Monday, March 30, 2015

Phoenix 2015 - Random Thoughts on Art and Screwing With Your Inner Time Clock

Although a flight may sound as if it leaves at a reasonable hour by the time one factors in making oneself presentable enough to leave the house, getting to the airport and surviving the increasing rigors of actually getting on the plane, in some instances one may find oneself rising several hours before the sun in order to get to the airplane on time. Even with a mid afternoon nap, necessitated by my no longer being capable of coherent speech, I still found myself in bed absurdly early. This meant, of course, that I was awake, at least for a vacation, absurdly early. One friend was at work, the other running early morning errands, so I found myself watching the Arizona sun rays as they journeyed across the back yard. It was just me, their dog, coffee and my spiral bound notebook. Were I home at this same hour and going to work I would be shaving, showering and donning a suit and tie as opposed to sitting at the kitchen island in sleep shorts and a sleeveless tee shirt drinking coffee and writing.

Our plan on this day was to visit the Phoenix Art Museum. An exhibition of Warhol portraits was opening which I had looked forward to during this visit. The Chicago Art Institute, voted the number one museum in the world by tripadvisor, contains an almost embarrassment of riches and world treasures in it's holdings. But travel always offers me a broader experience. I think back on viewing the Gainsborough's in St. Louis, which I credit with creating my appreciation for his almost miraculous technique. There were also the masterpieces, both ancient and modern, at Houston's Menil Galleries. I have been allowed to come within inches of Diego Riviera's monumental mural in Mexico City's city hall. On trips to Europe I have had the good fortune to marvel at Michelangelo's David. In Amsterdam I have had my soul renewed by the strokes of Rembrandt and Van Gogh. I have wandered through the Louve, where we purchased a plaster cherubs head ornament, carefully unwrapped and hung each Christmas reminding of us that day.

For me art has always been able to touch a place deep inside me. Art is, at least for me, both viewed and felt.

Phoenix 2015 - Planned Activities

My friends and I had mentioned, on previous trips, visiting the Phoenix Art Museum. There was a special exhibition of Andy Warhol portraits during the time I would be there. It seemed a prime opportunity for the long discussed museum trip. A day trip was also planned to the Saguaro National Forest. The multiarmed, ancient cacti generally grow far apart, battling one another for the scant water resources of the desert. In this one spot they crowd together. We planned to visit the Sonora Desert Museum in that area as well. There was the Phoenix Symphony Saturday night as well as dinner with their neighbors one evening. It was to be a busy time.

Then there was the sun and warmth. I always enjoy the sensation of the desert sun kissing my Midwestern winter white flesh. Returning home with a touch of color accentuated by a crisply pressed white dress shirt always makes Chicago heads turn, the faces that stare bearing a look which is part contempt, part envy. On one trip to Mexico I became quite sunsick due to a lack of suitable shelter during a day cruise. The bronze patina I bore on my return almost made the night spent on a Mexican hotel bathroom floor, head frequently hanging over the toilet, worth it.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Phoenix 2015 - Surviving the Rigors of Travel

It was that time of year when the world couldn't quite make up it's mind. The temperature had transitioned to a more consistently tolerable level and the sun sat too high in the sky for it to be full on winter, yet drifts of snow remained, reminders of late season storms. Icicles, nature's crystal chandeliers, trailed down from roofs and balconies . They were late winters thaw frozen in a moment of time. Still, it was too early to be spring. The years green grass, let alone flowers, had yet to appear And only the most hardy souls dared to go out in anything less than a heavy coat.

On this particular morning large wet snowflakes fell reminding us that winter was not done with us yet. I was in a CTA station waiting for the bus that would take me to the airport. Like almost every year around that time I was enroute to visit my friends in Phoenix. A woman, at least clean and dressed for the cold, with a cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee in her hand, moved in and out of the station smoking a cigarette while pointing her finger and arguing with an invisible, imaginary adversary. It was 4:45 in the morning. Who did I expect to be out that early? Noel Coward once wrote "Mad men and Englishmen go out in the noon day sun", apparently mad women and Americans go out at 4:45 in the morning when it is snowing. A young black man walked past me dressed in the public transit uniform of a navy blue bomber jacket and well fitting cargo pants. It is a look reminiscent of a member of a SWAT team, which I feel some guilt and embarrassment in finding oddly sexy. I recall watching the closing ceremonies of the winter Olympics, being held that year in Canada, on a previous visit to Phoenix. As they paraded across the field in their high boots, their Sam Browne harnesses smartly buckled over snug red jackets I remarked "I can't help it, I think Mountie uniforms are hot." One of my hosts declared "Oh God yes!" Sometimes it's nice to know you're not alone in this sort of thing.

People got on the bus wearing a thin layer of the snow falling outside. Arriving at the airport I encountered, as always, lines on top of lines. We check in, a line, we passed through security, a line we boarded the plane, a line. I passed the line time people watching. In particular the well built man in the stocking cap and tight tee shirt. One could easily imagine him pacing in a cage. An MMA fighter, barechested and barefoot, wearing satin shorts. He was, as one of my Phoenix host has said on occasion, hot in a serial killer sort of way. In reality he was probably a youth minister.

Our Frontier airplane sported an image of a white snowshoe bunny on it's tail. Ironic considering we were headed to the desert. An hour past our original departure time we were in the air. Chicago, the city that works.....eventually.