ARTillery – exhibit at the Mesa Art Center

Mesa Art Center exhibit
Mesa Art Center exhibit

Last night, Liz and I attended the opening reception at the Mesa Art Center. With the snowbirds flying back home for the summer, the mood was much different from other times we have visited the center. The locals are much more relaxed and friendly. It might have something to do with being able to drive to our destinations without fighting congested traffic. Or, maybe the fact that we can now frequent our favorite restaurant at dinner time and not face an hour wait in line. Or, possibly that we can find a seat at the bar at our local watering hole.

Born without front legs
Born without front legs

Anyway, I digress and I have not yet begun. Main Street, Mesa boasts “Second Friday Night Out”. In the East Valley, there is no lack of cultural events – Phoenix has First Friday; Mesa – second Fridays; and Scottsdale has an artwalk every Thursday evening.

The Mesa Arts Center is a multi-cultural arts center – theaters, gallery – it is “the largest comprehensive art campus in the state”. I stole that from their website…

The atrium at the Mesa Art Center
The atrium at the Mesa Art Center

Main Street has shoppes, restaurants and even a brew pub – which is fortunate since the Mormons have such a stronghold in the city. The temple is only two blocks away from the arts center.

Liz and I began our evening at the #1 Eastern Super Buffet. First stop was the sushi and sashimi station. A cold bottle of Tsingtao lager, then a sweep of the Chinese food stations – they even have a Mongolian grill.

Then a leisurely drive out to the arts district – we listened to a fabulous band in the atrium and had liquid refreshments from the cash bar. Hors d’oeuvres are free, and not your standard cheese platters.

Painting by Odd Nerdrum
Painting by Odd Nerdrum

A couple brought their two-legged Chihuahua. She is three-years old, and quite the friendly animal.  That is rare with Chihuahuas, they tend to be on the nasty side. She was born with only two legs – a result of the horrific inbreeding that is a result of AKC propaganda causing people to believe the lies that there is such a thing as a pure-bred dog. Inbred is more honest a description, and purebreds are subject to many maladies and diseases and a short life span, and, well, birth defects. This pup was lucky to avoid euthanasia, and was adopted by this young couple.

Opening reception at the Mesa Art Center
Opening reception at the Mesa Art Center

After a couple of cold beers from the Four Peaks brewery – Liz had an Evan Williams and coke – we visited the four galleries in the Arts Center. Three solo shows filled as many gallery spaces – but the main space contained the featured group exhibit we were especially eager to view.

I am always surprised at the cross-pollination of cultures and people in Arizona. Very few people are “natives”, and so there is not that sense of being an outsider that one feels in other regions of this country. Even though I grew up in Millville, NJ, having moved to the town at age nine, I was never a “true Millvillian” as I was not born there. People in Texas seem to forget that their state used to be a part of Mexico that Mexico did not care enough to keep.

At the Gallery at the Mesa Art Center
At the Gallery at the Mesa Art Center

Residents of the East Valley hail from all over the country, and accept expatriates openly without the arrogance with which Texans regard “Yankees” (a Yankee being anyone not born in Texas).

Arizona is a recent entrant into the Union, only attaining statehood in 1912. We almost missed the boat, because we were one of the few areas that gave women the right to vote at a time when women were second class citizens. Arizona also allowed the recall of judges. When Arizona was attaining statehood, these two facts almost prevented it.  Arizona had to eliminate the recall of judges, and take away the womans’ right to vote in order to be admitted. The very next year the state restored both.

But back to the exhibit – Liz really wanted to see the painting by Odd Nerdrum, a Norwegian painter who prefers to call his paintings kitsch rather than art.  He paints in the style of Rembrandt, but his paintings have disturbing undertones. The theme of this show was armament in art. Some of the exhibits seemed to be political propaganda, others presented guns as art with no underlying message. There was a drawing by John Wayne Gacy, which I declined to include in this essay – not because it was disturbing but because it displayed absolutely no artistic merit.

Today, Liz and I are working around the house, catching up on chores. She won an online auction and acquired a vintage rag rug for the living room. The outdoor rug that had come with the house now graces the ramada, and the rug that was under the ramada will go into the studio.

This week we broke down and subscribed to curbside garbage pickup. Our property taxes are less than 10% of what we paid in New Jersey. We have no city property tax whatsoever – our city services being paid for by the local sales tax – mostly by snowbirds during the winter months. We have all of the services we expect, including a superb public library system and more parks and recreation areas than we will ever make use of. But, garbage collection is not one of the services covered by the municipality – we have to take care of that ourselves.

The local landfill charges a tipping fee of $8.70, and has a free dump week every quarter. We have three waste disposal companies competing for business, and signed up with RAD for a little over $15 a month, and now have curbside pickup.  We still have to use the landfill for oversize items such as sofas and refrigerators, and yard waste.  Since I would take any white good to the local recycling depot and get cash rather than spend, and since we compost all of the yard waste, I will be making very few visits to the dump.

Well, I have been more verbose than usual this week. It is time to get back to yard work.

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