Tag Archives: art exhibits

Windows to recovery

Detail of “Jesus and His Horse” (previously exhibited at the ASU Kerr Cultural Center in Scottsdale) created by Alfred Mendoza through the PSA Art Awakenings program

The PSA Art Awakenings program has partnered with Cenpatico of Arizona to present “Windows to Recovery” exhibitions of art and poetry, all “created by Cenpatico behavioral health participants.” Exhibits have already been held in Casa Grande and Parker, but the Yuma exhibit takes place May 3 and the Bisbee exhibit takes place May 5.

The exhibits are being presented as part of National Mental Health Month, in the hopes they’ll help to reduce stigma and raise awareness of mental illness. Organizers note that “these exhibitions of art and poetry shine a light on mental illness and the power of the arts to assist those with behavioral health challenges on their recovery journeys.”

They also note that one in four U.S. adults suffer from a mental illness in a given year, adding that one in 17 live with a serious mental illness. A Phoenix gallery called Warehouse 1005 will host a Maricopa County “Windows to Recovery” exhibition during “First Friday,” May 4, from 6-9pm.

Those who attend can also experience “The Illusionist Workshop,” an installation art piece by artist Gattuso — plus a collection of works by 67 community members and artists who “created works without the aid of their eyes.” The collection is called “The Blindfolded Painting Experience.”

Art Awakening’s Tucson gallery will be open Sat, May 5 from 6-9pm to present its own “Windows to Recovery” exhibition featuring works by local artists. I’m told artists will also be on hand with unique creations available for purchase. You can read more about Art Awakenings in the May issue of Raising Arizona Kids magazine.

– Lynn

Note: If your arts organization offers programs that serve or benefit children or adults living with mental illness, I’d love to hear from you at rakstagemom@gmail.com.

Coming up: Valley playwright talks Van Gogh, Exploring student art in Gilbert, A memoir of mental illness, No need to BYOBox

Touching history

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Plenty of little ones were touching history during my recent visit to the Tempe History Museum. One mom looked on as her daughter pretended to ride various old-time vehicles spied in the museum, and another watched her son give an impromptu performance on a small stage near a pair of grown-ups enjoying a computer presentation of ASU’s role in preserving biodiversity.

The Tempe History Museum, dubbed the Tempe Historical Museum until completion of its renovation two Februaries ago, was founded by the Tempe Historical Society. They first opened it to the public in 1972. It was housed at the time in the east wing of the Tempe Public Library, which has since become the museum building. The museum also operates a restored Queen Anne Victorian house called the Petersen House Museum.

Folks who approach the library near the corner of Southern and Rural Roads will see the word “MUSEUM” in giant silver letters. Each of the letters is six feet tall and five feet wide — and weighs more than 500 pounds. The powder-coated metal is 3/4 inch think and has an anti-graffiti finish.

While planning renovations, the museum worked to include several “touch points for a good exhibit” — including ease of wayfinding and layering of information. Also lighting both comfortable for visitors and consistent with conservation requirements.

It’s clear when strolling through the museum that they achieved several additional goals as well — integrated multi-media, a personal connection with visitors, visual presentations well-matched to content, effective educational strategies, recreational value and multiple perspectives in terms of age, race and such.

But don’t tell the little ones that. Let them think it’s simply a cool place to find totem poles, old-fashioned vehicles, dress-up clothes and a play pit called Little Devil’s Stadium filled with soft colorful shapes. There’s plenty of interest to adults as well, and places to sit and linger over books or keep an eye on the kiddos.

The main exhibition hall includes several theme areas designed to demonstrate the ways Tempe is distinct, diverse and dynamic. There’s “College Town,” “Building Our Community,” “Living Together” and “Surviving in the Desert.” Those of you who’ve been in the Valley for a while will recognize several familiar faces — including that of Colleen Jennings-Roggensack of ASU Gammage – among those gracing giant hanging squares inside the museum.

The museum’s Community Room currently houses an Arizona Centennial photo exhibit, curated by local photographer Dick George, which “tells of the people, events and trends that have shaped Tempe over the past 100 years.” Its Changing Gallery features an exhibit about the history of rodeo and a trio of Arizona brothers, the Finley boys, who hailed from a ranching family and rose to national rodeo fame from the 1930s to the 1950s.

