A new exhibition opening at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art on Oct. 22 will provide a unique perspective on the museum’s permanent collection by bringing on more than 20 members of the Scottsdale Arts staff as co-curators.
“Inside Job: Staff Selections from the SMoCA Collection” will feature a variety of artworks, from recent acquisitions to familiar favorites, all selected by employees of Scottsdale Arts who are not typically museum curators, according to a press release. Among the co-curators is Lane Honda, a member of the Scottsdale Arts protection services staff.
A licensed security guard, Honda is also an artist who has studied Japanese brush and ink techniques, watercolors and graphic design, the release stated. Although he’s responsible for watching over the artwork at SMoCA, Honda also takes the time to learn about the artists on display so he can share details with visitors.
“I enjoy seeing eyes light up when they are told some insight into the inner emotions of the artists,” Honda stated in the release.
He chose an untitled lithograph by artist Bill Owens from the collection to be included in “Inside Job.” The piece portrays horses in black and white, reminding Honda of youthful dreams and simple times as a child, watching western television shows with his family, the release explained.
Each of the staff members will present artworks that resonate with them in some way, providing a glimpse into who they are, the work they do and why they do it. Through personal stories and anecdotes, the staff members encourage visitors to explore the human connections we make with contemporary art.
Scottsdale Arts is the umbrella nonprofit that operates SMoCA, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Scottsdale Public Art and Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation. The exhibition includes co-curators from all four branches and the organization’s shared services departments like administration, development, human resources, protection services, marketing and communications.
Cassandra Buruato started at Scottsdale Arts as a part-time preparator for Canal Convergence and is now the executive assistant to Dr. Gerd Wuestemann, president and CEO of Scottsdale Arts. Buruato chose “Juego de Cartas,” a collagraph and collage by Puerto Rican artist Myrna Báez, for the exhibition because of its warm colors and the familiarity of its subject matter: playing cards at the family table.
“It was the first time I had seen an entire gallery dedicated to Latin women and the labor they endure living in the Southwest,” Buruato stated in the release. “The warmth of the exhibition offered a familial sense.”
The artwork reminds Buruato of a memorable SMoCA exhibition, “Division of Labor: Women Shifting a Transnational Gaze,” the release explained.
“This was the first time I had experienced that feeling in a museum setting.” Buruato stated. “‘Juego de Cartas’ is just as warm and unpretentious. … There is nothing more exciting than seeing Latin women proudly showing their heritage and a piece of their home in a historically white, upper-class space.”
The co-curators share how art is personally and professionally meaningful in its ability to spark memories and forge emotional connections, inspire multidisciplinary collaboration and encourage creative problem-solving. Humor, nostalgia and cultural critique accompany inside perspectives on working in the arts, providing accessible insights into the collection.
Charlotte Quinney, Ph.D., campus engagement coordinator for Scottsdale Art Learning & Innovation, led the team of co-curators, managing the organization of the exhibition and helping her colleagues develop curatorial content.
“It is exciting to see how each individual connects with art in a unique way, offering visitors different access points into contemporary art,” Quinney stated in the release. “Personal memories, insights into museum roles and relationships with artists, students and family all tell a different story about an artwork.”
Visitors will be able to interactively explore the varied personalities and diverse career trajectories of Scottsdale Arts staff and to consider how their own life and work influences a connection to contemporary art.
“This exhibition promotes intentional and chance connections across disciplines and across generations of staff, artists and audiences to offer us all an opportunity to reflect on how challenging, fun, relatable and inspirational contemporary art can be,” Quinney stated.
“Inside Job: Staff Selections from the SMoCA Collection” is organized by Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and co-curated by Scottsdale Arts staff. The exhibition runs from Oct. 22 through April 30, 2023.
SMoCA is located at 7374 E. Second St. It is open Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., and on Thursdays, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Visit SMoCA.org for information.
Admission is $10–$12 for non-members; $7–$9 for students, seniors (65+) and veterans; and free for Scottsdale Arts ONE Members, healthcare workers, first responders, and patrons 18 and younger.
Admission to the museum is free every Thursday and every second Saturday of the month. Timed-entry tickets are required.