will be held. This event is ticketed; for ticket details, contact Sculpture Tucson at 520-955-4973.

Attendance to view Arriola’s and Ortega’s installations is free and open to the public until Thursday, May 30. Sculpture Tucson’s indoor gallery space and offices in the Brandi Fenton Park are housed in the Post House, a historic ranch recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. Hours for both the indoor gallery space and Sculpture Park are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays as well as by appointment.

For more, visit
  • Location The Post House
  • 3420 E. River Rd
  • Tucson, Arizona 85718


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