Tag Archives: coffee shops

Art meets kitchen

Rock of Ages by Linda Marlow

I chatted Monday morning with a cheerful, energetic soul in Scottdale whose early ventures with paint and easel were torpedoed decades ago by a former mother-in-law who met her creativity with criticism. But Linda Marlow, like so many women, has come to realize over time just how little the opinions of others truly matter. Today she “turns out a few paintings” every week, and loves every minute of it.

Desert Blessings by Linda Marlow

Seems Marlow’s husband signed her up about a year-and-a-half ago for a class in painting with acrylics. She felt hesitant at first, because some scars stay with us far too long, but decided to give it a try. Now, I suspect, there’s no stopping her. The 62-year-old hairdresser says she awakes most days to “clean house, then jump on my artwork.” No fancy studio needed, she tells me. There’s plenty of good light streaming through her kitchen windows.

Lands End by Linda Marlow

Marlow was born in New York, but feels like a native after more than 50 years in the Valley. She’s gone back to her original medium — oils. Her passion is painting landscapes seen in real life or various pictures that beckon with inspiration. I discovered her work at Buzzberry — a charming coffee joint at Granite Reef Rd. and McDonald Dr. (just west of Loop 101) that’s particularly good about exhibiting local art and sharing news of events like school plays and such.

Monument Splendor by Linda Marlow

Getting a good coffee buzz is all good and fine. But finding a place that creates true community buzz is better by far. Marlow’s not sure how long her works will hang at Buzzberry since they tend to rotate various artists over time, but she’s clearly delighted that they’re there for people to enjoy or purchase. It’s a powerful affirmation after early years spent being “too shy and insecure” to follow her own heart for art.

Graceful Sunset by Linda Marlow

For now, Marlow’s loving the “self-taught” vibe, seeing where paint and brush will take her without formal instruction. She’s a big fan of folks like German-American painter Albert Bierstadt who were self-taught in many ways. “Do what you want to do,” says Marlow. “Don’t let anybody ruin your dreams.”

– Lynn

Coming up: Exciting new season announcements!

Tourist tale

New York City is swarming with tourists — especially in the area near Zuccotti Park, home to the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the 9/11 Memorial. I’m one of them, of course, though I do my best to blend in. I like to think it’s only my frequent use of the words “thank you” and “excuse me” that give away my “not-from-around-these-parts” status.

It’s not that I think New Yorkers are rude. On the contrary, my experiences with native New Yorkers have been delightful. But the tourists are starting to get on my nerves. I paused at New York Comic Con yesterday to wait for a tourist who seemed to be having trouble deciding which way she wanted to turn.

She stood for a long time, eventually turning and running smack dab into me. I’m not the quickest thing off the block anymore, but I mean well — and would have been happy to apologize had she not cussed me out and dashed away from the scene. It seemed a fluke until a little-run in I narrowly escaped in a Lower Manhattan coffee house — one of 172 of this particular brand in the city, I’m told.

I'm going local in search of the fine art of customer service (Photo is from a lovely local joint near the Burton Barr Central Library in downtown Phoenix)

Fearing my feet were quite literally about to give way, I sought out a seat after getting my coffee. Two seats had been empty for 15 minutes as I waited in line, so I asked a couple, tourists with heavy German accents, if I could use the chairs. They’d been guarding them like the people version of a pit bull for all that time.

I went in search of other options after they told me the seats were saved. Soon a heavy downpour started to fall, and there were a lot more people in search of coffee and a place to sit for a spell. I watched as the couple, in their 60s I suppose, turned away other people who politely requested the seats.

I headed back to the counter and asked, very nicely, for a manager. I explained that a couple had been saving two seats for well over 20 minutes and that I really needed to sit down. He came out from behind the counter to ask them about the seats — then told me they were saving them for friends who were in the bathroom.

“The bathroom line gets really long here,” the manager told me. There was no line, and I’m guessing no friends. “First come, first served,” he shouted at me. Then he hurried back behind the counter. No “I’m sorry I couldn’t help you miss” or “Can I help you find another solution?” He couldn’t have cared less.

I returned to the couple and asked, again very nicely, whether I could just borrow one chair until their friends finished in the bathroom. But they turned nasty in a hurry. A gentleman sipping coffee with his wife at a nearby table quipped, “That’s why we had a second World War — Germany wanted more space.” I didn’t tell him my birth mother hailed from Germany.

Again, they refused — and the other couple, sensing my very real physcial pain — suggested I simply sit down. Nobody owns the chairs, they told me. So I tried that, explaining that I’d be happy to get up once the bathroom buddies returned. The older couple yelled at me, appalled by my so-called rudeness, until the more gracious couple noted that they had an extra chair at their table.

