Tag Archives: Arizona events

Does it get easier?

A friend who recently challenged herself to write a blog post each day contacted me at one point to ask a simple question: Does it get any easier?

It got me thinking about my own blogging journey, which has so far included nearly 500 posts. Self-imposed rule #1 for me is that I never go a day without posting.

It didn’t take long for blogging to become akin to breathing in terms of things I’ve come to rely on for my very survival — because blogging has become a bridge between my inner reflections and outer experiences.

Everybody needs these bridges, which serve us best when tended often. Some journal. Some write poetry or song. Some paint or perform on stage. Some text or tweet. Some research or report.

I prefer the immediacy of blogging — the ability to tell stories as soon as I encounter them, to reflect the pulse of current issues or events, to share resources for which there’s an immediate and pressing need.

The hardest part of daily posting isn’t finding or telling the stories. It’s letting go of all the materials and musings that can’t make it into a single post. In this way, blogging is like editing. It’s a word by word choice about what matters, and what we can do with the space and time given.

The hardest posts for me are those that merely recount facts, such as who is coming to the Valley when to perform what piece of performance art. That stuff is everywhere, and I find little joy in reciting it.

I’ve become more mindful of not duplicating the work of others, especially when it’s ably done. Knowing the magazine already crafts a comprehensive daily calendar (in print and online) frees me from trying to list each and every art experience that’s out there.

Blogging also frees me from some of my own hang-ups, like a pesky perfectionism that’s both a blessing and a curse in the world of writing. I’m learning that done sometimes trumps perfect, though perfect is still my first love.

The beauty of blogging is the thrill of the hunt. Looking for that next trail of crumbs, and following the trail to see where it ends — or branches off into even more paths to explore.

As people drop more crumbs, and I grow to appreciate their beauty over that of a carefully constructed multi-tiered cake, I find that blogging does in fact get easier. And sweeter too.

– Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about the 2011 Post a Day and Post a Week challenge from WordPress.

Coming up: Best of my blogging backlog

Let it snow!

There’s a lovely gentleman who bags groceries at a Safeway store in Scottsdale who has an uncanny ability to remember weather-related facts and statistics.

Predicting snow is tricky business--especially in the Valley of the Sun

I’m tempted to make a quick milk and bread run just to get his take on the prospect of snow falling in the Valley this week. He’ll likely know when and where we last saw snowflakes in these parts.

If I want to move from the statistics of snow to the science of snow, I’ll head to the Arizona Science Center in downtown Phoenix.

Their “Science of Snow Week” runs through Sat, Jan 1 – from 10am to 2pm daily. It features “special winter-themed activities and live demonstrations” on various topics.

This snow sculpture is modeled after Robert Indiana's Vietnam-era work titled LOVE

Think how to make snowflakes. How and why crystals form. Fun with fire and ice. And more. 

Once you get home, you can continue the fun by cutting kirigami snowflakes, drawing whimsical winter scenes full of Arizona cacti, creating a snowflake mobile using pipe cleaners, decorating snowflake sugar cookies and such.

Come 1pm on New Year’s Day, you’ll even be able to “play in tons of real snow outside of the Center.”

“The Science of Snow” is free with general admission, rather like the weather insights I glean from my local grocery bagger at no extra charge when I pop in for a simple item or two.

– Lynn 

This "LOVE" sculpture is part of Scottsdale's public art collection

Note: Click here to find other family-friendly events featured in the daily online calendar from Raising Arizona Kids magazine. Click here to learn more about Robert Indiana’s “LOVE” sculpture and other public art in Scottsdale.

Coming up: The fine art of glass, Outdoor music adventures, Native American art in unexpected places

Must-see museums for holiday visitors

Visit the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa to enjoy this bead exhibit, a special NASA exhibition and plenty of hands-on activities

Truth be told, I never met a museum I didn’t like — and Arizona is home to plenty of them, many with very focused collections ranging from beads to military memorobilia.

When friends and family visit for the holidays, it’s hard to hit them all.  So here’s a roundup of some of my favorite Valley museums…

First, in the East Valley, a double whammy of sorts…

The Arizona Museum for Youth is Mesa features permanent and visiting exhibits that are especially hands-on and child-friendly. 

