On April 18, 2015, I blogged about Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. Ruth and I unexpectedly had 5 hours to wait for a flight last spring and decided to see if there were any mind-stimulating attractions around. We found several. I especially enjoyed our visit to the Travelers Aid office. The time passed quickly, and I began to wonder what I’d find in other airports if I had the time to look. Today I discovered, quite by accident, that Phoenix Sky Harbor International contains several highly regarded museums. They’re in every terminal and have changing and permanent displays.
Phoenix is a city of several 5 Compass attractions like MIM, a sensational musical instrument museum, The Heard, the Desert Botanical Garden, etc. It also has some smaller pleasures. Ruth and I discovered 2 of them on our last visit, and I suspect we’ll add a 3rd the next time we fly into Sky Harbor.
The Shemer Art Center is at 5005 East Camelback Road in Scottsdale. It’s in the first house built in the Arcadia neighborhood not too far from Camelback Mountain. The year of construction was 1919 and an adobe, mission-style dwelling was appropriate for a desert area containing orchards. The building became an art center 30 years ago thanks to Martha Shemer. It doesn’t have a permanent collection. Instead, it offers diverse and apparently rapidly changing exhibits by mostly local artists, visual arts classes and workshops, a sculpture garden, etc. While there, Ruth and I saw a small exhibit featuring the works of an impressive new artist named Travis Rice, a Marigold Linton Scholarship Award winner. His eye-filling painting appropriately called “Zing” is below. Goldthwaite H. Dorr, Board member, showed us around SAC and recommend a film to see that evening. We liked Wild Tales so much that we’ve seen it 3 times. Thanks, Goldthwaite.
The 2nd attraction was recommended by Don and Mary, former neighbors and still friends. The Wrigley Mansion is on the grounds of the Biltmore Hotel. William Wrigley Jr. built it as a 50th wedding anniversary gift for his wife Ada from 1929 to 1931 and died shortly after they moved in. Its 24 rooms, 17 bathrooms, 11 fireplaces, walnut library, gold-leaf ceilings, etc. took 3 years to build. The family used it only 8 weeks each year. Ada lived to be 90.
William was wild when young. At age 15 he was expelled from school for tossing a pie at a teacher. When he was 29, he moved to Chicago with $32 in his pocket. After selling baking powder for a bit, he made a fortune in chewing gum and built the Wrigley Building, Wrigley Field, etc.
Not much of the Wrigley’s furnishings remain in this mansion except for their prized instrument. A rare, remote-controlled Steinway player piano that could record music, this 1929 gem cannot be removed because of the family will. That’s probably why Liberace tried but failed to buy it. George Gershwin, a Wrigley friend, surely played it. There’s a copy of it in The Smithsonian.