Tricia Loscher, PhD, Museum Curator

Dr. Tricia Loscher is assistant museum director and chief curator at Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West. She has taught contemporary art and non-Western art history courses at Arizona, Oklahoma and overseas universities. She holds a PhD, MA and BA in art history and education, with minors in Latin American art, anthropology and museum studies.

I was raised in Wickenburg, Arizona, and recall a snowstorm that made the branches on the palo verde and mesquites bow. Our polydactyl kitty flung snow high in the air. No one believes that it ever snowed that much!

My parents supported us in many ways—at the Kay El Bar Ranch, my sister and I took art lessons. Our favorite time was painting skies and clouds!

A high school teacher saw my love of art. I received an award for a cypress tree painting inspired by a trip to Monterey. She suggested I attend the Art Institute of Chicago, and I contemplated a career in fashion design.

As an undergraduate I curated an exhibit about Castle Hot Springs. We felt the excellent thermal water at CHS and fell in love with Wilbur, the resident pot-bellied pig!

At the University of Arizona I almost lost my mind trying to decide on my dissertation. Pondering the Chicago World’s Fair or the artist Hart Merriam Schultz, walks in Sabino Canyon helped for clarity.

An artist who taught me to think about life’s gifts was Allan Houser. I met Mr. Houser in Santa Fe and curated a retrospective. Mrs. Houser vividly recalled their trips driving to Mexico in an RV.

The desert is where I feel at peace. One is reminded that the desert is a treasure by experiencing creations from Gila monsters to meteorites, the smell of rain and creosote.

My favorite Southwestern meal was at Embudo Station, New Mexico. On a sunny day, we ate trout next to the Rio Grande.

Edward Curtis was multifaceted. He mined for gold, and an exhibition focusing on his mineral exploration sounds interesting.

A Western artist once described his bronzes as they relate to ancient myths and stories. Kokopelli and the Pied Piper can connect cultures to aspects of a shared human experience.

Latin American art is inspiring in its history, traditions, diversity and changes. Many artists capture such energy, but Mexican Modernist and master silversmith Antonio Pineda prominently stands out among jewelers.

The Renaissance had many incredible women artists. I once ended an internship when the professor said there were none! Since then, numerous exhibitions have shed light on these talented women.

Italy is where I reset and thrive. One of the most fascinating exhibits I saw was about Plautilla Nelli, a 16th-century Dominican nun whose workshop was inside a Florence convent.

No one knows I love making jewelry! I am inspired by many, but especially the work of Eveli Sabatie!

If I could have dinner with the late Maidu artist Frank Day, I would ask him the meaning behind a painting about poisoned mushrooms. What a dinner conversation!

An American Indian woman artist created an incredible purse. I recall feeling awe as Veronica Poblano carefully unfolded the cloth to reveal its shell and silver detail!

A Western movie favorite of Dr. Rennard Strickland, collector and pioneer in law and legal education, was The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. He loved the quote, “This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

A museum can be a profound experience. Revisiting the Museum of the Northern Culture, Paquimé, and seeing Casa Grandes and the macaw pens again would be great fun!

“Western art…” a professor said, “is a field that will bore you!” I realized the genre was often misunderstood and set off on a road trip. Encountering the skills of creative people firsthand is vital. At the end of the journey, what was evident more than ever? Western art speaks to the spirit of the American people. It is a truly American phenomenon!

What history has taught me is never to take for granted people who share from their entire being personal stories as they weave tapestries of art and culture. It is an inspiration and blessing to know vibrant and powerful personalities who are kind and critical yet hopeful that the past will shape a promising future.

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