Category Archives: Art

Summer Vacay 2015 Pt. 1 Phoenix

PhoenixHotThree 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.

Barnes Dbacks gameSaturday 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 Barnes and Herringsand 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.

Taliesin West
Taliesin West

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. TaliesinWsculpture

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.

TaliesinWestApprenticeWhile 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.

BiltmoreAZAfter Taliesin West we headed over to the Arizona Biltmore for lunch. Frank Lloyd Wright collaborated with former student Albert Chase McArthur in the design of the hotel which opened in 1929.

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 IMG_0829MIM, 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.

MIMUd15,000 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.

MIMSteinwayThere is also a musical history section which includes Johnny Cash’s black suit and guitar, John Lennon’s Imagine piano, and the first Steinway piano, made in Steinway’s kitchen.


MIMTedCasalsThen 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.


ArtMusJapMedRmThursday  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.
ArtMusGerome 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.

My favorite art and me

KandinskyComp8Kandinsky’s Composition 8 might look like a randomly arranged collection of geometrical patterns and colors but to me, it’s as if I’m looking at my own brain. Organized yet divergent and unruly. Kandinsky painted abstract art in order to create an object-free canvas for transcendent response that would connect the viewer with universal, human emotions; so I guess when I look at his work I’m supposed to think “me and everybody else.” Maybe I that’s it.

SchlossKamerKlimt_068 I love how the trees in Klimt’s Avenue of Schloss Kamer dominate. They are wild and colorful and almost rebellious, as if unwilling to tolerate being lined up in rows and put in a civilized setting. Unexpected purples and blues highlight the gnarled twisting limbs like streaks dyed in hair born brown. Sometimes I feel like I’m sitting there in my assigned row with thoughts as out of the park as Klimt’s trees.

starry-nightIt feels cliche to include Van Gogh’s Starry Night, but I would be dishonest if I didn’t include it. I love its movement and color. It captures the kind of revelatory  moment that utterly disturbs the universe yet carries inexplicable peace. Even with flame-like cypress tree looming in the foreground, the way problems seem vie for prominence in life, cannot dispel the awesome, swirling brightness in the heavens above. When I see Starry Night I have to stop what I’m doing a just look.

San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk MonetI’m a fan to sunsets. I like the way buildings and landscapes look like etchings against sunset skies. Monet gets this and in San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk he throws in reflections in the water for bonus points. Monets remind me of what my world looks like with uncorrected vision. Light and contrast really do become more important when you can’t see the details. Sort like stripping reality down to truth.

salvador-dali-persistence-of-memory-clocks-meaningI like Salvador Dali’s Persistence of Memory mostly for its droopy clocks. I read somewhere that Dali’s collapsed clocks were supposed to symbolize the passage of time in dreams and that the passage of time is kind of meaningless in dreams. Some say it’s about Einstein’s Theory of Relativity melting time as a stable force. Either I’m dreaming or approach an event horizon because time definitely is accelerating. At least Dali’s are face clocks. With those I can see all of time. With digital I can only see the minute I’m in. Maybe that’s my problem. The rest of my time needs to collapse into the minute I’m in.

head-of-a-young-womanI love Leonardo da Vinci’s unfinished piece simply called La Scapigliata or Head of a Woman. I like Leonardo’s drawing more than his painting and I find this piece personal and intimate. The shadowing on her face is so perfect but then her hair is all messy and not even all drawn on. Sometimes the drawing is referred to as Head of a Woman with Tousled Hair. My favorite photos are candid. I find people in casual attire easier to approach than people who are meticulously dressed and coiffed. Entertaining stresses me out because something is inevitably going to get left out (the dirty socks on the bathroom floor, Mexican food with no salsa, or me with mascara on only one eye).  I expect the life I leave behind when I exit this world will be an unfinished piece.

jeremiahs-lamentation-chagallMy husband and sons bought a lithograph of Marc Chagall’s Jeremiah’s Lamentations for me for Mother’s Day. I’m a fan of Chagall and love his restrained use of color in this one.  I’ve always felt really sorry for Jeremiah.  I think Chagall does a good job capturing Jeremiah’s dependence on God and his grief about what was going on in his world, showing him curled up, clutching that scroll. Nobody likes to be the one saying things people don’t want to hear. Personally I avoid that.  I would hate for my writing assignment to be Lamentations but in the Bible Jeremiah mans up and writes it.

Picasso guitarPicasso did a whole series of paintings of guitars. This one is my favorite.  I like the shapes and colors Picasso uses. The way the painting’s got organized lines and blocks but then the guitar is deconstructed reflects the sort of music I like. I want music to have some edge and surprise to it but I also want to hear hooks and melody.