A Visit to the Teotihuacan Exhibit

Are you familiar with Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way? I really like the idea of Artist Dates, where the writer or artist goes on a weekly expedition to explore something inspiring or enchanting. I like to try to do that as often as I can. (It’s been pointed out to me that Artist Dates should be SOLO, but when I have an opportunity like this, I take it as-is).

While my uncle was visiting, the gardener and I took him to the Teotihuacan exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum. Between 100 BCE and 650 CE, Teotihuacan was the largest city in the Americas. In some ways it was like many pre-Columbian exhibits and in other ways it seemed brand new to me. I can’t quite explain it. I also thought it was fascinating that there were so many “feline” shapes in the art. (Love my cats!) Let me mention that my uncle won two scholarships to the Art Institute in Chicago when he was a kid. He was able to attend the first time, but the second time he had a serious illness and had to stay home for a full year. He had to go to work very young and was never able to pursue a career as an artist, although he certainly had the talent.

It was really fascinating to see how much art was designed to replicate teeth!

The earrings or “ear plugs” the statues wear are the same as those worn by the Aztecs, so that style was around for many centuries (it still is, I guess).

The plaques on the walls described the city in some detail. I found the pyramids to once again remind me so much of Egyptian pyramids. Maybe I’ve heard too many episodes of the ancient alien shows that the gardener likes to watch . . . .

On the way in and out of the gallery, we were met with two beauties. One was the Carlos Amorales piece “Black Cloud,” a swarm of black moths and butterflies.

The other was this dandelion sculpture created by (I think) Josiah McElheny:

I’m a huge fan of big contemporary installations like these as they really set the tone and show me that humankind is still creating amazing art.

A few days after we visited the museum, we took Uncle Frank to California for a few days. I’ll write about that part of the trip later. Mebbe next week, I hope.

BUT a few days after my uncle left for Arkansas, I had the real pleasure of meeting Theresa Barker. She blogs at Theresa Barker Lab Notes. We had a fun time comparing notes on our families and exchanging a few of our favorite poems and discussing them. What a blast! She is as nice and smart in person as in blogland.

I’ve been feeling very depleted and tired lately, so much so that creating new work seems impossible. However, I pulled out a lot of unfinished poems. By unfinished, I mean that they were too complete, too mediocre, and had been filed away. I am going through and revising these poems. Maybe I will find something good in some of them!


Filed under #AmWriting, #writerslife, Arizona, Art and Music, Sightseeing & Travel, Writing

59 responses to “A Visit to the Teotihuacan Exhibit

  1. Hooray for art dates! Hooray for revising! Work is work; revision is as much a part of the process as generation. Keep your chin up! 🙂

    • Thank you so much for saying so, Jennifer. Speaking of revision, I don’t know if I’m on the right track, but the memoir is a completely different manuscript at this point. Not sure if it will work, but it finally has the feel of a book to it, so thanks. But I am not on that currently haha. I hope you get some art dates in!

      • I’m so glad to hear the memoir is moving in the direction you want! Something like that is very difficult to work on, because even setting it aside for a time doesn’t necessarily give you the psychological distance that good revision requires. Maybe it’s like those stars that are best seen with peripheral vision.

        • “Tell all the truth but tell it slant?” Hahaha. The biggest problem I have had with the project IMO is that nobody tells a memoir story that extends over such a long period of time. And that’s because it’s not do-able. So all my struggling with finding a structure had to do with that issue. I have finally found a structure that works at least better if not great (who knows at this point, but it IS at least better) by putting the essential structure as the last two years of my father’s life.

          • Interesting insight – I’d never thought about how the scope of the memoir affects it, and I can see right away how that was at work in your ms. Brilliant! Here’s to workable structures and not allowing the great to get in the way of the good. [raising my mug of tea]

  2. I love Julia! I have all of her books. That artwork is amazing, Luanne. Thanks for sharing!

  3. The artwork was truly amazing, Luanne – thank you so much for sharing…
    My first visit to the pyramids of Teotehuacan came when I was way too young (17) to appreciate them. My second visit came with Pretty on our first “excursion” together and then I was too much in love to appreciate them.
    I just need that one more visit.

    • You’re welcome (takes bow). OK, that was pretty amusing imagining you as a teen who doesn’t appreciate and then being so crazy in love you don’t notice what else is around you two. 🙂 Yes, you need one more visit. I need one visit!

  4. Art dates sound like a great idea! That exhibit/museum looks a wonderful place to visit. We might go to see the reopened Chinese galleries at the Philadelphia Museum of Art soon.
    Good luck with your poetry revisiting. I’m feeling so overwhelmed with work and projects. . .

