Tag Archives: Poets House

A city inside a museum

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I first fell in love with children’s museums when my young daughters, like hundreds of fellow citizens, got involved in developing the Children’s Museum of Phoenix (then dubbed the Phoenix Family Museum) at the grassroots level. Today it’s recognized by Parents magazine as one of the country’s top ten children’s museums.

Both daughters, and our son, are now grown and attending college — one of them in New York City. Each time I visit her, I make a point of exploring another bit of NYC’s vast expanse of arts and culture. I reported on the art of Occupy Wall Street early in the movement’s history, saw “War Horse” and “The Book of Mormon” before they earned Tony Awards for best play and best musical and explored places like the Poets House in Battery Park.

Lately I have the museums of NYC on my radar, wishing I’d discovered them several decades earlier somehow. Many years ago I visited MoMA and the Met, but lately I’ve been focusing on smaller fare like the Morgan Library & Museum in midtown Manhattan (a favorite for one of my friends at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts), which is currently exhibiting drawings by Rembrandt and a look at animals throughout art, literature and music.

Top of my list for next time is the Brooklyn Museum. I missed the opening of their Keith Haring exhibit by just two days last time around and am still experiencing the museum-goers version of mourning. I didn’t really favor Haring’s work at the height of his heyday, but nowadays I’m simply mesmerized. I’m also hoping to enjoy the Children’s Museum of the Arts.

I hit the Brooklyn Children’s Museum during my last trip to visit daughter Lizabeth at Pace University. She’s been busy with rehearsals for an upcoming production of “Our Lady of 121st Street,” so I’ve had more time to kick around NYC on my own. Typically adults aren’t allowed to visit the museum without children, but they graciously let me do my press thing with camera in tow so I could share reflections and images with Arizona readers.

The Brooklyn Children’s Museum was “the first museum created expressly for children when it was founded in 1899″ — 15 years before Arizona achieved statehood. Still, I first encountered one of its offerings — a traveling exhibit called “Pattern Wizardry” — during the fall of 2009 at the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa (proving that you should never overlook the treasures in your own back yard).

I found two remarkable things at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. First, a city within a museum. And second, the world. My favorite exhibits featured rooms devoted to various cultures found in the diverse neighborhoods of Brooklyn, and an expansive upstairs gallery highlighting objects and people from around the globe. I’ve come to love the Brooklyn Children’s Museum for the same reason I love New York City — diversity.

I get the feeling, when I’m there, that differences are to be embraced rather than feared. That living amidst diverse cultures helps us to appreciate both our own heritage and the heritage of others. That human beings from all walks of life can love, respect and empathize with one another. That mere tolerance falls short when what we need is true celebration.

– Lynn

Coming up: Prison meets performance art

Ode to Battery Park City

A view across the Hudson River from Battery Park City in New York

I hadn’t realized, while strolling one June afternoon through Battery Park City in New York, that I’d soon be watching Anderson Cooper and other reporters bracing for the impact of a hurricane or tropical storm on this and other low-lying areas of Lower Manhattan.

The Battery Park City I remember has NYC’s first “green” library decorated in bright orange colors, a waterfront playground that sports a child-size concrete hippo fountain, a pair of towering sculptures, a promenade filled with festival style street vendors offering giant pickles and small paintings, and gardens filled with pink and purple hydrangeas winding through streets lined with utilitarian yet elegant buildings.

Battery Park City borders the Hudson River, so ferries and sailboats are plentiful. Folks who read and write poetry linger at Poets House. Shoppers gather fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs at the Green Market. People who work at the World Financial Center gather for lunch at bistro tables along a pier where barbeque goes bigtime on giant drum-shaped grills.

Like many portions of the East Coast, Battery Park City may look very different tomorrow than it looked just yesterday. For those of you who are fellow lovers of NYC, I offer a few photos that capture a bit of the spirit of Battery Park City — and look forward to seeing images from others that capture the spirit of the many people who’ll be working together in the aftermath of Irene to restore the homes and communities they cherish.

