Confession: I’m a little bit whackadoo about how my groceries are bagged.

I group items from my cart together on the checkout belt in the futile hope the arrangement will make it intact into my shopping bags. I reconfigure the contents of my sacks in the parking lot as I load them into the car. Often, I offer to bag my purchases myself, sparing some poor teenager requests like, “Will you please put cold things with cold things?” or “Would you mind not putting the kiwi with the liters of cola and jars of pickles, please?” (What? Like I’m the only weirdo who doesn’t like raw chicken placed on top of strawberry cartons?)

Imagine, then, how I felt (“I do have a tribe!”) when I came across two Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art events celebrating the menial job — nay, long-lost art and skill, I say! — of properly packing groceries.

It may sound like a weird thing for a museum to showcase, but the Aug. 8 screening of “Ready, Set, Bag!” and the Aug. 16 “Grocery Bagging for Art” event tie into “Stocked,” SMoCA’s summer exhibition inspired by art from the supermarket aisles.

The award-winning film “Ready, Set, Bag!” follows eight state champions as they try to win the national Best Bagger Competition (yes, there is such a thing). At Grocery Bagging for Art, regular folks will get to compete in a grocery bagging contest complete with a referee. The first-place winner takes home an original work of museum-quality art. The second-place finisher gets groceries from Trader Joe’s.

Sure, grocery bagging isn’t something most people take a burning interest in, but that’s what an innovative museum like SMoCA does best: It makes you look at or experience in a new way something you see so often it no longer registers on your radar.

Unless, like me, you have a problem.

Contact writer: (480) 898-6818 or

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