Tag Archives: Arizona centennial

Cactus meets creativity

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Artist Ed Mell, who most recently designed the Arizona Centennial Postage Stamp, was named Artist of the Year and ASU Gammage Executive Director Colleen Jennings-Roggensack and Museum of Northern Arizona Director Robert Breunig shared the Individual Award at tonight’s 31st annual Arizona Governor’s Arts Awards at the Herberger Theater Center.

Several additional awards were presented as well, all after remarks by Governor Jan Brewer and others who spoke in unison about the importance of arts to Arizona’s economy, quality of life, education landscape and more. Here’s the rundown:

Arts in Education-Individual Award: Beth Lessard, Tempe, former chair of the Arizona State University Department of Dance

Arts in Education-Organization Award: Arizona School for the Arts

Community Award: Arizona Cowboy Poet Gathering, Prescott

Business Award: JP Morgan Chase

Arts advocate and leader Darryl Dobras of Tucson received the 2012 Shelley Award for advancing the arts through strategic and innovative work in creating or supporting public policy beneficial to the arts in Arizona.

SRP was the Presenting Sponsor of the 2012 Arizona Governor’s Arts Awards. Other sponsors for the event included Boeing, Arts Entertainment Sponsor; Resolution Copper Mining, Commemorative Program Sponsor; Southwest Ambulance, Artist Award Sponsor; and Herberger Theater Center, Venue Sponsor. Nicely done, one and all.

Honorees received specially created awards reflecting Arizona’s beauty and diversity — by Arizona artists Joe Ray of Scottsdale, Fausto Fernandez of Phoenix, George Gaines-Averbeck of  Flagstaff, Gennaro Garcia of Ahwatukee, Judith Walsh of Oracle, Catherine Nash of Tucson, Emily Costello of Superior and Julius Forzano of Scottsdale.

Nearly 500 arts supporters, advocates, business leaders and elected officials attended the annual event — which featured entertainment by Desert Dance and Friends (think percussion a la Samsonite), Childsplay, (think rap meets American history) and the Bad Cactus Brass Band (think Arizona with a twist of New Orleans). Also a silent auction beforehand and swanky dessert reception after. Think dainty little red velvet whoopie pies, coconut cupcakes and such.

More than 80 individuals, artists, businesses, arts education programs and community programs from about two dozen communities around the state were nominated for this year’s awards.

Here’s the scoop on 2012 honorees, provided by the fine folks who present the Arizona Governor’s Arts Awards…

Ed Mell. Born and raised in Phoenix, Mell has been a working artist in Arizona for more than 40 years. His work elevates the public profile of arts in the state through his unique blend of cubist forms that capture Arizona landscapes and depicts the brilliance of the Arizona sky. Mell left a prestigious career as an art director and illustrator in New York to accept a teaching position on the Hopi reservation in 1970 that reconnected him with the land he loved and that set his artistic course. He has produced oils, print series and bronze sculptures and has donated his work to Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona, the Arizona Cancer Society, to name only a few. His works are found in major public and private collections. Mell’s painting of Cathedral Rock in Sedona was selected as the artwork for the first-class stamp commemorating Arizona’s centennial this year.

Robert Breunig, Flagstaff. When Robert Breunig arrived as director in late 2003, the Museum of Northern Arizona was in imminent danger of closing. The museum had lost its American Association of Museums accreditation and its severe financial condition required that 20 items its collection be sold to pay for operating expenses and cover the deficit. Since those dark days, Dr. Breunig has guided the museum back on a path of financial stability and organizational credibility. The museum collection has grown to 3,200 fine art pieces and 15,000 ethnographic objects and its cultural anthropology collection totals 225,000 artifacts and research collections from 28,000 sites representing 12,000 years of native occupation. Before taking on the responsibilities at the Museum of Northern Arizona, Breunig had served as director of the Desert Botanical Garden from 1984 to 1995 and was deputy director at chief curator at the Heard Museum from 1982 to 1985.

Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, Tempe. Colleen Jennings-Roggensack has been presenting the performing arts for 33 years and will celebrate her 20th anniversary as Executive Director for ASU Gammage and Assistant Vice President for Cultural Affairs in June. Her leadership and her mission at ASU has been to “Connect Communities” by enabling patrons, artists and the entire community to discover new avenues of intercultural communication through the arts. Under her leadership, the Broadway series has grown into one of the top touring markets in the nation producing an annual economic impact of $40 million in the Valley. Jennings-Roggensack was nominated by President Clinton and served on the National Council on the Arts from 1994 to 1997. Since 2007, she has served on The Broadway League’s Board of Governors and she is Arizona’s only Tony Award voter.