This playground along the Hudson River must be eerily silent this weekend…

Reporters have replaced families along the riverfront in Battery Park City…

Wind and flooding may damage public artworks in low-lying parts of Manhattan…
 

Words from Poets House hang in the Battery Park City ferry terminal…

Winds from Irene may be strong enough to damage this ferry terminal…

The Battery Park City ferry terminal floats atop water in the Hudson River…

I’ll be doing my happy dance once ferries can travel between NY and NJ harbors…

Let’s hope boats docked near the New York Merchantile Exchange got moved…

It’s too soon to know when folks in low-lying areas can return to normal life…

More to ponder from another Poets House banner in Battery Park City…

– Lynn

Note: Visit the American Red Cross at www.redcross.org to learn how you can help those affected by Hurricane Irene

Coming up: Photo tour of the Children’s Museum of Phoenix

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade auditions

Some of the kids who audition at ASU Gammage this Saturday might get to enjoy workshops, performing and sightseeing in New York City this November

I’ve got NYC on my heart and mind today as Hurricane Irene threatens to head up the East Coast, possibly affecting some of my favorite sites in New York City — the beautiful Battery Park waterfront, Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan and more.

Folks enjoying their weekday lunch hour along a waterway in Battery Park

But I’m also thinking ahead. More than 3 million people are expected to line the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade route in NYC on Nov 24, and your child could be among those performing for the crowds. Macy’s expects another 50 million people to watch the 85th anniversary parade on NBC.

Auditions for this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade are being held by the national Camp Broadway organization this Sat, Aug 27 at 9am at ASU Gammage. It’s an open call dance audition but no dance experience, headshot or resume is required — meaning any child who will be 12-16 at the time of the parade who might like to participate can try out.

Camp Broadway will be casting 120 children and teens from across the country (there are about ten auditions total) to perform an original number titled “There’s No Place Like Here” at the parade. They’ll be performing on and near a Zhu Zhu theme float — which will feature a performance by a “mystery teen pop star.” Tempe is stop number one for these auditions.

Those chosen will participate in a special Camp Broadway experience that includes six days of music, movement rehearsals and workshops — plus on-site rehearsals at Herald Square under the direction of Tony Parise, artistic director for Camp Broadway at the national level.

Parise will teach a dance combination on Saturday as part of the audition process. Auditions will be conducted in groups, and participants are expected to dress for dance. Think comfortable clothes and soft rubber-soled shoes. Sandals, flip-flops and hard-sole dress shoes are a no-no.

There are no time slots for auditioners, and the length of the audition process will depend on the number of kids who take part. Camp Broadway estimates that it could be a two to three hour process, but urges families to prepare for longer or shorter hours. Be sure you arrive at the audition no later than 9am.

I’m happy to report that the experience sounds a good deal more enjoyable than dancing with Abby Lee Miller at the Pittsburgh studio where Lifetime television films portions of its new “Dance Moms” reality series.

Those selected to dance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade will pay an $895 program fee to participate. While in NYC, they’ll receive Camp Broadway giveaways — and they’ll even get to keep their parade costume. Participants also pay associated costs like travel, housing and such.

Perhaps some of the parade performers will get inspired to study one day at places like the Juilliard School in New York City

While in NYC, dancers will not only prepare for their parade performance, but enjoy time with dance captains from various Broadway shows — who will teach them actual choreography from these shows. Parise notes that there will also be time for sightseeing, since some rehearsals last just half a day.

While in NYC, parade performers will spot taxis sporting ads for all sorts of Broadway shows -- and maybe feel inspired to perform on Broadway one day

Those with an interest in all things Broadway might want to mark their calendars for next year’s Camp Broadway at ASU Gammage taking place Jun 4-8. Campers will see a touring production of the Tony Award-winning musical “Million Dollar Quartet” and meet the show’s cast.

Participants from Camp Broadway at ASU Gammage in 2007

Come Saturday, I’ll have a heavy heart for those along the East Coast who might be experiencing or bracing for the storm. Especially folks at places like the 9/11 Memorial Preview Center and Poets House, which I so enjoyed visiting during my last trip to NYC.

But I’m glad to have something positive to think on as well — all those dancing feet and smiling faces as Camp Broadway gives oodles of young dancers at ASU Gammage a chance to live their own NYC dreams at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

– Lynn

Note: Click here to read about special Macy’s discounts available through Desert Stages Theatre in Scottsdale

Coming up: Saturday event featuring family-friendly comedy

Origami & beyond

I was struck by a series of hanging paper cranes during a recent visit to Poets House in New York City. Origami is the one form of art I simply can’t pass by without pausing — perhaps because it seems the perfect blend of purposeful and playful.

There’s a similar exhibit as you enter the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa, inside a foyer that also houses a giant hanging paper crane. Recently I visited the museum with my adult son Christopher, who’s been enjoying the museum with me since he was just knee-high.

We explored the museum’s ArtZone — which currently features an exhibit titled “One Thousand Paper Cranes.” Exhibit materials note that in Japan it’s believed that a wish comes true for the person who folds 1,000 paper origami cranes. 