The Tempe History Museum also offers two online exhibits — “Doors to the Past: Preserving Tempe’s Architectural Heritage” and “Buffalos, Bulldogs & Bowl Games: 100 Years of Football in Tempe.” I’ll have to tell my hubby about that last one since attending bowl games was a family tradition before he headed off to college in California. Our daughter Jennifer, a student at Arizona State University, would get a kick out of all the museum’s nostalgic Sun Devil fare.

The February calendar for the Tempe History Museum looks plenty fascinating. This month’s “Third Thursday Night Cafe at the Museum” features Bruce Rittman sharing a bit about harvesting lipids produced by photosynthetic bacteria for biodiesel production. A concert celebrating Black History Month takes place at the museum Sat, Feb. 25 at 6pm. It’ll feature gospel, folk, jazz and soul tunes — and a reading of MLK’s “I Have a Dream Speech” by Elmer Green. Also works by artists in the black community.

The museum hosts a monthly series of lunchtime talks presented by the Tempe Historical Society, and a special concert for children and families takes place next month. Folks can click here to learn about these and other upcoming events at  the Tempe History Museum.

When you visit, make time to explore artwork exhibited at the Vihel Activity Center adjacent to the museum, where you can also pick up information about all sorts of programs and activities presented by the City of Tempe, and the Tempe Public Library. The library is home to an entire floor dedicated to children, youth and families.

In a single outing, you can touch art, literacy and history.

– Lynn

Coming up: Time at the Tempe Public Library, Exploring Scottsdale’s Little Red Schoolhouse

Photos: Lynn Trimble

Enjoy student art in Chandler!

CGCC presents a Student Art Show through May 4, but you can enjoy a free reception this evening in the CGCC library

Looking for a bit of mid-week adventure?

Head to Chandler-Gilbert Community College tonight, April 27, for a free reception/student art exhibit from 6-7:30pm in the CGCC Library (first floor).

Or enjoy a free “Wind Ensemble and Band Concert” tonight at 7pm in the Arnette Scott Ward Performing Arts Center located at 2626 E. Pecos Rd. in Chandler.

Come Friday, April 29, you can enjoy a free acting showcase featuring CGCC students at 7pm (which does feature some mature content material near the end of the evening).

Saturday, April 30, CGCC vocal students present free “Musical Theater Workshop Recitals” at 5pm and 7pm — also at the Arnette Scott Ward Performing Arts Center.

There’s a little something for dance lovers too as CGCC presents a “Student Dance Showcase” May 6 and 7, at 8pm — also at the performing arts center. Tickets for either performance are just $3-$5, and can be purchased by contacting the box office at 480-732-7343 or www.cgc.edu/arts.

Thanks for supporting our young artists and those who teach them!

– Lynn

Coming up: A “last chance” opportunity for “Imagining Dance” with students from the Metropolitan Arts Institute in Phoenix

Art speaks louder than words

Though the official 2011 “No Name-Calling Week” has come and gone, every day should be a no name-calling day — so I’m pleased to share some artwork with an anti-bullying theme.

The works were created by Valley youth, many of whom know the ugliness of being bullied firsthand.

These artists include students from South Pointe High School in Phoenix and youth from YEP! House — a Phoenix center for LGBT youth and “allies” ages 14 to 24.

YEP! House is a program of “1 in 10” — a non-profit organization “dedicated to serving LGBTQ youth” through “empowering social and service programs.”

The art in this post was exhibited at SCC last week as part of their "Bullied" film event with the Anti-Defamation League

One of several posters displayed outside the Turquoise Room at SCC last week

If you enjoy the work, you can experience plenty more at an upcoming exhibit titled “Unknown: Artwork by Queer, Undocumented and Homeless Youth” — taking place February 4 and 11 at the “Release the Fear” studio in Phoenix. 

 — Lynn

Note: Photos taken by Lynn Trimble at the recent “Bullied” film event presented by the Anti-Defamation League and Scottsdale Community College during “No Name-Calling Week.”

Coming up: Tough choices, Valentine’s Day gifts for art lovers, Stage daughter musings on “This”

The fine art of vinyl

I was listening the other day to a Bruce Spingsteen concert recorded in Paris on May 26, 1979 — the year I turned 19.