It’s right next door to the Arizona Natural History Museum, which sports the best dinosuars in town as well as plenty of other kid-pleasing exhibits.

Our children couldn't get enough of the Arizona Museum of Natural History in Mesa when they were younger

With the Mesa Arts Center and so many shops and cafes nearby, this neck of the woods makes for a lovely outing for hometown and out-of-town folks alike.

Our newest museum is truly global in nature — featuring musical instruments and music-related artifacts from more than 50 countries and regions around the world.

The Musical Instrument Museum, or MIM, is located in north Phoenix but close to many Scottsdale shopping and entertainment destinations. Still, it’s located in a serene desert setting that features the beauty of open sky and native plants.

This global Musical Instrument Museum features hands-on activities, wireless audio guides, video of instruments being played in their settings of origin, a music theater and more

Here, musical instruments are coupled with the sights and sounds of people making music in their home countries and natural environments — so you enjoy a visual feast of history, culture, religion, art and more.

There’s even a large “Experience Gallery” full of diverse types of instruments, big and small, that beckon visitors to play them. It’s a refreshing change from the ‘don’t touch’ policies of so many of the museums I grew up with — and a sure way to convert folks of all ages who insist that all museums are bound to be boring.

The Heard Museum has Phoenix and Scottsdale locations that feature artwork with appeal to visitors of all ages

Arizona boasts many museums that exhibit the works of native peoples, but the single largest collection of American Indian arts and culture is housed in the Heard Museum in downtown Phoenix.

It too features lovely, open outdoor spaces and items of interest to folks of all ages (including animal depictions favored by the younger set).

Thanks to the light rail system, it’s easy to travel from the Heard Museum to other downtown destinations — including performing arts venues like the Herberger Theater Center and Symphony Hall.

The Phoenix Art Museum is full of nooks and crannies that make exploring especially fun, and it features all sorts of modern technology that will update your perspective on how modern art is being created and delivered.

The RACE Exhibit at the Arizona Science Center is full of hands-on activities and interactive features

The Phoenix Art Museum is at one end of a grassy courtyard that’s also home to Arcadia Farms resturant and Phoenix Theatre — so a trip the this museum is easily coupled with taking in a show or enjoying some lovely time outdoors.

Downtown Phoenix is home to two especially family-friendly museums, the Arizona Science Center and the Children’s Museum of Phoenix — plus smaller museums like the Arizona Latino Arts and Culture Center.

The Arizona Science Center features many diverse exhibits, including one titled “RACE: Are We So Different?” All are hands-on and intriguing for both children and adults.

The Arizona Science Center is located at Phoenix’s Heritage and Science Park, home to the historic Rosson House and other smaller specialty museums. It’s also within walking distance of the Children’s Museum of Phoenix.

The Shuff-Perini Climber is one of many kid-friendly, hands-on adventures that await you at the Children's Museum of Phoenix

The Children’s Museum of Phoenix features hands-on exhibits and activities that are fun for even the very young.

Newer installations include a giant climber that gives children plenty of ways to use both mind and muscles.

Two other destinations of note if art adventures strike your fancy…

 There’s Old Town Scottsdale, featuring art galleries, quaint shops and plenty of restaurant choices.

Old Town is near the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art – so it makes for a full day of visual and performing arts adventures.

The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is one of many places to enjoy art in Old Town Scottsdale

And there’s Arizona State University, home to several museums and performing arts venues both big and small.

There’s plenty of greenery and open space at the center of campus, so you can explore various attractions while enjoying the outdoors — and find several places for food and drink.

Which museums you choose will reflect your own interests and geographical preferences, but I’m especially grateful this holiday season to live in a metropolis with ready access to arts and culture for folks of all ages.

– Lynn

Note: Learn about Arizona’s diverse museums by exploring the Central Arizona Museum Association website here. Always call ahead for days/times of operation, locations/directions and costs of exhibits/special events.

Coming up: Black Friday and beyond — arts & culture style; Art activities for airline travel with kids; Celebrating the holidays — chorale and symphony style

Growing up with the Grinch

One of my favorite books (and television cartoons) from Christmases past

For those of us born into the world that considered color television a high-tech wonder, certain holiday cartoons bring back warm childhood memories.

