i went to the phoenix art museum yesterday and breezed through the Secrets of the Forbidden City exhibit in about a quarter of the time needed. i did spend a long time gazing at the magnificent paintings. the juxtaposition of that wonderful ability of asian painters to turn a single brushstroke into an entire tree or mountain with the equally impressive use of intricate detail and pattern kept me slackjawed for an hour. i saw some farbelism in a gold bowl, too. the most wonderful exhibit at the museum wasn't the chinese work, though, it was a series of conté crayon drawings by chris rush entitled The Lost Portraits. the subjects were mentally and physically disabled children. beautifully and sensitively rendered, the humanity and souls of these people shone through. this is what the museum said about him: Over the past several years, Arizona artist Chris Rush has been creating a series of richly colored drawings of children with mental and physical disabilities. A volunteer in Tucson programs devoted to caring for these children, Rush provides clear evidence in his dignified portraits of his respect and affection for his subjects. These individuals often have been at the margins of society. In 20 portraits filled with great sensitivity and beauty, Rush has brought these children into vivid focus. Through the innovative use of Conté crayon - a mixture of pigment, wax and chalk - he has achieved unusual color and luminosity. Rush believes that viewers will recognize themselves in these portraits, "humans in strange and uncertain times, struggling with the sometimes unbearable burden of flesh." Rush was the recipient several years ago of the Artist’s Materials Grant awarded annually by Phoenix Art Museum’s Contemporary Forum.