3 Questions with Anne-Marie Russell – Executive Director MOCA, Tucson

AMR LGA 2011

Anne-Marie has been a major force in developing Tucson’s art scene.  She has served as the Executive Director and Chief Curator at The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) since 2003.  The museum, originally housed in the HazMat building on Toole Avenue, moved to its new permanent home in the former Fire Department building on Church Ave 5 years ago (I haven’t seen the new space yet so perhaps a visit is in order, especially since Tucson is one of my absolutely favorite cities).

Artists exhibited at MOCA over the years have included: Takashi Murakami, Matt Groening, Gary Panter, Janaina Tschape and Olivier Mosset.

Super excited that Anne-Marie is sharing her inspirations (Jocko Weyland, FB and her amazing husband, Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for Pima County). She’s also sharing some of her favorite brands – most of which are new to me (OMG Blundstone boots are on order!) and finally, Anne-Marie tips us to some of her favorite cool spots in Tucson.


1. My Curator – Jocko Weyland

10111314For the record, it’s totally wrong of me to call him “My Curator”, but I feel so attached to him and a little possessive and proud that WE have him at MOCA Tucson! Jocko Weyland is a brilliant artist, writer (The Answer is Never: A Skateboarder’s History of the World, The Powder, etc), critic and curator and he ALWAYS has a read on the latest, coolest, oddest—but SO long before anyone else. He doesn’t have his proverbial “finger on the zeitgeist”, he seems to actually program the zeitgeist!

2. Ok, it’s hard to admit, but here’s the reality. From my friends and colleagues through Facebook.

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 4.30.54 PM

It’s easy to mock it and knock it and I was a late adopter. But once you’ve gone through the FB Birthday love fest, there is no turning back. What has surprised me recently is the reality that I find out most of what’s interesting in my field through my colleagues around the world and the articles and stories they post on FB. I don’t engage in convo there, and I’m not a big poster, but the aggregate—through the algorithm that is produced by my collective colleagues—is a great source of industry news.

3. My Husband


My go to dress maker, Erin Cox of Southwestern Belle, made my wedding dress (from an antique linen sheet and a $10 Mexican dress thrift store find) and the black Gala dress (picture above). She is immensely talented and can do anything from alterations to couture! https://www.facebook.com/southwesternbelle76

His work (Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for Pima County) brings an entire foreign universe to my world, one that I would never otherwise encounter. His conferences, journals, memos, etc. provide a window into a plane of existence that would have been invisible to me. This has proven relevant for art security issues, new technologies and innovations, interesting global mapping projects that seem to explain future networks of movement and migration, a whole range of unexpected knowledge has been revealed to me that I would have otherwise never known about. Plus, he feels the real threats to our “homeland” are food insecurity and climate change, so his focus is on addressing those issues. And since those two issues are central to me, there is more cross-over between our fields and interests than you might first expect. Also, there is plenty of fun to be had inspired by the job. We conjured a new product that we think Williams Sonoma should market—a high end “emergency food kit/go-bag”, when we realized many of our favorite foods could last—tin of caviar, red wine, smoked fish, aged cheese, etc. We thought they’d be great holiday gift items—sort of a humorous gag gift that you’d actually use. Great for the blackouts or snowstorms that seem to be the new normal.


3 Brands/Stores/Services Can’t Live Without

1. Filson + Blundstone+ RM Williams


Filson bags


Blundstone Boots


RM Williams boots

I bought my first Filson bag nearly 30 years ago. My grandparents always had Filson hunting gear (some fowl, mostly clay). I just about died when they came out with the “Filson in Black” line. Plus, you can’t go wrong with a tagline that reads “Might as Well Have the Best”. It’s a great combination of folksy and elite. Been wearing Blundstones and RM Williams boots just as long. I always have a black pair and a brown pair, one in great condition and one a bit beat up, great for riding the motorcycle.

2. La Curie Perfume


Perfume making combines two of Lesli’s loves: science and art. Photo by Rachel Miller.

Lesli Wood Peterson is a genius and while I think it’s very “adult” to have a “signature scent” (I’ll grow up someday), every time she comes out with a new line, that’s my new signature scent. The latest line is inspired by Space. So rad (like truly radical, rad). She’s also pretty much the chicest woman you’ll ever encounter. She looks like Natalie Wood (but less troubled) and she and her husband Boyd make the grooviest music in a variety of bands and projects. Oh, did I mention she’s super nice, too?  (Find La Curie perfume at MAST, 100 S. Avenida del Convento, Tucson or online at www.la-curie.com)


3. United


I’m not kidding. I know this may come as a surprise, but I’ve got my original Eastern Airline frequent flier number, stayed with them through Continental merger, and now, United. Maybe it’s that I’ve got an FF# that starts with “A”, or that I’m on some kind of list somewhere, but I always seem to get exceptional customer service and the United Club lounge is a weird, liminal space where my stress seems to disappear. It’s like being on space station (though not as good looking as the one in 2001: A Space Odyssey, they should consider a redesign), somehow in that in between space I feel no responsibilities—and thus no stress.


What’s New in Tucson

1. As always, the best of Tucson is what’s really, really, really old.


My favorite “new to me” thing in Tucson is a new hike to see petroglyphs that I’ve never seen before. And there are so many more to discover! Drawing has always been my favorite medium as a viewer and art historian and rock drawings are ALWAYS at the top of my list. And while they may be many thousands of years old, they always seem so fresh and relevant and yes, new.



Pretty much the best boutique ever, anywhere. Curated (and as a curator who despises the commercial and pop co-option of that word, I don’t use it lightly) exceptionally well, MAST seems to have everything you want and nothing you don’t, from the perfect denim to beautiful jewelry to great housewares to the best shaving cream and deodorant. It’s the brainchild of four brilliant, gorgeous, chic, warm, funny and kind women—all of whom you want to be your best friend for life—and it’s their personalities that comes through every item in the store.  Link for website here.  (100 South Avenida del Convento #120, Tucson)

3. Can this be a person? We recently welcomed Joshua Chuang as the new Curator at the globally-renowned photo archive and museum, the Center for Creative Photography.

page_1He came from the Yale Art Gallery where he worked with the fabulous Jock Reynolds. Josh is a breath of fresh air, and while the CCP is fabulous, he is bringing new life to the place so it feels like a whole new institution. It’s an absolute “don’t miss” in Tucson—a real treasure. As is Josh!

Oh, and I just saw Joshua Chuang’s new show at CCP on astrophotography–globally and historically significant and one of the best exhibitions I’ve seen ages, stunningly beautiful images of our solar system that are truly sublime!


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