For over 20 years, the owners of Kingfisher have acquired a premiere collection of some of the finest works from Southern Arizona’s art community.  The outstanding collection is displayed throughout the restaurant on a rotating basis. They have also donated select pieces from their collection to various organizations including most recently, Tucson Medical Center. These are but a few of the many ways this philanthropic team gives back to their community.   



Over the years, Kingfisher’s partners have sought out sophisticated work by some of Tucson’s most acclaimed artists, amassing a collection that serves as window onto the city’s lively art scene. The many works range from daring glass “rock” sculptures by Tom Philabaum to paintings by Jim Waid that capture the intense heat and light of the desert Southwest. Acrylics by the late Nancy Tokar Miller turn watery landscapes into meditative abstractions, and photos by William Lesch render the big skies of the West in startling black and white.



 The Kingfisher Art collection 


Kingfisher purchases all the art in its collection, putting money back into the community. “It’s about supporting local artists,” Murphy says. Murphy first met late business partner Tim Ivankovich in the 1980s when both were working at a restaurant on Tucson’s eastside. The food was acclaimed but the art was not. “It was of ducks with bonnets and bows,” Murphy recalls with a chuckle. “It was just cute, goofy art.” The two swore that if they ever had a restaurant of their own, they would buy only art of the highest quality. 


Many of the artists whose work the partners acquired were neighbors, or customers. “We’d see Cynthia Miller and we’d say, `Come over and show us what you have,’” Murphy says. “Nancy Miller was up the street, a friend. Steve Orlen (husband of painter Gail Marcus-Orlen) was my brother’s friend. We get local people.” Kingfisher also engages in art philanthropy, recently donating a large-scale painting by David Andres to Tucson Medical Center. Andres’s elegant image of the Sea of Cortez now soothes the suffering of patients. Every summer, Kingfisher closes for two weeks to have the walls repainted by local artist Don Montrose who uses a trowel and plaster to meticulously layer the colors. Bea Mason of Lewis Framing Gallery shuffles the artwork, re-hanging the pieces in new places to keep the look fresh.