Friday, December 30, 2016

A Cultural Oasis in the Arizona Desert

I am a big advocate of seeking out museums wherever I travel.  This Christmas I found myself in the gated community, McMansion, suburban sprawl that is Scottsdale, Arizona.  Fortunately, the Monday after Christmas, the Phoenix Art Museum was open for visitors.  I visited the museum about ten years ago, but that time I was helping organize an event and was unable to see as much as I wanted to.  This year I had all the time I needed on a quiet day. 
The permanent collection is solid.  There is a good overview of western art such as the Deborah Butterfield (seen above).  The contemporary collection has noticeably grown since my previous visit.   I really like Betsabe√© Romero’s piece in the courtyard and then I looked at her website.  I would love to see a big installation of her work. 
As an artist who works with maps, of course I was all over Horacio Zabala’s exhibit Mapping the Monochrome.  Seeing my first large exhibit of Kehinde Wiley’s work was a real treat.  And then there was Martin Creed’s installation Work No. 2497 — a room filled, tightly packed actually, with white balloons.  Visitors are allowed to navigate their way through it.  It was a bit terrifying, yet I am glad I did it — but once was enough.

Now I am back home in San Francisco.  It is good to be home.  But I have to say, as we all love to diss red state Trumpizona, it should be noted that they have this museum.  It is a place where all the signage is bilingual, where women and non-white artists are well represented, where this is plenty of new, dynamic contemporary art.  I am not sure where to find that in my little city by the Bay….

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