Beth Lessard, Tempe. The chair of the ASU Dance Department from 1977 to 1993 and professor until her retirement in 1999, Dr. Lessard elevated the dual degree path for dancers interested in both teaching and creating and performing dance. Under her guidance, the Arizona Dance Education Organization was formed to provide resources, scholarships and educational support for Arizona teachers and schools to provide quality dance curriculum.  She also established the artist-in-residence program at ASU to bring national dance artists and companies to Tempe to teach, collaborate and perform with students and faculty.

Arizona School for the Arts. ASA is a high-achieving school for students who want to work with professional artists as part of the core school experience. Now in its 16th year, students and the non-profit college preparatory/performing arts school spend their mornings immersed in core academic studies and their afternoons in the performing arts. The Arizona School for the Arts has been recognized by the US Department of Education, the state of Arizona Department of Education and the Kennedy Center.

Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, Prescott. The Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, the oldest in Arizona, will celebrate its 25th anniversary in August to support its mission to educate, promote and preserve cowboy poetry, music and western heritage culture and history. The Gathering not only provides entertainment, but an opportunity for poets and bearers of cowboy oral traditions to assemble in a spirit of mutual appreciation and support and to strengthen ties with the ranching community and general public. In recent years, the organization has brought poetry into fourth-grade classrooms in the Prescott area to introduce students to poetry, the ranching heritage of Yavapai County and the music of the cowboy.

JP Morgan Chase Bank. JP Morgan Chase strives to increase community access to rich cultural resources that foster creativity, promote self-expression, celebrate diversity and strengthen the environment. An active supporter of the arts for more than 20 years, the company’s recent funding of Arizona Theatre Company offset expenses of producing a statewide education program connected to ATC’s America Plays! Celebrating Great American Stories Initiative. JP Morgan Chase also has been a consistent supporter of Childsplay, Ballet Arizona, Phoenix Symphony, Alliance for Audience and the Desert Botanical Garden, to name only a few.

The Arizona Governor’s Arts Awards are presented by the Office of the Governor, Arizona Citizens for the Arts and the Arizona Commission on the Arts. It’s lovely when cactus meets creativity.

– Lynn

Coming up: Celebrating National Poetry Month, Broadway trends

Gaga for dance

Batsheva Dance of Israel performs March 22 in Scottsdale

Israel’s Batsheva Dance Company, founded in 1964 by Martha Graham and Baroness Batsheva De Rothschild, uses a little something called “Gaga” — the movement vocabulary of choreographer Ohad Naharin — to explore and perform “new movement possibilities.” Folks who go “gaga for dance” can enjoy their work Thurs, March 22 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

Come April, the center will present two companies from Australia — “Chunky Move: Connected” Fri, April 6 and Sat, April 7 and “Marrugeku: Buru” Sat, April 14. The latter features “stories of the indigenous people of Western Australia told through hip-hop music and stilt dancing.” They’ll present “Dance Brazil,” featuring “dazzling Afro-Brazilian music and dance” Thurs, April 26 and Fri, April 27 and Movement Source Dance Company brings their “Inspiration” to the venue Thurs, May 10 and Fri, May 11.

SambAZ performs March 24 at the MIM in Phoenix

The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix presents “Experience Brazil” Sat, March 24 — which includes SambAZ dancers performing works inspired by “Brazilian and Carnaval culture” with Grupo Liberdade from 11am to 12:30pm. The event also features live music, drum workshops and more.

If you’re truly “gaga for dance,” a couple of dance performances will never do. Hence, I’m happy to share a diverse assortment of additional offerings headed our way in coming weeks and months, including several taking place this month. Let other folks go “gaga” for shoes or chocolate or basketball. You know that dance is where it’s at.

Katey Koderik performs "I Believe" for American Voices 2011 (Photo: Tim Fuller)

Center Dance Ensemble performs “Dance AZ/100,” which honors the Arizona Centennial with the premiere of “Western Suite” to music by Aaron Copeland and “Concierto Madigral” music by Joaquin Rodrigo March 22-25 at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix. Come April they’ll perform “American Voices” featuring new choreography to the words of America’s great poets.

Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, which blends “African American cultural expression and the American modern dance tradition,” performs Sat, March 24 and Sun, March 25 at Mesa Arts Center. “Dancing with the Queen Creek Stars” hits the Queen Creek Performing Arts Center Sat, March 24 — featuring six “respected community leaders” partnered with the Utah Ballroom Dance Company for waltz, samba and such. MarioCo. Dance brings jazz dance to the Herberger Theater Center Thurs, March 15, with a performance dubbed “Propulsion.”

Alvin Ailey Dance Theater performs March 24 & 25 in Mesa

Ballet Arizona presents “Director’s Choice” March 29-April 1, a new Ib Andersen work titled “Topia” May 2-26 (in  collaboration with the Desert Botanical Garden) and “All Balanchine” May 31-June 3.

State Street Ballet of Santa Barbara performs “Jungle Book” — an original production by Rodney Gustafson set in the fabled jungles of Rudyard Kipling’s Africa — Fri, March 30 at the Del E. Webb Center for the Performing Arts in Wickenburg. A lovely option for those of you who go “gaga” for both dance and exploring other parts of our fair state.

Scorpius Dance Theatre performs May 3-5 in Phoenix

Scorpius Dance Theatre presents “The Kick-A Dance Showcase” featuring the work of Arizona choreographers plus those from other fab places May 3-5 at the Phoenix Theatre Little Theatre. Let your little ones think the “A” stands for “arabesque.”

Finally, I leave you with a trio of dance events coming to Tempe Center for the Arts. Flamenco and belly dance artists Yumi LaRosa and Ava Fleming present “cultural music and dance” Sat, March 31 at TCA. CONDER/dance presents “inextricably linked” — “a performance inspired by flight and costumed entirely in vintage clothing” — Sat, April 14. The CONDER/dance performance also includes dance films from Belgium and NYC.

A Ludwig Dance Theatre performs April 19-22 in Tempe

A Ludwig Dance Theatre presents “Project 2012: Looking Back; Moving Forward” April 19-22 at Tempe Center for the Arts — which continues the company’s collaboration with choreographers Babs Case, Mary Fitzgerald, Kelly Roth, Karen Schupp. Look for a reprise of past works, an examination of issues facing contemporary society, audience involvement via text messaging and a little something that’ll have Valley theater buffs going “gaga” — the performance of a Daniel Nagrin improvisational piece titled “Someone” by actor, fight choreographer and ASU professor David Barker. That, my friends, will be a “gaga” moment in all its glory.

– Lynn

Note: I’m working on a roundup of spring recitals and performances being presented by youth dance companies and dance schools in the Valley. If your group is presenting a spring recital or performance, please send details (and photos if you like) to rakstagemom@gmail.com.

Coming up: Dance meets dirt?, From Brooklyn to Japan

From mariachi to honky tonks

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The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix celebrates 100 years of Arizona music with an exhibit titled “I Am AZ Music” — which opens on Sat, Feb. 18 with a full slate of events and runs through Jan. 6, 2013. Admission to the exhibit, located inside the museum’s United States/Canada Gallery, is free with museum admission.

Several performing arts groups are featured in the exhibit — including the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, which gave its inaugural performance in 1929. Also Phoenix Symphony (founded in 1947), Arizona Opera (founded in 1972 as Tucson Opera Company), Ballet Arizona (founded in 1986) and Phoenix Opera (founded in 2005).

Turns out Arizona’s diverse musical roots include cowboy poets and cowgirl singers. Youth mariachi groups and the father of Chicano music. Funky Broadway and choral tunes. Even skate punk and alternative rock. We’ve even got two state anthems, adopted by the Arizona legislature in 1919 and 1982, so we might be due for a third come mid-century.

Plenty of famous musicians were born in Arizona — or based here when they started out or made it big. Seems Buck Owens was playing honky tonks around Mesa in 1945 and the Earwigs gave their debut performance at Phoenix’s Cortez High School talent show in 1964. The latter, of course, became the Spiders, the Nazz and Alice Cooper.

Waylon Jennings was based in Phoenix when he signed with RCA records, as was Wayne Newton when he launched his singing career at Fremont Casino in Las Vegas. The Tempe-based Gin Blossoms released their first full length album, “Dusted,” in 1989 — two years after Tucson-born Linda Rondstadt released the album “Canciones de mi Padre.”

