Phoenix Art Museum Special Exhibit

Phoenix Art Museum Special Exhibit

A special exhibit of “Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester and the Power of Observation” opened yesterday at the Phoenix Art Museum. We enjoyed brunch at Switch Restaurant & Wine Bar before the Museum opened at noon. It was necessary to pass through security before entering the Codex Leicester exhibit. Bill Gates purchased the Codex in 1994 for a cool $30,802,500. It is 18 double-page and double sided sheets (72 pages) representing the curiosity, direct observation, and thinking on paper of Leonardo, one of the world’s most unique inquiring minds combining artist, scientist, and thinker. I initially found the text indecipherable. It made more sense when I learned that Leonardo uses mirror writing along with his drawings and diagrams. In other words, he wrote in Italian from right to left. Much of this work deals with the properties of water and astronomy observations. The exhibit is supplemented with the works of other artists. There are paintings by impressionists Gustace Courbet and Claude Monet; photographs by Edward Weston and Ansel Adams; a Mona Lisa reproduction by Kiki Smith made from spools of thread; and The Raft by Bill Viola which documents in a slow motion video a group subjected to high pressure water hoses.

Hands Connect Hearts

Hands Connect Hearts

Our visit to the Phoenix Art Museum started by boarding the Metro light rail at the Dorsey/Apache stop in Tempe. The light rail opened in December 2008 covering about 20 miles of the Phoenix area. Plans are in place for seven extensions expanding to 60 miles by 2034. We were pleasantly surprised to discover how crowded the cars were on a Sunday including at least 8 bicycles in our car on our return. Interestingly, the plans for light rail also included public art. The 21 foot high “Hands” by Suikang Zhao found at the Dorsey/Apache stop is a great example. It uses a man’s hand and a woman’s hand to show our connections. I believe my photograph captures the hands forming a heart.

Two other special exhibits of photography were of interest to me. One was “All That Glitters is Not Gold: Platinum Photography from the Center for Creative Photography,” and the other “Platinum: Contemporary Photography.” I learned that in photography the platinum process produces a velvet matte surface, provides a subtle tonal range, results in a delicate rendering of the image, and allows for cool greys and warm browns through beautiful monochromatic coloration. The Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona has 800 platinum prints in its collection of 90,000 prints. About 80 photographs by 50 artists are on display.

“Sacred Stories and Images of the Buddha” was another special exhibit that I wanted to see. A 37-foot painted cloth scroll from Laos was the main image. We viewed the first four of the thirteen chapters of the Vessantana Jataka, one of 547 stories allegedly told by the Buddha of his previous lives. This one stresses the generosity of the Prince in giving up his riches, his sacred white elephant, his children, and even his wife. The Phoenix Art Museum has special exhibits that are well worth seeing.

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