To Phoenix and the Heard Museum

What I then did on my summer vacation.

My dad had driven up to Cottonwood and spent three days with us there, touring around. Then on Saturday we went down to Phoenix for three days.

When we were getting close, cactus began appearing everywhere.

There were palm trees. Lots of palm trees.

Lots of different kinds of palm trees and cactus.

I’ve decided I adore palm trees and cactus.

At night, I sat on my dad’s comfy back patio that looks over a small garden with a pond and cactus and two palm trees that are now two stories high but were seedlings when H.o.p. was born, and I stared up at the stars, amazed how many one could see in the city of Phoenix, when you can’t see any in Atlanta. On our drive returning from the Grand Canyon, mile after mile I had watched the first evening star in the sky, having not seen anything like it in quite some while, looking often so bright and so close that it seemed it stood over the top of the nearest hill.

On Sunday we went to the Heard Museum at my dad’s suggestion.

It has an indoors that’s almost outdoors.

And an outdoors in its indoors. A courtyard where I now wish I was drinking iced coffee.

I turned over my backpack at the welcome counter. I saw a sign that said photography was permitted. Bowled over by these kachinas, first I took this picture.

Then I took this picture.

Which is when a woman tapped me on the shoulder and said “No flash!” in a brusque voice like I had made too much noise in the lunch line and she was going to pinch me by the ear and drag me to the principal’s office. She startled me as I was already far away in the land of design. I’d forgotten about flash not being usually allowed in museums and felt busted and tagged as bad when I was the kid in the proverbial candy store. Museums freak me out anyway when there’s so much to absorb and I know I can’t get it all in and I begin to panic because worlds and worlds of imagination and archetype and talent and blood and sweat and tears and hope and love and joy and the breadth and length and depth of human experience is there which must be given its due and it’s impossible to give it the meditation it deserves to absorb all that it is and is saying because there isn’t the time. And being already elated and distraught, I was primed to be freaked by someone tapping me on the shoulder and barking at me. If I had known I wasn’t supposed to use flash I wouldn’t have. If the sign said, “No flash!” I didn’t notice it. Neither did Marty. Thus I went nuts trying to figure out how to switch off the flash on my little camera, which is a recent replacement for one that broke during the warranty period and its programming is slightly different because it had been replaced with the next model up and turning off the flash was not the same procedure as on the former camera. Marty went on the tour with my dad while I entertained H.o.p. in the children’s section. I took lots of pictures. My camera kept informing me they were blurred and I kept retaking and retaking and retaking and retaking, sometimes taking 5 shots of an exhibit before giving up or supposedly getting it. I needn’t have bothered. I got home and all the images were blurred with the exception of a couple. And I was real sorry about this because here I was rushing through the Heard in an afternoon whith a child who thought a quick glance at anything was all that was needed when one could easily spend a year at the Heard. There are cases that would demand a week’s worth of study or two weeks or a month.

Though the Heard is devoted to the art of the southwest Indian Nations, they had the below in the children’s area. I took a photo of H.o.p. in front of the Pacific Northwest exhibit but it didn’t come out either.

In the children’s area they also had a few Objibwa and other woodlands bandolier bags, and a table where you could sort-of not-at-all make your own by punching holes in a prepared white bag and tying yarn through them and a ribbon for the shoulder band at the top.

I had a major case of deja vu in the children’s section when I was photographing an Otoe blanket and turned to face, from the Otoe blanket exhibit, the Ojibwa bandolier bag exhibit across the room. One of those feelings where you step into a time and place where you’ve already been. I haven’t had one of those in a while.

Upstairs there was an exhibit on the boarding schools. H.o.p. was freaked out by a barber’s chair with hunks of hair beside it. It really disturbed him.

Though blurred, I’m including here a portion of the mural that’s painted around the top of the wall in the children’s area.

I’m still broken up over all my photos not coming out.