  5. I think I would have loved this exhibition – I find Aztec art fascinating as it strikes me as such a different aesthetic to anything else. Wishing you luck excavating some diamonds from those forgotten poems!

  6. Wow! That would have been a fascinating visit!

  7. May you recover your full energy soon

  8. Beautiful photos and story, Luanne. Thanks for sharing them.

  9. Fascinating art exhibit – the old draws me in and sets me musing and the modern inspires – love that dandelion head especially…… I hoe you feel less exhausted soon Luanne – it’s hard to get through such times without a bit of a lift coming from outside somehow, sometime, somewhere. At the mention of your hubby, I have to ask, does he follow the work of Graham Hancock?

    • As so often happens, you describe exactly how I feel. Yes, the old does set me musing, but I find the modern so inspirational. I am having a hard time getting rested. Today I have spent it on the phone with bureaucracies and then making travel arrangements. I am so tired of people jabbering through the phone at me. Some people just chitterchitterchitter away, and my mind and ears can’t keep up any longer!
      I will try to ask him about Graham Hancock. I looked him up. Mainly, the gardener just sits there and swallows all the info about this stuff on the TV. Then he tells me that it’s stupid to think we are the only ones in the universe. I don’t think he’s wrong about that, but I do think that some of those “experts” they interview seem less than credible. It’s possible for something to be true, but the proponents of it to be less than ideal “figureheads.”

      • I totally agree with you! I look at the stars at night and think if each one of those that I can see is a sun shining in the middle of it’s own solar system and what I can see is just what’s available to my (aging) eyesight in this one tiny part of the Milky Way Galaxy, how many billions of suns with solar systems are there and why on earth would this place be the only one with life? To think we are the only ones is the height of ignorance and hubris. (Imo only you understand 🙂 ) GH doesn’t hold much with the ancient alien theory, but he has some really interesting takes on why that theory has wings – and the longevity of human history. I’m very interested in that 🙂

  10. Outstanding, Luanne. I loved the Black Cloud.

  11. What a gorgeous exhibit! Love the artist dates, though I don’t do them often enough!

  12. I love your photos of the Black Cloud and the dandelion exhibits. Art dates sound cool. Of course whenever we go to San Francisco, it’s something we try to do (and it’s not too hard since some of our friends out there are artists). If not art, then a gem and rock museum. I hope you get some rest. It sounds like you had fun but fun can be very tiring. xo

  13. Art inspires other art. And it connects those of us who make the connections. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Luanne: Wonderful visuals from your visit to the exhibit. Along with great descriptions. Today I survived yet another birthday…many, many friends wishing me well, cards, presents, outings. It was rewarding.
    Thanks for your diligence in producing fascinating blog posts!

    • Happy belated birthday, Elaine! I actually wrote this long ago but I was at the hair stylist and my iPad comments didn’t “take.” I hope this does!

  15. What a fascinating exhibit, and a good venue for an Artist Date. I used to take my Artist Dates seriously, although now it’s been a while. I need to restart my AD commitment. Usually when I have deadline-free time, I hit the woods. It’s difficult to fit everything in, isn’t it? Great photos, Luanne. Oooh… I love my cats, too! 🐈❤️🐈❤️🐈❤️🐈

    • Cheryl, I would love it if I could fit everything in. So often I lose my days to one new “issue” after another. Usually because of a situation created by someone else, ya know?

  16. Luanne, thank you for this tribute to artist dates. I have a really hard time making myself do them, but whenever I do, I get something out of the experience. Your post will be an inspiration to me to be more regular in this practice. Theresa

  17. I hadn’t heard from artist dates before I read your post. The first large installation art that I came across was a huge spider by Louise Bourgeois. It certainly does have an impact.

  18. I finally made back because the Artist Date title tickled my memory. Like Jill, I have most of Julia Cameron’s book and write my morning pages. I haven’t done an artist’s date in way too long and will plan one as soon as spring shows up. This month is about winter, every day. ;( I think I’ve done a couple of posts on Julia Cameron.The museum looks fascinating. Quite the contrast between the ancient and the modern. I watched Ancient Aliens too with my dad. He was fascinated by it. I’m certain we are not alone in the Universe but doubt we will ever cross paths though when you look at the relic with the things out of his ears, you have to wonder. 🙂

  19. I often find it really useful to look at writing after setting it aside for awhile. Time seems to give me a better perspective regarding how to revise and refine.

  20. I love this idea for a date!

  21. I like contemporary installations too. Love the piece by Carlos Amorales. It’s absolutely captivating and I wanted to move around the other piece, that was pretty interesting too.

    Fun post.

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