The world can thank us as well for alternative rock bands sporting names like “Meat Puppets” (they started in Phoenix in 1980) and “Jimmy Eat World” (they lived in Mesa when their debut album was released in 1994). Phoenix-born Stevie Nicks as inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 and Glendale-born Jordin Sparks won “American Idol” in 2007.

The “I Am AZ Music” exhibit includes displays dedicated to Native American music and music rooted in Latino culture. Folks exploring this and other MIM exhibits can wear a device that plays corresponding music prompted by one’s proximity to each exhibit, making for a multi-sensory experience without all the fuss of turning something on and off.

Those who attend the public opening and celebration (Sat, Feb 18 from 10am-5pm) can enjoy the “I Am AZ Music” exhibit, explore the MIM’s many galleries and enjoy several special activities — including musical performances, lecture/demonstrations, a curator-guided tour of “I Am AZ Music” (1:30pm) and more. Details and times are available online at www.themim.org.

– Lynn

Coming up: A double dose of Dorothy

You are my sunshine

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I’ve got a long way to go in the speaking Spanish department. One of the few words I know is “sol” — which means “sun,” something I likely learned from all those years watching the “Parada del Sol Parade” make its way through Scottsdale.

I enjoyed Saturday’s parade sitting on a curb next to three young girls rocking a bohemian vibe with multicolor sundresses, silk scarves donned like capes, cowboy boots and adorable hats. Also a couple who’d arrived by bike.

The gentleman got a hoot out of watching one of the high school marching bands go by. Seems he and about two dozen seniors spent five hours on a little high school prank at their school, which made the local papers a few decades ago. Best I not repeat it here for fear the next generation will feel inspired to continue his legacy.

I also ran into dogs sporting tiny little cowboy hats about the size of a teacup. One, dressed in a furry little leopard version, probably gave a shout out as the animal rescue organizations marched by — but to no avail.

Several high school marching bands — complete with brass, drums and all sorts of fanfare — strutted their stuff. Some were accompanied by cheerleaders, both male and female. And a large group of Arizona Twirling Athletes made their mark with a sparkling red, white and blue float.

Mojave Middle School students deserve high praise for cheerfully cleaning up after all those high-stepping horses. At one point I overheard a man suggest he’d vote for any politician willing to do the same.

Lots of scouting groups took part in the parade, and red wagons passed by every so often attached to folks selling Girl Scout cookies. I forget, do any of their cookies have the word “sunshine” in their name?

No matter, I suppose. Because the real stars of the parade were those representing veterans. Onlookers clapped with genuine enthusiasm as people representing our MIA/POW citizens, and various wars or branches of the military, went by. Law enforement was well received as well.

Several giant balloons added a larger than life feel to the event, one of many dubbed an official part of Arizona’s centennial celebration. Think giant Saguaro cactus, coyote and more. Plus a silvery snake head on wheels.

Plenty of old cars, trucks and souped up (or down) vehicles made their way down Scottsdale Rd. too — reminding me of parades I attended many decades ago in the tiny South Dakota town where my father grew up. My favorite, of course, was a fire truck from the Hall of Flame museum in Phoenix.

To all the children and youth who smiled and waved while marching down a long parade route in the Arizona sun — you did an amazing job. No doubt friends and family looked on with pride, thinking all the while: You are my sunshine.

– Lynn

Note: You’ve still got plenty of time to enjoy a myriad of events celebrating Arizona’s 100th birthday — click here for ideas. And click here to learn about upcoming events from the Parada del Sol organization.

Coming up: Festivals celebrating native cultures, High school musicals

Walking with Wesley Bolin

Wesley Bolin’s farming family moved from Missouri to Arizona when he was just seven years old — never thinking, I suspect, that he’d one day serve in the state’s highest office.

Bolin died in office on March 4, 1978 — just months after becoming governor in October. Shortly after Bolin’s death, the plaza located across from the Arizona State Capitol was given his name.

It’s still known as Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza, and it’s home to a wide variety of memorials designed to help us all remember the diverse citizens who’ve served our communities, state and nation.

I walked through the plaza’s many pathways last fall with my son Christopher, something we’d also enjoyed together many years ago when he was barely as tall as the shortest monuments. There we lingered over memorials honoring veterans, peace officers, early Arizona settlers, 9/11 victims and more.