When leaving we stopped by the store. Well, Marty stopped by the store but I stayed outside as I assumed they would want my knapsack (a sign said they would) and I was by then too tired to deal with it so I sat outside. For some reason, it just seemed like too much effort to check my knapsack again and I was already feeling fairly intimidated by seeing other people tapped by what I’m assuming to have been docents for doing this or that which were no-no’s at the Heard but they didn’t know it. Though the guides were great. One guide had approached and talked a bit to me where an exhibit of modern paintings and sculpture was (wonderful) and said she was glad the exhibit had been very well received. And then there was the Hopi woman who was giving a tour of the Barry Goldwater collection of kachinas, who was relating the nature of kachinas, speaking of their being spirits, and a woman said, “But they’re really people dressed up, aren’t they?” and the Hopi woman said no, they were spirits, and the woman said, “But they’re really people just dressed up, aren’t they?”, to which the Hopi woman said, no, they were spirits who coming down from the mountains assumed human form, that this is what she truly believed, and the woman turned and said to the person behind her, “They’re people dressed up in costumes.” There must be a stress relief room in there somewhere for the guides, where they can go in and bang their heads on soft padded walls. H.o.p. has a thing for pretty girls and he may not have cared for the kachina tour as there was “a lot of talking” but he was drawn like a magnet to iron when he saw the Hopi woman and stood at her feet in rapt appreciation, gazing up with adoring eyes.

Anyway, back to the gift shop. I was already feeling pretty intimidated as I was saying, aided and abetted by the fact that museums always make me nervous as there is always so much to see and so little time to see it in. I know that I haven’t the opportunity to take in but a portion, that the rest will be lost, I’ll forget it, I’ve not the time to give it the due it’s worth. Such as even the modern paintings. I could have sat in there a day at least gazing and meditating. So I was already zonked-out over-stimulated and just couldn’t handle anything else. In the meanwhile, a man was shuffled out of the gift shop with his knapsack and the knapsack of his wife by security. He apparently didn’t want to turn them over and so he’d been ushered outside and sat and fumed. Then Marty came and got me and said I had to come in to look at the bracelets. “No,” I said, “I don’t want to deal with the knapsack.” Marty said they wouldn’t care. I said they would, that they’d just turned out one man. He said they wouldn’t care and to come in. Tired and nervous I went in and went to the jewelry counter. He owes me a coral and turquoise bracelet, has owed me one for about fifteen years, and he wanted me to look at the ones there. For some reason no one asked me for my knapsack, they ignored it. I looked at bracelets and they were nice but of course they were very expensive, which one would expect with the quality items you’ll find at the Heard. The woman waiting on me acted like I was going to buy one even though I’d said no don’t believe so. She ignored my raging case of hives. I zeroed in eventually on a bracelet with petrified wood and turquoise. I liked it but not enough to buy it. The woman asked me wouldn’t I like to try it on anyway and I said no, thanks. She offered again and wasn’t being pushy, seeming more like she felt these bracelets needed to be worn and wanting to see them on someone’s wrist. I didn’t buy a bracelet but because of it I looked for a book to buy and found one and got that.

We then went to Papago park. It was near sunset. I didn’t have a chance to get photos so here is a website that already has a lot of pics of Papago park.

I kept trying to decide whether I liked Phoenix better or Jerome better. In a way I like Phoenix better but I decided on jJerome as I like putting on a coat in the winter and because I’d be situated midway some amazing places and because if I was in a place like Arizona I’d want to be an easy distance from wandering the open desert and sheltering canyons.

You just about had it with all the pics and the fifth grade level of reporting on my summer vacation? Sorry but we’ve still got a few days to go. The next installment is Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West.

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Juli Kearns

Juli Kearns is the author of Thunderbird and the Ball of Twine and Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World (or) In Search of the Great Penguin. She is also an artist/photographer, and the person behind the web alter of "Idyllopus Press".

2 thoughts on “To Phoenix and the Heard Museum”

  1. Idyll,

    Nor tired nor bored with your vacation journal and the pictures. A reprise from the harshness of the News.

  2. Night Bird, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the pics. Sadly, that’s about it now for the vacation photos. Sad for me because I selfishly wish I’d had an opportunity to see more and visit a little longer with what I was seeing and with whom was the reason for my being out there in the first place. I’d not soaked up to the point of bursting where you say, “Enough”, and it really is.

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