There’s Linus, waiting with his blanket for the “Great Pumpkin” to appear. Rudolph the reindeer fretting over his blinking nose. Charlie Brown choosing a humble Christmas tree.

For me, it’s Cindy Lou Who waddling around on Christmas Eve in her little pink pajamas, holding a red ornament that’s fallen from her Christmas tree mid-heist.

The thief, of course, is the Grinch — who hopes to steal not only every trace of Christmas, but the very heart of hope and love that it celebrates.

When the movie version starring Jim Carrey was released several years ago, I just couldn’t bring myself to see it. With Ron Howard directing, I’m sure it’s a perfectly wonderful bit of movie magic.

But I want to think of Cindy Lou Who — and the serene, singing folks of Dr. Seuss’ Whoville — when I conjure memories of Christmas past. Carrey, though wildly talented, simply isn’t as cute.

Still, I’m keeping an open mind about the touring production of “Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical,” which runs at ASU Gammage in Tempe Nov 17 to 21.

Stefan Karl Stefansson and fellow cast members of "The Grinch" musical playing for a short time only at ASU Gammage in Tempe (Photo: PaparazziByAppointment.com)

The Grinch is none other than Stefan Karl Stefansson, an Icelandic actor your children may know as Nick, Jr.’s “Lazytown” villain, Robbie Rotten.

I’ll be seeing the show Thursday evening (Wednesday evening found me at a Mesa Cinemark movie theater for a special engagement showing of “The Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert”).

I’ll update this post with a review of sorts once I’ve experienced the Grinch in all his glory.

In the meantime, learn more about this enchanting story — and the Broadway version — by visiting the ASU Gammage website at asugammage.com (where “Gammage Goer” reviews get posted).

To enjoy a lovely walk down memory lane in the land of Dr. Seuss, visit his Random House website at seussville.com. It features information for parents and educators as well as games and activities for children.

And don’t forget about the touring production’s website at grinchmusical.com. It’s got the scoop on cast and creative team, as well as its own set of seriously fun activities.

Today’s children can still enjoy the mid-60′s classic that many of their parents grew up with. But why not add the enchanting experience of a live theater production?

No one has to know you’re the real kid at heart sitting in the audience…

— Lynn

Note: ASU Gammage has several special offers and opportunities for theater patrons, so click here to learn more about unique offerings related to “The Grinch.”

Coming up: Days of double posts as “Stage Mom” hits high gear to cover the Valley’s many holiday offerings in dance, music, theater and more. Once you’ve enjoyed “The Grinch” with your family, there’s plenty more to explore.

Update: I’m spending Thursday evening in “Nurse Mom” rather than “Stage Mom” mode — so when you see the show, why not add a comment below with your favorite moments from “The Grinch” at ASU Gammage. Thanks!

Art in the checkout line?

Brown paper bags coupled with markers and scissors make fun craft projects, but I have something else in mind for the man who last bagged my groceries...

Sometimes it’s hard to snag a single bagger at the grocery store, but somehow I managed to score two on my last trip. I enjoyed watching their playful “my hometown’s better than yours” banter — and was tempted to side with the gentleman from Chicago given the city’s wealth of art museums.

But then his talk turned to Arizona, and he began to rail against the city of Phoenix for its supposed lack of arts and culture. He’s lucky the eggs were already bagged. I’d just seen “Romeo and Juliet” performed at the newly renovated Hergerger Theater Center downtown, while folks across the way at Symphony Hall enjoyed Ballet Arizona’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

I went into serious myth-busting mode, which I’m going to do a little more of in today’s post. Since running my post on this week’s hidden art treasures, I’ve heard from oodles of folks with more art adventures to share — which I’m happy to pass along for your weekend planning pleasure.

Don’t even think about popping off about how you’ve nothing to do in the Valley if you don’t get out there to enjoy at least one of these art offerings. Arts and culture is grand and growing in plenty of Arizona communities, but you won’t know if you don’t go…

First, for military veterans, active duty service men and women, and their immediate families — the Phoenix Art Museum offers complimentary admission on Veterans Day (Thurs, Nov 11). At 3pm the museum presents a special Veterans Day lecture that explores “the way artists have helped shape the country’s ideas of war.”

For educators, there’s the 19th annual “Party for Educators’ Appreciation” event at Changing Hands bookstore in Tempe, playfully dubbed the P.E.A.C.H. If the name makes you hungry, just head next door to the Wildflower Bread Company – which has one of the Valley’s tastiest breakfast menus at affortable prices.  Or hit the produce section.

If pie is more your style, skip the grocery store altogether and get to know some of the folks who elevate pie-making to a fine art. I hope to find them gathered at this weekend’s “Pie Social” presented by Chow Bella and Roosevelt Row.

The “Pie Social” sounds like a lot more fun than a midnight dash to the fridge for a mug of ice cream to gobble in guilt and solitude in front of the television or laptop. And it’s for a good cause — the afterschool programs of Roosevelt Row and Phoenix Elementary.

You can pie with pride on Sat, Nov 13, from 2-6pm at Fifth St. and Roosevelt in downtown Phoenix — where folks will gather for community pie tasting, celebrity pie tasting, pie crafts, silent auctions and more.

If you’ve been looking for a reason to treat your kids to a trip on the light rail, consider making a day of it by partnering pie with a trip to other downtown art adventures. You’re unlikely to find a better weekend weather-wise, and it’s a great way to enjoy together time before the holiday rush swoops in.

It just so happens that the 5th annual P.A.P.A. event (Phoenix Annual Parade of the Arts) occurs that same day at 5pm – starting at 5th St. and Roosevelt. It’s described by organizers as “the world’s only parading art fair” and includes all those must-haves like magicians, balloon twisters, silly hats, lively music, and fun contests with prizes

If your greatest adventures consist of solo trips to the grocery store, you might be ready for your first experience with the “Pandora Showcase” coming to the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts this weekend and next.

It’s perfect for those eager to reconnect with the inner woman underneath all those layers of mommyhood. You can enjoy evening shows on Fri, Nov 12, and Sat, Nov 13 — or a Sunday matinee performance.

It’s being presented by the Arizona Women’s Theatre Company, which produces “theatrical works by and with women for our community,” including recent plays not previously produced in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

I may have to postpone my pandora for a bit to experience that odd ’50s coupling of prejudice and polka dots as only Phoenix Theatre can present it. I hope to attend their production of “Hairspray,” which opens Fri, Nov 12.

Lizabeth enjoyed a sneak preview with the folks from QSpeak Theatre and came home with a fabulous review — something along the lines of “My cheeks hurt from smiling so much.”

It seems the show presents a bit of a challenge, however, if you’re troubled by feeling the uncontrollable urge to dance along. Personally, I think you should just go for it.

In reality, I’ll likely spend the weekend in teen taxi mode. It’s a busy weekend for the Southwest Shakespeare Company, and Lizabeth will be joining her fellow “Wenches and Knaves” for some fun happenings – which include a festive food and wine tasting Fri., Nov 12, that benefits the company’s education programs (SSC’s intern company will perform “Romeo and Juliet”).

Pie. Pandora. Peaches for teachers. Oodles of theater options for kids and adults – and plenty more. The next grocery store bagger I catch promulgating the myth that Phoenix lacks a vibrant art scene gets the paper variety right over his big head.

– Lynn

Note: No grocery checkers or baggers were harmed in the making of this post. I should also note that the checkers in question do not work at Trader Joe’s. During our last trip to Trader Joe’s, in fact, their fine folks went above and beyond to help us find raw pumpkin seeds for roasting and even pointed out that they were made in the U.S.A.

Coming up: Strolling through Old Town Scottsdale, Mommy musings on mega-movies, Art adventures: Heard Museum North, Holiday theater happenings

Behind the blog

Recently I got an e-mail asking how I “choose the events and shows to feature” in my blog. In a word, I suppose, it’s whimsy. It’s an act of writing, not reporting, driven as much by inspiration as information. 

I started my “Stage Mom” gig as a way to share my love of theater and the arts with others, and to support a Raising Arizona Kids magazine mission that I have long supported: helping families find local resources to assist them in making the many choices we all face as parents.

