Monday, December 22, 2014

Tucson Desert Art Museum - 12/21/14

We took a quick jaunt this afternoon to the eastern part of Tucson to check out the Desert Art Museum. Be aware that there is a Tucson Museum of Art and another Museum of Art of the University of Arizona campus. This is smaller than the other two and only opened recently. Our Tucson Attractions Passport Savings book listed this museum and provides a buy-one-get-one-free admission and I always love a bargain. (John think I am a little crazy on this point!)

We have come to enjoy art museums of all types and size, because each one always has something unique and interesting to see. Although we are by no means art connoisseurs, our knowledge is growing as we encounter works by the same artist in different museums. We can even identify the artist (sometimes) without looking at the signage. Wow! But, I digress.

This is a small museum with beautifully designed exhibits of Native American textiles, paintings of the southwest, and several special exhibits. Also, some of the most amazing Native American jewelry I have seen are on display and for sale.

A "viewing" room with seating is located near the entrance where videos of various topics (i.e., Native American Textiles) can be viewed. Photography of paintings and photographs are not permitted. But following are some pieces of interest that I could capture.

Traditional courtyard feature.

Navajo textiles: The museum has a very impressive collection. The first room contained "Yei" textiles by the Navajo. These depict supernatural beings (or Holy Ones) along with symbolic images of clouds, corn, etc., that were central to healing ceremonies.

Zigzags are associated with lightning and, therefore, power. Here are some examples in the Navajo blankets circa 1890.

According to Navajo tradition, the patron goddess of weaving, Spider Woman, taught them how to weave. This is why in the Navajo nation women weave, but in the Hopi culture, men do the weaving. The cross in the center of this Navajo rug (circa 1870) is the sign of the Spider Woman.

Indian trade rifle made in Europe and U.S. (primarily for Revolutionary War), but these continued be used manufactured and use until 1830-1890 (top). Springfield 1822 musket used in the Mexican American War and American Civil War (bottom).

We proceeded to a large room with many incredible Navajo textiles and local Native American basketry.

This style of Navajo dress, known as a biil, dates back to the 1750s. Two identical pieces were created, sewn together at the shoulders and sides and worn with a built. This one dates from the 1860s-70s.

Religious artifacts from the 18th century to 20th centuries.

Red and brocade vestments worn by the Franciscan padres, also 18th century.

Hopi bowls, baskets, and kachina dolls circa 1870-1910.

Here are some very old and kind-of crazy looking figurines. The first is a female figure and the second a male from the Nyarit culture (300 BC-300 AD).

Olmec culture (1000-500 BC) "hollow baby" figure. The symbolic meaning of this figure (and ones similar to this one) are not known.

Mexican colonial blanket chest circa 1890.

We really liked this exhibit that displayed the undergarments worn by women in three different time periods. From corsets and hoops skirts in the 1870s to the combined camisole/bloomers of the early 1900s.

There was a special exhibit of paintings of Southwestern missions that were fabulous. Because we had visited the ones at San Xavier and Tumacacori we were able to recognize them in the paintings. No photos of these paintings were permitted, but you can check out our blog posts to see photos of the missions if interested.

Also, there are several amazing paintings by the well-known, landscape artist, Arturo Chavez of the southwest, His panoramic large (80" x 160") landscape of the Grand Canyon, Rock of Ages, can be seen in the Main Exhibition Hall.

I enjoyed this place more than I had expected; we spent about 1.5 to 2 hours here.

Admission is $10/adults and $8/seniors (over 60). As I mentioned the Tucson Attractions Passbook Savings coupon got us both in for $8. Check out their web site for visiting hours and other information.


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