Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson

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Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson
MOCA, Tucson

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)[1] in Tucson, Arizona, United States, was founded in 1997, by Julia Latane, James Graham, and David Wright. The museum was founded to create a permanent institution for contemporary art in Tucson's arts district. Originally housed in the HazMat building on Toole Avenue, the museum relocated to the former Fire Department building on Church Avenue in 2010.


Toole Building[edit]

Before moving to the fire station, the exhibition space was located in the HazMat building on Toole Avenue.

In 1992, James Graham, Julia Latané and Dave Lewis founded the Toole Shed Studios under the auspices of the Tucson Arts Coalition (TAC). MOCA was incorporated in the spring of 1997. It was conceived as the next step in the continued growth and development of the Toole Shed Artists’ Studios and as an important addition to the downtown Arts District. In order to better serve the interests of the tenants and the community, and responding to the wealth of local contemporary art activity, the artists of Toole Shed Studios decided to incorporate as an independent cooperative. The articles of incorporation and bylaws were written in 1997 and 501(c)3 status was received by the end of that year. Graham was the Founding Director of MOCA, and Latané served as President of the board with David Wright (founder of Sixth Congress Gallery) as Secretary and Treasurer.

During the spring of 1998, the foundations for MOCA were laid. In August 1998 the opportunity arose to occupy a warehouse space at 191 East Toole Avenue. Over the course of the next four months, volunteer labor and many hours of hard work transformed this derelict warehouse into the Museum of Contemporary Art, with over four thousand square feet of exhibition space.

In March 2003, the position of Executive Director and Chief Curator was appointed to Anne-Marie Russell[2] and in 2017 Ginger Shulick Porcella became the new Executive Director and Chief Curator of MOCA.[3]

Fire Station[edit]

In 2009, Tucson’s Fire Station #1 was decommissioned and the firefighters moved to a new facility. An request for proposal for “highest and best use” was issued and MOCA Tucson saw this as a dual opportunity to obtain a permanent facility and to preserve an important part of Arizona’s modernist architectural history. The main hall originally used for fire trucks became the main exhibition space; the first-floor offices were transformed into white-box galleries for display of intimate work; the firefighters’ quarters became artist-in-residence accommodations; second story offices were adapted into the education space and administrative offices for the museum.[4] Since 2009, MOCA has mounted eight to twelve exhibitions per year presenting work by locally, regionally, nationally and internationally known artists. MOCA has established an Artist-in-Residence Program, youth programming targeted at underserved populations, a robust public programming calendar including ArtNow!, Artist Talk series, dance, performance, music and other events celebrating the arts.


Date of Exhibit Exhibit Name Artist(s)
March 6 – June 13, 2010 Made in Tucson/Born in Tucson/Live in Tucson Part 1 Artists included in the exhibition: Taylor Baldwin, Don Bell, Robert Breer, Skyler Brickley, Raven Chacon, Robert Colescott, Bailey Doogan, SJ Gibson, Amy Granat, Harmony Hammond, Alex Hay, Drew Heitzler, Adam Helms, Charles Hitner, Brookhart Jonquil, Marguerite Kahrl, Kim Largey, Jessica James Lansdon, Julia Latané, Carolyn Leigh, Dave Lewis, Jason Manley, Mathieu Mercier, Tom Miller, Olivier Mosset, Vik Muniz Coke Wisdom O’Neal, Raymond Pettibon, Lucy Raven, Francois Robert, Dave Sayre, Aili Schmeltz, Ken Shorr, Luke Stettner, Andy Steinbrink, Eric Golo Stone, Julianne Swartz, Janaina Tschäpe, Kade L. Twist, Dick Tuck, Alex Von Bergen, Steven Yazzie, Nathan Young, and Peter Young
July 10 – September 26, 2010 Made in Tucson/Born in Tucson/Live in Tucson Part 2 Artists included in the exhibition: Jack Balas, Matt Cotten, Lawrence Gipe, Dimitri Kozyrev, Kim Largey, Bill Mackey, Chika Matsuda, Armando Miguélez, Dean Narcho, Alfred Quiroz, Lucy Raven, Gwyneth Scally, Kenneth Shorr, Dana Smith, Paco Velez, and Lee Ann Woolery.
October 23, 2010 – May 29, 2011 The Artist As Collector: Olivier Mosset Artists included in the exhibition: Peter Young, Jeffrey Schad, Vincent Szarek, Virginia Overton, George Belcher, Mathieu Mercier, Serge Bard, Drew Heitzler, Amy Granat, Alexandre Bianchini, Jeff Bursey, Darren Clark, Catherine Eyde, Sylvie Fleury, John Armleder, Cliff Taylor, Emory Douglas, Frederic Sanchez, Hinrich Sachs, Francis Baudevin, Renee Levi, Joan Waltemath, John Nixon, Sarina Basta & Gabrielle Penabaz, S.J. Gibson, Dave Sayre, Chuck Nanney, Nicole Hassler, Steven Parrino, Dimitry Orlac, Emily Sunblad, Haley Mellin,

