By Emily Ellis firstname.lastname@example.org Feb 8, 2023
Photos by Mark Levy Herald/Review
“It has been quite the labor of love,” said Sloane Bouchever, director of the Artemizia Foundation, as he held the door open to his museum’s new location at 818 Tombstone Canyon in Bisbee.
Bouchever opened the Artemizia Foundation and Annex in downtown Bisbee in 2020 as a way to house his personal collection of contemporary art. Now he is moving to make room for his growing collection. He wants the new museum to be a cultural destination.
“I really feel like this is going to become an arts destination like Marfa, Texas,” said Bouchever. “We have over 200 artists who live in town, it’s just shocking.”
The new location will combine the Artemizia Annex and Foundation under one roof. It will be home to the museum, Gallery 818, a mural labyrinth and a sculpture garden. Just like its predecessors, this won’t be your typical art museum or gallery.
“I didn’t want to do a typically static museum where you just kind of walk silently from room to room in reverence and look at the art,” Bouchever said. “There is something about street art that is more irreverent and I wanted it to be more of an exploration with a surprise around every corner.”
Bouchever’s collection is impressive, to say the least. With over 700 pieces total, it features works by Banksy, Swoon, Andy Warhol, Jules Muck, Cey Adams and many more world renowned contemporary artists.
It is a collection visitors would normally have to travel to New York, London or Paris to see.
Bouchever has been working tirelessly to bring the museum to life since purchasing the historic building in September. Almost every aspect of the building has had to be refurbished in some way. Walking through the museum with Bouchever, the smell of fresh paint and the sounds of machinery filled the air.
True to form, the art featured in Bouchever’s new museum is fiercely feminist and features outspoken and subversive messages. Visitors will be greeted with a mural by WRDSMTH featuring Wonder Woman and the words “Wonder Woman is a state of mind.”
“You know I’m a staunch feminist, so this was really important to me,” said Bouchever. “I do think that young girls should believe that Wonder Woman is a state of mind.”
Guests will enter through the gift shop — a play on Banksy’s film titled “Exit Through the Gift Shop.” Bouchever could not contain his excitement when he explained that Cey Adams, the graphic artist responsible for the Notorious BIG and Jay-Z album covers, was the designer for all the merch that will be sold.
From the gift shop visitors will enter Gallery 818, which will host shows featuring the works of various contemporary artists. After exiting Gallery 818, guests will enter what is possibly the most fascinating aspect of the museum — the mural labyrinth.
“Bisbee is kind of anti-mural because they want to keep the city looking historic, and so I thought what if we just had muralists come and paint inside as if they broke into an abandoned building,” said Bouchever while explaining his inspiration.
Before beginning its new life as an art museum, 818 Tombstone Canyon had many functions over the past century. It was a schoolhouse, then a military barracks, then a nursing home and then a hotel before being put up for sale. When Bouchever purchased the place, he knocked down most of the walls upstairs but left 12 of the old rooms from its days as a hotel intact.
These 12 interconnecting rooms are now Bouchever’s prized mural labyrinth. The labyrinth features works from some of today’s most innovative street artists.
The Artemizia Foundation’s Instagram page describes it as a “twisting and sometimes twisted journey.”
One of the most striking installations in the labyrinth was done by LA Hope Dealer Corie Mattie. In the labyrinth’s largest room she’s painted the words “Racism is a pandemic…After the plague… Came the renaissance.” The words are surrounded by doves of peace sending peace to Ukraine and a rendition of Michelangelo’s “Birth of Adam” on the ceiling.
The mural labyrinth does not shy away from outspoken and subversive political messaging.
Bouchever plans to install a wheatpaste mural by MissMe near the end of the labyrinth. The mural will feature three 12-foot-tall naked women — the subject MissMe has become an icon for depicting.
Bouchever describes MissMe’s work as “aggressively feminist” and stated that she was like the female Banksy. He has hope the illusive artist will come to Bisbee for the installation of her mural.
Bouchever has saved one wall in the labyrinth specially for Shepard Fairey, the artist behind the famous Obama Hope mural, with the hopes he will come paint an installation in Bisbee. For now, the space will be filled with framed pieces of Fairey’s art.
“This wall I am reserving. I am going to manifest that Shepard Fairey comes to Bisbee and paints this wall,” said Bouchever while pointing to a blank wall at the end of the labyrinth.
After visitors wind their way through the labyrinth, they will exit near the entrance of the museum space. The museum will be home to the most substantial pieces in Bouchever’s personal collection, many of which were on display at the old downtown location.
The new location will open to the public on Thursday, March 30, with a Banksy show.
“I’ve got six signed Banksys and then a lot of Banksy stuff,” said Bouchever about what would be on display.
The museum will be open to the public Thursday-Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.