Present Tense: Selections from the Lenhardt Collection 

text and photos courtesy of Phoenix Art Museum

Curated by Gilbert Vicario, the Selig Chief Family Curator, Phoenix Art Museum, Present Tense: Selections from the Lenhardt Collection showcases works from Pop-Art legends Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein alongside those by living contemporary artists, such as Damien Hirst, Jim Hodges and Louise Lawler.

Roy Lichtenstein, Brush Stroke with Still Life VII, 1996. Oil and Magna on canvas. Collection of Dawn and David Lenhardt. © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. 

The exhibition, now on view in the newly named Dawn and David Lenhardt Gallery, features pieces drawn from the Lenhardt Collection and examines the impulses and inspirations around collecting contemporary art for a domestic setting. It also represents a key element of the Dawn and David Lenhardt Contemporary Art Initiative.

“We are proud to provide our community with access to the world-class modern and contemporary artworks featured in Present Tense,” Vicario said. “This exhibition mirrors those on view in major global art capitals, linking us to those conversations and helping to establish the Museum as a top contemporary-art destination in the United States and the world.”

Shara Hughes, Narnia, oil and acrylic on canvas, 2017. Collection of Phoenix Art Museum. Purchased with funds provided by the Dawn and David Lenhardt Emerging Artist Acquisition Fund. 

Established in 2017 through the generosity of the Lenhardt family, the Dawn and David Lenhardt Contemporary Art Initiative enables the Museum to strengthen its focus on contemporary art collecting, education through multiple programs, including the annual Lenhardt Lecture, the Lenhardt Emerging Artist Acquisition Fund and a named gallery space featuring a rotating series of loans from the Lenhardt family’s private collection. 

“Dawn and I are excited to share art from our personal collection with Phoenix Art Museum and our community through Present Tense,” said David Lenhardt, who served as  CEO of PetSmart until 2015 and is a current member of the Museum’s Board of Trustess. “This exhibition plays a vital role in raising the Museum’s profile as an internationally recognized museum.”

Featuring various hard-hitting examples of contemporary art from the Lenhardt Collection, Present Tense places recent acquisitions by the Lenhardts in conversation with works by modern-art icons. Ten Campbell Soup prints by Andy Warhol (1928-1987) and a late-career painting by Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1977), all acquired by the Lenhardts early in their collecting career, are displayed alongside a range of artworks by various living contemporary artists, including Jim Hodges (b. 1957) and Louise Lawler (b. 1947), to name a few.

Ugo Rondinone, blue red mountain, 2016. Painted stone and stainless steel with pedestal. Image courtesy of the Artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels. Copyright Ugo Rondinone. 

Also included in Present Tense is a recent Museum acquisition, Narnia (2017) by Shara Hughes (b.1981). A standout in the 2017 Whitney Biennial, Hughes creates fantastical landscapes that reference multiple art movements, including Symbolism, Fauvism and Surrealism, from a contemporary perspective.

“Her painting style draws on the work of artists such as Henri Matisse, David Hockney, Marguerite Zorach and even Agnes Pelton,” Vicario said. “Her rich compositions toggle between material and surface , transparency and depth and abstraction and representation in quickly rendered canvases.”

Hughes will visit the museum on October 24 as an inaugural speaker for the Museum’s Emerging Artist Lecture Series presented by the Dawn and David Lenhardt Contemporary Art Initiative. The Museum will host Hughes in conjunction with the official dedication of the Dawn and David Lenhardt Gallery and the exhibition celebration for Present Tense.

Sterling Ruby, WIDW. BALLISTIC., 2017. Acrylic, oil, elastic and cardboard on canvas. Lenhardt Collection. © Sterling Ruby. Courtesy Sterling Ruby Studio. 

Hughes’ Narnia is the first artwork purchased using funds provided by the Dawn and David Lenhardt Emerging Artist Acquisition Fund, which helps the Museum collect works by next-generation contemporary artists. Vicario said he selected the painting for acquisition in part because of its geographic rock formations that resonate with the local landscape.

Although Present Tense offers Museum guests the unique opportunity to experience works by some of the world’s leading contemporary artists, including emerging artists like Hughes, Vicario said the exhibition also serves a larger purpose – to remind viewers of the power of individuals to effect change through their generosity  and commitment to community.

“Contemporary art collectors like the Lenhardts represent individuals who are interested in shaping the world in which we live,” said Vicario. “Through their work with Phoenix Art Museum, they are investing in the future of our city and giving everyone in our community the opportunity to engage with contemporary art. This civic-minded thinking benefits our local culture while enhancing our collective visual literacy.

Present Tense: Selections from the Lenhardt Collection 
Through December 16
Phoenix Art Museum

Shara Hughes at work in her Brooklyn studio.

Lenhardt Gallery Dedication and VIP artist reception with Shara Hughes| October 24 at 6 p.m.

Dawn and David Lenhardt Gallery dedication and artist reception. Open to Circles members at the Benefactor’s Circle and above. To learn more about becoming a Circles of Support member, see this link. 

Lenhardt Emerging Artist Lecture Series: Shara Hughes | October 24 at 7 p.m. 

Attend the first Lenhardt Emerging Artist Lecture Series featuring Brooklyn-based painter Shara Hughes, a contemporary artist who was a standout in the 2017 Whitney Biennial and whose work, Narnia, was recently acquired by the Museum as part of the Dawn and David Lenhardt Contemporary Art Initiative. Open to the public. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit