Tag Archives: First Fridays

Heroes of Hope

Folks who hit First Friday in Phoenix tonight can enjoy a “Heroes of Hope” exhibit being held in honor of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day (May 9). “Heroes of Hope” exhibits in Arizona represent a collaboration between the Arizona Art Therapy Association, Art Awakenings and Marana Health — plus participating families and youth. The Phoenix exhibit will be open during May at the Art Awakenings gallery located at 1014 N. 2nd St. Gallery hours are 6-9pm during this month’s First Friday.

Participating youth created works of art “representing heroes in their lives and how they have been helped in times of stress.” May’s First Friday event at the Art Awakenings gallery includes “a multimedia presentation with art imagery and facts about children’s mental health.”

A “Heroes of Hope” art fair taking place May 11 at the Marana Health Center ” will be formatted much like a science fair” and feature art created by K-12 students. Children who attend will be invited to create hand and footprints with paint for a “Wall of Heroes” being sent to service men and women deployed from Davis-Monathan Air Force Base. I’m told the event also features “interactive stations and information.”

Click here to learn more about National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day — a program of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. I’m one taxpayer who’s perfectly happy to support programs that help families living with depression and other devastating mental health disorders.

– Lynn

Note: Click here to explore “Facts for Families” from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Click here to explore explore a piece from The Guardian featuring artwork created by participants in London’s CoolTan Arts programs.

Coming up: Silver linings, Dance meets documentary

Celebrating “Day of the Dead”

When I stopped by the Arizona Latino Arts and Culture Center in downtown Phoenix last weekend, artist José Andrés Girón eagerly told me about an exhibit of works by visual and performance artist Zarco Guerrero opening this week — just in time for “First Friday” on Oct 8.

Guerrero’s one-man, multi-media exhibit titled “Calacas y Mas” runs through Nov 30. It features photos, masks, large puppets, ofrendas and a special Dia de los Muertos art installation. ALAC credits Guerrero with making the celebration of Dia de los Muertos as popular in Arizona as the celebration of Cinco de Mayo.

This work in the ALAC gift shop got me thinking about The Day of the Dead

The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix is celebrating Dia de los Muertos with “ongoing festivities, classes and exhibits” — plus entertainment to include song, dance and storytelling. The garden will present an interactive altar and a display honoring Dia de los Muertos.

Viewing of an “Ofrenda Offering” featuring installations by ten “local and renowned” artists is included with garden admission Oct 21-Nov 2. An event titled “Cuisine and Culture of Dia de los Muertos” takes place Thurs, Oct 27. And a traditional La Procesión blending symbolism and pageantry with music and dance begins at 5pm on Sat, Oct 30.

A work by Juan Chawuck of Chiapas Mexico exhibited at ALAC in Phoenix

Xico presents its 32nd annual “Dia de los Muertos: A Celebration of Life Festival” in Chandler Sat, Nov 5. The event features traditional music and dance by local performers, storytelling from the South Mountain Community College Storyteling Institute and children’s activities. Also folk arts and crafts and ethnic foods.

The Xico event also includes a community altar, a candlelight procession and their first ever “El Katrin/La Katrina Contest.” Their “El Dia de los Muertos” art exhibit featuring the works of more than 20 artists recently opened at their Chandler gallery. It’s part of their overall mission to “promote indigenous heritage and culture through the Arts.”

Works by Ruben Galicia on exhibit at ALAC in downtown Phoenix

Works by Ruben Galicia on exhibit at ALAC in downtown Phoenix

The Mesa Arts Center presents a “Dia le los Muertos Celebration” Oct 31-Nov 1. The event features a community altar, live music and performances, and food. Also a mercado complete with Day of the Dead merchandise, arts and crafts, children’s activities and more.

On Saturday, more than 150 students from various Mesa public schools will play mariachi-style music from 11am to noon. Altars created by local children and families will be on display, and one of several workshops (from noon-3pm) offers participants the opportunity to create an altar for a loved one, pet or event they wish to remember. Sunday events include a traditional procession starting at 4:30pm.

Detail of an Oliverio Balcells work titled Ometeotl exhibited at ALAC

The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix presents “Dia de los Muertos at MIM: A Celebration of Life through Music” Nov 5 & 6. The event features a community altar, a music-inspired activity for all ages, a display of student-made altars and live performance by various solo artists and bands.

The MIM celebration also features a traditional mercado filled with unique crafts and art, Mexican-inspired food and drinks, and a “cemetary” honoring famous American and Mexican musicians.

One of many colorful displays at the ALAC gift shop in Phoenix

For complete event details, visit organization and venue websites. If you know of another “Day of the Dead” celebration in the Valley, please comment below to let our readers know.

– Lynn

Note: Art featured in this post was photographed during my recent visit to ALAC (prior to the installation of their “Day of the Dead” exhibit).

Coming up: More festivals with multicultural flair, A musical about second chances

Thoughts of Japan

After watching television coverage of the devastating consequences of recent natural disasters in Japan, I spent some time reflecting on challenges facing the people of Japan — and those of us around the globe who must do our part to help its people.

I headed to the Japanese Friendship Garden in central Phoenix, which features an authentic Japanese stroll garden perfect for quiet reflection. There I learned that Himeji, Japan — home of a castle hailed as a world treasure — is one of Phoenix’s “sister cities.”

During tough — and truly tragic — times, those who feel the strongest need to help are often the people who have a personal connection with those affected. Phoenix has such a connection to Japan, and our country’s strong political alliance with Japan is well known and highly regarded.

As you talk with your family, friends and fellow community members about ways to support the Japanese people in the days, months and years ahead — consider spending some time at Ro Ho En, the Japanese Friendship Garden located at Margaret T. Hance Park.

Here’s a bit of what you’ll see there — followed by news of upcoming events at the garden, and ways you can help the people of Japan rebuild their homes and their lives…

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We first experienced the Japanese Friendship Garden during an elementary school field trip that included participating in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, which we began by taking off our shoes and settling into a spirit of quiet observation and profound respect.

I recalled that ceremony, with its beautiful order and tradition, as I watched footage filmed during and after Japan’s largest earthquake. A woman who struggled to replace cans in a supermarket as they fell around her amidst all the trembling. The people who remained calm and reverant rather than resorting to looting or other means of furthering the chaos wrought by nature upon them.

The Japanese Friendship Garden is a wonderful place to introduce your children to Japanese culture. In addition to the tea house and tea garden, it features more than fifty varieties of plants, flowing streams, stone footbridges and lanterns, a 12-foot waterfall and a Koi pond with more than 300 colorful fish.

During my most recent stroll through the garden, just a few other people were there — making it an especially serene and tranquil experience. I hope to return for the “Zen Garden Music & Art Festival” on April 16, when the garden will come alive with all sorts of visual and performance art.

During their season, the Japanese Friendship Garden participates in ArtLink’s “First Fridays” from 4pm to 7pm/dusk — when admission is free. Other times, the admission fee is modest — and school tours/group tours are available.

You’ll learn plenty about the Japanese Friendship Garden, and affiliates such as the Urasenke Foundation in Kyoto, by simply visiting their website — which features its own spectacular slide show with really interesting captions.

Still, a visit to the garden is the best way to get a feel here in Phoenix for all the beauty and wonder that is Japan.

– Lynn

Note: Visit the following websites to discover some of the ways you can support recovery efforts in Japan: www.doctorswithoutborders.org,  www.internationalmedicalcorps.org, www.peace-winds.org, www.redcross.org, www.salvationarmyusa.org

Coming up: Movie and theater reviews

Update: Donations for the Phoenix sister city of Himeji, Japan can be made March 18-20 at the Himeji, Japan booth in Sister Cities Village at WorldFEST. Click here to learn more about a fund drive being held by the Phoenix Sister Cities Commission to benefit disaster relief efforts — and to learn more about WorldFEST, which features family-friendly activities related to several of our sister cities throughout the world.

Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center

After dropping one of my kids off for a meeting in downtown Phoenix on Saturday, I had an hour or so of spare time on my hands. Recently armed with a new camera, I decided to go in search of art venues I could explore and maybe snap some photos.

The view as I walked east towards ALAC and Symphony Hall

I found a metered parking spot along Adams, and headed a block or so up the road to the Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center. I entered through the gift shop, lured by a vast array of colorful objects of art, attire, jewelry and more.

ALAC has a humble exterior but boasts great works of imagination within

There I met two cheerful gentleman who welcomed me to the Center, and assured me they’d be happy to answer any questions. I got permission to use my flash and off I went.

This bracelet with hearts might make a nice Valentine's Day gift

While going from room to room, I enjoyed works ranging from small metal sculptures to giant artworks drawn with colored pencils.

Sweet Dreams by David Romo sits at a nice height for younger viewers

I enjoyed artwork featuring cars, owls, desert animals, children, butterflies, the wide open sky and so much more. It’s a place you can explore in less than an hour, and I saw plenty of works that have strong kid-appeal.

Detail, Til the Road Ends by Ray Rivas

The Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center is in a great location for walking city streets and enjoying all sorts of shops, restaurants, galleries and performing arts venues.

Untitled by Carlos Navarrete is part of a Visions of Guadalupe exhibit

You could easily make a day of it by taking in a show at Valley Youth Theatre nearby or htting the Phoenix Burton Barr Central Library. (Both have small art exhibits on site.)

Like many musems, ALAC uses technology to enhance cultural exhibits

But back to my ALAC adventures — which included a lengthy and lively chat with one of the young men who’d greeted me when I arrived.

This metal and found objects sculpture (R) is Cicso's Ride by David Romo

I learned late in our conversation, after mentioning my fondness for the colored pencil works, that I was talking with artist Carlos Rivas.

Detail, Must Not Sleep by Carlos Rivas - Part of the "Off the Grid" exhibit

Rivas is a 33-year-old “self-taught” artist from El Paso, Texas who has been creating art since childhood, but only embraced his talent within the past few years. His passion for art and community are evident as he speaks.

Detail, Lord Ganesh by Carlos Rivas - My favorite work on exhibit at ALAC

I mentioned seeing yet another Arizona-related story on the front page of The New York Times – regarding recent changes to policies regarding ethnic-studies courses in high school.

We agreed that it would be nice to read good news about Arizona for a change, and Rivas shared his conviction that the Center serves the community by increasing knowledge, understanding and dialogue.

I hadn’t yet heard the tragic news of the shooting in Tucson, and it occured to me that the national media should visit the Center to find a bit of what’s beautiful here in Arizona.

You can enjoy the Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center free of charge during regular operating hours — but a glass jar welcomes donations by those who wish to support the Center’s work.

ALAC has a room/stage dedicated to performance and educational events

Or head to the Center for Phoenix “First Fridays” so you can enjoy several arts and cultural activities in one evening.

Remember ALAC next time you enjoy a symphony, opera or ballet downtown

If you’re a teacher taking students on a field trip to the Herberger Theater Center, Phoenix Symphony Hall or other nearby venue, leave some extra time to explore the Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center.

The Herberger Theater Center has a stunning new look both inside and out

The Center is also a nice pairing with an afternoon spent at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix. I left the Center with a wee bit of time left on my parking meter, so I scurried over to the Herberger Theater Center Art Gallery to enjoy their new “Sacred Places” exhibit.

This James Van Fossan work titled Sky IV is part of the Sacred Places exhibit

On my way back to get Lizabeth, I drove past the Phoenix Center Theater and noticed a long line of folks heading into the theater for a performance of “Grease” by youth in an afterschool program titled “Art & Sol.” The show runs through Sat, Jan 22.

Enjoy true community theater just off the Loop 202 at 3rd St. in Phoenix

I’ll share more of my Saturday afternoon adventures in another post. In the meantime, feel free to suggest other venues you’d like me to explore and share with our readers.

Watch for roving Phoenix Ambassadors eager to assist downtown visitors

Inspired by the work and words of Carlos Rivas, I expect to take not only my camera, but also a sketch pad and colored pencils, on future art adventures.

– Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about arts and cultural attractions in the downtown Phoenix area.

