Tag Archives: ASU art museum

I-Spy: Animal art

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Next time your children are restless, consider a friendly game of “I-spy” ala art – encouraging them to look for art in everyday places, perhaps picking a kid-friendly theme like animal art.

Most of the photos in this post were taken during my everyday travels, but one — featuring the live snake — hails from the ASU Art Museum. Folks who attend the museum’s Nov. 5 “First Saturdays for Families” event can see the anaconda pictured above.

The snake is part of an exhibition titled Juan Downey: The Invisible Architect. “Diablo is pretty magnificent,” says the museum’s Deborah Sussman Susser, “and worth a visit.” How lovely to be on a first name basis with a reptile that’s morphed into an objet d’art.

I’m told that Jean Makin, who curates the museum’s annual family exhibition each summer, has put together another show titled “Just Animals” that runs through December.

“Kids’ view of their world includes furry, feathery and sometimes scaly friends,” says Makin. “They are part of a child’s family.” So seeing prints of fuzzy cats or fluffy dogs brings “instant recognition and comfort.”

“Art,” adds Makin, “can be very complex and unapproachable to a child, but packaged in an image of an animal, it is understandable. Little kids can draw animals from their memory and heart, conveying a sense of what that animal means to them.”

Families who attend the Saturday event will enjoy opportunities other animals can’t experience — like spin-painting and making musical instruments out of recycled materials.

Parents familiar with the Blue Man Group, performing at ASU Gammage through Sunday, know that some humans actually get paid for doing such things on stage.

I suppose that if my kids were little again (they’re all in college now), I’d challenge them to imagine a world where animals had the cameras and humans were the subject of all their photos.

Then I’d turn them loose with art materials so they could play with ideas about what those animals might capture with their cameras. Something tells me we’d make hilarious subjects.

– Lynn

Note: Animals lovers should check out the “National Geographic Live! Speaker Series” at Mesa Arts Center and an upcoming Childsplay production featuring “Lyle the Crocodile.” Click here for information on the Arizona Animal Welfare League, and here for information on the Center for Native and Urban Wildlife at Scottsdale Community College (which offers tours for 4th graders).

Coming up: A loaf of bread

Words of Art

View of the ASU Art Museum from inside the ASU campus

While strolling the campus of ASU Saturday afternoon, I decided to pop into the ASU Art Museum, where I promptly explored a table of $2 offerings (from posters to books) outside the museum’s gift shop.

Then, with just 20 minutes left on my parking meter, I took a left turn so I could take in an exhibit that ends Sept 3 — the 12th annual family exhibition titled “Words of Art: Selections from the ASU Art Museum Collection.”

It’s housed in a single room, making it the perfect taste of art when you’re pressed for time or eager to introduce your children to works of art without overwhelming them.

As I entered the exhibit, I spied a square work on the floor. It’s about the size of a card table and comprised of red painted objects, many looking like lacquered stones or pine cones. Some are carved with words like “pollute.”

The exhibit includes a piece of clothing, a page of historical text and other items that make for an eclectic mix. There’s even a low bright blue table with three chairs. On top sits a silver laptop with a screensaver featuring colors in motion.

Double Column Ring Triangle by Fletcher Benton (1994) is located near the ASU Art Museum

“Words of Art” is plenty fun to simply look at. But older kids will enjoy reading short descriptions of works, themes or genres found on wall-mounted plaques highlighted by a yellow star. My favorite dealt with art and social justice.

Many of the items are exhibited at the height of a young child, making them feel more whimsical to adults and more accessible to kids. Time with such exhibits makes kids look at, and think about, objects differently.

If I had my way, we’d assign fewer worksheets and more art outings. The “Words of Art” exhibit is free, as is admission to the museum — which has lots of other areas featuring art that’s intriguing to young and old alike.

Two exhibitions end their run on Aug 27, giving you less than a week to enjoy them. They’re “Self-Referential: Art Looking at Art” and “By myself and with my friends….” The latter, which includes video, features six artists exploring things humans and animals have in common.

The ASU Art Museum is open Tues-Sat, though hours vary by day — so check details online before you go. No need to thank me when your child comes home and paints a pile of rocks red. But do give yourself a pat on the back.

– Lynn

Coming up: Review: “Oedipus for Kids”

Nifty photo opps

A tool of the trade for the Blue Bike Kids Show gang

Recently the Blue Bike Kids Show shared a few photos taken with their nifty Time-O-Portation device, which inspired me to go in search of photo exhibits around the Valley.