A sign at the museum invites visitors to fold paper cranes in an effort to secure their wish for world peace — collecting them for shipment to Hiroshima, Japan — where they’ll hang in the Children’s Peace Monument.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Admirers of Japanese and other Asian art can always find it in the Phoenix Art Museum’s permanent Asian Collection. Its offerings, which can be viewed online, include several Japanese prints and screens.

Phoenix Art Museum holds its next “First Wednesday Asian Gallery Talk” at noon on August 3. It’s free with museum admission or membership.

The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix presents a “Museum Encounter” with Bobby Seigetsu Avstreih and the Japanese Shakuhachi Flute at 11:30am and 2:30pm on Aug 6. It’s free with museum admission.

Through Each Others Eyes, an organization that uses photography to promote international understanding, has a photographic exchange exhibit with Japanese photographers. It’s the 17th such exchange between photographers in sister cities Phoenix and Himeji.

The Japanese Friendship Garden (Ro Ho En) in Phoenix, which closes for the summer months, is holding an “Opening Day Celebration” on Oct 1. Their annual “Moonviewing Festival” (Ot sukimi) takes place Oct. 15.

Musical theater fans are keeping an eye on the development of “Allegiance — A New American Musical,” which follows a family touched by the internment of Japanese Americans in parts of the U.S. following the attack on Pearl Harbor. “Allegiance” is described as a work about “love, loss and heroism.”

Cast members include Lea Salonga as Gloria Suzuki, George Takei as Old Sam Omura and Telly Leung as Young Sam Omura. A private workshop was held last week in New York, and the musical will enjoy a world premiere next year at the Old Globe theatre in San Diego.

If you share my love for origami, or you have yet to appreciate its wonder, check out the PBS “Independent Lens” film titled “Between the Folds.” It features the art and science of origami by exploring the work of ten powerful paper-folders.

You can learn more about the history of origami and all sorts of paper-folding resources from PBS “Independent Lens” online. But your best bet is still buying a bunch of origami paper so you and your children can learn by doing.

– Lynn

Note: Start today if your family celebrates Christmas and you’d like to decorate your tree this year with paper cranes like those shown in one of the images above. Paper cranes and other origami or kirigami (paper cutting) art also make beautiful garlands and table decorations.

Coming up: Valley studios offering acting classes

Remembering New York

There’s an image that I work hard to keep alive, just as I’m learning to let so many other memories go. It’s the image of watching my daughter Jennifer, dressed in peach and lavender tulle, dancing the role of “Bon Bon” in a Ballet Arizona performance of “The Nutcracker” many years ago, before Ib Andersen unveiled his own choreography for the classic work.

Jennifer loves these typewriters and card catalog drawers at Poets House

I thought of Jennifer Thursday when I happened upon the Poets House on River Terrace in Battery Park City, because their children’s area had all sorts of folk art, stuffed animals and other things she’d truly enjoy — even pint-sized manual typewriters and old-fashioned school desks with chairs attached.

Poets House in NYC invites children to read to these stuffed animals

But it’s the desk of a gentleman who works there that really caught my eye. I snapped oodles of pictures, eager to show them to Jennifer when I got back to Phoenix. It was a creamy shade of green Jennifer would simply call “retro” — and it was covered in large magnetic words like “family” and “imagine.”

I wanted to bring this desk home for Jennifer's dorm room

I was struck by how many of the words reminded me of New York — especially the word “different.” There’s an amazing diversity of people and experiences in the city, and I adore it.

Ferry station along the Hudson River near Poets House in NYC

After my time at the Poets House, and my stroll along the Hudson River that followed, I felt like running away from home — never leaving this city that feels such a rare blend of comfortable and thrilling.

Visitors to Lincoln Center enjoy several sculptures throughout the plaza

Thursday night I went with Lizabeth to Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, where we saw “War Horse” — this year’s Tony Award winner for best play. While strolling between various venues within the center, we happened upon one of the “Pop-up Pianos” that Sing for Hope places around the city for a brief bit of time each year. Each piano is painted with a different motif, and members of the public are encouraged to play them.

Another sculpture found in the plaza near the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center

Soon after we spotted the piano in an open courtyard where nearly a hundred people sat on long concrete benches or metal chairs at bistro tables, two men who appeared to be college-age played — one right after the other. Each played an elaborate, lengthy piece and we suspected, because The Juilliard School is located within eyeshot of the plaza, that they were accomplished music students.

