Family outing on the cheap, plus thoughts on art, and a little kindergarten vanity.

On Labor Day, using the Culture Pass* I’d checked out on Friday, our family went to the Phoenix Art Museum, which I’d not visited for five years, and had missed.  Normal admission price for our family of seven would be $32.  ($10 for adults, $4 for children 6-17, free for children 5 and under.)  With the Culture Pass, we paid $12, as Martin and I were free.  Very do-able.  I packed a picnic lunch, which we ate outside in the very warm, dappled shade, next to a creepy sculpture-fountain of a woman “bleeding” water out of cut-up forearms.

When I was in college, I saw a woman wearing a tee that said, “Art Can’t Hurt You” and while part of me understands the sentiment, I actually don’t agree with that.  Art encompasses a wide range of experiences and emotions, including ones that hurt.  However, I don’t get weird about it.  We acknowledged to the little girls, “Yeah… that’s sad.  And creepy.  I wonder if the artist was sad?  It’s painful to look at, huh?”  and we just let it go at that.  Actually, the older boys were more creeped out than the girls, because I think they grasp the concept of mortality and emotional pain better than the 2- and 5-year-old girls.


The whole thing made for a cheap and VERY enjoyable outing.  I’m so glad my hubby was along;  his presence allowed us to stay a good five hours.  If it was just me and the five kids, I’d have been done after, oh, three hours or so.

I really don’t have very many pictures.  When I’m involved in something, I find that I rarely remember to document the process;  I’m too busy enjoying.

We headed first to the Western American Art exhibit, at my insistence.  I don’t consider myself a cowgirl — at all — but I love, love, love Western art.  My all-time favorite painting at the Phx Art Museum is Ed Mell‘s Sweeping Clouds.  Looking up Ed Mell, I just now discovered that I don’t care for all of his paintings, but I sure do love the one hanging in the corner of the PAM.  Western art in general, and that painting in particular, reminds me of the very best things about living in Arizona — dramatic scenery, a sense of solitude, unique aspects of nature, the vibrant colors of the desert, and the best skyscapes of ANYWHERE….

Not my pic. I'll admit, I stole it from a Russian website and am now uploading it here. I didn't want to link to that site, because it seemed a little fishy.

Other highlights included the installation of Yayoi Kusama’s You Who Are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies which is essentially a dark, mirrored room, about 20′ square, with a reflective floor and ceiling, and thousands of computer-programmed LED lights of varying colors hung at all heights.  It’s kind of hard to find your way in, orient yourself, and then find your way out again.  It doesn’t sound like something I’d enjoy, but I LOVED it.  So did all the kids, especially Fiala.  We went through it probably five times or more… probably spent a good 30 minutes total in that little room.  It was what the best installations are:  Unique, an experience, a wee bit unsettling, but also thoroughly enjoyable.

In the kids’ art room, the girls and my 12yo, Grant, went to town, drawing and playing for upwards of 45 minutes.  I stayed there with them while Martin and the other two boys visited the Modern Mexican Painting exhibit.

It's inspired by Escuelas de Pintura al Aire Libre, the open-air painting schools of Mexico.


Fiala, very intent.


Audrey, candid.


Audrey, posing, now that she realizes Mom is snapping pics. Goober. Cute little goober.

So.  The Phoenix Art Museum.  You should go.  And pick up your passes from the library.  🙂


*The Phoenix Library system has a great program called the Culture Pass.  There is a little kiosk inside each library branch that has cards which you take to the desk to “check out” a free pass, good for 2-4 tickets, to be used within the week, to various cultural attractions around the area.  For our one-income family, this is a fabulous way to make often-pricey museums an extremely reasonable outing.



About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on September 7, 2011, in Arizona, Art, Budget, Family, Free stuff, Life in the Desert, The Dear Hubby, The Kids. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I have been thinking that an Art Museum field trip is in order for this fall, and now I’m determined. It sounds like you all had a great time!

  2. We LOVE art museums. Been a few months since we’ve been. I think after the baby is born we should go. In fact, maybe I can talk Gana into taking me to the Getty this weekend–get some good walking in and see some great art!

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