The Phoenix Art Museum presents “Pure Photography, Post Production and Mixed Media” through August 14.

Mesa Contemporary Arts at the Mesa Arts Center presents “Picturing Maricopa” through August 7. It features photographs by 15 photographers who worked with 15 non-profits to capture images of “crisis care for vulnerable populations.” If legislators continue their “slice and dice” approach to health and human services, the gallery will need a lot more exhibit space dedicated to this topic.

Dallin Branch photographed by the Blue Bike Kids Show gang

Shemer Art Center and Museum in Phoenix presents “Seeking the Source: Water in the Desert” featuring works by photographer Bryon Darby through July 28.

If art and desert environments are your thing, check out the “Desert Initiative” led by Greg Esser at the ASU Art Museum. The project supports “independent and collaborative research into desert cultures and environments through the arts and sciences.”

Ellie Branch photographed by the Blue Bike Kids Show gang

The Scottsdale Gallery Association presents a “Summer Spectacular Art Walk” Thurs, July 7, from 7-9pm — featuring artist receptions, live music and prize drawings. Several participating galleries exhibit photographic works.

Method Art Gallery, for example, specializes in “photography, contemporary art and local artists.” And “Ancient Light Gallery” features the fine art photography of Cheyenne L. Rouse, who uses digital techniques to “capture rusted, abandoned artifacts of The Old West.”

Rouse offers walking photo tours of historic Old Town Scottsdale, spending time at her gallery talking with participants about their goals for the tour before heading out for a one-hour shooting session.

Meet the Blue Bike Kids Show gang at Tempe Beach Park on Sunday

I’m still partial to photos captured in that funky Time-O-Portation thing operated by the Blue Bike Kids Show trio, but I’ll try to keep an open mind. Those of you who have yet to meet the Blue Bike Kids Show gang can head to Tempe Beach Park Sun, June 26 from 5-7pm.

They’re hosting a free picnic complete with hot dogs, root beer floats and purple cows — and tell me the BBQ will be fired up for those of you who want to bring your own fare for the grill.

Expect a celebratory vibe (and maybe even an “Old-Timey full body swim suit” sighting) since they’re off and running with production of their first full-length show. Though no RSVP is needed, you might want to let them know if you’re joining the fun. A massive run on purple cows could get ugly.

– Lynn

Note: If your venue or organization has a photography exhibit this summer, just comment below to let our readers know. And click here to learn about other exhibits in the Valley.

Coming up: Photos from Ground Zero

From JFK to Father’s Day

This poster resembles a T-shirt my daughter Jennifer loves to wear

For most, the name Kennedy conjures thoughts of politics. My own daughter Jennifer, a 20-year-old antroplogy student at ASU who aspires to work for the United Nations, loves wearing a T-shirt that bears the likeness of a 1960 poster supporting JFK’s presidential campaign.

John F. Kennedy was born in Massachusetts on May 29, 1917. Had he not been assassinated in November 1963, today would be JFK’s 94th birthday. And while opinions of his politics may vary, it’s hard to find fault in his avid support for the arts.

After Kennedy’s death, a work in progress originally dubbed the National Culture Center became the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. It’s located near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. and there are three ways folks in Arizona can enjoy its offerings.

Those visiting D.C. can attend diverse music, dance and theater performance at the Kennedy Center — assuming tickets are available when you’re ready to buy them. The rest of us can watch for touring productions of Kennedy Center programs like the Theater for Young Audiences performance of “Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical” presented last year at Higley Center for the Performing Arts, Or go online for daily webcasts from the Center’s Millennium Stage.

The Kennedy Center offers free daily performances (at 6pm EST) on its Millennium Stage. Saturday night I watched streaming video of the Beach Fossils. Sunday night will feature a D.C. trio called “Medications,” described as “an 18-year collaboration between multi-instrumentalists Devin Ocampo and Chad Molter with drummer Mark Cisneros” that “combines a love of ’60s and ’70s pop, as well as the visceral pulse of ’70s punk.”

There’s plenty of live performance art right here in Arizona, but Kennedy Center Millennium Stage offerings are perfect for evenings you’re content to stay home but still want to get your daily dose of arts and culture. While you’re online, consider exploring the Kennedy Center website to learn about its many collaborations with Arizona artists.

