Tucson Gem and Mineral Show

Oaxacan Folk Art from the Shepard Barbash and Vicki Ragan Collection

Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block (TMA) examines how art transformed as Oaxaca’s artisan towns evolved in Oaxacan Folk Art from the Shepard Barbash and Vicki Ragan Collection, scheduled for October 3, 2019 to August 9, 2020. The exhibition will open with a free community celebration on Thursday, October 3 from 5—8 p.m.

The exhibition includes more than 100 wooden carvings and clay sculptures created in the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico. Subjects include festival and market scenes, Bible stories, a variety of animals, and mythical and fantastic figures. The exhibition is organized by Tucson Museum of Art and curated by Kristopher Driggers, Schmidt Curator of Latin American Art.

Writer Shepard Barbash and photographer Vicki Ragan collected more than 1200 pieces of folk art since the 1980s, building one of the nation’s premier collections of Oaxacan woodcarving and ceramics. In March 2019 they donated their collection to Tucson Museum of Art in order to keep the artwork together and allow it to tell the story of artistic and social transformation in Oaxaca.

As these artforms came to prominence on the international art market, conditions in local towns were transformed by new economic prominence and by greater contact with an international community of dealers, collectors, scholars, and others.

According to Driggers, “Visually, Oaxacan folk art is exciting—the works in this exhibition do not shy away from bold color, from brilliant surfaces, or from unexpected shapes. But just as importantly, the Barbash-Ragan Collection shows us that Latin American folk art can be both highly experimental and deeply in touch with the context in which it is made.”

Two public programs have been scheduled in conjunction with the opening of the exhibition:

Opening celebration (October 3, 5—8 p.m.). Live music by guitarist Eduardo Costa, dances by Ballet Folklorico Arizona (5:30 p.m.), and a pop-up shop by La Syrena Barrio Books as well as art-making, gallery activities, and a cash bar. Free admission.
Collector’s Conversation (October 5, 2 p.m.). Join Shepard Barbash and Vicki Ragan in conversation with Senior Curator Dr. Julie Sasse as they discuss their passion for collecting Oaxacan folk art and share interesting stories about the artisans they befriended. Free for members/included with paid admission. RSVP required as space is limited.

Oaxacan Folk Art from the Shepard Barbash and Vicki Ragan Collection is presented with support from TMA’s Latin American Art Patrons.

The 2019/2020 Exhibition Season at the Tucson Museum of Art is generously sponsored by Joyce Broan.

About the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block

The Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block’s mission is Connecting Art to Life. The museum was founded in 1924 and is located in the El Presidio Historic District of downtown Tucson. It is Southern Arizona’s premier presenter of fine art and art education programs.

The museum features permanent and traveling exhibitions of Modern and Contemporary, Native American, American West, Latin American, pre-Columbian, European and Asian art. The 74,000-square-foot museum offers guided tours and education programs. The museum’s historic block of 19th and 20th-century adobe and Mission Revival-style buildings, encompassing a four-acre city block, includes the highly acclaimed museum restaurant Café a la C’Art, the Museum Store and additional exhibition spaces.

TMA is a private 501(c)(3) charitable arts and education organization. For additional information visit TucsonMuseumofArt.org or call (520) 624-2333.


Oct 3, 2019 - Aug 9, 2020


Tucson Museum of Art
140 N. Main Ave.
Tucson, AZ 85701




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