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The Arizona State Capitol Mall will be filled with people celebrating the Arizona Centennial at this weekend’s Phoenix “Best Fest.” There’ll be music and motorcycles, dance and demonstrations, food and fanfare.

And the opportunity for folks who attend to walk a while with the memory of Wesley Bolin, and others memorialized in the plaza that bears his name. Celebrate away — but don’t forget to remember.

– Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about special Arizona Capitol Museum hours during Best Fest and Centennial Day

Coming up: Tempe tale, Freckle power!, Watch your step…

Get reel!

The Tucson Jewish Community Center presents the 2012 Tucson International Jewish Film Festival Jan. 12-21 at the JCC Auditorium in Tucson. Their “Fabulous Faygeleh LGBT Film Series,” featuring three films, takes place Jan. 22. The festival’s opening film, “The Round Up” (“La Rafle”) is being screened at Tucson’s Loft Cinema.

The Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival presents “Get Reel with Director Bryan Singer” Jan. 14 at the Chandler Center for the Arts – which benefits the Holocaust and Tolerance Museum and Education Center currently being developed by the East Valley Jewish Community Center.

The “Desperado LGBT Film Festival” takes place Jan. 27-29 at the Paradise Valley Community College Center for the Performing Arts.  A couple of short films and panel discussions are free. Proceeds from ticketed screenings and events support LGBTQA scholarships.

The 2012 Greater Phoenix Jewish Film Festival takes place Feb.12-26 at three Harkins Theatres in the Valley — Scottsdale Camelview, Chandler Crossroads and Peoria Arrowhead. It features 11 films, for diverse audiences, that “offer a wealth of Jewish life, culture, humor and drama.”

The Sedona International Film Festival takes place Feb. 18-26, and will feature more than 145 films. Peter Bogdanovich, the son of immigrants who fled Nazi Germany, will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award during a special ceremony at the Sedona Performing Arts Center — followed by a screening of his “Last Picture Show” and a Q & A session featuring both Bogdanovich and Glenn Scarpelli.

The Prescott Film Festival takes place July 18-22. It’ll feature work by Arizona filmmakers in celebration of the state’s centennial, plus films from the U.S. and abroad. Details about free workshops and ticketed events will be released as festival dates draw near.

Watch for film screenings at local museums (including the Phoenix Art Museum), performing arts venues (including the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts), public libraries and other arts & culture destinations. And don’t forget to film your own kiddos now and then — family film festivals are the most fun by far!

– Lynn

Coming up: A guest blogger shares his “Wicked” ways

A hidden treasure

For years I’ve driven past a small building near downtown Phoenix, never giving any thought to what might be inside. I was always on another mission — getting Lizabeth to classes at Arizona School for the Arts or making a book run at the Burton Barr Central Library.

The building was undergoing significant renovations, but I was more focused on the many changes taking place at ASA — which was transitioning at the time from using space inside a church to readying its own buildings nearby.

Now that Lizabeth has graduated, I’m eager to revisit the area so I can explore both the new ASA facilties and the other site I’d ignored all those years while rushing around in teen taxi mode. Turns out it’s the Cutler Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center, which houses the Arizona Jewish Historical Society.

The Arizona Jewish Historical Society is “dedicated to preserving local Jewish history, promoting awareness of our state’s diverse history, and making local history accessible to all” — and notes that their facility is “open to all people.” Their newly renovated home is actually a 90-year-old landmark historic building.

The Cutler Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center houses a museum gallery, which currently features an Arizona centennial exhibit titled “New Frontiers: Jewish Pioneers in the Arizona Territory.” The centennial exhibit runs through Feb., 2012. Folks who visit the center’s website can enjoy an online gallery, and read about future exhibit plans.

The Arizona Jewish Historical Society offers two curriculum packets tied to the centennial exhibit — one for 4th grade students (tied to standards in Arizona history) and another for junior high school students (tied to standards in Arizona history and westward expansion). Lessons feature primary sources, including documents, photographs and more.

As Arizona continues to grapple with diversity-related issues, it’s important to remember the diversity of early settlers who built our state — including the many Jews whose work in mining, agriculture, commerce and other fields was integral to settling the American West.

– Lynn

Coming up: Family circus, Jewish film festivals