Ballet Arizona performed at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as part of the Center’s “Ballet Across America II” program in June 2010. And Childsplay, a Tempe-based theater company presenting works for youth and families, has participated four times in the Center’s “New Visions/New Voices” playwriting development program — with “The Yellow Boat,” “Even Steven Goes to War,” “Salt & Pepper,” and “Telemera: Stories My Mother Told Me.”

But the Kennedy family legacy goes beyond the realms of politics and art.

Patrick J. Kennedy, son of JFK’s brother Edward M. Kennedy and former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, is coupling his personal experience with bipolar disorder and addiction with his expertise in public policy to further the work of the newly-established “One Mind for Research” campaign — which aims to unify the science, technology, research and knowledge needed to battle brain disorders.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver, JFK’s sister, founded the Special Olympics in 1968. The organization — which describes itself as “the world’s largest movement dedicated to promoting respect, acceptance, inclusion, and human dignity for people with intellectual disabilities” — serves more than 3.5 million people through a variety of programs. From June 25 to July 4, 7,500 athletes from 185 countries will participate in the Special Olympics “World Summer Games” in Athens — which includes 22 Olympic-type sports.

Today the only surviving child of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Caroline Kennedy, continues making her own contributions to arts and culture. She serves as honorary chairman of the American Ballet Theatre governing board and has authored several books including “A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children” and the recently released “She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poems.”

I imagine what it must have been like to grow up surrounded by the countless words of others attempting to decipher or describe your father’s legacy. If you’d like to try writing about your own father, consider attending a “Father’s Day Writing Workshop” Fri, June 9, from 6-8pm at MADE Art Boutique on Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix. Here’s a little blurb about the event from the “Mothers Who Write” website:

A good dad is hard to find. If you’ve got one, let him know how you feel by writing something for him this Father’s Day. And if you don’t, write about him anyway — it just might be cathartic. Bring 17 copies of your two-page (typed, double spaced) piece to MADE and fine-tune it with MWW instructors Amy Silverman (Phoenix New Times) and Deborah Sussman (ASU Art Museum). Spaces are limited; registration is required. To register, call 602.256.MADE.

We all spend far too much time delving into the private lives of other families, famous and otherwise. And while I find the topic of JFK fascinating, I can assure you that my own father is every bit as interesting and complex — albeit in a wholly different sort of a way. Maybe he’s the one I should be writing about…

– Lynn

Note: Click here to learn about Special Olymics Arizona

Coming up: Local twists on the Tony Awards®, Last chance! Art camps, Do the math: Arizona arts & culture by the numbers

The smell of childhood?

Orange blossom soap from Athens Locally Grown

When I connected recently with Tempe mother and journalist Amy Silverman, she shared a bit with me about her Arizona childhood.

Seems she’d recently purchased a bar of soap with an orange blossom scent. “It literally made me sick,” Silverman told me. “It smelled like my childhood.”

In a sentence, sometimes less, Silverman conjures detailed images that transport readers to other places and perspectives.

Orange blossom cheesecake from Atlanta Cheesecake Company

Hence her many accolades and awards. She’s been twice honored by the Arizona Press Club with the Virg Hill Journalist of the Year award.

For 18 years she’s worked for Phoenix New Times — serving the last six as managing editor.

Still, Silverman finds time to share her talents with others. She’s co-founder, along with Deborah Sussman Susser, of a “Mothers Who Write” class that helps women find and share their voices.

A public reading by “Mothers Who Write” participants (past and present) takes place Sat, May 7 from 2-4pm at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. It’s free and open to the public, though some material may not be suitable for children.

Orange blossom gift basket from LadyBug Great Gifts

I’d like to see Silverman pen a children’s book. Perhaps something about Praying Monk on Camelback Mountain — a Valley landmark Silverman says she’s always thought of as “the camel’s eyelash.”

Silverman and her husband have two daughters, so she’s got plenty of pearls about both parenting and poising the pen. Registration for the next 10-week “Mothers Who Write” workshop will begin July 1 through the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

Orange blossom cocktail from Science of Drink

The workshop offers “support and advice for writing mothers (of all ages) who want to develop their craft and receive feedback on their work.” Though all genres are welcome, the main focus is creative non-fiction, poetry and fiction.

Visit the “Mothers Who Write” website to learn more about classes, readings and the many adventures of “Mothers Who Write” alumni — including Deborah Rich Gettleman of Theatre Artists Studio and Raising Arizona Kids Magazine.

