One of the world’s premiere anime artists, Mr., from Japan, is bringing his exhibit “You Can Hear the Song of This Town” to the Phoenix Art Museum through March 23.
To celebrate, Mr. was scheduled to travel from Japan to DJ at First Friday on November 4.
“People could see and experience his artwork and the audio associated with it that ties back together with his artistry,” says Joel Coen, Men’s Arts Council president.
A self-described member of the otaku subculture — characterized by obsessive interests in anime, manga and reclusion into virtual fantasy worlds — Mr. creates feverish, graffiti-inspired paintings and cartoon-like sculptures, installations and video works that combine high and low culture to examine themes of desire, fantasy and trauma within Japanese society and among a global audience obsessed with social media.
The Men’s Arts Council funded the exhibition, along with an anonymous donor, Ronald and Valery Harrar, Isabelle Georgeaux, Kevie Yang, The Japan Foundation-Los Angeles, and the Museum’s Circles of Support and Museum Members.
“We are very grateful to Men’s Arts Council for their ongoing support of the museum’s exhibitions,” says Jeremy Mikolajczak, the Sybil Harrington director and CEO of Phoenix Art Museum.
“For more than 55 years, MAC’s generosity has helped bring art from around the world to engage audiences in Arizona. With their support of ‘Mr.: You Can Hear the Song of This Town’ and the exhibition’s admission-free First Friday opening celebration, MAC is ensuring community members and visitors are exposed to artworks by one of Japan’s most popular living artists.”
Phoenix Art Museum was recently surprised with a $175,000 check from the Men’s Arts Council, a nonprofit member organization of Valley philanthropists devoted to supporting the museum’s community outreach initiatives via annual contributions.
“Mr.: You Can Hear the Song of This Town” will be the first of many to benefit from this donation.
“This gift to Phoenix Art Museum is the latest instance of the long-standing relationship between our organizations and will empower the museum to provide the community with unique, high-quality exhibitions,” Coen says.
Many of Phoenix Art Museum’s exhibitions are funded by the Men’s Arts Council, which was founded in 1967 to back the museum’s programs and activities. MAC can support the museum in a number of ways, thanks to the efforts of its over 200 members.
The Men’s Art Council has been working with the museum for more than 50 years, starting as security guards. They transitioned into volunteers who assist with the museum.
“Over time, we’ve built up a series of events that take place throughout the Valley, like the Copperstate 1000, Copperstate Double Gun and Copperstate Overland,” he says.
“These events pull people from all over the world. We use the funds to promote the arts through the museum each year. The Mr. exhibit was included in our give. We’re really trying to focus on youth and trying to get the youth involved.”
He adds from his perspective Phoenix is an art desert. The scene retracted through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We don’t see as much influence within the educational programs anymore,” he says.
“Funding (problems) is removing arts from schools. We funded multiple projects. We get families access to museums for free, and we fund that on certain days each quarter. If kids aren’t exposure to art, it sullies their future. We want to make sure they have the opportunity.”
“Mr.: You Can Hear the Song of This Town”
WHEN: Through March 23
WHERE: Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix
COST: General admission is $20 adults; $17 seniors; $15 students (with valid ID); $5 youth ages 6-17; free for museum members, youth 5 and younger and U.S. military personnel
INFO: 602-257-1880, phxart.org