Arizona “From Above”

I made several trips to Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport over the weekend to deliver departing friends (destinations: LA, Hawaii, and Mexico…good for them, grrr). Getting out of the elevator on the east-end gate level of Terminal 4, I ran into a display case with large-format photos from New Mexico pilot and aerial photographic artist Adriel Heisey.

Under the Sun: A Sonoran Desert Odyssey (Hardcover) ~ Adriel Hei... Cover Art
Adriel Heisey's Under the Sun

My introduction to Heisey was his book, Under the Sun, a Sonoran Desert Odyssey, which I’ve just put in the ScottsdaleTrails store along with a couple of other Heisey selections. Filled with gorgeous aerial photos of the distinctively beautiful Sonoran Desert, it made me want to dust off my ultralight airplane (Hummingbird) and do some lawn chair flying (as opposed to the armchair flying I mostly do these days).

Heisey is also featured in the AZ PBS series, “Visions of Arizona,” in National Geographic Magazine, and in a couple of great DVD’s, “Over Arizona,” and “Visions of Arizona” (both also in the ScottsdaleTrails store).

Flying is all about perspective. Hiking is a great way to see our great state, but you’ll never get Heisey’s perspective from a trail (too low) nor from the “heavy iron” that transits Sky Harbor (too high).

However, Sky Harbor has a great museum program. It’s a shame most of the folks who pass through don’t have time to stop and look, but it’s a wealth of local information and inspiration for travelers waiting for connections or local residents awaiting the arrival of visitors.

Here’s Sky Harbor’s description of the Heisey exhibit:

From Above, Photographs by Adriel Heisey

From Above
Photographs by Adriel Heisey
Through July 21, 2013
Terminal 4, Level 3 (8 display cases)

The human imprint on the landscape inspired a partnership between photographer Adriel Heisey and Archaeology Southwest. From a low-altitude aerial viewpoint, Heisey captured images that reveal the relationship of past humans to the geological landscape. Beyond the artistic beauty, these images show how the terrain and natural resources influenced where humans settled.

The first human footprints in the Americas were made roughly 500 generations ago. Most of the ruins left on the landscape result from small nomadic social groups to large villages of 300 or more permanent residents. Their subtle as well as obvious traces in the American Southwest have been recorded by archaeologists for more than a century. Such archaeological sites number almost a half-a-million.

Archaeology Southwest, a private non-profit organization based in Tucson, Arizona, explores and protects the places of our past across the American Southwest and Mexican Northwest. Using “Preservation Archaeology” their conservation-based practices include: low-impact methods of site investigation; educational research and projects; partnerships with communities and institutions.

This exhibition merges aesthetic beauty and a record of archaeological preservation that creates a source of wonder, knowledge and identity. Marks that humans have left on the land tell the stories of past generations and are visible From Above.

Image Caption:
Adriel Heisey, Canyon with Great House, Moon and Pueblo Bonito, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico, ©1994, photographic print, 65 x 55”

Artworks courtesy of Archaeology Southwest, Tucson, AZ

Also check out the exhibit on mules of Grand Canyon:

A Grand Ride: Photographs by Tom Brownold
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
Terminal 4, Level 3, Center Wall South
June 16, 2012 – February 10, 2013

Tom Brownold For more than one hundred years, mules have carried people and supplies up and down the steep trails of the Grand Canyon. These sure-footed creatures have been instrumental in the construction and maintenance of the South Rim water pipeline, the trail system, and Phantom Ranch. Instead of hiking it, visitors can still ride mules into the canyon just as the first tourists did in the 1800s. After descending through layers of rock that represent almost two billion years of the earth’s history the “dudes” astride mules reach Phantom Ranch, where they can finally dismount from their Grand Ride.

“I am always looking for interesting images…I thought that photographing the mules and the livery operation based on the South Rim would be a great means of getting to know about the mules, the guides and the support crew that make it work. After a year of twice-monthly trips to visit the historic mule barns, I have come away with a body of work that hints of the past and is of the present.”

Find out more about the exhibition from Tom Brownold during his radio interview on “Air Time with Phoenix Sky Harbor.”

Image Caption:
Tom Brownold, Switchback, © 2009, photographic print

Photographic exhibition based on the book, The Grandest Ride by Tom Brownold, published by Rio Nuevo with text by Brad Dimrock.

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