A Pop-up Piano from Sing for Hope placed in a plaza at Lincoln Center

Lizabeth was eager to play the piano when it first caught her eye, but hesitated after hearing the two gentlemen play — fearing she’d spent too much time away from piano to sound nearly that polished. I held back so she could choose whether or not to brave the piano bench, but shared that hearing her play might inspire younger, beginning students to give it a go.

View of The Juilliard School from the Vivian Beaumont Theater

Soon she was playing pieces like “Peer Gynt” from memory and trying selections from piano books left atop the instrument. She told her dad when we got home Friday night that she didn’t play as well as the others, but I told her it wasn’t about the performance. It was about courage, and she has it.

View inside the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center

Like Jennifer’s performance in “The Nutcracker,” Lizabeth’s performance in that majestic plaza will stay with me for a lifetime — a fact that gave me comfort when it appeared my NYC photos had been lost. Still, I think sometimes that the moments we can’t preserve are the ones we remember best.

– Lynn

Coming up: Remembering 9/11

NYC: Fun finds

Pop up piano from Sing for Hope sitting in an NYC park

I came to NYC with a list of places I hoped to experience, but because we’re doing most of the city by foot and subway, I’m stumbling on all sorts of unexpected treasures.

While eating Italian fare on a Greenwich Village sidestreet one day, we saw a local television report a man dubbed the “Crazy Piano Guy,” whose been performing random acts of music on NYC streets since 2003. He’s careful to note in his bio that he’s not actually “crazy” but apparently he’s elevated the slur to a savvy exercise in branding.

That got me searching for New York street music, and soon I discovered an organization called “Sing for Hope,” which has pianos and players fanned out across the city through July 2 — when they’ll present a free concert in an atrium at Lincoln Center. Lizabeth played one we found in a Lincoln Center plaza while we were there to see “War Horse” Thursday night, so I suppose now I can brag about her “playing Lincoln Center.”

I found this farmers market fare while searching for the WTC Tribute Center

I took the subway to and from the Eugene O’Neill Theater Wednesday night for “The Book of Mormon” and ended up a bit off the beaten path while trying to make my way back to the hotel. The subway I can master, but the streets I have yet to memorize. There are more than a few of them here.

I found this Hudson River ferry stop after exploring Poets House

But getting lost has its own rewards — like discovering a pair of pianos in a park where two lovers sat on a nearby bench. The pianos were retired for the evening, and covered in tarps. A middle-aged man walking through the park with his wife gleefully approach one of the instruments, but his wife insisted they move along instead of pausing to play. My heart sank.

I got a little gleeful myself with this next find — the Poets House near the Battery Park City Library I happened upon during a futile attempt to visit the World Trade Center Tribute Center. I visited the library too, which was alive with color and children and conversation. Soon I was strolling a riverwalk realizing that the vibrancy and life in NYC is the greatest tribute to those who lost their lives here on 9/11.

Liberty Community Garden

I never reached the tribute center near Church and Liberty streets because I wasn’t clever enough to navigate all the construction detours, but I did luck upon the “Liberty Community Garden,” another oasis in this city of 8 million. It’s bordered on one side by a giant financial center and a simple outdoor basketball court on the other. I also explored the World Financial Center “Green Market.”

I encounted a bit of street art called “Tiles for America” while walking around Greenwich Village with Lizabeth Tuesday afternoon. It’s a chain link fence strewn with tattered tiles painted in remembrance of 9/11. There’s nothing fun about recalling that dreadful day, but I was delighted to find this art — one of many collections inspired by loss, heroism, love and hope.

Detail of the Tiles for America street exhibit in NYC

I’m eager to experience another fun find, just now in the making, next time I’m in NYC. It’s an art exhibition featuring photos of children from around the globe, and it’s coming to “Park51 Community Center” — a site known to some as “the mosque at Ground Zero.” If you like the project, you can support it via “Kickstarter.” I found this gem by playing with my smart phone as Lizabeth was in a college meeting.

I may have to settle for virtual NYC experiences during our final day in the city. My feet feel pushed to the limit and I’m too thrifty to pop for cab fare. When Jennifer and I visited San Francisco together several years ago, we walked far too many miles through city streets and Golden Gate Park. She ended up needing foot and ankle surgery, and I’d like to avoid a similar fate.

It is possible, I suppose, to have too much fun.

– Lynn

Note: Many of my most cherished photos appear to be lost because of memory card problems, but if my hubby/tech man gets the kinks out I’ll be updating this post with more pictures over the weekend.

Coming up: Musings on “The Book of Mormon”