Tag Archives: art festivals

A weekend to remember

This is your last weekend to enjoy the works of Metropolitan Arts Institute students in the Imagining Dance exhibit from the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

It’s a weekend to remember for all sorts of reasons at our house. Celebrating Jennifer’s 20th birthday. Looking ahead to Lizabeth’s transition to college this fall. And readying for Christopher’s graduation with his first college degree.

But we’ll also be remembering more somber moments — in American and world history. Attending the ASA production of Laurie Brooks’ “Triangle,” a play about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 100 years ago (which made its world premiere at ASU in 2008). And recognizing “Holocaust Remembrance Day” on May 1.

Related community events include the “Yom Hashoah Holocaust Community Commemoration” at Temple Emanuel in Tempe. The service — which takes place Sun, May 1 at 7pm — will honor victims, survivors and their children.

“Habimah Emanuel,” the temple’s drama group, will present “a short performance” of the Broadway play “Rose” — which “deals with an aspect of the Holocaust.”

“Rose” was written by Martin Sherman. This production is directed by Paula Shulak. The cast includes Temple Emanuel members and local actors working in “an interfaith effort to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive in our own day.”

Phoenix Opera presents a benefit concert titled “Popera” — which features popular, spiritual and classical songs performed by “the stars of Phoenix Opera” — on Sun, May 1. Think “Bring Him Home” and “The Prayer.” Also “Ava Maria” and “Some Enchanted Evening.”

There’s a 2pm matinee at All Saints of the Desert in Sun City and a 7pm performance at All Saints Episcopal Church in Phoenix. The concert features ten Phoenix Opera singers and “international opera star” Robert Hale. Tickets are $20.

This weekend is your last chance to experience student works by young artists from Metropolitan Arts Institute on exhibit in the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art young@art gallery (which is actually located inside the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts).

And it’s the perfect weekend to visit the Musical Instrument Museum of Phoenix. Their “Listen to the World” event — featuring music, dance and workshops in celebration of their first anniversary — is free with museum admission.

Jordin Sparks & Friends” perform at the MIM Music Theater Friday night. Tickets start at $75 and include both a reception that evening and museum admission for April 30 or May 1. “Alaska’s fiddling poet” Ken Waldman presents free poetry, storytelling and song on Saturday.

The Poetry Center at the University of Arizona presents their young@art festival “From Page to Stage” on Sat, April 30 from 10am-5pm. The festival is all about youth writing and art. The Poetry Center is located at 1508 E. Helen St. in Tucson.

Youth are invited to “come play with words, make books and help write Tucson’s longest poem.” Performers include “Stories That Soar,” the “Silver Thread Trio,” “Puppets Amongus,” “Mr. Tidy Paws & the Funtime Orange Band” and many more.

There’s haiku improv, a youth poetry slam championship and even art projects. Think tie-dye. Chalk art. Origami poetry. A detailed schedule of offerings is available online.

Whatever your weekend plans, make time to enjoy at least a bit of arts and culture with your children big or small. Time is so fleeting — and experiences with song, dance, theater, literature and art create some of our warmest memories, as families and communities.

– Lynn

Note: Read more about the topic of Holocaust remembrance in “Remember and Act: Engaging children in social justice” in the May 2011 issue of Raising Arizona Kids magazine.

Coming up: “The Other King & I”

Get a Q!

When the morning news turned too vitriolic last week, I knew just who to turn to – Elmo. The furry little puppet with the ever-happy face never fails to cheer.

But I’ll be enjoying puppets of another sort today as Lizabeth and I head out to see Phoenix Theatre’s production of “Avenue Q” — a Broadway musical with mature content and “full puppet nudity” you might not want to share with your little ones.

There are tons of competing activities out there this weekend — from the Scottsdale Arts Festival to the Ostrich Festival in Chandler. I’m making my choice about what to hit based on where the teen taxi takes me.

Lizabeth has a volunteer gig with “QSpeak” this afternoon, so I’ll be taking her there before heading out for a few art adventures of my own. Then we’ll meet back at Phoenix Theatre for the matinee performance of “Avenue Q.”

I’ll need to be quick, however, because there are quite a few things I’m eager to experience — including today’s “Devoured” event at the Phoenix Art Museum, just a short stroll from Phoenix Theatre.