And keep an eye out for the June 2011 issue of Raising Arizona Kids magazine — because the ever-fascinating Silverman and her family are profiled in the “AZ Generations” column.

– Lynn

Note: Click here for a list of journalists who’ve won 2010 Arizona Press Club awards — which includes two mothers who write for Raising Arizona Kids magazine. Winners will be recognized May 21 at the Arizona Press Club Awards Party in Phoenix.

Coming: More mothers who write

Business student discovers the arts

Arizona State University business student Isaac Willard, who plans to graduate in December 2011, has been taking a course titled “Responsible Management” this semester. The “MGT 410″ class is required for B.S. in business management students at the W.P. Carey School of Business on the ASU Tempe campus.

I met Willard one day while exploring the Phoenix Art Museum in downtown Phoenix. He, and another couple of ASU students, were there volunteering for a “PhxArtKids Day” — during which children ages 5-12 enjoy free arts and crafts activities. Willard was helping children in a room set up for coloring, while other volunteers helped children in an adjacent room decorate cigar box purses and treasure chests.

I suspect it was these college students’ first encounter in quite some time with materials like ribbon, feathers, pipe cleaners, glitter glue, felt scraps, foam shapes, buttons, sequins, assorted fabrics and such.

Enjoy fun family-friendly activities during "The Holiday Festival" at the Phoenix Art Museum

It’s likely that you’ll cross paths with at least a few ASU students if you attend “The Holiday Festival” Sun, Dec, 12, at the Phoenix Art Museum — a special event that features kids’ activities, entertainment, seasonal offerings and the “unwrapping of a very, very big gift.”

ASU students in the responsbile management class are required to volunteer for 25 hours over the course of the semester. Volunteer gigs vary, says Willard. Some students volunteer with the small business administration or health organizations that address issues like cardiac arrest awareness. I’m guessing their props aren’t nearly as playful.

So what lessons has Willard learned during his time with children and crayons? “I’ve learned the importance of community support for non-profits,” reflects Willard. “I see how much work it is to run something like a museum,” he says — calling the notion that non-profits are run haphazardly a “myth.” “They have structures, procedures and departments like other businesses,” Willard adds.

Willard admits that seeing the impact of non-profits on the community increases the likelihood that he’ll volunteer or make financials gifts to such organizations in the future — noting that he was particularly moved when working one evening with juvenile offenders. “It’s important,” shares Willard, “to always remember to give back.”

As a child in Singapore, Willard developed an interest in science and engineering — and today he’s studying topics like the “supply chain” and “logistics.” He’s also done a tour of active duty with the U.S. Navy, and recalls being struck by “so much red tape and bureaucracy.” He hopes to one day be self-employed.

Before volunteering with the Phoenix Art Museum, the only art exhibit Willard had seen was a touring exhibition called “Cars and Guitars” at the Tempe Center for the Arts. But he’s an eager convert, insisting that the importance of community-based arts programs only increases as our schools receive less funding for the arts. He’s also a staunch supporter of education, saying that “education is the last place we should make cuts.”

Enjoy the "Open for Business" exhibit at the ASU Art Museum and participating Tempe businesses

Before taking the responsible management class, Willard “did not even realize museums were non-profit.” Now he’s a fervent supporter pondering the collective impact a group of engaged citizens. “Considering that there are 60,000 people at ASU,” muses Willard, “we can have a big impact.”

And so can you. Grab your kids and head to the Phoenix Art Museum for all or part of the noon to 8pm festivities today (Sun, Dec 12). It’s a great way to enjoy some indoor and outdoor family fun, and to lead by example when it comes to instilling a love and respect for the arts in the next generation.

– Lynn

Note: The ASU Art Museum has partnered with 16 Valley artists and diverse Tempe businesses to “call attention to the importance of local artists, businesses and organizations. The “Open for Business” exhibit runs through Jan 29, 2011. And remember that both the Phoenix Art Museum and the ASU Art Museum have museum shops offering unique holiday gift selections.

Coming up: Visual arts in the Valley of the Sun

Art & air conditioning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make & play drums at the MIM!

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

Hopi Dance Group performs at the Heard Museum in Phoenix

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

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

Illustrator Yazzie comes to the Heard Museum this weekend

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

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

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

–Lynn

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

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

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