Coming up: Art at the Herberger — inside and out

Photos (decent and lousy) by Lynn Trimble

My Herberger happy dance

Go ahead — give a twirl. You know you want to. Because today marks the grand re-opening ceremony of the Herberger Theater Center in downtown Phoenix. It’s newly renovated and I’m doing my happy dance.

Tomorrow I can dance during the Herberger Theater Center’s Festival for the Arts, though I may let others do it for me. Get ready for a collective community arts party of sorts as longime lovers of the Herberger join newer fans for a day of play.

The festival features food, performances, art, live music, film festival shorts and a children’s activity area. Tickets are just $5 for the 13 & up set (ages 12 & under are free).

At some point, I’ll need to hang up my dancing shoes and slide into my running shoes so I can also get to some of the other arts events around the Valley this weekend. Here’s a rundown…


CONDER/dance presents “Dance Downtown” on Fri, Oct 1. It features “dance, film and art on the grounds of the majestic Trinity Cathedral in Phoenix.


Century Arts Foundation presents the 10th annual “Scottsdale International Film Festival” for five days starting Fri, Oct 1. Features films that “foster a meaningful understanding of the world’s cultures, lifestyles, religions, and ethnicities.” Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts (opening ceremony) and Harkins Camelview 5 Theatre in Scottsdale.


The Deer Valley Rock Art Center presents a free lecture by Reba Wells Grandrud titled “Historical Graffiti: Arizona’s Own ‘Independence Rock.'” Features information on an Arizona bluff where several people well-known in the history of the Southwest carved their names or initials. DVRAC in Glendale.

The Heard Museum presents their 7th annual “Spirit of the Heard” award ceremony on Fri, Oct 1. The 2010 ceremony will honor revered Taos Pueblo elder, Tony Ryena — and kick off their “2010 Native American Recognition Days.” Heard Museum in Phoenix.


The Heard Museum presents members of the Arizona Opera performing “Little Warrior Comes Home” on Sun, Oct 3. Features work written by Navajo scholar Evangeline Parsons-Yazzie of Northern Arizona University. Heard Museum in Phoenix.

The Phoenix Symphony presents “Pops Adventures Around the World” Fri/Sat/Sun, Oct 1-3. The two-hour concert, conducted by Jack Everly, features music of Australia, the UK, the USA and Italy. Symphony Hall in Phoenix.


ASU Lyric Opera Theatre presents “Tartuffe” on Fri/Sat, Oct 1-2 (and Fri/Sat, Oct 8-9). Features the contemporary comedic opera (opera is only rumored to be old and stuffy) based on Molere’s 17th century French comedy. Evelyn Smith Music Theatre at ASU in Tempe.

Great Arizona Puppet Theater presents “For Adults: Puppet Slam” (for the 18+ set) on Fri/Sat, Oct 1-2. Features “quirky edgy puppet shows by Arizona’s leading quirky edgy puppeteers.” GAPT in Phoenix.


Changing Hands Bookstore presents “Costume Storytime: Wild Thing” on Sat, Oct 2. Family event features a storyteller reading Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are” while a “Wild Thing” visits and poses for photos (bring your camera). CHB in Tempe.

South Mountain Community College presents “Stories for Hispanic Heritage Month” on Fri, Oct 1. Features stories from the SMCC Storytelling Institute. SMCC in Phoenix.

Visual Arts

Arizona Sonora Desert Museum presents “Art Institute Student Show” Sat., Oct 2 through Sun., Dec 5. Features “a variety of media and a multitude of Sonoran Desert subject matter.” ASDM in Tucson.

Artlink Phoenix presents “First Friday” on Fri, Oct 1. The “nation’s largest, self-guided art walk” features access to “more than 70 galleries, venues and art-related spaces” in Phoenix. Trollies leave from the Phoenix Art Museum starting at 6pm. (Museums open during the walk include the Children’s Museum of Phoenix and others.)

Check the online calendar for Raising Arizona Kids magazine for daily listing of family-friendly events including performing arts, exhibits and much more. It’s a great place to find storytimes, arts and crafts, outdoor/nature experiences and more. (Always call ahead to confirm event details, ticket prices and such.)

