See What's Hanging out at Airport Art Exhibits

Article excerpt

Byline: Gail Todd

When flight attendant Nancy Cook found herself grounded at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, she decided to let her imagination fly - even if she couldn't. Nancy visited the information booth and picked up a list of the airport art currently on display. She got so involved in the collection she lost track of time and almost missed her flight.

"Sky Harbor's collection is fantastic," said Nancy. "They have temporary exhibits in the terminals that you can visit without going through security, as well as a terrific permanent collection."

Sky Harbor's permanent collection began in 1962 with the installation of "The Phoenix," a Paul Coze mural that tells the story of the history of Arizona from the ancient cultures to the present day.

Later, John Farnsworth's "Stage," a huge painting covering several panels, was added. The artist depicts himself riding shotgun on a stagecoach in the Old West. Nearby, "Reflexivity," a large, polished-steel sculpture by Dennis Jones, reflects the crowd passing through the terminal.

According to Nancy, airplane buffs would particularly enjoy the Clear Skies exhibit, which features photographs, airline uniforms and other memorabilia celebrating the 100th anniversary of flight.

The collection now includes 200 permanent pieces as well as an ever-changing display of temporary exhibits.

What's more interesting is that Sky Harbor is not unique. Airports have become curators of major art collections. Their mini- museums can entertain delayed passengers for hours, but few travelers seem to realize they're available.

For instance, head for your gate at Pittsburgh International Airport and you will no doubt pass under an Alexander Calder sculpture. One frequent flier, who found things were looking up when she had time on her hands, discovered Miss Pittsburgh, the first mail-flight plane, also hanging from the ceiling.

San Diego International's art collection includes "In Search of the Wilderness," a bronze sculpture created by Les Perhacs Fallbrook. …