Tag Archives: Scottsdale

The Little Red Schoolhouse

Scottsdale Grammar School, built in 1909, was dedicated the following year on the birthday of town founder Winfield Scott — and still stands on its original site located in the area now called Old Town Scottsdale.

The Scottsdale Historical Museum housed in the schoolhouse notes that “the $5,000 building was constructed of sand and gravel from the bed of the Salt River and bricks brought by horse-drawn wagon from Phoenix.”

It became Coronado School in 1928, serving Spanish-speaking students in first through third grade, but was closed and sold to a local businessman after courts declared school segregation illegal in 1954.

Through the years it’s housed everything from a courthouse to a library. The Scottsdale Historical Society, which has used the building since 1991, operates the Scottsdale Historical Museum.

I recently toured the museum with my son Christopher, where we got a glimpse of life in Scottsdale during earlier times. Folks who visit the Scottsdale Historical Museum will find re-creations of a classroom, Victorian parlor and tent-house kitchen.

Also maps and photos of early Scottsdale, school memorabelia, and artifacts from the early Scottsdale home of Winfield and Helen Scott — plus changing displays of special collections.

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The Little Red Schoolhouse is open September through June — Wed. to Sat. from 10am to 5pm and Sun. noon to 4pm. It’s located on the Scottsdale Mall near Main and Brown within walking distance of plenty of other interesting places.

When you go, leave extra time to explore the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (including the young@art gallery inside the adjacent Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts) and the Scottsdale Civic Center Library (which is nearing completion of some pretty nifty renovations).

Admission to the Scottsdale Historical Museum is free but the Scottsdale Historical Society will happily accept donations from those eager to support projects like recording oral histories, gathering information about early Scottsdale and acquring artifacts from Scottsdale’s pre-incorporation days.

A special event benefiting the Scottsdale Historical Museum takes place Fri., March 23 at the Chaparral Suites in Scottsdale. It’s the 19th annual Scottsdale’s History Hall of Fame Dinner, which will honor five 2012 inductees.

This year’s inductees — selected by the Past Presidents’ Council of the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce – are Mary King, Mary Manross, Gary Shapiro, Joe Wong and Scottsdale Healthcare Auxiliary.

I leave the lovely dinners to those of you who can still win the war with your panty hose. You’ll find me kicking around Old Town in my tennis shoes and shorts — a far cry from the duds women wore when Army Chaplain Winfield Scott founded the town in 1888.

– Lynn

Note: Scottsdale Mayor W.J. “Jim” Lane presents his annual “State of the City Address” Thurs, Feb. 23 at 5:30pm at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

Coming up: Art meets journalism

Birthday parties — theater style!

Aubrie Silva celebrated turning 7 years old at Greasepaint

Before the opening of yesterday’s performance of “Disney’s Aladdin Jr.” at Greasepaint Youtheatre in Scottsdale, board member Wendy Claus called “birthday girl” Aubrie Silva up on stage — presenting her with a light blue Greasepaint t-shirt and leading the audience in a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday to You.”

Scottsdale mother Francine Silva let the theater know ahead of time that she was bringing Aubrie, who has two siblings, over to celebrate her birthday at the show with a group of ten friends. Silva even brought a tent and benches along so the girls could spend an hour or so before the show having their nails and temporary tattoos done by big sister Annelise and one of her friends.

Silva proudly notes that Annelise is the oldest member of Greasepaint LIVE — a group of young performing artists who “bring entertainment to shelters, senior centers and other organizations.” The 17-member group also “provides peer mentoring programming to youth groups with a special focus on trying to reach children in Title 1 schools.”

Birthday girl Aubrie has “been to many Gammage shows,” according to her mom. But for some of Aubrie’s guests, this was the first experience with live theater. Silva told me that Aubrie “absolutely loved the show,” then offered her own description of Sunday’s performance — “all live, all wonderful, all beautiful.”

Aubrie Silva poses with friends on the Greasepaint Youtheatre stage in Scottsdale

It sounds like Silva had just as much fun as her daughter, getting in the spirit ahead of time with invitations that read “princess dresses and tiaras optional” and putting together small tubs of blue cotton candy with bows on top and labels reading “Genie in a Bottle” or “Clouds from Agrabah.”

Silva also put together “princess bags” for each guest — containing party favors that included roses, necklaces, crowns, wands and candy. Parents less inspired to gather their own favors always have the option of getting show t-shirts for party kids and their guests.