If, like me, you get all your family’s dancing shoes at Barry’s Capezio in Scottsdale, give my regards to Barry and family — and warn them that I may be the one doing the happy dance this weekend. Those who don’t dart out the door with dread will give a good giggle.


Note: The Herberger Theater Center is home to three resident companies — Actors Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company and Center Dance Ensemble. Other companies who use the Herberger Theater Center include Valley Youth Theater and iTheatre Collaborative. The center also features a youth outreach program and the Steele Pavilion Art Gallery.

Coming up: Theater musings from Diamond Head, Dance performance to benefit domestic violence prevention, Theater by and for youth, Fall break arts camps

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 forks of July?

Even forks can be patriotic

As our thoughts turn to celebrating the 4th of July and the many things the holiday means for each of us, let’s not forget the simple joys of celebrating with art. Especially when paint and forks are involved. 

The Children’s Museum of Phoenix presents “Fork Painting Fireworks” for children on Sun, July 4, from 9-11am. I could explain it, but you’ll have more fun if you just roll with it. No real fireworks are involved so fingers and toes should be plenty safe. 

To enjoy free admission, head to the Children’s Museum of Phoenix Fri, July 2, between 6-10pm for “First Fridays,” a program from Artlink Phoenix that lets folks tour more than 70 galleries, venues and art-related spaces for free. There’s even a shuttle that travels between the Phoenix Art Museum and several other places along the route.

Phoenix Art Museum’s newest exhibition titled “Cezanne and American Modernism” opened July 1 and runs through Sept 26 in the Steele Gallery. Many of their visiting collections require tickets (not free) for admission so it’s always wise to call ahead when you can. But hey, I think free entry to the general museum during “First Fridays” is a good time if I only get as far as their gift shop. It’s among the Valley’s best–ala funky forks and more.

Keep the “free” theme going with a trip to the Heard Museum in Phoenix for the first of several “Target FREE Sizzlin’ Summer Saturdays” they’re presenting during July. Every Saturday this month from 10am-4pm, the museum will feature free hands-on activities (such as crafts and scavenger hunts) for kids along with music and dance performances. Admission to the museum’s 10 exhibition galleries and all museum programming is included for free during these six hours on July 3. 

Fork art trumps folk art

If you’re feeling especially “wild and free” this weekend, and you have the Bank of America equivalent of the golden ticket, you can enjoy Bank of America’s “Museums on Us and the Phoenix Zoo.” B of A cardholders who show cards with photo ID get in free for the first full weekend of every month the program runs. 

And no, the word “weekend” doesn’t imply that you can spend the night amidst the critters (although the children we know who’ve done another zoo program called “Night Camp” say it’s a hoot). You’ll have to leave and come back the next day to flash your B of A dealies once again. Kudos to B of A for giving folks something they can really enjoy. Arts and culture beat the heck out of coffee mugs and toasters! 

Has Bella hit her fork in the road?

When you’re ready to enjoy a respite from the heat, head to your favorite movie theater for a taste of the Washington town named Forks, setting for “The Twilight Saga” including the newest Bella beaufest titled “Eclipse.” I’m more of a “Toy Story” kind of a gal so I may hit the movies to get my Mr. Pricklepants fix instead. You don’t need a fork to feast on popcorn. And who doesn’t love a thespian hedgehog sporting lederhosen?

As always, check those dates and other fun details before you head out. And visit the Raising Arizona Kids online calendar if you’re looking for holiday-related and other family-friendly events this weekend. 

It’s not only a dry heat, it’s a free heat… 


The fine art of flooding

Much of life is more interesting, and inspiring, when passed through a prism of art…

So when the offices for Raising Arizona Kids magazine flooded recently, my mind turned to musing about floods of recent times, such as the New Orleans flood of 2005. 

"Flood-Marker" Sculpture in New Orleans

While meandering with my mouse, I happened upon a sculpture called “Flood-Marker,” shown on the Arts Council of New Orleans website with an artist’s statement saying the work is “intended to memorialize…without overt judgment.” 

The approach seemed a stark contrast to a profound work of art I’d listened to earlier that morning, the cast recording for the new Broadway musical “American Idiot”–in which Green Day’s lyrics combine with every pounding note to pass judgment on American ignorance and idolatry. 