Springsteen was sharing with the audience a bit about his upbringing, reflecting on the relative dearth of arts and culture in his young life.

But he recalled coming downstairs on school days dressed in the green Catholic school uniform he describes as “oppressive” to hear the sound of rock ‘n’ roll.

Seems his mother was fond of spinning the vinyl. Springsteen says the records disparaged by others were his only source of arts and culture — his lone introduction to life outside his small New Jersey neighborhood.

The records opened his eyes to other people and places, inspiring Springsteen to consider for the first time the vast expanse of possibilites for his own life. From vinyl, it seems, his dreams were born.

As I listened to Springsteen’s narrative, I was reminded of one of my favorite haunts in Tempe — an “indie” store called “Hoodlums Music & Movies.” Their love and respect for vinyl is really quite something.

There's still time to submit artwork for an album art show in Tempe

Hoodlums periodically exhibits artwork from Spraygraphic — which is currently calling for vinyl art submissions as they ready for their next Hoodlums gig — titled the “Fill in the Groove Art Show.”

I lingered over the last exhibit with my 19-year-old daughter Jennifer, and recall that my favorite piece (by a Tempe artist whose name I didn’t hang on to) featured small tiles that looked like irridescent red glass.

Knowing their gifts for poetry and other types of toying with words and images, I hope my daughters will consider submitting at least one entry this year — assuming the vinyl “canvas” doesn’t come from my own cherished collection.

My son Christopher, now 21, thinks it’s cool that he sees album covers on his iPod screen as he’s scrolling through song selections. I remind him that most of the original covers line the shelves in our living room, but somehow that seems less impressive in the 21st century.

A vinyl record, whether pristine or painted, is a thing of beauty. Check out the Spraygraphic art exhibit when it hits Hoodlums on Feb 26.

Take along some children or teens. Sometimes kids who disparage art develop a hidden passion or talent once exposed to art that feels relevant and accessible.

Catch this film at "Community Movie Night" in February

Remember too that the crews at Hoodlums and the neighboring “Local First Arizona” bookstore called Changing Hands come together each month to present a free movie with post-film discussion.

Next month’s “Community Movie Night,” scheduled for 6pm on Fri, Feb 25, features a Don Argott documentary titled “The Art of the Steal” with guest speaker Timothy Rodgers, director of the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

“The Art of the Steal” examines the art collection of a Philadelphia doctor and medical researcher whose founding of a pharmaceutical firm made him a millionaire.

Albert C. Barnes’ art collection — featuring original paintings by Van Gogh, Renoir, Picasso, Cezanne and others — was scattered, against his will, after his death. The film explores how and why it happened.

I think I’m especially drawn to Springsteen’s vinyl memories because they remind me of all those bloggers working their craft out there in the world of more traditional journalism.

Words and music matter. But there are a million ways to explore and enjoy them. Who’s to say that any one is truly better than another?

Long live vinyl, and the hoodlums who spin them.

– Lynn

Note: Click here to explore other “Local First Arizona” organizations and here to learn about the “Fill in the Groove Album Art Show.” And thanks to my hubby James for sharing this link to an article about the impact of a 1964 album on the life of one little girl with her own rock ‘n’ roll heroes.

Coming up: Spam meets musical theater?, Art tackles name calling, Children’s theater from jungle to farm, Lynn’s library: Latest finds, Equity 101 for beginners, The fine art of civil discourse

Only the inside should matter

One of several bookmarks honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. -- created by ASU from K-12 student entries in their most recent MLK, Jr. Day poster-essay contest

I was struck by this simple sentiment as I enjoyed the online gallery of winning writings and artwork from an MLK poster-essay contest sponsored by Arizona State University.

After putting out the call last fall to K-12 students throughout the state, ASU received more than 17,000 entries. Students were invited to submit an essay about someone they know who “leads through service to others.”

The 24 winners will be honored Thurs, Jan 20, at a special event with ASU president Michael Crow and other special guests, including the students’ parents, teachers and principals.

Winners receive a savings bond and prize ribbon, and enjoy the satisfaction of seeing their work displayed both online and at two Valley locations — the Memorial Union at ASU in Tempe and the Student Union at ASU Polytechnic in Mesa.

The exhibits, being held Jan 18-31, are free and open to the public. They’re part of a month long celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and legacy.

