Escher. Harding. Toulouse-Lautrec. Warhol. All artists included in the “Paper!” exhibit just opened at the Phoenix Art Museum. I spent a lovely Sunday afternoon taking it all in, and thought I’d share a few highlights for those of you unmoved by the mere mention of the title. Paper is more fascinating than you think, as evidenced by the diverse collection of paper works included in this exhibition.
Think little black dress made of “Post-It” notes. A giant Chinese fan. Paper mache works that call to mind the mischievous “Gremlins” of film fare. DIY jewelry kits. A work inspired by cigarette packs. A shiny white sculpture resembling a polished piece of crumpled up paper. A work that screams “flower power.”
“Paper!” runs through Sept. 23 at the Phoenix Art Museum’s Steele Gallery, which is just across from the The Museum Store where I spied plenty of unique and traditional Father’s Day gift fare after enjoying all things paper. Think ties, clocks, puzzles, architeture-theme LEGO sets, kitchen wares, office gadgets, books, posters and more. Sorry — no lawn movers or extreme razors.
A trip to see “Paper!” would make a lovely Father’s Day outing, especially coupled with Sunday brunch at the museum’s Palette restaurant. Also a fun start to “First Friday” come June 1. While you’re at the museum, explore a few of their other offerings as well — including four additional exhibitions and works in the museum’s permanent collection.
As you’re enjoying the “Paper!” exhibition, watch for details like which countries artists hail from and what sorts of materials they used. I found works created with chalk, paint, spirulina, chlorophyl, graphite, wire, steel, gold and more. Also a fascinating array of subject matter. Think politics, fruit, guns, landscapes, maps, summer camp, social commentary and such.
Exhibition walls are dotted with blurbs related to various ways we use paper, many shaped like yellow sticky notes. Watch for the large whiteboard as you exit the exhibition. It’s got notes you can use to leave your own “Paper!” perspectives (But alas, they’re not the clever sticky notes found in The Museum Store).
If you take the kids along, be sure you hit the dedicated children’s area, where they can draw with colored pencils at a long yellow table strewn with beautiful wooden stencils or sit at one of several wooden stools in front of sturdy easels topped with blank paper.
Take them for an outside spin too. The courtyard between the Phoenix Art Museum and Phoenix Theatre is filled with trees offering ample shade and several sculptures that make for a lovely bit of “I-Spy” action. Then head home and give them lots of paper and other materials to work with. Because today’s parents are nurturing tomorrow’s artists.
Coming up: The power of the word.