I always look forward to special events at the Heard Museum in Phoenix—the March Indian Fair and Market especially. But there is so much to do and see at the Heard year around. Since its founding in 1929, the Heard Museum has grown to become recognized internationally for the quality of its collections, world-class exhibitions, educational programming, and its exciting festivals. The Heard is dedicated to the advancement of American Indian art and culture and maintains exhibits that will both educate and delight the visitor. But there are also special time-limited exhibitions that are well worth a special trip to see and experience.
David Hockney’s Yosemite and Masters of California Basketry
Recently, I took a little jaunt into central Phoenix to see a unique exhibit—one that combined historic traditions of Native basketry with modern, colorful iPad drawings by the world-famous artist, David Hockney. I thought it an unusual combination to say the least. But I was soon to understand the connections between the two, seemingly disparate, art forms.
It all revolved around Yosemite National Park and the beautiful valley that surrounds the park in California. David Hockney’s Yosemite and Masters of California Basketry runs through April 5, 2020. At the exhibit, you will be amazed by the skill of 20 Miwok and Mono Lake Paiute women who created some of the most spectacular examples of California basketry, some of them huge, from the early to mid-Twentieth Century.
I found myself getting lost in the historic photographs of Yosemite and the early visitors who traveled in Model Ts and mule-drawn wagons to get there and spend some time in rustic cabins with views of Half-Dome and Yosemite Falls. I learned about “Field Days,” when the Native people brought wares to display and sell to the tourists. The baskets, once purely functional, also served as a source of extra income to the weavers who often took summer jobs in the park.
And surrounding the displays of amazing baskets were brightly-colored contemporary works of David Hockney, a famous British artist who now resides in the Hollywood Hills and Malibu. Gracing the walls were 24 of Hockney’s iPad drawings, The Yosemite Suite, made during his recent visits to Yosemite National Park.
As I gazed at the printed-out drawings, many put together to form larger works, I was amazed at Hockney’s ability to capture the unique spirit of the landscape, especially, in a single work of art, the feeling of a foggy morning in the forest—all sketched on an iPad!
Local Cuisine at the Heard Museum
After strolling through exhibits or taking a docent-led tour at the Heard, visitors are bound to get a little hungry. You’ll find Southwest-inspired fare, much of it featuring American Indian and locally sourced all-natural ingredients, at the Courtyard Café which has both indoor and outdoor seating.
And, a special exhibit may inspire a special dish. The current exhibit theme was reflected in the café’s “Nature’s Palette” salad with smoked lake trout, cucumber, chopped egg, roasted onions, sliced tomato, herb cream cheese, grilled lemon, and a toasted baguette. And you could top off your meal with a “Basket of Berries,” a refreshing vanilla ice cream and berry dessert.
Shopping at the Heard Museum
And, of course, no visit to the Heard would be complete without a visit to the gift shops. The main shop is known for its collections (all available for purchase) of jewelry, Kachinas, and pottery, all guaranteed to be authentic and most hand-made by notable native artists.
Across the courtyard, you’ll find a fantastic bookshop with great reference materials as well as coffee table art books and children’s gifts and books on Native American culture and desert life. With a special exhibit, comes special book offerings, so you can delve into California Native basketry with a purchase at the shop.
When You Visit the Heard Museum
Plan at least a half-day to stroll the sculpture-filled grounds, learn from the permanent exhibits, and take in a special event or display. And, of course, take time for some refreshments at the café. Most visitors know they’ll have to return because there is just so much to see.
The Heard Museum is located just north of downtown Phoenix (you can take the light rail if coming from the south or north) and is open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. If you get there early, you can walk the gardens and porticos of the beautiful Spanish Revival design building and enjoy the sculpture installations.
Admission is $18 for adults and $7.50 for children 6 to 17. Free general admission is offered from 6 – 10 p.m. every First Friday except during March. Docent-guided tours are offered daily at noon, 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. for no additional charge. The café is open daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more about the Phoenix area, see our travel articles from Wander writers.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary admissions and meals for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.