Then I’m off to enjoy the quaint and quiet grounds of the Japanese Friendship Garden, where I’ll take some photos to share with you later as I preview their upcoming events — including the “Children’s Day Kite Festival” and “Zen Garden Music and Art Festival.”

Next I’ll experience some quintessential Irish fare at the Arizona Irish Festival, also taking place downtown. Think Irish food, music, dance and all-around merriment — plus another opportunity to whip out my camera.

If I haven’t yet inspired you to get out and enjoy the Arizona sunshine, perhaps you’ll find something else that strikes your fancy by browsing through today’s family-friendly events listed in the online calendar from Raising Arizona Kids magazine.

I suppose I should quit now and get on with my plans — quixotic though they may be. I certainly don’t want to quibble with my teenage daughter over whether or not the teen taxi will be running on time today.

– Lynn

Note: I came home with lots of photos, some of which are included in a slide show at the end of this post (“Avenue Q” logo courtesy of Phoenix Theatre). Watch for another post coming soon with some of the many adorable children who attended this year’s Arizona Irish Festival — as well as a future post with more highlights from the Japanese Friendship Garden.

Coming up: Charlie Sheen “is only for now”

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Piglet, Pooh & a bubble bath too!

Winnie the Pooh and friends take to the stage at Fountain Hills Youth Theater through Oct 24 for “Winnie-The-Pooh,” a play based on the stories of A. A. Milne and dramatized by Kristen Sergel.

This is true theater by and for youth. The director, Nick Maddox, is an ASU student. Set designer/hair & make-up designer, Danie Beamish, attends Mesa Community College.

I attended Sunday’s matinee with my daughter Lizabeth, and was delighted to see a nearly full house in which preschoolers appeared to outnumber parents.

The show, just over one hour in length, involves the escapades of Pooh and friends as Kanga and Roo come to town. It seems Kanga is fond of cleanliness, and little Piglet terrified of the tub.

Pooh tries to help, of course, but there’s all that honey to eat and all that time spent floating with a blue balloon. Piglet ends up in Kanga’s tin tub as children marvel at bubbles floating down from the bubble machine above.

Most of Pooh’s friends appear in the Hundred Acre Wood at some point — once the narrator and Christopher Robin (holding his stuffed Pooh bear) set the stage. There’s Owl, Eeyore, Rabbit (with six rabbit children) and Skunk.

We enjoyed Amanda Azzarello’s performance as Kanga — who keeps a bar of soap handy in case someone gets too sassy. Summer Beckman as Roo was bright and energetic, and Patrick Moyse’s Eeyore was ever so good at being gloomy.

Katie Male shined as Owl (her costume was among our favorites) and Devin Derr’s Piglet had that perfect balance of perkiness.

Children in the audience clearly loved the entire cast — laughing most heartily during Pooh’s struggles to “think, think, think” and Eeyore’s moments of melancholy.

We loved the set, which echos the charming drawings of Milne’s stories. Trees in the Hundred Acre Wood feature green paper leaves traced from child-size hands. The detail, and colors, are exceptional.

Both acts begin with charming “Winnie the Pooh” music that sounds like it’s coming from a well-loved vinyl record playing on an old phonograph — evoking a genuine nostalgia for Milne’s stories.

Normally I’m not a fan of preschoolers with cell phones, but I do so wish that just this once they could get ahold of devices that would let them text their friends about this show.

Based on the gleeful squeals and giggles during Sunday’s matinee, I suspect they’d all give it glowing reviews.

– Lynn

Note: Thanks to the “Winnie-The-Pooh” program, we learned about several upcoming events in Fountain Hills — including Friday night “Jazz in the Hills” concerts, Fountain Hills “Chamber Players” concerts, the 2010 “Fountain Festival of the Arts & Crafts” (Nov 12-14) and the 2011 “Fountain Hills Great Fair” (Feb 25-27).

Coming up: Review of Disney’s “Beauty & The Beast” at ASU Gammage

National Hispanic Heritage Month

Artwork from ALAC in Phoenix

Some of the Valley’s richest cultural resources are tucked away in places you might not even know exist. I stumbled on one just the other day as I was parking for the Phoenix Symphony/Phoenix Theatre performance of “The Music Man.”

It’s the Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center, just across the street from Phoenix Symphony Hall.