Aubrie Silva and party guests with members of the Greasepaint Aladdin Jr. cast

“Disney’s Aladdin Jr.” is being performed again this weekend, so there’s still time to plan a birthday or Halloween party around the show assuming you get tickets while they’re still available. Other Greasepaint shows this season, “Les Miserables” and “Cinderella,” also have great theme party potential.

Most theater companies who perform for families won’t mind you asking about birthday celebrations theater-style, so check with your local theater groups to see what they offer. Also check with folks like Childsplay, Cookie Company and Valley Youth Theatre.

Aubrie Silva and friends outside Greasepaint Youtheatre in Scottsdale

Something tells me that Aubrie will always remember her Greasepaint Youtheatre princess party. Before you know it, her mom’ll be calling to schedule a graduation party. Time is fleeting, and they grow so fast. Cherish every birthday, and remember the power of live theater as you’re planning all those joyous celebrations.

– Lynn

Coming up: A world of faces, Gershwin tales

A trio of tributes

Detail of artwork by theater students at Arizona School for the Arts

Detail of artwork by theater students at Arizona School for the Arts

In Tempe Beach Park, a flag is flying for each person who perished in the attacks of September 11, 2001. So too in Battery Park, New York — where stripes on the flags have been replaced by the names of those killed, and people gathered Saturday morning to form a human chain of solidarity and remembrance.

Candlelight vigils in Scottsdale and countless cities throughout the world are honoring those lost, as well as those who remain. A beam from the World Trade Center is being installed at a Gilbert memorial, and a sculpture crafted of three sections of WTC buildings has been unveiled in London’s Battersea Park — a tribute to the 67 Britons lost that day.

Detail of Tiles for America exhibit in New York City

But it’s a trio of tributes, our country’s permanent memorials to 9/11, that most will visit in coming days, decades and beyond. One in Pennsylvania. One in New York. One in Washington, D.C.

I was particularly moved while watching a live C-SPAN broadcast of the dedication ceremony Saturday morning for the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania, where the heroism of everyday Americans was honored by dignitaries, artists, family members and others.

Poet Robert Pinsky read two works — “Souvenir of the Ancient World” by Carlos Drummond de Andrade and “Incantation” by Czeslaw Milosz. The second was interrupted at our house by a call from the National Republican Party. The timing made my stomach turn.

Art from one of two Tiles for America exhibits in NYC

I heard an interview with George Packer, who has a piece titled “Coming Apart” in the Sept 12, 2011 issue of New Yorker magazine, on NPR today. He noted that two things he’d hoped might change about America in the aftermath of 9/11 are much the same. Our partisan politics and the growing gap between America’s rich and poor.

I hope our national 9/11 memorials will help to change that. Reminding us of what we have in common. Reminding us that every person matters. Reminding us to volunteer in service to others. Reminding us to be grateful.

During the “New York Says Thank You” documentary broadcast on local FOX affiliates Saturday evening, several people involved with the “I Will” campaign shared ways they’ll be honoring those directly affected by 9/11.

More street art from Tiles for America

Actor Mariska Hargitay plans to volunteer at her local domestic violence shelter. A teen girl says she’ll “clean up my room.” A middle-aged man plans to plant a tree at the Flight 93 National Memorial. And a woman about my age says simply, “I will forgive.”

The Friends of Flight 93 and the National Parks Service (which operates the Flight 93 National Memorial) are partnering with the Fred M. Rogers Center at Saint Vincent’s College in Pennsylvania for an October event titled “9/11 Forum: Impact on Young Children.” And folks far and wide have started discussions about incorporating 9/11 into school curriculum materials.

My “I Will” is following the developments of the trio of tributes best known to Americans and sharing them with our readers, not just on 9/11 but throughout the year. But also the everyday stories of children, families, teachers, artists and others working to make September 12 and every day that follows a day of healing, humility and hope.

– Lynn

Note: Learn more about the Flight 93 National Memorial at www.npca.org and www.honorflight93.org, the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial at www.pentagonmemorial.org and the 9/11 Memorial in NYC at www.911memorial.org. All three appreciate gifts of time and money as they move forward honoring those affected by 9/11. Learn about “I Will” at www.911day.org.  Watch eight artists “talk about how that day and its aftermath have informed their work and lives” at www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/09/02/us/sept-11-reckoning/artists.html?ref=arts.

