Good Vibrations: The Guitar as Design, Craft and Function is the name of the new exhibition at the University of Arizona Museum of Art.
Charles Guerin, UAMA executive director and curator of the exhibition, says Good Vibrations offers a visual and auditory experience for the visitor that emphasizes the guitar as an exquisitely crafted instrument.
Guerin points out every guitar in the exhibition is handmade.
“What goes into that [process] is really quite extraordinary because the end product has to be functional," he explains. "There’s an enormous amount of pressure exerted on this wooden box when you crank those strings up, and they’re amazingly thin.”
Guerin points out that Tucson is home to a rich guitar-making community. Nine of these local makers, whose expertise includes both acoustic and electric guitars, are represented in the exhibition.
Brian Dunn is one of the local guitar makers showing his work. His guitars often incorporate a natural grain pattern that pays homage to the beauty he sees in the Sonoran Desert landscape.
“When I came to Tucson 40 years ago, I fell in love with the desert," says Dunn. "I like to incorporate something of the desert into my guitars. Frequently the sound-hole rosette that I inlay to the top is desert ironwood. There’s a cross-section, a particular frontier, between the heart-wood and the sap-wood of the desert ironwood that, to me, makes a very beautiful pattern.”
“There’s really art, both in the design and in the adaptation of the instrument for the musician,” Guerin says. “As well as in the craft and the beauty, and in many cases the simplistic beauty, of these wonderful instruments.”