The Phoenix Art Museum

Today's Phoenix Recap begins with a great big, beautiful dose of art!

Liz and I began our weekend adventures at the Phoenix Art Museum on Saturday. What a fantastic museum! If you are ever in that area, go and spend some time at this museum. It's huge. Don't worry about visiting EVERY single piece of art. My advice at museums is this: soak in whatever you see and make peace with the fact that you aren't going to be able to see and fully appreciate everything in the whole building.

At most museums, when I start to feel exhausted or overwhelmed (for me, this happens after about 2 hours) - I either take a break or head to the next vacation stop. I'm sure everyone has a different museum approach, but this one works pretty well for me.


Although we didn't get to see everything, we sure got to see a lot! One of the special summer exhibitions at the museum is called: The Art of Video Games. There was a multitude of gaming systems set up with full histories of the most popular games used by each system. I thought it was a wonderful, thoughtful way to invite museum goers to more fully appreciate the artwork of video games.

It was really a walk down memory lane to see so many gaming systems that I've grown up with! I even got to play my FAVORITE COMPUTER GAME EVER: Myst! I only played for about 1 minute, but it was enough to remind me of how much I loved that game at age 12 when we got our first home computer.


Liz = Mario Queen

All over the entry area of the museum, there were thousands and thousands and thousands of black butterflies cut out of paper. 

There were many beautiful paintings that were such a treat to absorb. There were also some fascinating modern art pieces that were extremely thought-provoking. Some odd. Some confusing. I love art and the way it challenges my brain to step outside of what's familiar and comfortable.


And guess which iconic presidential portrait is held at the Phoenix Art Museum?


And now the pièce de résistance (french for "super awesome special best part"):

"You Who Are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies" by Yayoi Kusama. It was an intense, mysterious, powerful, disarming experience. The piece is actually its own little room, tucked in a corner. A person could almost miss it, which would be disappointing since it was so fabulous. For a little more background on the artist, read this.

The room contains mirrors on all sides and surfaces. It's completely dark except for thousands of tiny lights (reminiscent of Christmas lights but more delicate). It was a true piece of experiential art. It's challenging to describe the experience and the photos don't at all do it justice.

Upon entering, it becomes completely unclear where the walls and doors are at. Everything is mirrored. Physical boundaries between objects are impossible to identify. It took several minutes for my eyes to adjust. During those minutes, it truly was like being obliterated by fireflies. It was mesmerizing and hypnotizing.

As I've learned more about the artist since getting home last night, I am even more fascinated. She was born in Japan in 1929. And since the 1970s, she has opted to live in the Seiwa Hospital for the Mentally Ill. She credits art with saving her life. I thought the experience of this piece was powerful in the moment. But now, knowing more about Yayoi, I am brought to tears reflecting on the many layers of her art and this particular room of all-consuming tiny lights.

The Phoenix Art Museum is a MUST-SEE on your next Arizona adventure!

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