Contemporary Among Classics

Classic art was also contemporary once.

Ragnar Kjartansson: Scandinavian Pain & Other Myths was the Southwestern US premiere of work by Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson (b. 1976), presented by the Phoenix Art Museum.

It consisted of three major works: the 40-foot long neon installation Scandinavian Pain, along with The End-Venice, Kjartansson’s contribution to the 2009 Venice Biennale during which he secluded himself in a fourteenth-century palazzo and produced one painting per day for six months (the entire duration of Venice Biennale). Each painting depicts his friend and fellow artist Páll Haukur Björnsson, in a Speedo.

Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons
Dress and shoes from the S/S 2018 collection

Art on Dress: Giuseppe Archimboldo

Jan Anthonisz van Ravesteyn (Dutch, c. 1570-1657)
Portrait of an Old Woman, late  16th-mid 17th century
Oil on canvas

The third work by Ragnar Kjartansson was his superb nine-screen installation that was filmed in one take at the historic Rokeby farm in upstate New York. Named after ABBA’S final album, The Visitors, it records the performances of a group of friends, musicians and artists, playing simultaneously but in different rooms of the mansion. They all play the same song each one enriching it with their own voice, instrument and presence. Kjartansson himself performs most of the time in a bathtub. The film mesmerizes and moves audiences of all ages wherever it is shown. You can watch a recording of the recording, uploaded on YouTube by one of its many admirers.

Anish Kapoor (British, b. 1954)
Upside Down, Inside Out, 2003
Resin and paint

Phoenix Art Museum

January 30th, 2019

Wearable Art

Taking its rightful place alongside more traditional forms of art.

Alessandro Michele (Italian, b. 1972) for Gucci
Ensemble F/W 2016

Stephen Jones (British, b. 1957)
”Show” Hat, F/W 2013 ”Art School”
Perspex Plexiglas

Deborah Williams Remington (American, 1930-2010)
Dover, 1975
Oil on canvas

Stephen Jones (British, b. 1957)
”Sewing” Hat, S/S 2018
Printed cotton with satin cord and metal bodkin

Rei  Kawakubo (Japanese, b. 1942)
Comme des Garçons, S/S 2018

Rei  Kawakubo (Japanese, b. 1942)
Comme des Garçons, S/S 2018

Rei  Kawakubo (Japanese, b. 1942)
Comme des Garçons, S/S 2018

Rei  Kawakubo (Japanese, b. 1942)
Comme des Garçons, S/S 2018

Viola Frey (American, 1933-2004)
Nude Man, 1989
Glazed ceramic

John Galliano (British, b. 1960) for Maison Margiela
Ensemble Fall 2018

Kehinde Wiley (American, b. 1977)
Marechal Floriano  Peixoto (from The World Stage: Brazil Series), 2009
Oil on canvas

Phoenix Art Museum

January 30th, 2019

Food for thought (in quarantine)


1/Cornelia Parker (British, b. 1956)
Mass (Colder Darker Matter), 1997
Burnt wood, wire and string

Proposing that matter is never destroyed but merely transformed, Cornelia Parker challenges the way we experience destruction. Mass (Colder Darker Matter) is made  from the charred remains of a Texas Baptist church that was struck by lightning.

2/Horacio Zabala (Argentine, b. 1943)
Hipótesis para Phoenix (Hypothesis for Phoenix), 2016
Acrylic on wall, enamel paint on wood

3/Tom Friedman (American, b. 1965)
Big Big Mac, 2013
Styrofoam and paint

4/Black Cloud (Nube negra), 2007
Carlos Amorales (Mexican, b. 1970)
25.000 paper moths and butterflies

Inspired by the annual migration of monarch butterflies from Canada to Mexico, Carlos Amorales conceived Black Cloud as a ”plague” of moths that swarm through museum spaces.

Phoenix Art Museum

January 30th, 2019



One Church I Would Gladly Attend

At least once, if only to see how the light filters through the spire’s stained glass onto the floor of the sanctuary.

In 1949 the president of Phoenix’s Southwest Christian Seminary commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design a Classical University.

Wright’s drawings, completed in 1950, reveal his vision for an eighty-acre campus replete with a chapel, administrative buildings, seminar rooms, library, Greek theatre, and faculty homes. However, the seminary ceased operation before the campus could be built.

In the early 1970s, the First Christian Church approached Wright’s widow, Olgivanna, who granted them permission to use Wright’s triangular chapel design. Meant to evoke the Holy Trinity and reflect an attitude of prayer, the chapel’s roof and spire rise seventy-seven feet, supported by the 23 slender triangular pillars. Light filters through the spire’s stained glass insets onto the floor of the 1,000-seat diamond-shaped sanctuary.

The addition of the baptistery and choir loft, as well as the 1979 addition of an administrative wing, completed by Taliesin Architects, are the only modifications to the original design.

First Christian Church, Phoenix, AZ

January 30th, 2019

Saguaros & Rock Art

To most of the world, these prickly giants symbolize the American West. To me, they seem like a large family, gathered together after a long time of absence, merrily chatting away. Their posture, their gestures – expressive, daring, even obscene, the way they lean on each other; I feel at home among the Saguaros, never mind our differences (mainly in size).

We traveled a long way to meet them, because they gather exclusively only in small parts of the U.S. West; Tucson is one of their favourite spots, especially for the ”younger” among them.

Did you know that their branches begin to grow when saguaros reach 60 to 75 years of age? That is for those growing in the Saguaro National Park; in areas of lower precipitation, it may take up to 100 years before arms appear.

An adult saguaro is generally considered to be about 125 years of age. It may weigh 8 tons or more and be as tall as 50 feet. The average life span of a saguaro is probably 150 – 175 years of age. However, biologists believe that some plants may live over 200 years. The estimated number of saguaros in the Saguaro National Park is 1.8 million.

With such a long lifespan, it is only fitting that Saguaros would have chosen to gather here, in a land dotted with archeological sites spanning more than 8,000 years of prehistoric and historic-period occupation.

One of these prehistoric sites, accessible to visitors, is Signal Hill; a small hill with petroglyphs created by the prehistoric Hokoham people on the boulders that cover the hillside. Saguaro National Park, Tucson, AZ

January 29th, 2019