Other January events that are part of ASU’s celebration of MLK, Jr. Day include a march, a reenactment of MLK’s “I have a dream…” speech, a food drive, a film screening, a theater performance and a poetry jam. (Click here for event details/locations.)

Justice poster by a Gilbert senior named Amanda

Each sounds plenty inspiring, though I find the greatest meaning in simply enjoying the words and pictures of students who recognize the importance of justice, service and lifelong learning to the ongoing march towards greater civil and human rights for all people.

Many of the elementary school winners, including 2nd grader Miriah, live in Mesa.

Miriah wrote about a friend named Stephanie — who delights in giving free haircuts to those in need, including homeless people in her own hometown and people as far away as Africa. “I want to be like Stephanie when I get older,” writes Miriah.

Another 2nd grader, Brooke, wrote about grandparents and other family members who assemble “hygiene kits” for people effected by natural disasters, while a 2nd grader named Brady wrote of a grandfather who collects “coloring books, balls, food and toys” for children in Mexico.

“My dad,” writes 4th grader Annie, “is the best example of service I know. His name is Dad.” Annie says that her dad “volunteers for all sorts of things.” Annie’s essay describes how her dad spends his time — “and its not watching television.”

A 5th grader named Jenah wrote an essay praising a coach named Kyle. She describes him as “a kind, amusing, elated, brave man.” “Whenever I am with him,” writes Jenah, “I learn something new.”

Another 5th grader, Tanner, wrote about his grandfather picking up trash each day as he takes a walk through the neighborhood — and his grandmother sewing “very, very big quilts” for those who need them.

Abigail, a 6th grader, wrote about her 20-year-old sister — detailing Sam’s work with Best Buddies, Locks of Love and other programs that help Valley youth. Abigail notes that despite Sam’s busy schedule, “she can always take me to my classes and my plans.”

Many of the middle and high school students who won hail from Scottsdale, including a 7th grader named Sanket who wrote about Dave, a man who often reads to children and tells them stories.

Rachel, an 8th grade student, wrote about her father’s work with organizations like Make-a-Wish and Parents of Murdered Children. “I believe what my dad does to help people…makes the world a better place.”

A 10th grader, also named Rachel, detailed the work of a doctor who organized people to help victims of last year’s earthquake in Haiti after years of working with “disabled adults” in that country. 

She writes as well of the importance of education — “I feel that in a country where we are so educated, we should take that education to help and teach other countries that don’t have the same opportunities as we have.”

A 1oth grader named Allysan wrote about a family friend in college who raises money to help victims of genocide in Darfur, while 10th grader Ema offered words about her sister that reveal insights into the role of youth in shaping the future…

“The early stages of our life determine who we are,” writes Ema, “and who we are going to be in the years to come.”

“The fate and future of the world,” she adds, “resides with the youth of today.”

– Lynn

Note: Families will one day be able to visit a Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial on the Washington Mall in Washington, D.C. To learn more about the nature and development of this memorial, click here.

Coming up: Local exhibits of children’s art inspired by MLK, Jr. Day

Art adventures: Arizona Museum for Youth

We’ve enjoyed several art exhibits recently at the Arizona Museum for Youth – featuring everything from Cactus League baseball to Japanese animation art.

Most recently, I headed out to explore “NASA Art: 50 Years of Exploration,” which is on exhibit at the Arizona Museum for Youth through Jan 23, 2011.

The traveling Smithsonian exhibit features works from NASA and the National Air and Space Museum collections — some illustrative, others abstract.

Featured artists include Annie Leibowitz, Nam June, Norman Rockwell, Andy Warhol, William Wegman and others. The exhibit’s 72 works span nearly five decades of creative enterprise.

In most cases, the Arizona Museum for Youth asks that these works not be photographed, so you’ll see just a few NASA-related photos below. Most of my photos are meant to capture the spirit of the museum’s ongoing offerings.

Turn right after entering the museum to explore this colorful play area

Several toddlers, preschoolers and parents were enjoying Artville during a recent afternoon

Artville is a cheery place full of hands-on activities and places to explore

Artville helps kids view both art and education as fun adventures

I left the gift shop with Beads of Courage bracelets for my daughters

Turn left after entering the museum and you'll enjoy the ArtZone

The museum is full of places to draw, read, play and explore

You'll encounter everything from aliens to astronauts crafted of beads

The museum also features the Beads of Courage program at Cardon Children's Medical Center

Watch the museum's calendar for kid-friendly art workshops and classes

Who doesn't love to play dress-up and dream of exploring outer space?

