Four Can't-Miss Art Museum Exhibits You Should See Right Now Around Phoenix

Albert y Lynn Morales, Silver City, New Mexico, 1978. Chromogenic print. Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona: Gift of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. © Lisa Bernal Brethour and Katrina Berna.
Albert y Lynn Morales, Silver City, New Mexico, 1978. Chromogenic print. Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona: Gift of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. © Lisa Bernal Brethour and Katrina Berna. Louis Carlos Bernal

Just because spring has sprung and the outdoors is calling, it doesn’t mean you can’t have indoor fun. One way to do just that is to visit the many metro Phoenix museums featuring new, historical, educational, and entertaining exhibitions to experience and appreciate.

Here are four exhibitions currently running that you need to see.

'Fashioning Self: The Photography of Everyday Expression'
Phoenix Art Museum
1625 North Central Avenue

“Fashioning Self: The Photography of Everyday Expression” presents formal portraits, selfies, and street and documentary photos that provoke thought about how the medium affects our behavior. It suggests that when we pose – in planned or spontaneous moments – every resulting image is imbued with intention – from presenting a particular fashion stance to conveying emotion. We may consider who we'd like to see our photo and why. On the other hand, it could be that the effort is to record a unique or significant moment. In Louise Carlos Bernal’s Albert y Lynn Morales, Silver City, New Mexico, 1978, a couple whose colorful clothes blends into the funky diner background where they’re positioned, but their serious expressions steal the show. From their collective weighty stare to how their hands touch, almost forming a heart shape, the strength of their union is palpable. The show features over 50 photographs from 1912 to 2015, including work by Kozo Miyoshi and Max Yavno. Co-organized by the museum and the Center for Creative Photography, this exhibit also has a rotating display of social media images reflecting community members and people across the United States. Take some selfies while there and share using a museum-provided hashtag. You can peruse this exhibit through November 5.

If you visit Phoenix Art Museum, you can also see “Mission and Legacy: Friends of Mexican Art’s Enduring Impact in the Valley and Beyond” through December 31, as well as the special-engagement exhibition, “Move: The Modern Cut of Geoffrey Beene,” which highlights how the designer fused innovation, color, and comfort in his clothing creations.

'Language in Times of Miscommunication’

7373 East Second Street, in Scottsdale


The new SMoCA exhibition, “Language in Times of Miscommunication,” features “artworks that use various forms of language to critically examine the complexities of social reality during times of rampant miscommunication,” per Lauren O’Connell, curator. Exhibited pieces incorporate forms of language like poetry and slang, research materials including political documents, and modes of communication from social media to advertising to explore and examine how redefinitions of the truth have created a charged and divisive landscape. Artists include Safwat Saleem, whose 22-piece mixed media series combines text and illustrations designed to help him process his anxieties about being a South Asian Muslim living in America. Andrea Bowers’ “Abolish ICE, 201” uses cardboard and LED lights to craft the message. The absence of subtlety exemplifies the importance the artist places on the message. Mixed media work from Christopher Jagmin, April Bey, Kristin Bauer, and Jeremy Dean is also included. The exhibition opened on March 4 and continues through August 27.

While you’re there, you can see a site-specific work by Phillip K. Smith III titled “Three Parallels,” which looks at changes in perception regarding color, space, and time. That runs through August 6. “Inside Job: Staff Selections from the SMoCA Collection” gives you an up-close look at specific artworks chosen by 20 Scottsdale Arts staff members, explaining why they connect to these particular pieces. The exhibit runs through April 30.

‘He’e Nalu | The Art and Legacy of Hawaiian Surfing’
Heard Museum
2301 North Central Avenue

Though it’s said surfing originated in Polynesia, Hawaii is among the sport’s seminal breeding grounds for a culture that has expanded to plenty of other regions. It has also evolved stylistically, from surfers’ maneuvers to gear. "He’e Nalu | The Art and Legacy of Hawaiian Surfing" at central Phoenix’s Heard Museum takes a deep dive into the Indigenous origins of surfing through historical materials and contemporary artwork. Stories and the history of surfing are shared through a Kānaka Maoli — Native Hawaiian — perspective through the process of mo`olelo, which is the method of storytelling that explains how something came to be. The exhibit runs through July 16.

“In the Service Of: American Indian Veteran Artists and Tributes” is an ongoing exhibition you can catch while visiting the Heard. It explores art and tribute art created by and for American Indian veterans. There’s also “Substance of Stars,” a new permanent exhibition that is an immersive storytelling experience.

‘Picturing Home: Dust Bowl Migrants in Chandler’
Chandler Museum
300 South Chandler Village Drive

In the 1930s, Dust Bowl migrants flocked to Chandler looking for a better life. For many, it was only temporary, but Dorothea Lange and Russell Lee documented their stories. Learn about these people through this show of black-and-white photographs that show these migrants and the dwellings where they resided. The museum says the show includes “themes of housing, migration, agriculture, technology, self-sufficiency, and empathy.” It also looks at the town's physical evolution and changing landscape. The exhibit runs through August 13.

If you go on or before April 25, you can see “Arrival Stories,” an interactive exhibit that evolves with visitors’ participation. It offers firsthand accounts of people visiting or residing in the community.
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Amy Young is an arts and culture writer who also spends time curating arts-related exhibits and events, and playing drums in local bands French Girls and Sturdy Ladies.
Contact: Amy Young

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