Tag Archives: PCH

Let me call you sweet art

Artist Kit Carson created this bracelet for the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix

Enough with the chocolates and flowers already. Enough with holidays that tell us when, where and how to express our love. Enough with token gifts fraught with misgivings rather than meaning.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day if you must, but get your heart on with gifts that truly matter — enriching experiences and choices that enhance our communities — instead of mere bon bons or bling.

Choosing Valentine’s Day gifts for children? Support our local hospitals and medical centers by hitting their gift shops for playful presents like games, stuffed animals and craft kits.

I’m eagerly awaiting the opening of the new Phoenix Children’s Hospital gift shop in their stunning 11-story tower, but I’m enjoying hunting in the meantime for treasures in the east building’s gift shop.

There’s plenty to choose from in all price ranges — including jewelry, clothing with an artsy feel, art activities and board games you might not find in your typical toy store.

Museum gift shops offer lots of fun finds for children and adults. Think the Heard Museum for gifts with an American Indian theme. The Musical Instrument Museum for all things music-related. The Phoenix Art Museum for sweethearts who appreciate art in every nook and cranny, even the kitchen.

Plenty of performing arts venues have gift shops full of unique fare with an artistic flair. Think Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Mesa Arts Center, Tempe Center for the Arts and more.

Watch for gift boutiques when you attend performances by Valley arts organizations. I often encounter fun goodies when seeing the Phoenix Symphony, the Arizona Opera or Ballet Arizona perform at Symphony Hall in Phoenix.

Some arts organizations, including the Great Arizona Puppet Theater in Phoenix, have their own on-site gift shops — and invite folks to stop and shop even when they’re not there for a performance.

There are plenty of options for those of you still rushing to put together that perfect Valentine’s Day experience. No need to panic with those pesky pajama grams.

Instead of dinner and a movie, treat your beloved to a film festival (perhaps a romantic trip to the Sedona International Film Festival) or a night out to enjoy art, dance, music or theater. (Better yet: Pop for season tickets.)

I suppose I won’t reject any bon bons or bling that might come my way this year, but I’ll have to fight the urge to turn everything over and search for evidence it came from one of the community causes I so love to support — even in small ways.

– Lynn

Note: Don’t forget the charm of homemade gifts of art with heart — your local bead shop or pottery painting store can help with ideas, materials and even execution of your project

Coming up: The fine art of daily blogging

Art adventures: Phoenix Children’s

One of a pair of prints featuring children's toys

It might seem an odd place for an art adventure, but I uncovered all sorts of paintings, photos and sculpture on a recent visit to the new 11-story tower at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.

I swung by the hospital one day after taking Lizabeth to school — and ran into Steve Schnall, a fellow Desert View Learning Center parent and longtime PCH administrator, just outside the cafeteria.

You see art at PCH from the minute elevator doors open

“What happens in the PCH cafeteria,” I thought, “should stay in the PCH cafeteria.” Happily, he was way too busy to witness my carbo binge as I morphed from arts writer to food critic.

I wondered how the pizza and bread sticks would compare with my kids’ favorite pizzeria at the mall, and felt it was my duty to find out. Thumbs up, by the way, for the spicy pepperoni and generous crust.

Giant art piece viewed from a family laundry room on the third floor

I’d have stayed and “done the laptop” all day if I’d been clever enough to access the guest wireless account, but ended up roaming the first couple floors instead — searching for kid-friendly art.

You’ll be happy to know that you won’t get far at PCH without signing in, snagging a visitor pass and such. I learned the hard way after turning my camera loose before connecting with the fine folks who manage such things.

When a volunteer and security guard got to wondering that I was up to, I felt like I’d just time-traveled back to my college days — when museum security guards had to constantly remind me that artwork was for admiring, not touching.

As I sat with a security guard waiting for clearance to finish my photo shoot, I noticed that every single person who walked by one particular piece of art had to touch it.

One of many bright and cheerful conversation areas on the second floor

Instead of shaking a finger, the security guard shared my delight — remarking that the best art invites interaction. Once I was cleared for take-off, he pointed me in the direction of some of his favorite pieces.

The three paintings of coy fish in a 2nd floor waiting area. The two photos of frogs, in brilliant green and purple, tucked away near the back of another clinic’s reception area.

This is the piece on the second floor that folks find so touchable

The rabbit sculpture near one of the tower’s many vast windows overlooking mountains in the distance. The painting of a dog at the wheel of a colorful car.

Turns out he’s an artist who creates some serious oil paintings when he’s not on duty. Thanks to a handy cell phone picture, he was able to show me a photo of a horse painting that looked remarkably expressive and rich in detail and color.

Knowing he was on duty, I didn’t want to inquire any further into his work. But I do hope he’ll contact me one day during his spare time so I can learn more about what seems a fascinating double life.

One of a trio of paintings featuring coy fish

And I have to wonder, how many of the people we encounter each day spend their evening or weekend hours engaged in creative enterprises that never reach our radar?

After penning nearly 500 posts, I still find the world exploding with stories — some obvious, but most tucked away. They’re revealed in chance encounters, authentic conversations and the everyday wonders of our world.

– Lynn

Note: Many Valley hospitals serving children feature child-friendly artwork, so make time to notice and appreciate it next time you’re there.

Coming up: Google meets museum

Towering art exhibit

I drive by all sorts of towers in Phoenix and surrounding cities each day, but there are two that have special meaning. One helped my children begin life. The other helped give them wings.

The first is Good Samaritan Hospital – which I never pass without wondering which of the many windows might mark the rooms where my three children were born, all some two decades or so ago.

The second is the new 11-story tower at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, whose team of medical professionals has cared for my kids for nearly that long. We know the E.R., and plenty of the specialty clinics — from dermatology to gastroenterology — well.

We missed Monday’s opening of the new outpatient clinics because my son, now 21, was having a medical procedure at another site — but he still beams with pride every time we drive by the new Phoenix Children’s tower, knowing it’s part of the hospital that’s sometimes felt like a second home.

I’ll be heading over to Phoenix Children’s Hospital today to see the new tower in all its glory – then heading home to wrap up a piece on the hospital for an upcoming issue of Raising Arizona Kids magazine.

Through the years I’ve covered many a Phoenix Children’s Hospital milestone for the magazine. I’ve marveled at the sight of tiny babies who thrive despite being born before their time and chatted with older children who’ve faced cancer or undergone delicate heart surgery.

I’m eager to return today — but without my children. They’ll all be in class or doing volunteer work, so I can stroll the halls of the newest Phoenix Children’s Hospital tower alone as I consider all it has meant in their young lives.

I’ll likely take my humble camera along to snap photos of the diverse and delightful art young patients and their families will encounter each time they’re at the new tower.

I already know it’s spectacular because I enjoyed a sneak peek several weeks ago with Daniel Friedman — the photographer, visual artist and former teacher whose fresh writing greets you on the magazine’s home page each day.

Watch for future snapshots that I’ll be adding to this post. In the meantime, visit RAK magazine on Facebook to see how the professionals do it — and check out exciting news about what’s new (and coming) on the Phoenix Children’s Hospital website.

– Lynn

Note: Phoenix Children’s Hospital is working on other additions and renovations as it moves toward becoming the nation’s largest hospital dedicated to serving children and teens.

Coming up: More art that heals

Make an art teacher’s day!

Small gifts of time, talent or financial resources can make a big difference in school arts programs — especially when we all pitch in. Enjoy supporting  arts learning at your child’s school in one or more of the following ways:

Research, plan and/or chaperone for arts-related field trips

"Kate's Flower" by Kate M., Age 5

Volunteer to create/install bulletin boards or other exhibit spaces

Donate arts-related books or other media materials to the school library

Attend school arts performances — even when your child is not performing

Pay (or offer to simply do the shopping) for arts-related supplies

Invite friends, family and neighbors to school art exhibits and performances

Share information on arts events and organizations happening in the community with school art teachers

Volunteer to assist with art projects in the classroom (and school clubs)

Donate funds dedicated to professional development for arts teachers

"Lion's Heart" by Gabriel C., Age 7

Volunteer to plan, coordinate and/or execute art exhibits and other events

Suggest community partnerships that might benefit schools and businesses/other organizations

Donate arts-related items you’re no longer using at home (such as musical instruments)

Offer to fund an arts-related field tip to visit a museum or see a theater, dance or music performance

Talk to art students about your own arts-related interests, hobbies or career

"Shy Bear" by Isaiah G., Age 7

Donate art storage items such as cabinets, shelves and crates

Volunteer time to sew costumes, paint sets and more

Stay informed about arts education issues and let legislators know the arts matter in our schools

Support creative play at home with time, space and materials for making visual art, theater and more

Give arts-related gifts such as subscriptions to arts magazines dealing with teacher areas of interest

Help arts teachers develop and share their wish lists of needed materials

Photograph student art to display on the school website

"Happy Flower" by Eilene, Age 12

Volunteer to read arts-related books during storytimes

Share interesting articles you come across about arts news, education, policy and more

Donate gift cards teachers can use at art supply stores

Collect supplies arts teachers are looking for (such as newspapers for paper mache)

Volunteer to arrange guest speakers/guest performers in the arts

Let administrators and board members know you value arts education

"Cutout Snowflake" by Toby M., Age 7

When in doubt, just ask. And remember to thank and compliment your child’s art teachers when you admire their work. Encouragement and appreciation can be the finest gifts of all.

–Lynn

Note: If you’re an arts teacher or parent with other ideas and suggestions on supporting school arts programs, please share them with fellow readers in the comment section below

Coming up: Arts camps for fall/winter break

Artwork featured in this post is from the PCH Kids Art collection, available through Phoenix Children’s Hospital at www.pchkidsart.com. The collection includes art prints, all occasion cards, holiday cards and more — with proceeds benefiting the PCH Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.

The fine art of farce

A Valley reviewer recently dubbed Phoenix Theatre’s “Noises Off” the “best comedy you are likely ever to see.” I’d be inclined to agree had I not seen so much fabulously funny fare from this professional theater company through the years.

There’s plenty more to come from Phoenix Theatre – including the first production of the racy Broadway musical “Avenue Q” by an Arizona theater company. Who’s to say they won’t outdo themselves yet again?

Their casting is simply superb — and this show is no exception. Add a complex and creative set, maddeningly funny material and music to knock your socks (or boxer shorts) off — and you have a farce that’s nothing short of fine art.

"Noises Off" elevates farce to a fine art (Photo by Laura Durant)

Direction by Matthew Wiener, producing artistic director for Actors Theatre of Phoenix, only fuels the flames — for both the fantastically talented cast and the audience members who mistakenly presume they are out for a night of modest theater.

Picture yourself in a British theater waiting for the curtain to rise on “Nothing On” presented by “A Noise Within” productions. You’re leafing through the program only to discover actor/creative team credits that include playing Britain’s most famous lollypop lady, winning a coveted medal for violence, and loving anything small and furry.

It’s easy to imagine because every “Noises Off” playbill includes a fictitious “Nothing On” program replete with cast/creative team bios as well as a lovely bit of dramaturgy borrowed from an expert ‘in the semantics of Bedroom Farce.’

Members of the "Noises Off" cast in all their slapstick glory (Photo by Laura Durant)

If you carefully read the pseudo-program before the curtain opens, you’ll get your fix of fascinating facts about various elements of the production — the slamming doors, the falling trousers, mistaken identities and more.

You’ll discover that uproarious laughter, for some, “is a metaphysical representation of the sexual act.” If that’s the case, you’re in for one heck of an orgy when you see this show.

Good news for parents: Other than a black negligee and boxer shorts (not worn together, thankfully), there’s little that’s explicitly rude or crude in this show. It’s rife with inuendo, but I can’t imagine that many kids would catch the subtleties. They will, however, appreciate the many triumphs in physical comedy.