I’m the mother of three children, ages 17 to 21, who have grown up with the arts at the center of family life — visiting museums, making art at home, studying music and dance, performing in community theater, attending exhibits and performances by Valley arts organizations.

Often it starts with the hunt. Thursday I lugged a huge pink three-ring binder along as I treated my son to lunch. He likes to linger over his meals so we’re both more relaxed when I can mix conversation with other creative tasks.

The binder holds information I’ve gathered on various arts organizations and their schedules for the upcoming season — and is a convenient way for me to track what’s coming up and how various things might be related.

I got the feeling younger technology-types felt they’d just eyed a digital dinosaur — but there’s no money for fancy toys with three sets of college tuition on the horizon. And my staff consists of a single grey long-haired cat named “Pinky.”

I sometimes eye these materials in search of common threads, like animals in art, because those posts allow me to feature several events and organizations at once — giving the reader more bang for the blog.

It’s a careful balance between hunting and pecking. Time spent seeking out events is time I can’t spend writing and spreading the word. So I rely more and more these days on organizations and venues getting in touch with me to alert me to upcoming exhibits, performances and other arts-related offerings.

I have a clear preference for the underdog in just about every aspect of my life — so some of own favorite posts are those that spotlight groups or events, like community college theater productions, that you might not hear much about otherwise. 

I’m also keen on social justice issues after years of undergraduate and graduate study in psychology, religion and philosophy. In both my blog and my features for the magazine, I tend to write about topics related to individual and collective struggles. Diversity and equality are favorite themes.

Readers easily surmise that there’s a “voice” behind the work — my unique view of the world shaped by my own experiences growing up and raising my own family with my husband James. But I always seek to honor the diverse voices of our readers.

Editorial and advertising are two very distinct arenas for the magazine — which is why it attracts so many top-notch journalists and writers. I never feel the pressure to write about something because there’s an ad buy at stake, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

There is, however, a certain marketing quality to my writing style given my many years in non-profit management, where I often wrote grant proposals, press releases and the like. And what is writing, after all, if not selling ideas?

For those eager to get media coverage in any forum, remember that bees prefer honey over vinegar. I can’t write about all the wonderful things in the Valley at once, but do my best to be comprehensive in my choices. Friendly reminders are lovely and always welcome.

I often treat topics not directly related to children or teens, largely because I’m at the stage in life where children leave the nest and adults begin to appreciate anew the value of having one’s own experiences in the community. I love a good puppet show, but sometimes an alternative theater production with friends sounds more inviting. You can enjoy grown up things and still be a perfectly wonderful parent.

Often I write about my own direct experiences with the arts — a museum I stumble on one day while one of my kids is running late at “teen taxi” time, a performance being presented by one of the schools my children attend. The joy of discovery infuses my posts with more than the mere reading of press releases.

I do regret not being able to get to more exhibits and performances in more parts of the Valley. As a real-live stage mom, I spend a good deal of time driving my youngest daughter, Lizabeth, to her own auditions, rehearsals and performances (as well as theater-related community service) — so the shows I get to enjoy seeing and reviewing are often those that just happen to fall on a night when I’m not in my car or crashed on the couch.

I love the blogging medium because it offers such immediacy. I can write about something soon after learning of it (unless I already have other topics slotted). And I can alert readers to events taking place in the very near future in ways that are more challenging for tradition print media.

Venues and organizations that send me event alerts also should send them to the magazine’s calendar editor, whose deadlines fall far earlier than mine. I work from home so we don’t have the luxury of swapping info that crosses our respective desks.

It’s also a matter of timing. Folks who just happens to e-mail me when I am looking for a guest blogger, for example, might hear back from me right away with an inquiry about whether they know a youth who can tackle the topic I’d like to see covered.

Sending good photos never hurts. All things being equal, most bloggers will go for topics they can easily enhance with photos or graphics to grab and sustain reader interest. We like to know who or what is pictured, and who took the photos.

I welcome reader suggestions about topics to consider — and am always especially delighted to learn of new or uncommon offerings. And since everything I post has a comment section at the bottom, feedback is always just a few keystrokes away.