Lawrence Weiner, Jackie McAllister, Mike Bidlo, Fia Backstrom, Robert Colescott, Liam Gillick, Dan Walsh, Isabel Halley & Joana Avillez, Howard Smith, Christian Robert-Tissot, Dan Graham, Sherrie Levine, Louise Lawler, Michael Zahn, Yves Klein.

March 5 – May 29, 2011 The Slanted Broom Jocko Weyland
Tomorrowland Aili Schmeltz
July 9 – October 16, 2011 The Tucson Work Gerben Mulder
October 22, 2011 - April 1, 2012 The Punk Years 1978-86 Raymond Pettibon
November 1, 2010 – March 25, 2011 Plata o Plomo Camp Bosworth
Winter 2011
December 17, 2010 – March 25, 2011 Legislate Crazy Armando Miguelez
Spring 2012
April 21 – November 21, 2012 The Air Show Participating Artists: Gerban Mulder, Brookhart Jonquil, Mathieu Mercier, Jessica James Lansdon, Olivier Mosset, Janaina Tschäpe, Sarina Basta & Gabrielle Penabaz, Peter Young, Vincent Szarek, Alois Kronschlaeger, Dorothy Iannone, Jocko Weyland, Henry Kerr, Robert Colescott, Coke Wisdom O’Neal, Armando Miguélez
Summer 2012
June 30 – September 16, 2012 Quietly Taking Over the World Vinjon Global Corp
Winter 2012
December 14, 2011– April 27, 2012 Capitalist Masterpieces Peter Young
Spring 2013
May 25 – July 7, 2012 Chrysalis Chico MacMutrie/ Amorphic Robot Works
May 25 – September 22, 2013 Action Through Redaction Kenneth Shorr
July 26 – August 18, 2013 The Early Years Wylywn Dominic Reyes
July 13 – September 8, 2013 The Box Coke Wisdom O'Neal
Fall 2013
October 4 – March 16, 2014 Untitled (Basin and Range) Alois Kronschlaeger
How to Kill a Marvin Gaye Song David Sayre
Spring 2014
February 15 – May 18, 2014 Floating Worlds Janaina Tschape
Summer 2014
June 21-September 14, 2014 Blueprint Guest Curator: Sebastiaan Bremer and Florian Idenburg & Jing Liu
MOCA Bas-Relief (Mike-Papa-Bravo) Sebastiaan Bremer
BAKERMAN I.U.D. (Lizzi Bougatsos, Sadie Laska, and Spencer Sweeny)
Fall 2014
September 27 – December 7, 2014 Mouton Francois-Zavier LaLanne
On Kindness Jacob Kassay & Kyle Thurman
Golden State Guest curator: Drew Heitzler

Artists included in the exhibition: Samara Golden, Lucy Dodd, Kaari Upson, Lucy Raven, Amy Yao, Pentii Monkkonen, Liz Craft, Mungo Thomson, Scott Benzel, Theodora Allen

Spring 2015
January 11 - May 31, 2015 Robert Barber: A Retrospective Robert Barber
Summer 2015
June 20 - September 26, 2015 Mobile Pools
6 Artists Artists included in the exhibition: Eli Burke, Bryan Crow, Ishi Glinsky, Jessica James Lansdon, Andrew Shuta, Jason Write
Fall 2015
October 24, 2015 - January 31, 2016 Next Time Alex Von Bergen
Best Dressed Pirate Alex Streeter
Spring 2016
February 13 - May 29, 2016 For All: Selections from the Arts for All Archive
Every Word Said: History Lessens from Athens and Tucson Nicole Miller
1991-2016 Max Estenger
Summer 2016
June 18 -September 25, 2016 Tucson 3 Ways: A Foray into Digital Alchemy MachineHistories
Gardens of the Pure Kitty Brophy, Emma Kohlmann, Alice Mackler
Christofer Churchill Christofer Churchill
Steven Parrino Steven Parrino
Fall 2016
October 29 - January 29, 2017 Meeting the Clouds Halfway Aranda\Lasch and Terrol Dew Johnson
Sleep Never Rusts JPW3
Sound and Noise Miranda Lichtenstein
Spring 2017
February 18 - May 28, 2017 If You Stay Busy You Have No Time to Be Unhappy
How to Make and Mend Cast Nets Andy Steinbrink
From Antelope Springs Dennis Jeffy
The Joy of Multitasking John Kilduff
Summer 2017
June 17 - October 1, 2017 A night on the edge of forever: The art of midnight films, free theater, and the psychedelic Underground San Francisco 1969-1973 Guest Curator: Steve Terry