The center, also known as ALAC, is a consortium of local Latino groups and artists featuring Galeria 147 — which includes art exhibit spaces, a multi-use performance venue and a gift shop/bookstore. Their current exhibit, “La Phoeniquera,” features the works of Latino & Latina artists in Phoenix.

I wasn’t able to enjoy it because it’s closed Sundays and Mondays, but I look forward to touring the space in the future — perhaps during one of Artlink Phoenix’s “First Friday” events. I’m also eager to see their exhibit of newspaper sculpture and costumes by Christopher Plentywounds, which is titled “The Fine Art of Fine Print.”

"Hechale" by Eduardo Oropeza

ALAC is one of several organizations identified as a partner by the CALA (Celebracion Artistica de las Americas) Alliance, which will hold its kick-off event on Sept 24 at Phoenix Symphony Hall — a “signature concert featuring the exciting Grammy Award winning Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band.”

Plans are underway for the first bi-annual CALA Festival — a two-month Valleywide celebration spotlighting “the vibrant artistic, musical and culinary offerings of the regional Latino community through various exhibits, concerts, street fairs and more.” Interested artists can visit their website to learn about the jury process.

"The Love That Stains" by Maya Gonzalez

Other alliance partners include XICO, which “promotes Chicano artists by nourishing the appreciation of the cultural and spiritual heritage of Latino and indigenous people,” and CPLC (Chicano Por La Causa, Inc.), “an organization dedicated to the well-being of Arizona’s economically-deprived communities by providing the tools to empower people and families to achieve their aspirations.”

If you’re eager to learn more about Hispanic culture, you’ll have plenty of opportunities during National Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated Sept 15 through Oct 15.

Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama, notes that the month “celebrates the cultures of Americans who trace their ancestry to Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.”

Local family-friendly events include “Fiesta Surprise” on Sept 18 and “Tempe Tardeada” on Oct 10. “Fiesta Surprise,” being held at the Surprise Stadium, features live music and dance, a kids’ fun zone and more. “Tempe Tardeada,” taking place at the Tempe Community Complex (near the Tempe Public Library), features music, dance and art exploring Tempe’s Hispanic roots and culture.

"First Aztec on the Moon" by Santiago Perez

Stay tuned to local venues — including museums, community colleges, universities, performing arts centers, libraries, parks and recreation centers, and bookstores — to learn about National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations in your area.

Online resources include www.pbskids.org, www.smithsonianmag.com, www.smithsonianeducation.org, and www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov — which notes that “the observance started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period.”

September 15 is the anniversary of independence for several Latin American countries, while Mexico celebrates independence on Sept 16 and Chile celebrates independence on Sept 18. Columbus Day (Oct 12) also falls during the 30-day period designated as National Hispanic Heritage Month.

"Cumpleanos de Lala y Tudi" by Carmen Lomas Garza

If your organization or venue offers events and activities to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, please feel free to comment below to let our readers know.


Note: To enjoy more Latino art, visit www.latinoartcommunity.org.

Coming: More season previews

The sun, moon and stars

I was working in the non-profit world when the Helios Education Foundation was established. I recall early conversations with a key player gathering information on Valley programs and priorities as the foundation worked to refine and reflect its focus.

How lovely to learn several years later that they’ve recognized the value of theater in the lives of youth and the world of education.

Childsplay, a Tempe-based theater company for young audiences, is one of three Helios Education Foundation grant recipients for programs aligned with the foundation’s “Early Childhood Theory of Change.”

Grants were awarded to three organizations for the “development of programs that are designed to strengthen the literacy and language acquisition knowlegdge and education of early childhood teachers, professionals, and other providers working with children ages birth to 5.”

Paradise Valley Community College, in partnership with Central Arizona College, also received a prestigious Helios grant.

Childsplay’s project will work with early educators to “integrate drama strategies and writing/reading curricula” to support “language acquisition and emergent literacy.”

I thought of the sun when learning of Childplay’s Helios grant, but another bit of Childsplay news took me back to the moon and stars of Childsplay’s extraordinary “Still Life with Iris” sets from so many years ago at the Herberger Theater Center.

I’ve never considered Childsplay anything less than a national treasure, and doubt it would be a stretch to say it shines just as brightly on the international stage.

So I wasn’t the least bit surprised to learn that Childsplay founder and artistic director David Saar will receive the 2010 Medallion Award from the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America at a ceremony to be held Aug. 6 in San Francisco.

