Phoenix, Arizona: March 2016

I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that I talk about traveling with my brother quite often. In mid-March, my brother was invited to interview at a medical school in Phoenix, Arizona, and my mom and I decided to tag along. Who could say no to a weekend in the sun?

My brother’s medical school interview was on a Friday morning, so we drove down on Thursday. On Friday, my mom and I dropped my brother off at the university for his interview and then we made our way to Waffle House for some pecan waffles. If you live in one of the states that is blessed with Waffle House, you might think this is odd. Let me assure you that Waffle House is a real treat for me! I fell in love with Waffle House while I lived in Florida, and I have sadly not been able to visit a Waffle House location since I moved back to Utah three years ago. I wasn’t aware that there are Waffle House locations in Arizona until we were in Phoenix, which was a tremendous surprise.

Phoenix Arizona Waffle House

After enjoying our waffles and hash browns (I order mine diced and peppered for those in the know), my mom and I headed to the Phoenix Art Museum and were just getting to the front doors when they opened for the day. While we were in the early planning stages for this trip, I had decided to look up the Phoenix Art Museum to see what exhibitions they might have while I was in town. You can imagine my elation when I discovered that the Phoenix Art Museum would be hosting a Michelangelo exhibition entitled “Michelangelo: Sacred and Profane” during my trip there!

If you’ve ever checked out my Instagram feed (@carolinev89), you have certainly noticed my passion for all things Michelangelo. (By the way, you should also follow At Home & Abroad on Instagram (@athomeandabroad), and Kaycie too! (@kayciejo13).)

My love for Michelangelo began when I took an AP art history class in high school, blossomed when I saw his work during my first trip to Italy following my junior year of high school, and hit perhaps one of its highest points when I took a Michelangelo seminar as part of my master’s degree. Since then, however, my love has not diminished; on the contrary, I love Michelangelo more every time I see one of his drawings, paintings, sculptures, poems, etc. I believe there are certain artists or styles that speak to each person in a special way, and Michelangelo truly speaks to my soul.

The “Sacred and Profane” exhibition featured twenty-six drawings from the Casa Buonarroti in Florence, Italy. I’ve been to Florence a few times, but somehow I have never managed to visit the Casa Buonarroti, so I was thrilled to be able to see these drawings. Here are some of my favorites:

(Warning: A fine art overload will now follow. I apologize for nothing. In fact, you’re welcome.)

Michelangelo Drawing Model Head
A study for the head of Leda in “Leda and the Swan,” a lost painting by Michelangelo, c. 1529-30.

While Michelangelo is most well known for the Sistine Chapel ceiling and the David, his oeuvre is vast and varied. From studies for paintings to plans for churches and chapels, and from drawings of sculptural programs to small details and doodles, his talent and vision are truly stunning. Did you know that Michelangelo headed up several architectural projects?

Michelangelo Architectural Drawing
A drawing for the façade of San Lorenzo in Florence, an architectural project that Michelangelo was never able to finish.
Michelangelo Drawing Paper Phoenix
This was one of my favorites because you can see the architectural drawing, as well as Michelangelo`s writing on the other side of the sheet.

Many of the sheets had drawing and writing on both sides. My biggest critique of the exhibition is that I wish I had been able to see both the verso and recto of each sheet!

Military Fortifications Drawing Michelangelo
Here Michelangelo drew up plans for fortifications for the city of Florence. Most of his plans focused on fortifying the walls and gates of the city.

Did you know that in addition to being a brilliant sculptor, painter, and architect, Michelangelo also designed military fortifications for the city of Florence? Plus he was a poet. He was the true Renaissance man.

Because my mom and I headed straight to the Michelangelo exhibition once we were in the museum, we luckily were able to view these drawings without much of a crowd. After thoroughly drinking in the transcendent beauty of Michelangelo’s work, I wanted to see some other highlights in the museum’s permanent collection. Here are just a few of my favorites:

Monet Painting Giverny
“Les arceaux fleuris, Giverny (Flowering Arches, Giverny),” Claude Monet, 1913.
The Kiss Rodin Bronze
“The Kiss,” Auguste Rodin, 1880-82.
Pollice Verso Gerome Painting
“Pollice Verso,” Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1872.

While the collection is fairly small compared to the other art museums I have visited recently, such as the Getty Museums, it is a good collection with some great pieces. After I had seen what I wanted to in the permanent collection, my mom and I still had a bit of time before we needed to pick up my brother from his interview at the university… So naturally I opted to revisit the Michelangelo exhibition.

Christ Madonna Michelangelo Drawing
A highly finished detail of a lovely “Madonna and Child” drawing by Michelangelo, c. 1524.

I was very grateful that I had seen the exhibition earlier in the morning because the difference of a few hours made a noticeable impact on the crowd volume. I assume it was also rather busy because we visited on March 17 and the exhibition closed on March 27, so I’m sure that several last-minute visitors were taking advantage of this opportunity.

Before leaving the museum, I managed to secure for myself a copy of the exhibition catalog (plus a couple other essentials, like an Italian Renaissance coloring book). All in all, it was a very successful museum visit!

Of course, my brother did brilliantly in his interview – and he was accepted to that medical school just one week later!

And then just because we could, we drove to Los Angeles, California, after picking up my brother from his interview. When it’s only a five-hour drive to California, we’d be crazy not to go for it!

Balboa Beach California

After spending Saturday at Balboa Beach (if you’re a regular on our blog, you’ll recall that this is one of my favorite beaches in the area), we returned home somewhat sadly on Sunday. With my brother planning to attend medical school in Arizona, however, I’m looking forward to many more sunny trips there in the future!

Written by Caroline Larson.

*All photos in this blog article are taken by and property of Caroline Larson.

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