Arty Girl: Phoenix Art Museum Tonight

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Tonight, you should do what I did a week ago. Really, you should. Because I went to the Phoenix Art Museum to see "Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement".

I have to say, I loved this show. And while I won't get too heavy-duty on the criticism here, there are just a few pieces I really want to talk about.

First off, the show is a collection of works by contemporary American artists with cultural ties to Mexico and Latin America. The "Phantom" part of the title comes from artist and cultural commentator Harry Gamboa Jr. who described Chicanos as having a "phantom culture" in America - totally under the mainstream radar.

While I wouldn't say that artist, Alejandro Diaz, is under the radar (I recently wrote about him in a review), his installation at PAM is one that you really do not want to miss.

An entire wall of the gallery is covered with cardboard signs. Each has a smirk-worthy, slightly off-color scrawl with magic marker. "Emotionally moving sale" is one that made me chuckle as well as, "WetBack by Popular Demand." My favorite, however, pokes fun at America's religious-like obsession with Oprah Winfrey and says, "We Now Have Oprah's Favorite Bra!" I love it.

I was completely rocked by artist Julio Cesar Morales. he did a series of watercolor drawings, based on documentary photos of apprehended individuals trying to illegally cross the border. The works are shocking. You see a woman crumpled into a car's footwell, a man is curled up in the belly of a clothes dryer and a child is stuffed into a pinata. You get claustrophobic just looking at it and instantly empathize with these individuals - no matter your politics.

Although there was one problem with the show. Prior to its opening, I spied some posters at bus stops that had a portrait of Morrissey (the British singer/musician) and I was super pumped to see it. Unfortunately, when I visited, that work was not there and PAM didn't know if Morrissey would be arriving from LACMA or not. Bummer.

So that's my quick and dirty art review. I recommend seeing it for yourself. And if you can't make it tonight for their free night, go another time and pony up the entry fee. It's worth it, for sure.

Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 N. Central Ave, 602-257-2105, phxart.org.

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