Yuma Fine Arts Association launches three new exhibits after reorganizing
The newly reorganized Yuma Fine Arts Association is launching the new year with quite a splash at the Yuma Art Center with a show this month by local artist Chris Tortorici and a collection of artwork by several members of Mountain Shadows Artists.
And in the third gallery, a special military exhibit will be featured in conjunction with the third annual Spirit of Yuma Military Festival to be held Jan. 11-13 on Yuma's Main Street.
Opening night for the three exhibits is 5 to 7 p.m. Jan. 11 at the Yuma Art Center, 254 S. Main St. The event, free and open to the public, will feature live music, a buffet, an opportunity to meet the artists and introduction of the new board of Yuma Fine Arts Association. The Fine Arts Gift Shop will be open during the event.
“This is the first gathering of the new board,” said Renee Smith, interim president, adding that the city of Yuma “has been amazing in its efforts to help the organization.”
The three shows will remain up for six weeks.
Smith noted that they represent a wide diversity of artwork.
In the main gallery of the Yuma Art Center, Tortorici will present “The Road to Dubai: A Renaissance,” the first stop in his tour that will end in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Many of the paintings portray the royal family and lions, popular symbols of royalty and stateliness.
His artwork often covers large canvasses with vibrant colors and sweeping lines.
Tortorici explained that he became interested in Dubai as a modern city in the Arab world invested in by the royal family, bringing a renaissance to the area. Today, Dubai attracts world attention through its innovative development projects, cosmopolitan society and diverse culture.
“I hope to go there to be part of their relationship with art,” Tortorici said.
And after all, he said, Christ came from the Middle East.
A product of the streets of California with a childhood that Tortorici calls dark, he's been a Yuma resident for more than 30 years. Today he lives and works with his wife, younger son, nephew and niece in an historic building he renovated at 601 S. 4th Ave. to house Galleria Tortorici and his family.
The artist's introduction to art came from his mother, who was a portrait painter until her life disintegrated after a divorce when Tortorici was 5. As he grew up, art sustained him through years of violence and turmoil.
The 1980s brought about a new chapter of spiritual awakening as the artist gave his life to Jesus. After 10 years in the Marine Corps, he got out and started a ministry in San Diego. While there, he reunited with his estranged father, who had become a well-known artist. Today, his father has a gallery in Costa Rica.
Tortorici, meanwhile, settled in the Yuma area. In addition to his internationally marketed art, he is the minister of a church in Winterhaven.
He sees a connection between his two vocations. “My sermons are the same as my art. They just come out in different ways. But it's the same conversation.”
It's one in which he asks questions, leaving it to each viewer to come up with their own answers. And it's all about relationships — being sustained and inspired by others as he shares his journey with them.
In addition to Tortorici's show, 46 members of Mountain Shadows Artists Association will have artwork on exhibit. Founded in 1994 with 32 charter members, today the organization counts among its membership artists from around the United States and Canada and even other countries due to the number of winter visitors in the Yuma area.
“It's very exciting to have them,” Smith said. “They're longtime contributors to the gallery.”
The third exhibit, Spirit of Yuma, will feature reproductions of paintings by soldiers, many of them from the Vietnam era — “some really beautiful pieces,” said Bill Heidner, curator of the Yuma Proving Ground museum and curator of the YPG exhibit.
One wall will be devoted to paintings and lithographs produced by soldiers during the famous frontier expedition of Army Col. Stephen Watts Kearny, which used the Yuma Crossing in 1846 four years before the founding of Fort Yuma. The lithographs, produced by Lt. W.H. Emory, were the first exposure many residents of the eastern United States had to the West's landscape and flora, Heidner said.
YPG's display will be augmented by an unmanned aerial system and photo displays showing modern test activities at YPG's three test centers.
Marine Corps Air Station Yuma also will have a large exhibit, primarily photographs and early newspaper articles depicting the history of the station back to its beginning in the 1940s as an Army air field, said Capt. Staci Reidinger, MCAS spokeswoman. It also will have artwork of the F-35, the military's newest fighter jet.
There will be a number of other activities throughout the Spirit of Yuma festival weekend, including entertainment, speakers, a movie with clips of the F-35 and performances by the 62nd Army Band.