In the twenty-seven years that I’ve lived in the greater Phoenix area, I’d never seen the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA)–until last week. It wasn’t for lack of trying.
The first time I tried to go, I couldn’t get near the museum because of some event that snarled traffic and filled all the parking spaces.
The second time I tried, I hit a curb at the intersection of Hayden and Indian School Road, and blew out a tire.
SMoCA is located at the Scottsdale Civic Center, a complex that also includes city offices, a public library, the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, restaurants, and a park. The park boasts some lovely sculptures, the most famous of which is Robert Indiana’s LOVE. (By the way, to enlarge any photo below, just click on it.)
The Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts is a wonderful venue. I’ve been blessed to attend some concerts there. It also contains lovely artwork.
Several installations were on exhibit at the SMoCA. Some of them were unphotographable (you had to be there). Almost all involved flashing lights. Taking up one room, Ferryman’s Crossing by Bruce Munro is made up largely of recycled compact discs, reflecting light to the sound of water lapping against a dock. In another room, Kelly Richardson’s Mariner 9 is projected against a wall by multiple projectors, giving almost a 3-D image. It is a depiction of what the surface of Mars could look like after a visit from astronauts. A mist drifts across it, and parts of discarded space vehicles turn and sway in the wind. It was very difficult to photograph with my simple Sony Cybershot; please pardon the poor quality. A museum visit would not be complete without checking out the shop. This one does not disappoint.
One wing of the SMoCA is actually located within the Center for the Performing Arts. Called young@art, it is a gallery of student work. The current exhibit is by high school students at the New School for the Arts and Academics, and it is called Archilumen. Also featuring flashing lights. I sense it is the theme for the season.
If you are in the Phoenix, Arizona area, it is worth an hour to check out the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. It’s a small museum, but Scottsdale is a charming town with lots of shops and art galleries and restaurants, so make an afternoon of it. You could even have a picnic in the park.
All photographs in this article by Andrea R Huelsenbeck.