Three things about our time in Phoenix. One. It’s hot in the summer. Hot. Every day we were there was over 110. Two. Everything is at least half an hour away from everything else. Three. Picking up old friendships is just like riding a bike. You never forget.
We spent a hot week in Phoenix catching up with dear friends. Don and June. Their daughter Casie and our son Eric have nearly the same birthday so we’d shared parties and done life together when they lived in Austin (Yikes, twenty years ago!!). Though our visit hit at a rough time for them, June’s mom died two weeks before we arrived and they were closing on a new house, they graciously put us up and let us do life with them again for a week.
Saturday we took in a Diamondbacks game at Chase Field with Don and June. Sunday we visited Open Door Fellowship Church in Phoenix. The pastors are authors of one of our favorite Bible study books, The Cure.
After that we met up with at restaurant and brew pub in Tempe to celebrate Father’s Day together and finally meet their son-in-law Kyle and 9-month-old grandson Carter after following them through Facebook. Later in the week we cooked out at Kyle and Casie’s and took in a sunset parting with hopes they’ll all come to Austin sometime soon.
Since everywhere in Phoenix is a drive we narrowed down our touristy stuff to three excursions: Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home in Scottsdale, The Musical Instruments Museum, and the Phoenix Art Museum.
We started on Monday at Taliesin West which turned out to be so much more than the Wright’s winter home. It was home to the Taliesin Fellowship, a place for young architects to come apprentice with Frank Lloyd Wright. Much of the building was built by the apprentices who learned by doing.
Wright believed that creativity breeds creativity so he included music and dance as part of the training in order to teach architects about movement. Heloise Crista was an artist who came to sculpting through dance because of the encouragement, influence and mentoring of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship.
While the building itself demonstrates Wright’s usual attention to setting and detail in its design, the most inspiring thing about touring Taliesin West for me was the attention to the creative process that it represents, both in Wright’s personal philosophical vision as an artist and as a mentor. The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture continues at Taliesin West.
Tuesday Ted played TPC Sawgrass in Scottsdale with Don and Kyle. While the guys played golf I helped June go through a big bag of her mom’s costume jewelry. Of course I came away with some cool earrings.
On Wednesday we visited The Musical Instruments Museum, or The MIM, another monument to creativity. The desire to create music is so strong that all over the world for centuries people have taken available materials and fashioned them into musical instruments. I got a bang out of the gong. Only one per customer.
15,000 instruments from nearly 200 countries are on display at the MIM. Visitors walk through geographically arranged displays wearing headphones to look at instruments while hearing them played. Among those instruments I’d never seen before but loved were the Ud, a Middle Eastern stringed instrument.
Then Ted saw Pablo Casals’ cello and the visit went to a whole ‘nother level. As a young music student Casals was one of Ted’s heroes. Ted’s teacher studied with a colleague of Casals. Amazingly there was no glass or anything around the cello. We stood close enough to touch it as Casals music played through the headphones.
Thursday we visited the Phoenix Art Museum. I’ve never toured a museum with a docent before. Our small group were treated to explanations about paint, techniques, style, history, etc. in a selection of works. She explained negative space using the pieces and their placement in this Japanese meditation space.
Our docent pointed out Jean-Leon Gerome’s Pollice Verso. Gerome did extensive research for his historical paintings, so much so that filmmakers came to museum to study this painting as a reference for creating scenes in the movie Gladiator.
The docent not only made the individual works more meaningful, but added to my sense of appreciation and wonder toward all the art I saw on my own that day, including the special exhibit on American Modernism. I love finding a new artists I hadn’t noticed before. Now I really want to see more by Phoenix surrealist Philip C. Curtis whose works were featured at the museum. Yayoi Kusama’s You Who are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies is a walk through light installation in a mirrored room. It was awesome. Creativity seems to be a theme on this trip.
After a week in Phoenix we loaded up our rental car on Friday and headed north to Sodona, Flagstaff, canyons and cooler weather.