Art & air conditioning

"Fractured" by Kathryn Herbert from Herberger Theater Art Gallery exhibit at the University Club in Phoenix

You know you want it. Frankly, some of us nearing the big “5-0″ want it more than the rest of you. It’s air conditioning.

Enough with Arizona’s dry heat. I’m way beyond ready for some dry cool–which is why I went in search of museum adventures to fill my weekend hours.

Ceramic art from the "Ceramic Design" exhibit at the ASU Ceramics Research Center

One of the first things I found is an exhibit you can only enjoy on weekdays, so get there today if this strikes your fancy. I have other suggestions for Saturday and Sunday fare.

It’s the Herberger Theater Art Gallery, on display at the University Club in Phoenix while the Herberger Theater Center undergoes renovations. Like many Valley theater-goers, I’m pulling for essentials like more potty space for women than men for a change.

Anyhow, the current exhibit is titled “The Sacred and the Living” (redundant, perhaps?) and it features artwork in various media by 26 Arizona artists. It runs through July 28–but you can enjoy it today (Fri) from 9-11am and 1-5pm.

You can experience three free art exhibits this weekend thanks to the ASU Art Museum–each of which are open today and tomorrow from 11am-5pm.

The "Jump to Japan" exhibit opens this weekend at the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa

There’s the off-kilter (yup, it’s also the name of a Celtic rock band) “Ceramic Design: Manufactured Brilliance & Beauty in Daily Life” at the Ceramic Research Center, which promises to be more illuminating than late-night infomercials hocking products that promise a different sort of manfactured beauty.

There’s “Signs and Signals from the Periphery, an Installation by Dinh Q Le” featuring the work of an “internationally acclaimed multi-media artist” who tackles the everyday with a view to global significance. It’s at the ASU Art Museum on the Tempe campus, as is this next cool-fest…

The “11th Annual Family Exhibition” titled “What Moves Us: Art of Transportation from the Permanent Collection” presents all sorts of transportaion in all sorts of media. My main interest will be in those with windows, a roof and AC that’ll knock your socks off.

This would have been the perfect outing for my young son, now nearing 21, who used to feel about cars, trucks and construction vehicles the way I feel about espresso and chocolate. Too much is never enough.

Etwan Finatawa brings "Nomad's blues" from Niger to the MIM in Phoenix this weekend

Also in the “Friday and fabulous” category is the July 16 opening of the “Jump to Japan” exhibit at the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa, a destination that will also take you close to the Mesa Arts Center and the Arizona Museum of Natural History.

The latter currently has three exhibits, including “Lights! Color! Action!,” which “explores the relationship between light and color and how they are used in our daily lives.” You can gently remind your kids once they’ve seen it that not everyone on the planet has the luxury of light and color (which leaves me wondering where I can find a study on the role of color in cultural identity and expression).

Make & play drums at the MIM!

The newly unveiled and ever so glorious Musical Instrument Museum (the “MIM”) in Phoenix has two special offerings this weekend–a “Build a Rhythm”  workshop where kids ages 8-11 can build and learn to play the Dondo drum from Ghana (Sat at 10am; $35; preregister) and concerts (Sat 7:30pm and Sun 2:30pm; $32-$36) by Etran Finatawa performing “Nomad’s blues” from Niger, “a gritty, mystical, dynamic journey to the Sachel desert region of Africa.”

Hopi Dance Group performs at the Heard Museum in Phoenix

I’m tempted to recommend that last one to politicians who sometimes have a hard time telling their countries from their continents. We can send them to the Heard Museum in Phoenix for extra credit–where they’ll discover that “American Indian” refers to more than a single homogenous group of people.

On second thought, let’s put play before politics this weekend as the Heard Museum continues its July series of “Target Free Sizzlin’ Summer Saturdays” featuring free museum admission plus unique kids’ activities and music/dance performance.

Illustrator Yazzie comes to the Heard Museum this weekend

This Saturday’s line-up at the Heard includes 11:30am and 1pm Hopi Dance Group performances, a noon to 2pm book signing by Yazzie, Navajo, illustrator of “The Stone Cutter & the Navajo Maiden” and more.

Grown-ups can enjoy the Heard for free the Friday night before during a 6-9pm event featuring live music, art and wine tasting. That’s a whole lot of happiness in one place.

As always, just give a holler if I’ve overlooked something you think other Arizona families might enjoy. And so much the better if they couple art with AC…

–Lynn

Theater Works in Peoria presents "On the Air!" during their summer cabaret series

Note: If theater is your muse, check out the new “Little Red Riding Hood” from the Great Arizona Puppet Theater in Phoenix, the “On the Air!” summer cabaret performance at Theater Works in Peoria or “The Hormel New Works Festival” at Phoenix Theatre. Please check all event details before attending, and remember to visit “Raising Arizona Kids” online each day for a comprehensive calendar of family-friendly events and activities.

Coming up: A view from the Utah Shakespearean Festival in Cedar City, Arts advocates gather to evaluate and fuel progress in Arizona arts and culture

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