Sunday, November 17, 2013

Great Day!

What a great day we had on Saturday!  We went to Mesa to visit some museums there.

First up was the Mesa Historical Museum, which was somewhat of a dud!  It was very small, with one large room completely devoted to baseball, that is, spring training, which takes place in Mesa, and a few other areas.  There was one other very small room displaying scenes from a children's tv program, probably in the 60's or 70's, called "Wallace and ????" (I had never heard of this program and have forgotten the other name.)  Apparently they gave out very popular bags of prizes, which everybody wanted to take home.

We knew there was a museum of modern art somewhere around there, but had decided to skip that.  However, a woman at the Mesa Historical Museum convinced us to have a look.  And are we ever glad that she did!

 Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum occupies the lower level of this very modern building.  You can go in at the upper level and take the elevator or stairs down.  The picture to the right shows the upper level, and the stairs leading down to the courtyard.  The second picture looks down into the lower level courtyard.

There are four galleries, two fairly small and two larger.  In the first gallery we saw a display called "From Lemons to Lingerie," works by two Arizona artists.  Tom Eckert is a carver who produces works that look like cloth.  The first work we came across was a black satin chemise with one black patent leather high heel pump resting on it.  A sign next to the work warned us that "things are not always
what they seem!"  They were works carved out of wood!  You could swear that they were soft satin and shiny patent.  Several other of his works were similar.

Linda Ingraham is a photographer who combines and digitally manipulates her photos to create whimsical images of, for instance, lemons in flight.

Both artists were described as "redefining the typical still-life with their unusual medium choices and surrealist subject matter."  Their works were very interesting and entertaining.

Then there was a large gallery with a display called "Messin' with the Masters."  There were all painting or sculptures that were practically reproductions of famous works, but with an often humorous twist.  For instance there was a statue of a Japanese warrior, with "I (heart) NY" carved out of his chest.  Some of the works were very involved, large and full of symbolism.  It was an interesting collection.

Third gallery was the best, at least the one I enjoyed the most.  The title "Devocionales" grouped many very complex, dense and full of narrative, paintings done in the style of traditional retablo altarpieces by Patrick McGrath Muniz.  His words explain it best: "The intention is to provoke the questioning of our present day socio-economic conditions and what role corporations, money, profit and the neo-liberal policies play in our citizen life."  He fearlessly holds up for critical inspection, through the use of wit and sometimes sarcasm, the dominance of our society by the values of profit and power.

I was fascinated with these paintings and found his social criticism to be penetrating and exact.  I especially enjoyed the sly "Faux News" label on some of the portrayals of journalists and photographers.

The fourth gallery did not interest me.  I forget the names of the two collaborating artists because I was totally unimpressed.  No report on that gallery!

When we came out of the museum I saw a very interesting artful wall.  The facade of the building facing the museum had a huge screen, perhaps 5 stories tall and just as wide made of thousands of small squares of some reflective material.  They must have been hanging on hooks, as the whole field of silver "scales" shimmered as the breeze flowed over it.  It was beautiful!  I took a short video of it with my digital camera, but it doesn't upload to the blog.  There may be a way, but I don't know how to do it.

It was after 1 p.m. by this time, and we were headed toward the Arizona Natural History Museum about two or three blocks away, looking for a restaurant to have a light lunch.  There was an "art fair" in the neighbourhood that day; the block of MacDonald between Main and Pepper was roped off and there were perhaps 25 to 30 small tent shelters for vendors to display their wares: beads, wooden toys, scarves, pictures, etc. that they had made.

Along the way we came upon a table with the sign, "Free hot dogs, pop and chips!"  What a fun treat!  We each had a hot dog and a pop, and I had some Fritos.  I think the last time we had a hot dog was one time in the 90's as we were travelling through Wisconsin and stopped in Ashland where a Target store had a grill set up outdoors and were selling hot dogs for $1 each.  It was delightful yesterday to sit on the sidewalk and enjoy this "all American" treat.

Next stop was the Arizona Natural History Museum, and that was a treat too.  Here's the lobby with its Wooly Mammoth skeleton.  On the left you can see just the tips of the Mastodon's horns.

We spent a long time in the dinosaur and early civilizations area. Lots of wonderful displays and lots to see and lots to read.

I highly recommend visiting either the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum or the Arizona Natural History Museum, both in Mesa. 

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