These two boxes hold magnetic images kids can use to create storyboards

The NASA exhibit has something fun for folks of all ages

You know firsthand, if you’ve explored the magnificent Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C., that large museums housing huge collections can be overwhelming for young children.

The Arizona Museum for Youth, though plenty spacious, has all sorts of nooks and crannies that make it especially warm and inviting for families and children — and allows children the freedom to drive their own imaginations and busy bodies.

Museum exhibits foster the sort of open-ended play linked in so many studies to problem-solving, creativity, social skills and more. At the Arizona Museum for Youth, it’s your child’s own muse that matters most.

– Lynn

Note: The NASA exhibit is free with paid general admission to the Arizona Museum for Youth. Take a pen and notepad when you go because you’ll see lots of activities and projects you’ll want to remember and try once you get home. Click here to learn more about Beads of Courage.

Coming up: Lynn heads up the road to explore the diverse offerings of the Arizona Museum of Natural History

Photos: Lynn Trimble

Dancing with the Saguaros?

This weekend is indeed your last opportunity to enjoy “The Second City Does Arizona or Close But No Saguaro” presented by Arizona Theatre Company at the Herberger Theater Center in downtown Phoenix.

But I had something else in mind when I toyed with today’s title for my post—the fact that several dance performances take place in the Valley this weekend, including Ib Andersen’s spectacular work titled “Play.”

Ballet Arizona presents “Play” at the Orpheum Theatre (also in downtown Phoenix) May 14-16—describing the work as “aesthetically intriguing with imaginative choreography, costume and lighting design.” It features the company’s “entire corps of over 30 dancers.”

Ballet Etudes, a youth ballet company based in Mesa, presents their elegant production of “Cinderella” May 14-16 at the Chandler Center for the Arts. I attended the production several years ago with Raising Arizona Kids publisher and editor Karen Barr (as well as some of the little people in her life). We were all quite charmed.

Who took my tutu?

Many Valley performing arts venues have particularly rich calendars this month, thanks in part to local youth arts organizations presenting recitals that are high quality, open to the public and quite affordable.

The Scottsdale School of Ballet presents “An Evening of Ballet” May 13 and 14 at the Herberger Theater Center. Watch the June calendar of the Chandler Center for the Arts for upcoming performances by Kimberly Lewis School of Dance and Tempe Dance Academy.

The Phoenix Girls Chorus—of which my oldest daughter was a member for many years—holds their “Spring Pops Concert” May 15 at Mesa Arts Center (a venue Jennifer now enjoys with me from the audience rather than choral risers).

I was particularly smitten the year Jennifer rolled around on stage in a shabby grey cotton gown as part of their choreography for “It’s a Hard Knock Life” ala “Annie.” Even before my daughter sang with the PGC, the sweetness of their concerts left me a little teary eyed.

Mesa Arts Center also presents the “You Look Marvelous” fashion show, featuring participants in Mesa’s adaptive recreation programs, on May 15. Given the appeal of their snack bar, I am rather tempted to spend the weekend there taking it all in.

Other nifty May offerings at this venue include “Songs and Stories” from the Celtic Dance Academy, “Why We Sing” from the Phoenix Children’s Chorus and “Alice in Wonderland” from the Phoenix Dance Academy. I may need a sleeping bag…

There’s no shortage of musical magic in the Valley this weekend with the Phoenix Symphony presenting “Tan Dun: Crouching Tiger Concerto” May 15, and two weekend concerts coming to the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix.

The MIM Music Theater presents R. Carlos Nakai, “the world’s premiere Native American flute virtuoso,” on May 15—who’ll “explore both traditional and cross-cultural uses of the flute, including the genres of world, new age jazz, and classical music.” (This performance is sold out, so remember to call promptly when venues offer shows that interest you.)

On May 16, the majestic MIM presents Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem with a “fusion of American roots music, contemporary, pop and jazz” featuring four-part harmonies, fiddle, suitcase drum and more.

For theater offerings, check Wednesday’s post or the RAK daily calendar online—and also note that you can enjoy Central Community Theatre’s production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” May 14-30.