You never know where that baggage might end up (Photo by Laura Durant)

“Noises Off” by Michael Frayn consists of three acts featuring the folly of a ficticious “Nothing On” production. Act I depicts the final rehearsal for “Nothing On” — setting up characters and situations that won’t be fully appreciated until later in the work. It’s funny, but you won’t yet find yourself wishing you’d made that last minute potty stop.

Act II reveals a bevy of backstage bungling as we witness a performance of “Nothing On” from behind the scenes. It’s funnier and more outrageous than the first, but the farce really hits the fan during Act III, when we finally see the onstage mayhem as it appears to unwitting audience members.

Plenty of pratfalls involve persnickety props — a disappearing and reappearing plate of sardines, a rotary dial phone with a tendency-to-tangle cord, flowers that never cease to find their way into the wrong suitors’ hands. The rotating set-piece — the two-story home where “Nothing On” is set — is equally delightful.

I do have to wonder, though, whether younger audiences would be more appreciative if the work was updated a bit with Starbucks in lieu of sardines or computer wires in lieu of telephone cords. Of course, there’d be no stopping there since the world may soon be wireless — and the modern day quest for efficiency robbed of sensual pleasures like reading a paperback book over a cup of coffee might just as easily bring caffeine injections via some sort of biochip.

Steer clear of slippery sardines, among other things (Photo by Laura Durant)

It’s been several days since I saw the play, being performed at Phoenix Theatre through Sept 19 (extended from Sept 12 due to ‘popular demand and critical acclaim’). But I still find myself leafing through the actual program — where I’m learning all sorts of things about our local talent.

Leann Dearing (Brooke) and her husband Matthew are acting instructors with Dearing Acting Studio. Mike Lawler (Selsdon) is a member of Phoenix Theatre’s “Partners That Heal” program. Maren Maclean (Belinda) has extensive Shakespeare experience (including several seasons as education outreach director for Southwest Shakespeare Company) — which I’m convinced is the best training ground for the craft of comedy.

Gail Wolfenden-Steib (costume designer) operates Rukshana Raks!, a custom dancewear business specializing in belly dance costumes for both cabaret and tribal dance styles. Katie McNamara (properties designer) has worked as a prop artisan for the Utah Shakespearean Festival, Shakespeare Santa Cruz and others.

Matthew Wiener (director) holds an MFA from the Yale School of Drama. Michael J. Eddy (production manager/lighting designer) sits on the board of Scorpius Dance Theatre (which presents “A Vampire Tale” to sold out crowds each Halloween season). Pasha W. Yamotahari (assistant director and more) holds a journalism degree from the Cronkite School at ASU and has earned dramaturge and critic awards from the presitigious Kennedy Center.

Beware of doors that fly open or slam shut (Photo by Laura Durant)

Despite the farcical nature of the fare, I came away from it asking myself a rather serious question. Might I want to be a dramatuge when I grow up? Thankfully, I still have time to decide.

In the meantime, being an avid supporter of the Valley’s arts scene is a mighty fine gig.

–Lynn

Note: Mention the word “sardines” when ordering your tickets to enjoy a $5 savings while the offer lasts.

Coming up: Lynn and Liz encounter a frog and a toad a la Childsplay in Tempe; “Music Man” (with Phoenix Symphony and Phoenix Theatre) meets the Musical Instrument Museum; Making magic happen

Photos (from the top): Joseph Kremer;  Mike Lawler, Joseph Kremer, Christopher Williams, Maren Maclean, Cathy Dresbach; Christopher Williams, Leeann Dearing; Christopher Williams, Cathy Dresbach; Joseph Kremer, Cathy Dresbach, Robert Kolby Harper, Leeann Dearing (counter-clockwise from top left). All photos by Laura Durant of Durant Communications.

