"Most people think museums are static places where art just hangs on the walls,” says Phoenix musician and talent buyer David Moroney.
But he’s working to change that perception with Amplified, a new music and art festival that’s happening at Phoenix Art Museum on Sunday, January 7. “Music will fill the air throughout the museum, all day long,” he says.
It’s all about the convergence of sound and art.
The lineup includes dozens of musical performances spanning styles and genres. You’ll find Arizona Opera on the bill alongside Datura and Djentrification.
The festival will incorporate several visual and performing artists, as well as filmmakers. Expect dance by Flamenco Por La Vida, for example.
Film offerings include Play The Documentary by Phoenix filmmaker Matty Steinkamp. Play shares 40 musicians’ insights into the role music plays in society and human development. FilmBar will present several short films, too.
Moroney co-curated the festival with Lani Hudson, the museum’s marketing and outreach manager. They’ve worked together since October 2016, when the museum celebrated its Kehinde Wiley exhibition with a First Friday event filled with music, poetry, and art.
“We thought it would be great to do a music festival and make it unique to the museum,” Hudson says. “We saw a lot of missed opportunities for doing music in museums.”
Performances will happen throughout the museum, in well-known spaces and some of the less popular areas that people often overlook. The museum is rich in architectural details, including several nooks that feature windows or quaint seating areas.
Expect creative pairings of spaces with artists, says Moroney, who doesn’t want to spoil the surprise by sharing specifics at this point.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Phoenix Art Museum has complemented visual art with performing art. Poets published by Phoenix-based Four Chambers Press have read in museum galleries. And several dancers have performed in galleries as well — including CONDER/dance, Movement Dance Source, and Nicole Olson.
For Moroney, Amplified is a way to spotlight the Phoenix music scene, which he praises for its variety. He’s quick to rattle off a compact but comprehensive history of the local music scene, including indigenous music, folk, country western, soul, Tejano, and more. “There’s a wonderful history of music here, and it’s incredibly diverse,” Moroney says.
But the event will also spotlight the museum’s many exhibitions, including an installation of four video paintings by Kent Monkman, a Canadian artist of Cree ancestry whose work explores “contested history through humor and artistic resolve.”
Still, the main focus of this festival is music.
As of press time, the sprawling lineup of “sounds” that Moroney and Hudson put together includes The Foster Family Band, Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra, Taylor Upsahl, House of Stairs/Holly Pyle, Kolezanka, Las Chollas Peligrosas, The Stakes, Max Knouse, Dylan Pratt, Sydney Sprague, Tatiana Crespo, Michael Kleinschmidt, Michael Hooker, Christopher Norby, Arizona Opera, Gold Lion Healing Arts, Slender Loris, The Possum Billies, The SunPunchers, Datura, GLOB, Tobie Milford, GUILD, Brunch Collect, Michael Krassner, The Geibral Elisha Movement, Sunn Trio, Djentrification, and Flamenco Por La Vida.
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For those who haven’t spent much time exploring the Phoenix music scene, Amplified is a chance to sample some of its many offerings. And for those who buy the “boring museum” stereotype, it’s a glimpse into ways museums can become vibrant community hubs.
“We’re very proud of pushing those boundaries,” Hudson says.
Amplified runs from noon to 7 p.m. on Sunday, January 7, at Phoenix Art Museum. Tickets are free for museum members, $20 for visitors 21 or older, $10 for visitors ages 6 to 21, and free for children younger than 6. See phxart.org.
Correction: This article has been updated to include the correct "Video Crossing" exhibit and event hours.