Coming up: A photo tour of memorials at Phoenix’s Wesley Bolin Plaza

9/11 meets Arizona arts and culture

This work by Sam Irving is one of several you can enjoy at exhibits at two Gilbert libraries this week (Photo courtesy of Gilbert Fire Department)

The town of Gilbert is preparing for Sunday’s dedication of a 9/11 memorial to feature an 8-foot long beam from the World Trade Center.

Recently they invited folks to submit photographs, paintings and drawings with a “Memory of Hope” theme. Selected works are on exhibit through 9/11 at the Southeast Regional and Perry High libraries. www.gilbertaz.gov/911memorial.

One of several works currently on exhibit at the Tucson Jewish Community Center

Contemporary Artists of Southern Arizona has created a mixed media 9/11 memorial called “3,000 Souls” that’s being exhibited at the Tucson Jewish Community Center through Sept 26. ww.tucsonjcc.org/arts.

The ceramics program and fine arts department at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix (part of the Tempe Unified High School District) presents a 9/11 memorial Thurs, Sept 9 from 6-9pm (room 149).

The event features “students from dance and theatre,
choir, speech and band, a special slide and musical tribute, the
signing of victims’ names into a tribute vessel to be delivered to New
York in December, and fundraising for the WTC Health Hospital.” The event is free and open to the public. www.desertvista.schoolfusion.us.

Several 9/11-related items, including a huge “National Unity Flag” designed and created in Arizona, will be exhibited Sept 9-16 in the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts atrium.

A “9/11 Memorial Wall” with 2,996 full-color memorial cards featuring biographical information and photographs of 9/11 victims will be exhibited as well.

Scottsdale begins a “9/11 Day of Remembrance” program in the atrium at 1pm on Sun, Sept 11 with a reading of victims’ names.

Keynote speaker Ray Malone, a former New York police office and firefighter, follows in the Virginia G. Piper Theater at 6pm. The evening also includes performances of patriotic music by school bands and choral groups, as well as a candlelight vigil. www.scottsdaleaz.gov.

ProMusica performs with other Valley groups this weekend

ProMusica Arizona Chorale and Orchestra of Anthem will perform Mozart’s “Requiem” (a work being performed by groups throughout the country on 9/11) at two Valley churches on Sun, Sept 11. www.promusicaaz.org.

Mozart’s “Requiem” is also being performed at a “Remembrance and Renewal” concert at UA’s Centennial Hall in Tucson on Sun, Sept 11 at 3pm. It features the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and Tucson Chamber Artists’ professional choir. www.uapresents.org.

The Damocles Trio, who met as doctoral students at The Juilliard School in NYC, will perform the “Requiem Trio” by Spanish composer Salvador Brotons (b.1959) at Tempe Center for the Arts at 2:30pm on Sun, Sept 11.

The work was “written especially for the group to commemorate the tragic terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001.” The piece was first performed in Sept 11, 2004 in NYC.

Tempe officials note that “this concert will be linked to the Tempe Beach Park 9/11 Healing Field and other city commemoration events.” The concert also features the music of Dvorak and Villa Lobos. www.damoclestrio.com and www.friendsofTCA.org.

The Tucson Pops Orchestra, with guest conductor George Hanson, performs “Americana: Remember 9/11″ Sun, Sept 11 at Reid Park in Tucson at 6:30pm. www.sept11tucson.org.

The National Unity Flag will hang in Scottsdale this weekend

Folks looking for additional 9/11 memorials and related events can check with local interfaith or religious groups, performing arts venues, universities or colleges, museums, local governments and community centers for local offerings.

If your Arizona organization is presenting a music, dance, theater or visual arts event in remembrance of 9/11, please comment below to let our readers know.

– Lynn

Note: Several 9/11 remembrance events will be televised, including a New York Philharmonic concert with Alan Gilbert conducting Mahler’s “Resurrection” (Sept 11 on PBS). Listen to KJZZ 91.5 all week for 9/11 memorial coverage (including 9 hours of live coverage on 9/11). www.kjzz.org. Watch the “9/11: 10 Years Later” concert live Thurs, Sept 8 and share your reflections with others at facebook.com/KennedyCenter by clicking on the 9/11 Livestream tab.

Coming up: Remembering 9/11 with literature and love

NYC in Scottsdale?

