Floyd Tunson is among the most highly regarded and influential artists in the Rocky Mountain region. He has achieved a rich and diverse body of work via media such as painting, sculpture, photography, and printmaking – often combining the language of these various media in single works.
This exhibition reflected the scope of Tunson’s career and work. Including various bodies of work through which Tunson addressed concepts such as cultural identity, American social history, pop culture, art history, and the beauty of pure abstraction. Centered upon the bold installations Hearts and Minds, Delta Queen, Haitian Dream Boats, and Pop-up Rodeo. Other works in the exhibition related to these installations, yet spoke of their own aesthetic and conceptual concerns. Included were the Endangered series’ beautifully-rendered portraits of African-American youth, the Nubian series’ abstract dialogue with the crossroads of Africa, and the Synchro-Mesh series’ reflection of Tunson’s travels in the American south. Tunson’s Remix series and other select works look to a synthesis of popular culture and art historical imagery with the artist’s equally critical and reverent eye.
Tunson says that from one direction he sees “the terror of chaos, man’s inhumanity to man, mortality, and the unknown. From another direction, the human condition seems like a magnificent, orderly evolution of extraordinary beauty” stating that the totality of his work reflects his “quest to comprehend and express these forces and their interconnectedness.”
Tunson received his BA from Adams State College in 1969. Over his career earning a reputation as one of the region’s most influential art teachers for three decades while simultaneously creating his own work and exhibiting nationally. Tunson’s art is included in the collections of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, the Denver Art Museum, the Kaiser-Permanente Corporation, the Walter O. Evans Collection of African-American Art, and many private collections nationwide.
This was Tunson’s first major survey of his life’s work. The exhibition, organized to reflect the confluence of Tunson’s themes and media over four decades, occupied the entire second floor as well as the main corridor and had an accompanying full-color catalogue with an essay by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa.
“… experience all the beauty, intensity, humor, and toughness in Tunson’s work.” — Blake Milteer, Former FAC Museum Director
Image: Blake Milteer with Floyd Tunson in front of Hearts and Minds, Mixed media, 1993–1995, Gift of the artist