Weekend whimsy

There’s a little something for everyone when it comes to family arts and entertainment this weekend. Here’s a roundup by category–featuring everything from concerts and musicals to nature walks and museum exhibits–with a bit of whimsy thrown in just for fun…

From sweeping beauties to singing mermaids

Theater performances include “Cinderella: A Ragtime Musical” at Desert Stages in Scottsdale, “Grease” at Valley Youth Theatre in Phoenix, “The Little Mermaid” at Hale Centre Theatre in Gilbert, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre in Mesa, “Two Bad Mice” by Great Arizona Puppet Theater in Phoenix, “Into the Woods” at Theater Works in Peoria (featuring a fabulous raffle)

From choral auditions to singing with Elmo

Music events include “Phoenix Boys Choir auditions” at the Phoenix Boys Choir in Phoenix, “Andreas Klein” (piano) and “Rahim Alhaj” (Iraqi oud) at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, “Breakfast with Elmo” (including song and dance) at Family Time in Gilbert

From movies in the park to movies at the museum

Community movie events include “Movie Night at the Park” (“Hoot” plus lessons on burrowing owls) at Estrella Mountain Regional Park in Goodyear, “Dinner and a Movie” (“G-Force”) at Eddie’s House in Scottsdale, “Movies in the Ballpark” (“Cars”) at Goodyear Ballpark, “Kid’s Night Out Movie Night” (“Spirited Away”) at the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa

From art walks to hands-on art projects

Art activities include “Downtown Chandler Art Walk” (art/entertainment), “Free Art Friday” (art projects/games) in Tempe, “Great Expectations and Dreams: Arizona Teens Speak Up” at ASU Downtown (to benefit PCH cancer/blood disorder patients)

From baseballs to carved dolls

Museum exhibits include “Goose Bumps! The Science of Fear” and “Solarville” at the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix, “Play Ball: The Cactus League Experience” and “Jump to Japan: Discovering Culture Through Popular Art” at the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa, “Therizinosaur: Mystery of the Sickle-Claw Dinosaur” at the Arizona Museum of Natural History in Mesa (adjacent to the Arizona Museum for Youth), “What Moves Us: Art of Transportation from the Permanent Collection” at the ASU Art Museum in Tempe, “Visions: Text Messages” at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, “Hopi Katsina Dolls: 100 Years of Carving” and “More Than Child’s Play: American Indian Dolls” at the Heard Museum in Phoenix

From flashlight tour to wildflower walk

Nature activities include “Wildflower Walk” at The Arboretum at Flagstaff, “Hummingbird Banding” (professionals band, onlookers watch) at Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, “Summer Saturday Evenings” at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, “Silent Sunday” at South Mountain Park in Phoenix, “Flashlight Tours” at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix

For additional details–including dates/times, fees/reservations, recommended ages and such–check with hosting venues. Additional information on many of these events/activities is also available through the online calendar for Raising Arizona Kids magazine.

–Lynn

Note: If you’re on the prowl for art-related books, music or movies, try your luck at the free “Bargain Book Sale” from 9am-4pm today at the North Valley Regional Library in Anthem.

Coming up: From lemons to lemonade, Multicultural performance art, Season openers from Valley theaters, ASU Libraries’ Child Drama Collection, All about art walks, More movie reviews

Graphics from Cafe Press. Click here to see their extensive selection of gift items in black, white and beyond.

Update: Thanks to Carley Conder for sharing the news that renowned choreographer Charlotte Boye-Christensen, freelance choreographer/teacher/dancer originally from Denmark, is in Arizona for a six day residency. To enjoy a free showing of Boye-Christensen’s new work set for CONDER/dance, attend a Sat, Aug 21, performance at ASU FAC122 (11:45am-noon).

Broadway, beads, ballet and brass

Bring a bit of the arts into your weekend with one or more of these events featuring dance, music, theater or the visual arts…

Dance performance

Ballet Folklorico de Mexico de Amalia Hernandez.

Ballet Folklorico de Mexico de Amalia Hernandez. March 20 at Mesa Arts Center (Ikeda Theater). mesaartscenter.com.

Essential Martha Graham: Classics of the Martha Graham Dance Company. March 19 and 20 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. scottsdaleperformingarts.org.

Music performance

Salt River Brass Concert: Way Out West. March 21 at Mesa Arts Center (Ikeda Theater). mesaartscenter.org.

