Friday, April 16, 2010

Goal # 44 - Dates with Devin (2 of 20)

Multi-tasking is a grand thing ain't it? Last night Devin and I had our weekly date night and not only was it frugal (Goal #54) - and by frugal I mean FREE - I was also able to complete date two-of-twenty for Goal #44 "Go on 20 of the dates listed in the books Dates on a Dime and Coffee Dates for Couples."

"Most museums offer free admission on certain days. Visit then and, as a memento, bring home a postcard or trinket from the gift shop." - Dates on a Dime 

Downtown Mesa, AZ is a very interesting place to visit. It has a beautiful center for the arts - which brings in some excellent concerts and plays - and a museum of contemporary art (I'll get to that in a minute). One of the more unique features of Mesa is the permanent sculpture collection - an outdoor display of sculptures that spans a six-block stretch of Main Street. But the sculpture we came to see was this one:

A twenty-five-foot sculpture of the famous painting by Grant Wood, American Gothic. This traveling exhibit, named God Bless America and created by J. Seward Johnson, has been touring cities all over the U.S. and has most recently made a stop in our very own Mesa, AZ.

This thing is incredible. When viewed from across the street, it appears to be a 2-D cut-out from every angle - looking like someone had simply sliced up the original canvas and enlarged it. One has to be right under it to be able to see the three-dimensional, gigantic details. It was a very interesting effect.  

(photo by Devin Hanson)

After staring agape at God Bless America for a good fifteen-minutes, we walked over to the Mesa Arts Center to enjoy the sack dinner I had packed. We admired the modern architecture of the M.A.C. as we munched on our sandwiches. Then, we headed into the Museum of Contemporary Art for "free admission Thursdays." 

(Museum of Contemporary Art - photo by Devin Hanson)

I'm not a huge fan of contemporary art. In fact, I usually use air-quotes around the world "art" when speaking of it. Despite this prejudice, most of the displays (while not artistically up-to-par with the classic masters such as Rembrandt and Michelangelo) were compelling. I especially liked the exhibit Stare by Chris Rush which contained portraits of people with physically deformities and/or mental disabilities. The artist portrays the subjects in a way that shows dignity and beauty, while also confronting the viewer with the reality of the handicaps and the fact that we often "stare" at these people without seeing their true value.

 (Swim 2 by Chris Rush)

However, there was one exhibit that was truly horrifying. Honestly, it was the most terrifyingly graphic, disturbing, evil-looking art I have every seen. It made me physically uncomfortable and I did not relish, or on any level appreciate, the experience. It was beyond bizarre - a devastating reminder of how art reflects culture and how twisted and dark our world has become.

But this is not the thought that I would like to end this post with.

Dates for a Dime mentioned bringing home a "memento" from the museum, but considering how I clearly felt about some of the art there, I figured some of the awesome pictures Devin took at the M.A.C. would be a better reminder, so I will leave you with these:

 (self portrait :-)


  1. Ooh! I love your purple top and purple flats! Super cute!

    That 25-foot sculpture is incredible! I love the pic of you standing next to it. I wonder why J. Seward Johnson chose that particular painting to sculpt because it looks like he spent YEARS on it! It must have been pretty significant to focus so much time into it. Any ideas?

  2. Grandmother RobisonApril 17, 2010 at 9:41 AM

    Thanks for sharing the "God Bless America" art exhibit. "American Gothic" sculpture --so intriguing.
    Enjoyed Devin's photos capturing your evening at the arts center.
    What a fun-filled interesting date!

  3. @Bethany- I just found this quote from the artist:

    “We are overwhelmed in the twentieth century with what technology has brought us. We need to be reminded of the warmth of the human spirit, and so examples should be present in our environments. We have to understand that our age can be a humanitarian one, and not one which relegates the human being to an alienated condition.”


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