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‘Laughing Matters’ pokes fun at Az in many mediums

Citizen Staff Writer



Cowboy caricatures, agaves made from old tires, “mad” ceramic cows, a frybread-making Native American superhero and clay javelinas sipping martinis are just a few of the curiously odd pieces on display at “Laughing Matters.”

The exhibit at Tohono Chul Park pokes fun at Arizona’s landmarks and symbols, animals, the Wild West mystique, tourists and historical and political figures.

“People tend to think of art as something lofty. This demonstrates art fulfills a need for all of us . . . things to be enjoyed,” says Peggy Hazard, assistant curator of the park’s museum.

The art on display varies widely in form and subject – from greeting cards to metal work, from Native American to pop-Americana, and from corrugated steel collages and hand-made windmills to whirligigs.

“(Arizona) flora and fauna, the lizards, snakes, and reptiles are funny in themselves – like the Legislature,” cracks Dave Fitzsimmons, a political cartoonist for the Arizona Daily Star and unofficial “humor consultant” for the exhibit.

“Dave was the cheerleader,” Hazard says.

Fitzsimmons has four biting pieces on display making fun of locals and snowbirds. He advised Hazard with piece selection and helped with the exhibit’s name, a play-on-words describing both the art and the show’s message.

In the spirit of the exhibit, the park is hosting a reception Sunday featuring local cowboy poet Baxter Black.

Those visiting the exhibit Sunday will be greeted by a 5-foot-tall laughing mask. Closer inspection reveals it is made from a saguaro.

The walls are peppered with satire. Drawings, maps, and post-cards romanticize the Wild West while simultaneously mocking the naiveté of tourists.

Also included is the obligatory Arizona weather humor seen in such pieces as Fran Douglas’ “Frank and Edna,” a ceramic couple who burst into flames shortly after moving west from Oklahoma.

“(The art) is cruel, catty, punitive, and backwards,” Fitzsimmons quips.

The exhibit is geared toward families, long-time Arizonans, and travelers who want to laugh and learn about the state.

“It could be relief for some people to come into an exhibit that will make them laugh,” Hazard says. “That’s exactly what’s happening.”

“Laughing Matters” pokes fun at Az in many mediums


What: “Laughing Matters” art exhibit and reception with cowboy poet Baxter Black

When: Exhibit runs through March 8. Gallery hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Baxter Black reception, 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Tohono Chul Park, 7366 N. Paseo del Norte.

Price: $7 general admission to park, $25 for reception

Info: 742-6455, www.tohonochulpark.org

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