Various artists included in the exhibition

Why?! Why Did You Take My Log?!?! Virginia Overton
Selected Ambient Works, Volume II Chuck Nanney
Tucson Nights: After dark in the Naked Pueblo Tucson John
Fall 2017
October 7 - December 31, 2017 Nothing to Declare Artists included in the exhibition: Lana Z. Caplan, Saulo Cisneros, Wesley Fawcett Creigh, Miguel Frenandez de Castro, Einar & Jamex de la Torre, Blane de St. Croix, Francisco Eme, Louis Hock, Khaled Jarrar, Kaydee Jimenez, PANCA, Omar Pimienta, Marcos Ramirez
Estamos Buscando Paul Turounet
BYNOWWEARETHERE Artists included in the exhibition: Isan Brant, Stephanie Burchett, Conor Elliot Fitzgerald, Wren Gardiner, Hellen Gaudence, Jonathan Marquis, Nassem Navab, Karoliina Paatos, Dustin Shores, Galen Trezise, David Taylor
Winter 2017
January 13, 2017 - March 25, 2018 Westification Rosson Crow
In Residence Rose Eken
Out of the Pale Victoria Fu
Town and Country Robert Melee
Carl Jung's Assault Rifles The Game Bryan Zanisnik
Spring 2018
April 7 - June 30, 2018 Last Nation Folkert de Jong


MOCA Tucson has two large fundraisers a year: an annual Gala and a Fall Fundraiser. Every two years, the gala features the Local Genius Awards, honoring visionary and innovative Tucsonans whose activities have a global impact and whose talents have been internationally recognized.

LGA Award Recipients
Year Award Recipient
2018 Carol A. Barnes
Thomas Grogan
Susan Stryker
2016 Ofelia Zepeda
Mort Rosenblum
Andrew Weil, M.D.
Brad Lancaster
2013 Rick Joy
Dr. Gary Nabham
Dr. Anna Dornhaus
Robert A. Williams
Peter Warshall, Ph.D.
2011 Joey Burnes (of Calexico)
John Convertino (of) Calexico)
Jacob Valenzuela (of Calexico)
Dr. Diana Liverman
Jane Poynter
Taber MacCallum
Leslie Marmon Silko
Janos Wilder
2009 Peter Smith
Byrd Baylor
Sherwin Bitsui
Suzana Davila
Robert Colescott
Howe Gelb

Residency Programs[edit]

Artist-in-Residence Program[edit]

MOCA Tucson has a competitive artist residency program that was relaunched through a public application process in 2017, receiving several hundred applications for just seven annual slots lasting between two weeks and three months. Selected artists receive private studio and housing space, studio visits with curators, production stipends and PR support, as well as an opportunity to present a public program, exhibition, or lecture at the museum.

2017/2018 Artists-in-Residence
Date Artist(s)
October 8–28, 2017 Bryan Zanisnik
November 11–23, 2017 Gelare Khoshgozaran
October 8, 2017 - January 13, 2017 Robert Melee
January 15 - March 31, 2018 Kris Grey
Scotty Wagner and Bailey Hikawa
May 1–22, 2018 Rachel Frank
October 1 - December 31, 2018 Tra Bouscaren

Curator-in-Residence Program[edit]

MOCA recently launched a Curator-in Residence Program starting in 2019 with the first Curator-in-Residence, Alex Young. Selected museum professionals will be given a three-month residency and MOCA will provide time, space, and access to resources for a curator to develop an exhibition, conduct research, and engage with MOCA Tucson’s artists-in-residence.


  1. ^ MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art), Metromix Tucson.
  2. ^ Regan, Margaret. "MOCA Rising". Tucson Weekly. Retrieved 2018-06-01.
  3. ^ Regan, Margaret. "MOCA Metamorphosis". Tucson Weekly. Retrieved 2018-06-25.
  4. ^ "The Architect's Newspaper". 2010-10-26. Retrieved 2018-06-01.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 32°13′05″N 110°58′18″W / 32.2181°N 110.9718°W / 32.2181; -110.9718