Valley Art Exhibits Help You Feel All The Senses

March 14, 2014

(Photo courtesy of Roelof Louw and Richard Saltoun)
Roelof Louw, Soul City (Pyramid of Oranges), 1967. 6,000 oranges, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist and Richard Saltoun, London. © Roelof Louw

Mark and I like art. We may not always understand it, but we like and can appreciate it. The problem is that art and radio are not always a great combination. You know, art is so often a visual medium and radio is…well, not.

But two Valley exhibits are basically tailor-made for radio. One is at the Phoenix Art Museum and one at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art or SMOCA. We are going to visit both, starting at the Phoenix Art Museum.

Except for footsteps, whispering and the occasional school field trip, the Phoenix Art Museum is a fairly quiet place. But the exhibit called "See, Hear, Feel" is changing that a bit. The featured art form is photography, and the artists are Christopher Churchill and Debra Bloomfield.

Jim Ballinger, the museum’s director, said the artists are using sound to challenge the traditional boundaries of photography.

And now to SMOCA with Claire Carter, the assistant curator. Their exhibit is called "The Five Senses," and you hear it and see, smell and feel it…right away. The taste comes a little later.

There are five pieces that make up the exhibit, but don’t buttonhole any one of them into a particular sense. Some touch more than one, like Janet Cardiff’s The Forty Part Motet, which you will hear for the next few minutes. It’s made up of 40 speakers in a circle, each playing one part of a piece of 17th Century music.

There is also a piece in which the artist set up 44 box fans in a semi-circle. The wind that blows on the visitor is meant to recreate Walden Pond of Thoreau fame. And, there’s a 16 foot-high piece suspended from the ceiling, filled with spices. The fifth piece is set apart from the rest. It is kind of like an indoor rain forest.
 
The Five Senses will be at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art until May 4.

See, Hear, Feel will be at the Phoenix Art Museum through March 23.