As luscious as Evan Lysacek may be (or so I’m told), there’s more to life than watching other people “Dancing with the Stars.” We’ve plenty of our own stars right here in Arizona, including Ballet Arizona’s artistic director Ib Andersen.

Now that man can dance…


Kimberly Harris painting at Burton Barr exhibit

Note: I “penned” this post at Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix, where you can enjoy an art exhibit titled “Daydreams”—featuring paintings rich in color, shape and texture by Kimberly Harris and Natasha Matveenkova.

Low-cost summer art adventures

There’s a little winding road that runs behind the Burton Barr Central Library, a branch of the Phoenix Public Library system that’s located near Central Ave. and McDowell Rd.

Perhaps you’ve seen the giant bronze sculpture sitting there—“Giant Panda and Maternal Love”—presented to Phoenix by the Chengdu Municipal Government in September of 1996.

Nearby are a couple of buildings housing something wonderful you might never have heard of before.

It’s the Phoenix Center for the Arts, which is part of the city’s parks and recreation department, “brings together students, volunteers and professionals of all ages and skill levels who are passionate about the arts.”

Center materials also note that they offer “a full schedule of classes and programs in the visual and performing arts.”

I recall one of my daughter’s taking a music class there while in elementary school, and realizing at the time that this is one of the city’s many hidden cultural treasures.

I was impressed then, as I am now, by the breadth and depth of their offerings—as well as the diversity of folks we encountered there.

If you’re living in a little pocket of the city where everyone else looks a lot like you, you’ll see the Valley through all new eyes after spending time at this center.

The Phoenix Center for the Arts has several amenities, including the 215-seat Third Street Theater, four classrooms and a multipurpose room within the main building, a visual arts studio (with “creative space for photography, ceramics, metal and painting”) and an art gallery (one of many stops on Phoenix First Friday art tours).

Their gallery exhibit “Arte Latino en la Ciudad” opens tomorrow, May 7. “Ambitions: Teen Art Show” opens June 4, and “Extravaganza Kids Summer Show” opens July 2.

They also offer several performing arts programs, including:

The Phoenix Center Youth Theatre—which helps actors ages 8-18 develop audition, rehearsal and performance skills through plays and musicals.

City Jazz—which helps musicians ages 10-18 to learn, improvise and perform jazz through two 18-piece big bands and combos.

The Phoenix Children’s Chorus—which helps singers in second grade through high school to learn the basic elements of choral singing and performance skills.

Adult classes include glass, metals, photography, painting and drawing, ceramics, special-interest workshops and performing arts (music, dance, theater). The center notes that “resident artists and guest instructors are professionals in their fields.”

Youth classes include visual arts (clay, painting, drawing, ceramics and balloon art), theater (thespian series, improvisation and full-scale productions), music (guitar, piano and voice) and dance (hip hop, salsa and jazz).

During a quick review of their summer schedules I noticed adult classes in printmaking, mat cutting, pottery throwing and belly dance–plus children’s classes in urban dance rhythms, spoken word poetry and voice. (There are dozens more.)

The center’s description of “special interest classes” for youth really caught my eye, noting that offerings “run the gamut from babysitting to juggling and mime.” Seems these bear a remarkable resemblance to some of our more frenzied days on the parenting front.

The Phoenix Center for Youth also offers “special programs and events” that include a visual arts holiday sale and a visual arts mentorship program (which pairs youth with the center’s resident artists).

I dropped by last night to check it out for myself. The visual art building was abuzz with several adult classes, full of students working their craft and enjoying lively conversations.

Next door in the performing art building I enjoyed the bold and beautiful sounds of a jazz rehearsal (somewhere there’s surely a security camera tape of me whistling and doing some serious toe-tapping).

I watched part of a youth theater rehearsal along with two fellow stage moms sitting on some steps off to one side of the rehearsal space—then checked out the green room bustling with children, staff and parent volunteers readying for opening night of Schoolhouse Rock (read tomorrow’s post for details).

Remember the Phoenix Center for the Arts as you’re making your own summer plans.

Perhaps this should be the year you finally honor that yen for bending metal or fusing glass, join a girlfriend for drawing classes, or challenge your partner to a friendly photography duel.

Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to let the kids take a couple of classes too…


Note: The City of Phoenix offers a rich variety of additional parks and recreation programs, many focusing on arts and culture. Learn more at http://phoenix.gov/parks/. Registration for summer classes opened May 1 and classes can fill quickly, so make haste if you’re eager to get involved. Check with your local city governments as well to see what hidden treasures await in your own lovely habitat.

Coming up: Arts and culture from Valley libraries, Friday preview of weekend events (including dance, film, theater, music and more)

Today’s tidbits: Enjoy contemporary dance performed ala runway fashion show as Scorpius Dance Theatre presents “catwalk” at Phoenix Theatre’s Little Theatre tonight at 7:30pm. Performance features “15 dancers, 8 choreographic works, 5 independent designers and 1 hot urban boutique.” Tickets $25-$30 at 602-254-2151. Info at www.scorpiusdance.com.

“Mommy, what’s a menagerie?”

Photo by Tim Fuller

It’s sometimes hard to tell which theater material is appropriate for which age groups…

Kids who can’t define words like “menagerie” or identify objects like the “Victrola” won’t get much out of the Tennessee Williams play “The Glass Menagerie.”

It’s being performed by the Arizona Theatre Company at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix through April 11—and I got to see it opening night.

It was my favorite sort of evening—by attending just a single event at a single venue I was able to enjoy both the performing arts and the visual arts.

Had I taken my hubby or a friend along, I could have enjoyed casual or elegant dining at the Arizona Center before or after the show. Keep this in mind for your next “date night.”

I arrived a bit early to allow for parking, and ended up having plenty of time to take in the “Empathy” art exhibit on the second floor of the theater, which features the work of 24 Arizona artists and runs through May 12.

The first piece I encountered, “Angel of the Missing” by Christiana Cole, was a mixed material on canvas work featuring bits of missing children flyers with photos and the haunting words “Have you seen me?”

After taking my seat, I was struck for the first time by the simple yet elegant beauty of “Center Stage,” one of several performance spaces at the Herberger Theater Center. Lighting for the show made stage and surrounding architecture look simply stunning.

Photo by Tim Fuller

The performances were daring yet delicate, moving audience members to both knowing laughter and gentle weeping. The scenic design was dramatic and innovative—at once both whimsical and mature.

My 16-year-old daughter, Lizabeth, is taking a class in “production studies” at Arizona School for the Arts in Phoenix. I’ve already told her this is a “must see” mounting of a classic work, and she’s eager to experience it. After “teching” for Valley Youth Theatre’s “Cinderella” at the Herberger, she’ll appreciate the finer points of ATC’s stagecraft.

I tipped her off to another charming aspect of this production—a display of artwork created on the inside of shoebox lids. Seems the cast and crew of “The Glass Menagerie” was inspired by the play to create several dozen of their own original works.

My personal favorite quoted musician Jimi Hendrix saying “When the power of love replaces the love of power the world will know peace.” I left inspired to gather my own shoebox lids and art materials for an afternoon of family crafting.

I wonder, what would your shoebox lid say?

Photo by Tim Fuller

If you’re curious about the significance of the shoebox lid to this play, visit the “Education” portion of the Arizona Theatre Company website. It features a 39-page “Play Guide” containing a synopsis, important terms, historical context and much more.

The guide also includes lesson plans for playwriting, acting and visual art. And where else are you likely to discover that the year 1937 gave us both Spam and the Golden Gate Bridge?

If you’ve faithfully read this post but still find yourself wondering what the word “menagerie” means, I can tell you only this…

Some might consider it a collection of animals. Others might consider it a description of their family, their home or even their life.

Once you’ve seen the play, it’ll become crystal clear.


Note: Free event open to the public takes place this Friday, April 2, before the 8pm performance of “The Glass Menagerie.” It’s “Voice and Vision: A Graffiti Art/Spoken Word Explosion”–happening at 7pm on the plaza of the Herberger Theater Center. The event features stories from ATC staff and community members describing times during which they “found their voices.”

Coming up: Another Depression-era work, “The Diviners” (by Jim Leonard, Jr.), will be presented by Scottsdale Community College Theatre Arts April 9-17 at Theatre Artists Studio in Scottsdale.  Also: Photo contest from the Center for Native and Urban Wildlife at Scottsdale Community College. Watch for details in a future post.