Children from "HopeKids" pose with the cast of "Cats" at the Arizona Broadway Theatre after attending a special evening performance.

Theater performance

“Blithe Spirit” presented by Southwest Shakespeare Company through March 20 at Mesa Arts Center (Farnsworth Studio). A comedic work by playwright Noel Coward in which a writer researching a novel about the paranormal accidentally conjures the spirit of his biggest fan (his first wife). mesaartscenter.org.

“Cats” presented by Arizona Broadway Theatre in Peoria. 1983 ‘best musical’ Tony Award winner with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Visit azbroadwaytheatre.com for details, including menu information.

“George M” presented by Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre in Mesa. Patriotic musical about an early American show business superstar. broadwaypalmwest.com for details, including menu information.

“The Hobbit” presented by Valley Youth Theatre. Opens today at Valley Youth Theatre in Phoenix. Play version of the classic tale featuring Bilbo’s quest for a treasure needed to save all the Hobbits of Middle Earth. vyt.com.

“The Immigrant: A Hamilton County Album” presented by Arizona Jewish Theatre Company through March 21 at Paradise Valley Community College Center for the Performing Arts. A true story by playwright Mark Harelik that recounts the 1909 immigration of two Eastern European Jews to a small Texas town through a resettlement program called the “Galveston Movement.” azjewishtheatre.org.

“Johnny Guitar” presented by Theater Works through March 28 at Peoria Center for the Performing Arts. Family-friendly musical with Old West theme. theaterworks.org.

“The Princess and the Pea” presented by the Children’s Theatre at Hale Centre Theatre through June 26 at Hale Center Theatre in Gilbert. The classic fairy tale in which a prince uses unusual means to find his one true princess. haletheatrearizona.com.

“Secret Order” presented by Actors Theatre through March 21 at Herberger Theater Center (Stage West) in Phoenix. A “suspenseful bio-medical psychological thriller” from Playwright Bob Clyman that considers this question: “What if you discovered the cure for cancer?” herbergertheater.org.

“Sweet Charity” presented by Tempe Little Theatre. Opens today at Tempe Center for the Arts. Musical comedy with book by Neil Simon that follows the adventures of a nightclub dancer who thinks she’s met her Mr. Right. tempe.gov/TCA.

“You Don’t Have to Take It!” presented by Fountain Hills Community Theater Youth Theater opens today. fountainhillstheater.com.

Kellie Agee. Photo by Daniel Friedman.

Arts-related Fundraisers

“Bead Inspired” fundraiser presented by Bead Inspired, a nonprofit organization “dedicated to empowering the quality of life of children coping with cancer and other serious illness” that works with more than 60 children’s hospitals nationwide (including Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Cardon Children’s Medical Center). 10am-4pm March 20 at Mesa Center for the Performing Arts (Wells Fargo Garden). Features live music, glass bead making, Phoenix Coyotes mascot, traditional Pow Wow dancers and more. Free. mesaartscenter.org.

(From the RAK Library: Read Daniel Friedman’s story about Kellie Agee, whose beads symbolize her fight against leukemia.)

“Broadway in the Hills” fundraiser presented by Fountain Hills Community Theater March 20 at the Radisson Resort at Ft. McDowell in Scottsdale/Fountain Hills. Features dinner, live entertainment and live/silent auctions. fhct.org.

More family fun

Look for weekend updates “Stage Mom” style every Friday. We’ll feature arts-related events—especially those that are family-friendly. Always check ahead to assure the suitability of material for your child or teen, and to verify event details (date, time, venue, cost, etc.).

Check our online calendar at raisingarizonakids.com each day to find fun, family-friendly activities from story times and puppet shows to craft lessons and outdoor adventures. Please check online for guidelines and information about how to submit calendar information for consideration.

If you’re presenting an arts performance or experience that you’d like to see featured in an upcoming “Stage Mom” weekend update, please drop me a line at rakstagemom@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from diverse arts organizations, local schools and colleges, and others offering unique family-friendly fare.

–Lynn