Proces at the Process Museum

Last week I had another delightful Tucson experience when I visited the Process Museum for the first time. What an incredible surprise it was. It is tucked away in a huge (77,000 square feet) warehouse on Kolb Road across the street from the I-10 entrance. It’s the passion and pride of John Wells, who was our guide through this amazing place.

John Wells appreciates and collects art. He also owns this huge property and has dedicated it to exhibiting and honoring creative process of artists. Many of the people who are represented in this showcase have a connection with Tucson.

The goal of the museum is to reveal the totality of the creative process. This means that visitors will see the work of the artist along with all the other kinds of “stuff” an artist has in the studio: furniture, storage lockers, sketch books, note books, reference books, art supplies, wood, canvas, plastic, paper metal, fiber, wire, and fabric waiting to be used. It also includes work in all stages of the creative process from initial conceptualization and layout to iterations of an idea in various stages of development. Walls and corridors are covered with art pieces. One sees an idea explored by the artist multiple times.
word mural
This museum is the repository of more art than I ever imagined I would or could see in a span of two hours. It is overwhelming and absolutely hypnotic in it’s power. As I walked through the space I was consumed by the enormity of the undertaking but also delighted by the opportunity to witness the work. Not just the good work that gets curated into shows but all the other work that gets produced along the way and then hidden in closets or painted over because for some reason the artist has decided it doesn’t work. Let’s face it, much of the work an artist makes is not for public consumption. Making the art is just part of the creative process.

The museum is currently the home base for seven working artists. There were several on site during our visit. We wandered the corridors and peered into the rooms where pieces were in process, stored or displayed.
Work ranged from a room filled with 1080 4”x4” pieces done by Thomas Rossi to a show of “Collateral Surfaces” – the surfaces on which art is made (tabletops, drop cloths, palettes etc.) to a room filled with storage shelves crowded with the ceramic pieces of Michael Cajero. The work of the late Owen Williams, a favorite artist of mine, was hung in a room dedicated to him and furnished with tables, chairs and other items from his studio. Across the hall were shelves loaded with the tools he used to make his unique dimensional paintings.
owen williams
The last stop of our tour was a building completely devoted to the incredible wire and paper sculpture of Michael Cajero. Hundreds of dark pieces tastefully displayed with sensitivity against white walls with red floors and suitable lighting greeted the viewer. I can not tell you how moving it was to see this massive collection. Cajero’s work has energy and excitement. It is complex and yet it is basic. It compels you to look and evokes feeling within you. Wells has aptly labeled the little known or recognized Cajero as one of the most important artist of this century. And after seeing his amazing ceramics and sculptures, I definitely agree with him. Currently Cajero’s 2,500 drawings and paintings have yet to be displayed. It will surely be something to look forward to.
cajero coyote
I encourage you to visit this amazing art wonderland at 8000 North Kolb. It is a private collection open to the public by appointment only. You can contact John Wells through the Process Museum’s website or by phone at 520-404-0596.
You won’t be disappointed.
cajero coupe

Creativity and Futurism Right Here in Tucson

There are times when Tucson really surprises me. I had no idea of the unique ways creativity and innovation are being nurtured in this city. Recently I attended a very interesting program sponsored by CASA (Contemporary Artists of Southern Arizona). Tony Ford, a futurist with a passion for the arts and technology, gave us an exciting overview of the future from his perspective and the ways Tucsonians are embracing it.

It was both a “nudge” to take notice of how things are rapidly changing and an invitation to climb aboard. For instance he cited that there are currently about 5 billion cel phones in operation all over the world. One billion of these are smart phones BUT he points out that in five years there will be five billion smart phones in use. That means there will be five billion people around the world that can interact with each other; learn from each other, impact each other. This amazing pocket instrument gives us immediate access to the whole world whenever we want it and wherever we are! It unlimits our access to Planet Earth. This has amazing implications for all aspects of our life as we know it today.

It leads one to wonder about how quickly some of our most treasured institutions will be come antiquated! Take education. Will we continue to need brick and mortar buildings when we can take on-line classes offered by institutions all over the world? The smart phone is our ticket to unlimited self-directed education? To what extent will we need to books, cd’s and dvds when all we need to do is power up our phone.

