Letters from the week of February 19, 2004

Just keep it real, that's all anyone asks.

Ishmael Marquez

Detroit Leaning
Full of surprises: I was surprised to learn that food critic Stephen Lemons is also a connoisseur of art ("Colangelo's Kitchen," January 29). To be "suspicious of any art on loan to us from Detroit" is a peculiar statement that is not correct if it means that any work of art from Detroit is not worthy.

The Detroit Institute of Arts is one of the top five museums in the United States. It houses an extensive collection of ancient Egyptian, Roman and Greek art. Its Asian collection is home to Quan Xuan's Early Autumn, from the Chinese Yuan Dynasty. Its permanent collection also includes works by Brueghel (The Wedding Dance), Poussin (Selen and Endymion) and Fuseli (The Nightmare), as well as works by Czanne and Picasso.

In fact, the Phoenix Art Museum's current exhibition "American Beauty: Painting and Sculpture From the Detroit Institute of Arts 1770-1920" is only a small part of the institute's vast collection. Some of the pieces currently on loan to us are by John Singleton Copley, John Singer Sargent, Gilbert Stuart, Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, Frederick Church, William Merritt Chase and Albert Bierstadt. They are serious works of art and should not be shrugged off lightly.

Detroit is also home to the stories of this country's greatest innovators (Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers) in the Henry Ford Museum. Its jazz history is documented and preserved in the Greystone Museum where it tracks Detroit's jazz influence to be second only to New Orleans. The Motor Sports Hall of Fame and Museum honors and preserves the achievements of the great legends of motor sports on land, sea and air (it includes motorcycles, powerboats, drag racing, open wheel, stock cars, sports cars and air racing). Detroit is the place where Diego Rivera's famed mural Detroit Industry was the subject of a highly controversial debate in 1933. Then there is Motown -- the soul phenomenon that swept the world in the 1960s.

To say that Detroit is "hardly the cultural capital of the universe" is disturbing. The city's cultural influence has had a definite effect in this country and is considered a significant arts and cultural center. It is an honor and a privilege to have a collection like "American Beauty" from Detroit's art treasures available for Phoenix to see and experience.

Charles Armijo

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