The Medallion Luncheon will be held in conjunction with the annual convention of the American Alliance for Theatre in Education — which sounds like an ever-so-wonderful place to be. I got a twinkle in my eye just reviewing their workshop topics and featured speakers.

To enjoy your own glimpse of the sun, moon and stars, take your children to enjoy the exceptional work of Childsplay, which presents some of the very best “theater for everyone.”

— Lynn

Note: The Herberger Theater, where I first experienced the magic of Childsplay during a school field trip with my oldest daughter, is currently undergoing renovations. Info/tickets are now available for it Oct 1 “Grand Re-Opening Ceremony” and Oct 2 “Festival of the Arts.” Learn more at herbergertheater.org.

Coming up: The best of symphony, opera and other music for children

Memorial Day music and more

You’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy live music this Memorial Day weekend—including the Phoenix Symphony’s “Red, White and Blue” concert at Symphony Hall in Phoenix on Sat, May 29, at 2:30pm (pre-show activities start at 1:30pm).

If you’re looking for some free musical entertainment, check out the “Free Sunday Night Concert Series” with local musicians at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park in Scottsdale on Sun, May 30, at 7:30pm. Take some pocket money for optional food and train/carousel rides.

Bjorn Eriksson, Will Bates, Ryan Kitkowski, Josh Kirkorsky-Greasepaint Youtheatre's "The Sound of Plaid"

Indulge in a little nostalgia as the barbershop quartet “2 Under Par” performs at Greasepaint Youtheatre (formerly Stagebrush Theatre) in Scottsdale on Fri, May 28, at 6:30pm. The concert is free for ticket holders to the 7pm Greasepaint Youtheatre performance of “The Sound of Plaid”–a musical revue featuring pop hits of the ’50s.

If folk music and the blues is your thing, enjoy a “Hollywood Live on Stage” event featuring “The Bacon Brothers Live in Concert” (actor Kevin and musician Michael) at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix on Sat, May 29 and Sun, May 30 (both indoors at 8pm with doors opening at 7pm).

For those of you who like a bit of splash with your music, there’s an “Evening Tour of the Preserve” for all ages at the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch in Gilbert on Fri, May 28, at 7pm. The tour features “stories, nature and music” so you might learn a little something too. (The riparian habitat, in which life depends on bodies of water, is considered the rarest natural community in Arizona.)

Plaid's Ryan Kitkowski, Will Bates, Bjorn Eriksson, Maya Granger, Josh Kirkorsky, Emilie Doering

If film is more your thing and you’re eager to enjoy some “adult content” time without the kiddos, visit the Phoenix Art Museum on Sun, May 30, at 1pm for the “No Festival Required” presentation of “Tokyo is Dreaming.” The film portrays several aspects of city life—including work, travel and leisure—plus issues like homelessness and alienation. The film’s director, producer and composer will all attend.

Tonight is “Community Movie Night” at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, presented in partnership with Hoodlums Music & Movies. Tonight’s free showing of “Tank Man” by Anthony Thomas starts at 6pm. The film examines the aftermath in China of the famous 1989 Tiananmen Square protest in Beijing, with special attention to finding the young man who stood firm as a tank continued to advance in his direction.

When the urge to get out of town strikes, consider visiting Arizona museums outside the Valley, including two featuring art festivals this weekend. The “Southwest Indian Art Festival” takes place Sat, May 29 and Sun, May 30 at the Smoki Museum in Prescott. The “Zuni Festival of Arts and Culture” occurs Sat, May 29 and Sun, May 30 at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff.

When all is said and done, sometimes a little playtime is all you really need. Take time on Monday (and every day) to remember and reflect on those we honor each Memorial Day. But leave some time for family fun too. On a day when so many other places are closed, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix will be open.

Emilie Doering, Bjorn Eriksson and Maya Granger have the power of the plaid!

Let your kids think you’re a hero for taking them. They don’t have to know the adventure was all yours…


Note: “The Sound of Plaid” photos by Laura Durant, who also does actor headshots and a weekly listing of Valley auditions. “The Sound of Plaid,” which runs through Sunday, is one of several theater productions happening this weekend. For a comprehensive list of theater and other activities for youth and families, visit the RAK calendar online.