The hotel we stayed in was insured by the world famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Every part from the lobby, the roof, the rock work, and even the window coverings conveyed this inspiration. I made an image of the window blind in our room and like that there was a palm tree in the background outside to give a sense of place. Laura and I drove through downtown Phoenix and stopped in at the Phoenix Art Museum, but we got there with only about an hour and a half before closing, and I honestly didn’t think we could do it justice in such a short time. It’ll have to wait for the next trip!
This sculpture installation was above the ticket windows inside the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. I didn’t see any info as to who made it, but if I was to guess, I would say Dale Chihuly – just guessing though!
A real highlight of our trip to Phoenix in February was our visit to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA). It is a fabulous facility with simply outstanding exhibits and a great bookstore to boot! I highly recommend a visit if you are in the area. Designed by award-winning architect Will Bruder, SMoCA’s minimalist building (a renovation of a former movie theater) has four galleries that showcase changing exhibitions.
SMoCA’s current(until May 4th) exhibit titled Five Senses includes an installation by Olafur Eliasson called Beauty that constructs an experience of sensory contrasts which shifts between darkness and light, warm and cool, dry and damp and that amplify the spectacular visual experience of standing amidst water and a beautiful spectrum of fractured light.
Best known among Arizona based artist Steve Turrell’s completed artworks are his Skyspaces. One of these mysterious enclosures, Knight Rise, is located in the Museum’s outdoor Nancy and Art Schwalm Sculpture courtyard. Rimmed internally with a concrete bench, Knight Rise invites you to observe the sky through an elliptical opening in the ceiling. We visited this in the middle of a cloudy afternoon, but evening would be highly recommended as you would then be able to observe the changing colour of the sky as dusk settles in on the desert.
Canon G10 (#1, #2)
Sigma DP1M w/Ricoh GW-3 (#3, #4)
Laura and I travelled to Phoenix last week with my parents. We took part of our last day before flying home, to travel into the desert northeast of the city. We headed into Tonto National Forest on the N. Bush Highway a few miles past Saguaro Lake, which is a body of water created by the Stewart Mountain Dam. This was actually not the road I intended on travelling and so I turned the car around and headed back. As we past the dam we noticed a lot of smoke ahead, so I pulled over to have a look. The bushes along the Salt River had caught fire somehow and were burning quite intensely. Whenever the flames engulfed another tree or bush the flames would leap skyward sending smoke hundreds of feet high. The temperature was around 30°C and so felt rather warm for someone who had just come from a weeks worth of at least -30°C, and it felt already like the desert was on fire, just not literally. It was a spectacular sight and I quickly made some images before the rangers started clearing out those of us watching the spectacle.
“Song of the Skies” is the title used for a 1986 “Camera Canada” magazine article featuring nine fabulous sky images by Alfred Upton, which I have gone back to over and over again through the years. To quote from this article and from “Moments of Beauty”, a catalogue of a 65 year retrospective exhibition in 1987:
“One of Upton’s long term goals has been to capture the drama of clouds in a photographic symphony. As a result of this challenge, he has spent many hours watching the skies for the precise moment when the movement of clouds was most expressive. Gathering storms, promising sunsets and cloud-filled summer skies would send him scurrying to an appropriate vantage point, often preselected. The dramatic results were further heightened by clever darkroom techniques in printing, choice of paper and toning. The dramatic results, in symphonic terms, were [his images titled] “Prelude”, “Crescendo”, “Allegro”, “Adagio”, “Animato”, and “Furioso”, a series of skycapes taken between 1935 and 1982. His ability to do justice to this subject matter prompted one admirer to refer to him as “king of clouds”.
My eyes are virtually always scanning the skies for the same drama that Mr. Upton was, and his images have been and continue to be an inspiration to me. Mr. Upton would usually show where a cloud is travelling as opposed to it being simply a storm cloud by including at least something of the surface of the earth to give the clouds both scale and context. His images are like poetry to me.
Alfred Upton has shown me that patience and perseverance will reward me with expressive skies, but also he has shown me how to interpret and present these skies espressivo.