I was happy to move. I didn’t want to make a scene. I only wanted to get off my feet before they gave out. I’d take up a lot more space if I collapsed. I chatted with the friendly couple for a bit, who shared that they too have found New Yorkers to be perfectly civil — but that they’ve had similar encounters with other tourists in New York.

I can’t do anything about people who guard public spaces like they own them, but I can choose to get my coffee elsewhere at every opportunity. You can make the finest coffee in the world, but I won’t have anything to do with it until I get the sense that the people on your “team” really care about their customers.

After resting for ten minutes or so, I watched a lone man in his 20s politely ask the couple if they were using the two empty chairs. Half an hour later, they still refused to share. So I offered him my seat, explained that the couple sitting at the table were truly lovely — and that I was about to head out the door.

I’d have enjoyed a bit more time off my feet and out of the rain, but it seemed a nice way to end the experience. I wanted to pay the couple’s kindness forward — and New Yorkers need to know that not all tourists are tyrants.

– Lynn

Coming up: The art and soul and New York Comic Con

Art adventures: Phoenix Public Market

I headed to downtown Phoenix with my son Christopher last Saturday, eager to check out the the Blue Bike Kids Show booth and other offerings at a festive farmers market-style event at the corner of Central & Pierce in downtown Phoenix.

We found all sorts of cool vendors — sharing fresh foods, arts and crafts, unique gift items and more. It reminded me of a similar morning spent many years ago in the French Market District in New Orleans. There was even a live band on the scene.

The Phoenix Public Market is a program of a non-profit organization called Community Food Connections. The market consists of Urban Grocery and Wine Bar plus Open-Air Markets held Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings. It’s located just three blocks south of the Roosevelt/Central light rail station.

It was our first visit, so we just made the rounds with camera in tow — but we’ll have to return one day for some grub. The Urban Grocery and Wine Bar menu, which you can explore online, includes egg dishes, pastries, smoothies, sandwiches, soups, salads and more.

The market works to increase access to fresh and healthy foods in an underserved area, to help micro-businesses launch and increase capacity, to create jobs and family self-sufficiency, to help farmers stay on the land and to create a vibrant gathering place for community members.

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The Open-Air Market, in existence since 2005, features in-season fruits and vegetables, flowers, jams, baked goods, dried beans, free-range eggs and honey. Also live plants and local arts & crafts wares. Even hot foods and plenty of things to sample. Everything there is made by the person selling it.

You can find a vendor list online too — which includes several with whimsical names that caught our eye. Alley Cat Art Studio. Art and Soul Designs. Dirty Bird Soap. Fresh From the Goddess. Happy Snappy Dog Treats. Horny Toad Farms. Life Lemons. Mom’s Gone Nuts. Pat on the Back. Tiny Tater Tees. You get the picture.

Even Desert Marigold School, affiliated with Arizona Waldorf, brings produce and flowers from the school’s garden — as well as handmade crafts.

There were lots of parents and children milling to and fro the morning we attended. Many stopped at the Blue Bike Kids Show booth to get blue balloon animals or have a photo taken — proof positive that there’s more to life than cruising the mall or racing to see who gets first shot at the remote.

– Lynn

Note: The Blue Bike Kids Show is holding a way-cool nostalgic-style picnic in Tempe on Sunday (June 26). Watch for details on the picnic –plus “a couple time-o-portation pics” they took at last weekend’s Phoenix Public Market event — in one of two Sunday posts.

Coming up: Summer of Shakespeare, NYC in Scottsdale?, Art adventures: Broadway!

Art adventures: Historic Glendale

When I found myself with unexpected free time last weekend, I headed to Glendale to explore their historic district in search of all things arts and culture.

First I headed to a street lined with antique shops, cafes and other charming offerings — and then hit the Glendale Civic Plaza, where I admired the city’s public safety memorial.

After driving just a few blocks, I discovered Catlin Court, but failed to notice until after I’d parked that the lot I’d chosen was adjacent to the Manor at Catlin Court – where a young couple was exchanging wedding vows during an outdoor ceremony.

I tip-toed away from my car, camera in hand, and strolled the neighborhood in search of a bit of local flavor — and am pleased to share some photos from my adventures below:

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If you’re eager to enjoy some casual outdoor time this weekend, consider attending the free “Artwerks First Saturdays” event April 2 from 10am-4pm.

To learn more about arts and culture in the city of Glendale, check out their online “Glendale Public Arts” brochure  — available at the www.visitglendale.com website.

– Lynn

Note: Say a special hello to the fine folks at “A Shot of Java” and “The Open Door” — who were especially gracious during my visit to their neck of the woods. I’m sorry to report that you can no longer enjoy The Bead Museum because it’s been permanently closed.