Part of the joy of daily blogging is never quite knowing for sure what might be around the next corner. Systems are lovely, but I’m fonder still of spontaneity. My husband wondered, when I started nearly a year ago, how long I might last finding new and interesting topics to write about.

I’m certain of at least one thing – that although I’ll never explore the many riches of Arizona arts and culture, I’ll have one heck of a good time trying.

–Lynn

Weekend whimsy

There’s a little something for everyone when it comes to family arts and entertainment this weekend. Here’s a roundup by category–featuring everything from concerts and musicals to nature walks and museum exhibits–with a bit of whimsy thrown in just for fun…

From sweeping beauties to singing mermaids

Theater performances include “Cinderella: A Ragtime Musical” at Desert Stages in Scottsdale, “Grease” at Valley Youth Theatre in Phoenix, “The Little Mermaid” at Hale Centre Theatre in Gilbert, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre in Mesa, “Two Bad Mice” by Great Arizona Puppet Theater in Phoenix, “Into the Woods” at Theater Works in Peoria (featuring a fabulous raffle)

From choral auditions to singing with Elmo

Music events include “Phoenix Boys Choir auditions” at the Phoenix Boys Choir in Phoenix, “Andreas Klein” (piano) and “Rahim Alhaj” (Iraqi oud) at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, “Breakfast with Elmo” (including song and dance) at Family Time in Gilbert

From movies in the park to movies at the museum

Community movie events include “Movie Night at the Park” (“Hoot” plus lessons on burrowing owls) at Estrella Mountain Regional Park in Goodyear, “Dinner and a Movie” (“G-Force”) at Eddie’s House in Scottsdale, “Movies in the Ballpark” (“Cars”) at Goodyear Ballpark, “Kid’s Night Out Movie Night” (“Spirited Away”) at the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa

From art walks to hands-on art projects

Art activities include “Downtown Chandler Art Walk” (art/entertainment), “Free Art Friday” (art projects/games) in Tempe, “Great Expectations and Dreams: Arizona Teens Speak Up” at ASU Downtown (to benefit PCH cancer/blood disorder patients)

From baseballs to carved dolls

Museum exhibits include “Goose Bumps! The Science of Fear” and “Solarville” at the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix, “Play Ball: The Cactus League Experience” and “Jump to Japan: Discovering Culture Through Popular Art” at the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa, “Therizinosaur: Mystery of the Sickle-Claw Dinosaur” at the Arizona Museum of Natural History in Mesa (adjacent to the Arizona Museum for Youth), “What Moves Us: Art of Transportation from the Permanent Collection” at the ASU Art Museum in Tempe, “Visions: Text Messages” at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, “Hopi Katsina Dolls: 100 Years of Carving” and “More Than Child’s Play: American Indian Dolls” at the Heard Museum in Phoenix

From flashlight tour to wildflower walk

Nature activities include “Wildflower Walk” at The Arboretum at Flagstaff, “Hummingbird Banding” (professionals band, onlookers watch) at Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, “Summer Saturday Evenings” at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, “Silent Sunday” at South Mountain Park in Phoenix, “Flashlight Tours” at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix

For additional details–including dates/times, fees/reservations, recommended ages and such–check with hosting venues. Additional information on many of these events/activities is also available through the online calendar for Raising Arizona Kids magazine.

–Lynn

Note: If you’re on the prowl for art-related books, music or movies, try your luck at the free “Bargain Book Sale” from 9am-4pm today at the North Valley Regional Library in Anthem.

Coming up: From lemons to lemonade, Multicultural performance art, Season openers from Valley theaters, ASU Libraries’ Child Drama Collection, All about art walks, More movie reviews

Graphics from Cafe Press. Click here to see their extensive selection of gift items in black, white and beyond.

Update: Thanks to Carley Conder for sharing the news that renowned choreographer Charlotte Boye-Christensen, freelance choreographer/teacher/dancer originally from Denmark, is in Arizona for a six day residency. To enjoy a free showing of Boye-Christensen’s new work set for CONDER/dance, attend a Sat, Aug 21, performance at ASU FAC122 (11:45am-noon).