Much of life is more interesting, and inspiring, when passed through a prism of art…
So when the offices for Raising Arizona Kids magazine flooded recently, my mind turned to musing about floods of recent times, such as the New Orleans flood of 2005.
"Flood-Marker" Sculpture in New Orleans
While meandering with my mouse, I happened upon a sculpture called “Flood-Marker,” shown on the Arts Council of New Orleans website with an artist’s statement saying the work is “intended to memorialize…without overt judgment.”
The approach seemed a stark contrast to a profound work of art I’d listened to earlier that morning, the cast recording for the new Broadway musical “American Idiot”–in which Green Day’s lyrics combine with every pounding note to pass judgment on American ignorance and idolatry.
I also discovered Robert Polidori’s “After the Flood.” It’s a book of photographs Polidori captured in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, some of which were exhibited by The Metropolitan Museum of Art on the first anniversary of that devastating deluge, and will soon find a home in my own little library (where I now do my daily blogging free of humming appliances).
Photo from The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Soon I learned of a lovely little event in Nashville that sounds akin to Phoenix’s own First Fridays Art Walk. Seems they do a first Saturdays “Art Crawl” that was impacted by torrential storms during May festivities. Their gallery community has already come together to help raise funds for flood relief efforts through a special gallery opening titled “We Art Nashville.”
But why, you might wonder, would these things be of any interest to readers living in the Arizona desert? They serve, I think, as a powerful reminder of the absolute need for art as a means of private and public expression of our deepest feelings—from grief and loss to shame and solidarity.
We’re truly fortunate, as a magazine family, to have the luxury of learning to let go. The flooded office space may be helping us along, but it’s something I suspect many of us—especially the midlife moms in our midst—were already tackling. It’s a far cry from having the people and places we love wrenched from us with true fury.
Still, the letting go is a good thing.
Painting exhibited at Treadway Gallery
I chatted with some very generous-of-spirit folks yesterday as I sought out Arizona connections between art and flooding. They reminded me that some of the things we don’t often think about can happen, and have happened, here (reminding me further of RAK writer/producer Vicki Louk Balint’s latest post on mold amidst the dry desert Southwest).
When an amazing archivist with ASU Libraries called and began to rattle off all the floods Arizona has experienced during the last decade or so (by city and year), I knew I was swirling in waters way over my head. I wasn’t raised in Arizona, so I don’t have the benefit of all those Arizona history lessons recounting the ways our rivers, and sometime flooding, have impacted our geography and our people.
I’d hoped to head out to at least one of the many Arizona museums that might shed light on this topic for me, but ended up at home with a daughter who wasn’t feeling all that well. Instead, I assembled my “floods and field trips” notes so we can up our FQ (flood quotient) during future adventures.
"Flood Waters" by Monet
I’m eager to tackle the Deer Valley Rock Art Center in Phoenix. I’ve been there many times, but never connected the dots about how flooding in the region was actually responsible for the center’s development. I’ll also hit the Arizona Museum of Natural History and the SRP Heritage History Center to learn more about the impact of water on the development of Arizona’s natural resources.
Also on my list of things to explore while in FSI (flood scene investigation) mode: Arizona Historical Society Museum at Papago Park in Phoenix, Tempe Historical Museum (once it reopens following renovations), River of Time Museum in Fountain Hills and Heard Museum (in Phoenix and Scottsdale).
I’ll pop in to Hayden Library at ASU to check out archived photos of flood waters from various times in Arizona history, and hit Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix to check their related offerings. While at ASU, by the way, I’m going to check out the “Trading Cloth and Culture Exhibit” at the ASU Museum of Anthropology (through June 30 only).
"Flood and Waters Subsiding" by Uccello
If these don’t quench my thirst for art and flooding FAQs, I can try exploring a whole other area noted by one of the museum curators I spoke with yesterday—the tragedy of art damaged and destroyed by flooding and some of the remarkable ways Arizona has helped other states preserve their treasures.
Just be glad I’m no longer homeschooling my children. I’d be all over flooding as a theme to carry across disciplines. Don’t even get me started…
1970s "The Flood" by Norman Adams RA
Coming up: AriZoni winners reflect on what the awards have meant to them personally and professionally, Spotlight on Childsplay’s first international tour, Opportunity to create art for the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, Awards for businesses that support the arts in Arizona, Update from the Arizona Commission on the Arts
Update: Our hearts go out to families affected by recent flooding in Arkansas. To learn more about emergency preparedness, visit www.redcross.org, www.fema.gov or www.noaa.gov.