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Artist Betye Saar is 'Still Tickin'' at SMOCA

Written by Amy Young Category: Visual Arts Issue: February 2016
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Photo: Ashley Walker. Courtesy of the artist and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, CaliforniaIf the quality of the art exhibitions that have opened during this early part of the new year are indicators of what to expect from area galleries and museums in 2016, then we are in for an exceptional year. Of these recent openings, one of the most powerful is Betye Saar’s Still Tickin’, which opened at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) on January 30.

The exhibition is expansive; Saar’s career started in the 1960’s. Still Tickin’ takes you on a journey through Saar’s life, fearlessly revealing personal, social and cultural challenges that have been part of her path since her birth in the 1926. Presented is work Saar created to explore and examine three different themes: nostalgia and memory, mysticism and ritual, and political and racial. Her stories are told using a variety of mediums, including assemblages, collages, installations and sculptures.

Her skills reflect a natural ability, an ease, and as you weave through the exhibition, it’s impossible not to be intrigued. The thoughtfully chosen materials reveal honest and jarring messages that render you motionless. It’s also hard to not see some of her pieces created in decades past that comment on racism and previous political climate and compare them to current situations. It’s doubly sad when that thought highlights, in some cases, the similarities to things still occurring today.

Still Tickin’ is a layered and mesmerizing look at this important artist’s life and career – a must-see exhibition that runs through May 1, 2016.

Betye Saar, Still Ticking, 2005. Mixed media assemblage, 29 1/2 x 19 x 16 in. Courtesy the artist and Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, California. © Betye SaarIf you go:
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
Admission costs $7 for adults, $5 for students; free for members and ages 15 and younger
7374 E. Second St., Scottsdale
Hours vary Tuesdays through Sundays
480-874-4666, smoca.org