Coming up: Phoenix Improv Festival, Fringe gets twisted

I am what I am

As events unfolded last Sunday, I couldn’t help repeating the chorus of a song called “I Am What I Am” over and over again in my head. From the Broadway musical “La Cage aux Folles,” the song is a sort of anthem to self-acceptance.

Ironic considering my failure to execute my one big goal for the day — attending an Arizona Jewish Theatre Company production called “My Name is Asher Lev” — which tackles the topics of identity and self-acceptance.

Because it was to be my third theater outing of the weekend, I felt even guiltier than usual about leaving my husband behind to care for more mundane tasks like paying bills and caring for pets.

I assuaged my guilt by attempting to squeeze in just one more load of laundry before leaving for the afternoon. That’s where it all started to go horribly wrong. Turns out I had just enough time to make the show, but I breezed right past the final turn that would take me to my destination.

I was distracted, I suspect, by the song that was playing on the SiriusXM Radio “On Broadway” channel at the time. It was “Bring Him Home” from the musical “Les Miserables” — which has always reminded me of my 21-year-old son in poignant ways that only my husband and I fully understand.

When I got to the John Paul Theatre on the campus of Phoenix College in Glendale, where the Arizona Jewish Theatre Company performs, it was about ten minutes past showtime. And to their credit, they’d started the show on time — with a nearly packed house that would make it hard for me to find a seat without being disruptive.

So I snagged a program, information of their upcoming “Curtain Call” youth theatre production of “A Rockin’ Tale of Snow White,” and their “Summer Theatre Day Camps.” I hoped to find a little coffee joint nearby where I could review the program or read one of the daily papers I keep in my car for just such occasions.

When in doubt, follow this advice from a Cafe Press bumper sticker

I drove away, planning to return two hours later for a post-show talk back with Janet Arnold, Layne Racowsky and the show’s three cast members.

And I remembered that I’d been meaning to get to the historic district in Glendale to check out local arts offerings and photograph a bit of local flavor.

I found the flavor I was looking for at a coffee joint called “A Shot of Java” — which has a rare blend of cozy charm and quirkiness that makes it especially appealing. I stumbled on this little gem after parking nearby to photograph a sign that caught my eye because of its “Mad Hatter” motif.

I asked for directions to local museums. We used to have a bead museum, they told me, but it just shut down. “I know,” I said — vowing to photograph it anyway as a reminder of what can happen when we take local repositories of arts and culture for granted.

I used the time I’d allotted for “My Name is Asher Lev” to explore the City of Glendale further — and I’ll be sharing more about my fun finds in a future “Art Adventures: Historic Glendale” post complete with photos of plenty of signs.

My kids often tease me about my fondness for taking pictures of signs, but I felt somewhat vindicated as I watched a story about an artist with a similar affliction on the “CBS Sunday Morning” program earlier in the day.

I returned for the “My Name is Asher Lev” talk back, and discovered that audience members included students taught by one of the show’s actors. Their questions, and those of others who actually managed to see the play, were enlightening — and will be included in a future post that I’ll publish before the show’s final weekend performances (it runs through April 3).

My final stop of the day was a coffee shop I frequented when my daughter Lizabeth trained with the School of Ballet Arizona. Sitting at one of the outside tables was a friend I first met while Christopher attended New Way Academy in Scottsdale. I sat to catch up a bit before heading home to make dinner, asking how she’d spent her day.

Turns out she was lucky enough to catch one of the many productions I just didn’t have time to take in — the Ballet Arizona performance of “Modern Masters.” She described each of the three pieces they performed in beautiful and exquisite detail — leading me to wonder whether she might be a budding arts critic, or interested perhaps in writing a guest blog about a future dance performance.

Tonight I was planning to attend opening night of “Fiddler on the Roof” at ASU Gammage – a piece that feels especially poignant as James and I ready to send our youngest daughter off to college in the fall. But I knew better than to leave late in the hopes of making it in time. Once again, my plate is full with family responsibilities.

Still, I’ll be taking time out later this evening to write a post about the show — which I saw performed at ASU Gammage many years ago. It was a different production, but the story in all its grandeur does not change — and it’s one that all parents can relate to and learn from.

“Fiddler on the Roof” runs through this weekend at ASU Gammage, and if you’re not going tonight, there’s still time for you to learn from my mistakes. Get through all that work you brought home now. Make the kids use paper plates, and tell your family you’re boycotting laundry.

It rarely seems to work for me. But I never give up trying.

After all, I am what I am…

– Lynn

Note: My “Art Adventures: Historic Glendale” will post just in time for you to get a taste of the city’s historic district before it holds a free event titled “Artworks First Saturdays” from 10am-4pm on Sat, April 3. Watch for musings on “Family and Fiddler” tomorrow (Wed, March 30).

Coming up: New season announcements!, A new “Women of Broadway” series hits the Valley