Tony talked about other provocative trends. For instance he suggested that most people under the age of thirty have spent 10,000 hours playing video games. The way they applaud others is in “game” mode with “likes” and “accumulating points”. Look at Facebook, Twitter, etc. and you realize the future is now. We click to clap, and we abbreviate whenever possible. (LOL), and we do it instantly from wherever we happen to be. Are we loosing our ability to relate face to face!!

Tony pointed out that many young people can not find jobs using their skills and training. When they are not working minimum wage jobs they are using technology to explore and develop future opportunity and income generation.

I urge you to explore what Tony and his associates are up to. He is a principal in an on-line artisan marketplace – “Art Fire”. You’ll see it is a platform for personal selling and promotion.

Tony is also deeply involved in Maker House – a new collaborative artisan, maker, education, tech, and gathering space that recently opened in the Downtown Tucson Arts District Tech Corridor.
It is located at 283 North Stone. This area of our city is becoming a mecca for artists, scientists, innovators and creative thinkers to gather.

All sorts of things happen at Maker House. You might find yoga and martial arts classes in the 5,000 square foot courtyard, latte art and hand brewing coffee classes in a classroom sized coffee bar, classes and training in 3D printing* and design, and dance classes in the mural room. What’s so unique is the intersection of disciplines. For instance a recent class “Knit to Death” provided instruction in knitting, as well as using knitting needles for self defense.! A Saturday “think-tank” focused on how one might launch eggs! This is definitely a place to keep checking out as the possibilities for interesting things happening here is endless!!

* If you don’t know about 3 D printing do a search for it today. You will be astounded. It make make factories obsolete. You won’t have to go to the store to buy something. You’ll just create it at home with your 3-d printer.
Wikipedia has an interesting article that gives a good overview of what this new technology is all about.

exotic flower

Bento-style Meals

My husband and I have traveled twice to Kyoto and both times mealtime provided us with some of the most enjoyable memories of our journeys there. I especially liked the pace of dining in Kyoto coupled with the delightful parade of tasty morsels that were brought to the table.

Recently we were talking about food and I recalled how much I enjoyed eating that way. When we got back to Tucson we never got into Japanese cuisine. That was partly because the only Japanese food available here is found in sushi restaurants. My husband is a recovering Catholic who is not a lover of fish and that’s the first thing he thinks of when he sees a sushi sign. So I’ve never seriously tried my hand at preparing Japanese food.

But, last week, it occurred to me that maybe I could modify the Japanese style of presenting food and apply it to the foods we eat at home. I went to Cost Plus and purchased a variety of small plates and bowls to use in presenting bento-like meals. After surfing the interenet for information on Japanese cuisine, and ordering several books from Amazon, I was armed with a basic understanding so I could play more extensively with this approach to our meals.

My first adventure was an experiment in serving sandwiches. Instead of assembling and presenting a freshly made sandwich on a plate, I arranged small plates of sandwich ingredients on trays and we each assembled our own sandwiches as part of the mealtime experience. The plates were very appealing, and we both enjoyed building our sandwiches and savoring the experience.

I must say it has been great fun. And consuming the food – even more fun! Here are some of my first kaiseki-Tucson-style meals.

My first attempt included steamed sausage, caponata, miso soup, cauliflower with a vinaigrette drizzle and tomato with ranch dressing, rice.

The next tray consisted of fried rice, soy dipping sauce, grilled portobello mushroom, butternut squash seasoned with spicy salt, steamed sausage and onion pancakes.
Onion Cake Bento

A sandwich meal included sliced tomato, pickles, mayonaise, tuna salad, cold curried soup, whole wheat bread and apple wedges.
Sandwich Bento

I don’t expect to prepare this type of dinner every night of the week. But I do hope to serve bento-style meals at least two or three nights each time it’s my turn to cook.

Note: In 1993 when we began retirement, we also began a take-turn cooking arrangement. It goes like this; you are on your own for breakfast and lunch meals. Dinner is provided by the “cook for the week” who also shops and cleans up. So, for the week you don’t cook, you are a guest in your own home!

This has worked well for us, tho I must admit that my husband would respond to you with a slightly different point of view!!!!