Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ansel Adams at the Phoenix Art Museum

Apparently I'm a little slow, but I found out this week, from one of the many photo blogs I read, that an Ansel Adams Exhibit is set up at the Phoenix Art Museum. The exhibit started at the end of January and runs through June 6, 2010. I further discovered that every Wednesday admission is free... so with Dan gone on business, I decided I MUST go... and that the Kiddo would come with me. So, with some trepidation, fearing that a photo exhibit would bore him in no time (despite his enthusiasm to the contrary), the Kiddo and I met grandpa for an early dinner at Chipolte and then made our way downtown. Traffic was crazy once we got close to our destination, but one of the Kiddo's friends called providing him with some entertainment. I was amused by their phone conversation which was 1/3 words, 2/3 sound effects to go with their discussion about the latest and greatest video game!
We finally arrived at the museum, after about an hour of travel and a quick stop at PhotoMark to pick up a grey card and look at camera backpacks. (I was so proud that I resisted the urge to buy anything huge.) After parking we walked into the museum and headed back to the Steele Gallery where the Ansel Adam's exhibit is housed. 

We mistakenly started the tour backwards, starting with Ansel's newest works first. We played a few games as we looked at the images. The Kiddo and I would walk up to a print and he or I would say "Close your eyes." "Okay, on the count of three... one... two... three! OPEN!" "Now what's the first thing you see?" We also looked for S-curves and landscapes with "foreground, middle ground, background." We had a ton of fun!
As we were walking around, the docent asked us if we were interested in joining the tour she was about to start. After asking the kiddo what he thought, we decided to opt in. The docent started talking about Ansel Adams as a child, how he was energetic, that he didn't do very well in school and hated to sit still. I asked the Kiddo, "Does that remind you of anyone?" He gave me a smile, saying, "Mmm, hmmm" and was hooked. 
We stayed with the docent's tour for the first 1/3 before the Kiddo was done with the talking. He wandered off and I soon joined him. He marveled at the 40lb camera Ansel Adams lugged with him ("MOM! Did you SEE this huge camera?") and LOVED the huge picture on the wall nicknamed "Ansel on the Mount". I had no idea Ansel Adams was a teacher... it had just never occurred to me that he might teach! We marveled at the many pictures of him with his students. 
The kiddo was excited to sign the guest book with "Very cool Suncerely a kid inspired by your art."

And I signed, "So happy to share this awesome exhibit with my 10 year old son. He loves it as much as I do! Thank you!"
I thrilled to learn and see Monolight, The Face of Half Dome and view images depicting some of Ansel Adams creative process from original negative print to his final 'perfect' production 40 years later. Incredible and I loved getting more insight into his ingenious post processing methods.
Even the Kiddo was really into the art, he kept coming up to me, "Mom, come check out this picture." or "Mom, did you see that?" I was thrilled that he so enjoyed it. 
What was even neater for me, he was the youngest person attending the exhibit that evening. His enthusiasm was evident but he was polite and quiet, not disturbing the other patrons. Even the docent, museum security and other patrons seemed to smile at his delight and excitement.
Soon, we finished and headed over to the museum shop for a little shopping. I purchased a notebook and the Kiddo some mini crayons, watercolors and two marbles. 
After that, it was time to head home. As we stepped outdoors, having been inspired by Ansel Adams' gorgeous works we found the most amazing light with the museum courtyard presenting a gorgeous location. So, despite the late hour, I made the Kiddo take some pictures with me.
He was a total unwilling model: "Mom, take some pictures of me in the Yucca 'forest'."
Then, I made him take some pictures of me, too.
I love the angle he used on this one. The Kiddo was obviously feeling inspired as well. 

On the ride home, the Kiddo drew a picture of us taking pictures in the "Yucca" forest while we listened to Owl City's Hello Seattle and Fireflies (so cool that the Kiddo knows all the words! I loved hearing him sing!) and enjoyed no traffic! Making for a much shorter return trip.

It was a fantastic evening that he seemed to enjoy and much as I did... one I'll cherish for a long time!