It might seem an odd place for an art adventure, but I uncovered all sorts of paintings, photos and sculpture on a recent visit to the new 11-story tower at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
I swung by the hospital one day after taking Lizabeth to school — and ran into Steve Schnall, a fellow Desert View Learning Center parent and longtime PCH administrator, just outside the cafeteria.
“What happens in the PCH cafeteria,” I thought, “should stay in the PCH cafeteria.” Happily, he was way too busy to witness my carbo binge as I morphed from arts writer to food critic.
I wondered how the pizza and bread sticks would compare with my kids’ favorite pizzeria at the mall, and felt it was my duty to find out. Thumbs up, by the way, for the spicy pepperoni and generous crust.
I’d have stayed and “done the laptop” all day if I’d been clever enough to access the guest wireless account, but ended up roaming the first couple floors instead — searching for kid-friendly art.
You’ll be happy to know that you won’t get far at PCH without signing in, snagging a visitor pass and such. I learned the hard way after turning my camera loose before connecting with the fine folks who manage such things.
When a volunteer and security guard got to wondering that I was up to, I felt like I’d just time-traveled back to my college days — when museum security guards had to constantly remind me that artwork was for admiring, not touching.
As I sat with a security guard waiting for clearance to finish my photo shoot, I noticed that every single person who walked by one particular piece of art had to touch it.
Instead of shaking a finger, the security guard shared my delight — remarking that the best art invites interaction. Once I was cleared for take-off, he pointed me in the direction of some of his favorite pieces.
The three paintings of coy fish in a 2nd floor waiting area. The two photos of frogs, in brilliant green and purple, tucked away near the back of another clinic’s reception area.
The rabbit sculpture near one of the tower’s many vast windows overlooking mountains in the distance. The painting of a dog at the wheel of a colorful car.
Turns out he’s an artist who creates some serious oil paintings when he’s not on duty. Thanks to a handy cell phone picture, he was able to show me a photo of a horse painting that looked remarkably expressive and rich in detail and color.
Knowing he was on duty, I didn’t want to inquire any further into his work. But I do hope he’ll contact me one day during his spare time so I can learn more about what seems a fascinating double life.
And I have to wonder, how many of the people we encounter each day spend their evening or weekend hours engaged in creative enterprises that never reach our radar?
After penning nearly 500 posts, I still find the world exploding with stories — some obvious, but most tucked away. They’re revealed in chance encounters, authentic conversations and the everyday wonders of our world.
Note: Many Valley hospitals serving children feature child-friendly artwork, so make time to notice and appreciate it next time you’re there.
Coming up: Google meets museum