Art meets water

Recently I learned that Shemer Art Center and Museum in the Arcadia neighborhood of Phoenix is presenting an exhibit titled “Seeking the Source: Water in the Desert.” It’s a collection of photographs by Bryon Darby and it runs through July 27.

I spent part of Tuesday afternoon exploring Shemer Art Center and Museum with my son Christopher after he finished a morning of volunteer work at the Phoenix Zoo. We used to live in Arcadia, and always loved attending their outdoor art festivals.

My daughter Jennifer, the best visual artist in the bunch, used to attend camp and classes at Shemer — but during my visit this week it was the adult art students I saw in action. Shemer is a welcoming neighborhood gathering place for folks of all ages and art abilities. There’s a class next week (July 18-22) for 10 to 12 year olds.

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Ed Lebow, public art program director for the Phoenix Office of Cultural Affairs, presents a free public lecture at Shemer Wed, July 13 from 7-9pm. His “Following the Water” is a history of water in Phoenix. It’s a topic I find especially fascinating in light of recent heat waves across our own country and news of severe drought in other parts of the world — including Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti and Somalia.

We take all sorts of things for granted in this country. Water is one of them. When I viewed the works in Darby’s exhibit on Tuesday, I learned a great deal about how water makes its way to us. Looking at Darby photographs in one of the south rooms at Shemer, I was struck by the beauty of the machines that make it possible.

There’s plenty to enjoy at Shemer Art Center and Museum, including several pieces of sculptures, areas to sit and linger over conversation, and architectual elements of the house itself — which was built in 1919 and the 1920s. It’s believed that part of the structure belonged to the first home in Arcadia, a neighborhood developed along with the Arcadia Water Company.

Art and water have long been intertwined, and Darby’s work is a thoughtful reminder that both are powerful and precious.

— Lynn

Coming up: Musings on Bastille Day, A final wave of the wand, I-Spy: Sculpture

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