Cosanti Foundation President Jeff Stein’s remarks at the opening of “PAOLO SOLERI: Think. Draw. Build. Sustain.” exhibition at the NAU Art Museum in Flagstaff, Arizona:

I bring best wishes to the entire NAU Community from Paolo Soleri. He would love to be here at this moment, but at age 93 1⁄2 he does not drive in snow. In fact, he doesn’t even ride in snow. So from his home at Cosanti in Scottsdale Paolo sends his good thoughts and his gratitude for what NAU has done to further this work.

We are living in a time of massive institutional failure. I guess you know that. This failure is creating all sorts of results nobody wants: climate change, hunger, terrorism, loss of jobs, loss of community, radically changed ecologies and economies.

And we are in an art museum, which is exactly the place to confront all of this. It is a tribute to NAU’s vision that we’re here. The work of art is not entertainment; it is getting at the truth of existence.

[photo: Dean of the Colege of Art and Letters, Michael Vincent, speaking]

The artworks that are surrounding us here, the work of an extraordinary mind, are all to answer the question HOW SHALL WE LIVE on the earth. This is what art does. This is what Paolo Soleri has done with an entire life. You see the results of that life here in these rooms tonight.

[photo: Jeff Stein speaking]

Arnold Toynbee famously said “History is one damned thing after another.” It’s not quite true, though; there are patterns to history, and occasionally there are things, events, ideas that disrupt those patterns. I think we are surrounded by some of those ideas here at NAU tonight. I hope those ideas, this exhibit, will interrupt your patterns and help you think deeply about what your own life’s work might be in the face of what you see here tonight. This is what art museum’s are for.

Thank you again Dean Michael Vincent, Dr. George Speer, NAU Art Museum; please say hello to the Arcosantians here this evening, and thank you all for coming out in the snow tonight.

[photo: NAU Art Museum exhibition crew Theresa DiFuccia, Ty Miller and Trevor Ganske, who put together a georgous exhibition, Congratulations!!!]

This report continues on Monday, February 25. 2013.

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