I also discovered Robert Polidori’s “After the Flood.” It’s a book of photographs Polidori captured in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, some of which were exhibited by The Metropolitan Museum of Art on the first anniversary of that devastating deluge, and will soon find a home in my own little library (where I now do my daily blogging free of humming appliances). 

Photo from The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Soon I learned of a lovely little event in Nashville that sounds akin to Phoenix’s own First Fridays Art Walk. Seems they do a first Saturdays “Art Crawl” that was impacted by torrential storms during May festivities. Their gallery community has already come together to help raise funds for flood relief efforts through a special gallery opening titled “We Art Nashville.” 

But why, you might wonder, would these things be of any interest to readers living in the Arizona desert? They serve, I think, as a powerful reminder of the absolute need for art as a means of private and public expression of our deepest feelings—from grief and loss to shame and solidarity. 

We’re truly fortunate, as a magazine family, to have the luxury of learning to let go. The flooded office space may be helping us along, but it’s something I suspect many of us—especially the midlife moms in our midst—were already tackling. It’s a far cry from having the people and places we love wrenched from us with true fury.

Still, the letting go is a good thing. 

Painting exhibited at Treadway Gallery

I chatted with some very generous-of-spirit folks yesterday as I sought out Arizona connections between art and flooding. They reminded me that some of the things we don’t often think about can happen, and have happened, here (reminding me further of RAK writer/producer Vicki Louk Balint’s latest post on mold amidst the dry desert Southwest). 

When an amazing archivist with ASU Libraries called and began to rattle off all the floods Arizona has experienced during the last decade or so (by city and year), I knew I was swirling in waters way over my head. I wasn’t raised in Arizona, so I don’t have the benefit of all those Arizona history lessons recounting the ways our rivers, and sometime flooding, have impacted our geography and our people. 

I’d hoped to head out to at least one of the many Arizona museums that might shed light on this topic for me, but ended up at home with a daughter who wasn’t feeling all that well. Instead, I assembled my “floods and field trips” notes so we can up our FQ (flood quotient) during future adventures. 

"Flood Waters" by Monet

I’m eager to tackle the Deer Valley Rock Art Center in Phoenix. I’ve been there many times, but never connected the dots about how flooding in the region was actually responsible for the center’s development. I’ll also hit the Arizona Museum of Natural History and the SRP Heritage History Center to learn more about the impact of water on the development of Arizona’s natural resources. 

Also on my list of things to explore while in FSI (flood scene investigation) mode: Arizona Historical Society Museum at Papago Park in Phoenix, Tempe Historical Museum (once it reopens following renovations), River of Time Museum in Fountain Hills and Heard Museum (in Phoenix and Scottsdale). 

I’ll pop in to Hayden Library at ASU to check out archived photos of flood waters from various times in Arizona history, and hit Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix to check their related offerings. While at ASU, by the way, I’m going to check out the “Trading Cloth and Culture Exhibit” at the ASU Museum of Anthropology (through June 30 only).

"Flood and Waters Subsiding" by Uccello

If these don’t quench my thirst for art and flooding FAQs, I can try exploring a whole other area noted by one of the museum curators I spoke with yesterday—the tragedy of art damaged and destroyed by flooding and some of the remarkable ways Arizona has helped other states preserve their treasures. 

Just be glad I’m no longer homeschooling my children. I’d be all over flooding as a theme to carry across disciplines. Don’t even get me started… 


1970s "The Flood" by Norman Adams RA

Coming up: AriZoni winners reflect on what the awards have meant to them personally and professionally, Spotlight on Childsplay’s first international tour, Opportunity to create art for the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, Awards for businesses that support the arts in Arizona, Update from the Arizona Commission on the Arts

Update: Our hearts go out to families affected by recent flooding in Arkansas. To learn more about emergency preparedness, visit www.redcross.org, www.fema.gov or www.noaa.gov.

My favorite F-words

When our three children were younger, we used to play a lot of word games… 

We’d play “hangman” on restaurant napkins while waiting for our food, look for objects beginning with certain letters as we drove to and from school, or see who could find the most words to rhyme when we found a fun word in a book we were reading together. 

