Tucson's MOCA reopens after summer closure

The Museum of Contemporary Art reopened Aug. 31 after a summer break. MOCA executive director Julio César Morales said it was the first time the Downtown Tucson arts venue had closed for the summer.

“We’re happy to reopen,” Morales said. “Our staff works very hard and when you work for a nonprofit, there’s a lot of demand. Giving them a couple of weeks off was a good thing so they could recharge their batteries.”

Poet and artist Cecilia Vicuña’s “Sonoran Quipu” is installed in the Great Hall of MOCA and will be there until Oct. 1. Meanwhile, an extension of the piece will be housed at Tohono O’Odham Community College — the sculptures were created by artists Amber Ortega, Maria Celis, Alaina Pierce and Heidi Blaine, all who worked with Vicuña on her original installation at MOCA. 

The public opening will be on Sept. 14 at 5 p.m. The sculptures are made from debris and they blend tradition with sustainable art. 

Another upcoming exhibition is “Magma & Pearls: Oceans Rise and Fall Like Meteorites” by artist Keioui Keijaun Thomas, which will open Oct. 20. The multimedia piece includes “video, sculpture, artist performances, and community-generated programming.”

“There will be an artist performance and a public reception for ‘Magma & Pearls’ on Oct. 20,” Morales said. “That’ll be a very cool event.”

Free Third Thursdays will return starting Sept. 21 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

“We’ll have poetry, music and a food truck on Thursday, Sept. 21,” Morales said. “We usually have a couple hundred people come in and we have special programming those evenings.”

Morales said 2023 has been a year where they’ve welcomed the “largest audience” to the museum.

“Our attendance is higher than any year in the last several years so we’re really excited to share our public programs, our education program and the art exhibitions with the community,” Morales said.

MOCA, 265 S. Church Ave, is open Thursday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.