TRAVEL THERE: AN AIMLESS ART ADVENTURE
In my research for this trip, must-see items in the Phoenix Art Museum did not make themselves apparent. Going was more of a you’re-here-and-it’s-free kind of thing. So we stood in the short line and made it into the museum with perhaps an hour to kill. Here’s what we did in that hour.
No Need for Speed
Front and center in the entry way was an exhibition called Legends of Speed. It was 20 race cars posing as art. What we could see from outside the exhibition was lovely, but it cost extra to see it and we didn’t even have enough time to see what was free. So, we sort of followed our nose up into the European and Western Art areas.
The Phoenix Art Museum is quite modern. I don’t mean that all it has is modern art. I mean the building and its architecture are very modern. Nothing grand and stately. More like plywood walls painted white with concrete floors. Lingering is not encouraged or accommodated. No conveniently placed benches available to relax as you practice art appreciation.
Almost by accident we wandered into the Thorne Rooms Exhibit. I say almost by accident, because we did not purposely go to find them, but decorative arts being my favorite art form, we went to the part of the museum where we would be most likely to find something like Narcissa Niblick Thorne’s Miniature Rooms.
The art deco room you see here is about the size of a shoe box, but their’s nothing small about the craftsmanship. The brass fireplace tools are exquisite, the murals are tiny hand-loomed tapestries. The wall sconces are real silver with actual crystal teardrops.
What’s more, this room is just one of many. Pick a style, any style. You’re likely to find a room with that style in the exhibit. For me, it was worth all the craziness of Art Walk to get to spend some time admiring these gems. I highly recommend them.
The Rest of It
We did not do the museum justice, but time was ticking away. I’d say we saw most of the second floor. We found the Western Art and saw everything European, which included their very nice Monet. We purposely avoided the Modern and Contemporary Art, but that also caused us to miss the Ansel Adams show in the Photography Section. The Fashion Section was closed, because they were getting ready for a new exhibition in there. We breezed through the Art of Asia and found the Gift Shop, where I picked up some postcards of the Thorne Rooms Exhibit to put in my scrapbook.
Would I go back to the Phoenix Art Museum? Of course, if for no other reason than to gaze at the Thorne Rooms again. They are amazing. I can imagine if I lived in the area, I would be a member and visit often. However, I do have to say that it didn’t work very hard to win me over. The whole thing sort of felt like a temporary exhibit space. I like my museums to have a certain amount of permanence and gravitas. PAM seems as if it might perpetually be under construction. The first “art” you see is a huge red plastic dinosaur and next we encountered race cars. It was a little like arriving at an amusement part, rather than a museum.
I think art should be approachable and create interest for the masses, but that doesn’t mean it should quit taking itself seriously. The entry area should WOW you a bit, not remind you of a road side attraction. So, I’ll not add PAM to my list of favorite museums, but I also won’t kick it to the curb. We are falling a little more in love with Arizona every time we go through, so I anticipate many more visits.
We grabbed some fast food on the way back to the resort. It had been another long day of sightseeing. We were tired, but not exhausted in the same way we had been after 10.5 hour shore excursions in Italy. The next morning we had to pay the piper. Come back next week and I’ll explain what I mean.