Nowadays we enjoy crossword puzzles and Scrabble games on those lovely little hand-held electronic devices. (I figure there’s little point in learning their names since a new gizmo will debut about the time I master the lingo.) 

We never had much fun with math games. Fractions can be so frustrating for us ‘counting on fingers and toes’ folk. 

The “find a word that begins with…” game is easy and fun for all ages—and it never hurts to practice since you may encounter it in later life if your doctor decides a memory test might be in order. 

Here’s a little practice round: See how many F-words you can come up with during the next 60 seconds… 

The words you choose can be quite telling. For me, there’s “fudge” (an homage to my mom’s homemade goodies), “fridge” (a nod to my son’s voracious appetite) and “feline” (a shout out to our furriest pet). 

There’s “Fame” because that’s the title of the DVD I rented with Lizabeth for “girls night in” yesterday—and, of course, there’s “friends” and “family.” 

Did you come up with “free?” Or “fun?” If so, this is your kind of weekend. (And yes, you can add “Friday” to the favorites list.)

Tonight from 6-10pm you can enjoy “Free First Friday Night” with your family at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix. Notice how these overachievers got the three fabulous F-words in a single event title? Festivities (for the 10 & under set, accompanied by adults) include hands-on, interactive exhibits.

Saturday’s freebies include a 10am “Music Together” preview class presented by Music Together of Phoenix. It’s for kids (with parents) ages infant to four, and features songs, chants and music from around the world as well as instrument play. 

I can’t attend because it’d be hard to pass my 6’5 + son off as a preschooler, but I am going to spend part of my weekend listening to a free “Music Together” CD I picked up at the ASA Showcase silent auction the other night. Though Christopher is nearly 21 now, music continues to be one of our favorite things to enjoy together. 

Consider a trip to the Musical Instrument Museum of Phoenix if you’re a music lover with older kids eager to find a cool (temperature-wise and otherwise) place to explore. It isn’t free, but it’s fabulous–and you can up the fun factor by seeing who can find the most instruments with names that start with the letter “F” (like the Flugelhorn from Germany).

Families with younger children can enjoy the “Sounds Like Art” exhibit at the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa with paid museum admission. The exhibit features both visual arts and hands-on music-making activities. I’m told there’s even a collective music-making experience featuring laser beams. 

Another Saturday freebie for families comes to you from the ASU Art Museum at the university’s Tempe campus. Guests ages 4-12 and their families can enjoy “First Saturday for Families” featuring hands-on activities and take-home art projects.

Music lovers can round out the weekend with the free “Sunday Night Concert Series” at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. Bring blankets and lawn chairs to enjoy the music of “favorite local bands” (and don’t forget a wee bit of cash for train and carousel rides or trips to the concessions area). 

Finally, I leave you with the finest word of all for freelancers…



Note: Take special care when doing the rhyming thing with teens. You’re in trouble if you launch this game with words such as “luck,” “slam” or “ditch.”  And don’t even think suggesting words that rhyme with “flood.”

Coming up: Private studios offering classes in acting, voice and more; “Camp Broadway” at ASU Gammage

"Farfalle" coming soon to Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Update: Since writing this post, I’ve been alerted (via virtual and actual mailbox) to two freebies offered by the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts…

The first is a “Choose 3 or more performances and get one FREE” offer I discovered on their groovy new 2010-2011 season brochure (LOVE the cover art on this baby!). The offer applies to select performances (including L.A. Theatre Works, ScrapArtsMusic and more).

The second, also from the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, is a free open house previewing their upcoming season (which features more than 75 performances) with multi-media presentations and more. The June 11 (Fri) open house is scheduled for 5pm at the Virginia G. Piper Theater, with a 6pm reception to follow at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA).

I’m hoping to attend if not on Friday night teen taxi duty, so look for me in my unofficial red “Stage Mom” jacket (see photo above–of me, not Lord Farquaad) if you want to say hi, share blog ideas or tell me about family-friendly arts adventures in your neck of the woods.

Learn more at www.scottsdaleperformingarts.org or 480-994-ARTS (2787), ext. 2.

“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.