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Contemporary Art

Every year, EPMA installs over 200 works of art on loan from major institutions around the world. Art Bridges - a nonprofit organization dedicated to sharing American art throughout the U.S. - loaned three works of contemporary art to EPMA: Robert Gober’s Untitled butter sculpture, Jeff Koons’ One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank, and Richard Prince’s Conflict for Nurse Elsa.

Asked and Answered

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What makes art meaningful?
El Paso Museum of Art

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Its aesthetic, cultural and universal worth is relative.

Ho, Artist

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Why are there walls and spaces that don’t have art on them?

Hal, Artist

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Great question! Some walls in the museum are not suitable for hanging art because they have obstructions or distractions, like light switches or fire prevention circuitry. Over the last year we have been making small adjustments where we can to maximize hang-able space. Did you know we have 35,000 square feet of exhibition and programming space?

El Paso Museum of Art

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What makes an artwork memorable?

El Paso Museum of Art
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What makes art meaningful?
El Paso Museum of Art

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The need to explore, observe, examine, question

Rachelle, Artist

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What makes art meaningful?
El Paso Museum of Art

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If art makes me feel good, it is meaningful.

Hal, Artist

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What makes an artwork memorable?

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What makes art meaningful?
El Paso Museum of Art

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[If] something … poses more questions than it answers.

Suzi, Artist

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Why don’t we have a café/eatery in our museum?

Hal, Artist

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We wish the museum had an industrial kitchen, so that we could have a café! In lieu of that, visit the store for pop-ups with local merchants selling refreshments like cold-brewed coffee and other treats.

El Paso Museum of Art

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What makes art meaningful?
El Paso Museum of Art

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A special encounter and yet with each … visit a fresh revelation is fueled by the image, material or context.

Kim, Artist

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What makes art meaningful?
El Paso Museum of Art

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Art is a form of human expression, and the creative act is most meaningful to the creator.

Ho, Artist

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We know the EPMA has a significant amount of artwork in the collection. What percentage are typically on display?

Kim, Artist

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We have over 7,000 treasures and only 35,000 square feet of exhibition and programming space! At any given time about 5% of our permanent collection is on view, which is average for a collecting art museum.

El Paso Museum of Art

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What are the museum’s plans for programming/direction to remain a relevant and vital part of the cultural mix of the Southwest?

Suzi, Artist

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We are always considering questions like “Why do this right now here?” and “How will this serve our communities, our visitors?” We remain vital to the cultural ecosystem in the region by presenting a variety of exhibitions, programs, and ideas that those of us living in the area would not otherwise be able to access. Examples of this include our Border Biennial, last year’s exhibition Power and Piety featuring Spanish Colonial Art from Venezuela, and the upcoming exhibition Luces y Sombras: Images of Mexico.

El Paso Museum of Art

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What can we do to draw more Hispanics to the museum?

Gaspar, Artist

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We are always looking to expand our audiences! That being said, we are proud to say that a majority of our visitors are Latino.

El Paso Museum of Art

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What are some of Tom lea's major artworks/paintings available at the museum?

Suresh, Student

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The El Paso Museum of Art proudly houses the nation’s second-largest collection of artwork by Tom Lea (1907-2001), beloved El Pasoan and prominent early Texas draftsman, muralist, author, and war correspondent. The collection includes landscape paintings, portraits, drawings, and ephemera, including the sketchbook Lea carried with him while working as a World War II artist correspondent for LIFE magazine. A number of Lea’s paintings–including Sarah, the 1939 portrait of his wife–are on view in the museum’s newly renovated Early Texas Art Gallery, located on the second floor.

El Paso Museum of Art

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El Paso Museum of Art
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What makes art meaningful?
El Paso Museum of Art

A

[If it] relates to the individuals experiences, ideas, and feelings.

Gaspar, Artist

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What makes art meaningful?
El Paso Museum of Art

A

Art is truly life and it’s disconcerting when people mistake mere decoration or pretty stuff with art.

Anne, Graphic Designer

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What makes art meaningful?
El Paso Museum of Art

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As … images have this power of re-interpretation, keeping even the most antique or contemporary of subject and materials alive, vital. Like a great relationship, meaningful art has [the] ability to regenerate.

Kim, Artist

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Why not make more connections to our border issues and contemporary art?

Anne, Graphic Designer

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Our border context is built into who we are, and recent initiatives with contemporary art—the Border Biennial, La Frontera convening, After Posada: Revolution exhibition, commissioned artworks by Andrea Bowers and Jaime Carrejo, exhibitions of artwork by Antonio Castro and Gloria Osuna Perez, upcoming project with Juarez-based Animales de Poder—hone in on that from various perspectives.

El Paso Museum of Art

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What makes art meaningful?
El Paso Museum of Art

A

As Edmund Wilson said “No two persons have read the same book” and no person sees the same image twice.

Kim, Artist

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“The perfect blend of science and pop.” Ellen EPMA Docent and Teaching Artist

Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons, born in York, Pennsylvania in 1955 made a name for himself as an artist referencing popular culture and everyday consumer objects. Unlike many other contemporary artists, Koons insists that his work has no hidden critique of consumerism or popular culture. He is best known for his monumental sculptures of ordinary objects, like balloon animals.

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“The nurse looks like someone in a horror movie because you can't see her face.” Rebecca EPMA Teaching Artist

Richard Prince

Born in 1947, Richard Prince first achieved major recognition in the 1980s for his controversial rephotographing of iconic imagery from advertisements and other popular sources. Prince would then subtly alter these images and present them as his own. His work continues to challenge concepts of authorship and ownership.

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“When I give tours, the children think its real butter. It’s so realistic!” Juliette EPMA Docent

Robert Gober

Originally a carpenter and fabricator, Robert Gober began sculpting in the 1980’s. Gober often sculpts familiar, everyday objects with painstaking attention to detail. His meticulous and psychologically-charged works typically address sexuality, relationships, politics, and religion.

Comments 1

Marina Monsisvais Oct 24

Richard Prince – I love the pulp fiction vibe of this painting, while the ‘naughty nurse’ didn't originate with this image, it's an archetype that is alive and well in popular culture.

Robert Gober - Let's take a gigantic piece of beeswax and call it butter. I love the gumption behind this piece. And yes, it does look like a gigantic stick of butter--title or not.

Jeff Koons – I could walk around this piece all day--the sheer physics of this piece (just how much salt/water does it take to make a ball float in the middle of an aquarium?)--could keep me entertained for days.

What strikes you about these exhibits?

Listen to what students in EPMA’s Art School Summer Camps have to say about contemporary art.
With Jeff Koons’ contemporary work, One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank, on display at EPMA, the University of Texas at El Paso Women’s Basketball team had to come see it for themselves. Find out what the Lady Miners thought of Koons’ work.
nurse painting

Richard Prince looked to vintage pulp fiction novels like these for the inspiration behind his nurse paintings. These novels were printed on extremely inexpensive paper and could be found on newsstands and in bookstores throughout the early and mid 1900s.

Support provided by Art Bridges.

Bowman, Jeanne. (1968). Conflict for Nurse Elsa. Prestige Books.
Gaddis, Peggy. (1965). The Nurse was Juliet. Modern Promotions.
Hale, Arlene. (1963). Dude Ranch Nurse. Ace Books.
Hale, Arlene. (1965). Nurse on the Run. Ace Books.
Roberts, Suzanne. (1964). Hootenanny Nurse. Ace Books.