My husband James stumbled on a great pizza joint last Friday night while making a pet store run. Lovebirds can’t do pizza, so Trixy got bird food and we got slices from Joe’s New York Pizza in Scottsdale. Cheese for Lizabeth and Hawaiian for me.

March for gay rights in NYC, 1976 (Photo: Warren K. Leffler)

He walked in the door with dinner just after I’d watched a CNN broadcast of a short speech by New York governor Andrew Cuomo. The occasion for Cuomo’s remarks was the passage of a marriage equality act in the New York legislature.

I already had New York on the brain because I was readying for this week’s trip to NYC for Lizabeth’s college orientation. Lizabeth starts a B.F.A. in acting program this fall.

As Lizabeth weighed possible colleges earlier in the year, I was mindful of the political landscape in the various states where she might go to school — though I never mentioned things like my Cuomo versus Christie musings.

Cuomo spoke last Friday night of New York as a “social justice” state. “I’m always proud to be a New Yorker,” said Cuomo. “But tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Yorker.” Cuomo was among those leading the fight for marriage equality in New York.

In his remarks, Cuomo spoke of New York’s leadership in several fights for equal rights — the movement for women’s rights, the push for worker’s rights after the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and the most recent battle — equal marriage rights for gay and straight couples.

“Social justice,” said Cuomo, “is an evolutionary process.” He recognized others who’d championed this cause for New York citizens, and praised “the advocacy community from across the nation.” I’m sure some in Scottsdale embraced the vote with a “we’re all New Yorkers tonight” mindset.

I’m thrilled to be enjoying NYC with Lizabeth this week, but there are folks in Scottsdale that I’ll be missing while we’re away. Trixy, Pinky, Rugby — plus James and our other two children, also college students. But also Lizabeth’s teachers from the Scottsdale Conservatory Theatre, where she studied theater last summer.

Before we marched for marriage equality, we marched for women's rights and workers' rights

The conservatory presents its 2011 performance at the Scottsdale Community College Performing Arts Center Wed, June 29 and Thurs, June 30. They’re presenting “Strange Bedfellows,” which is set in my daughter Jennifer’s favorite city — San Francisco. They have a thing for civil rights too.

“Strange Bedfellows” is the tale of Senator Cromwell, “a politician who keeps his women under stern rule.” His son, Matthew Cromwell, is a young congressman who “dutifully follows in his father’s political footsteps — except when he marries a beautiful and determined suffragette.”

It examines “the coming of age of a woman’s right to vote” — and features “the escapades that ensue as the suffragette converts the women in the Cromwell family to her way of thinking.” Who doesn’t love a good conversion story?

I’m told that “shades of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata and San Francisco’s brothel district come into play as each side tries to out-maneuver and out-smart the other.” Aristophanes, by the way, was a comedic playwright of ancient Greece.

I know the actors, theater professionals and teachers of Scottsdale Conservatory Theatre played a part in helping Lizabeth achieve her dream of studying and making theater in NYC — and I’m grateful.

Thanks to James and Joe’s New York Pizza, we can always enjoy a bit of NYC in Scottsdale. But this week, we’re carrying thoughts of Scottsdale with us in New York.

– Lynn

Note: Check out the “Stay Fancy Free” blog for more nifty black-and-white photos of suffragettes — plus lovely fiber arts fare. Click here to check out the site where I found the photo shot while the Democratic National Convention was in NYC during 1976.

Coming up: Shakespeare NYC-style, A stroll through the theater district, NYC: museum highlights

From jungle to farm

Greasepaint Youtheatre presents "Disney's Jungle Book" in March

Most Valley residents associate Scottsdale with art shows, upscale malls or shops selling souvenirs of the Southwest.

So families may be pleasantly surprised to discover the farm and jungle fare coming soon to Scottsdale stages.

Longtime supporters of Desert Stages Theatre in Scottsdale recall the many talents of founder Gerry Cullity, who died in 2005, but whose work lives on in so many of the company’s works.

Gerry and Laurie Cullity came to Arizona (during the ’90s) from the East Coast, where they’d been active with the Barn Theatre in New Jersey.

So it’s no surprise that Gerry Cullity’s many adaptations of children’s stories for the stage include a musical production of “Charlotte’s Web.”

The show (directed by Laurie Cullity) opened Feb 18 and runs through March 20. Desert Stages describes it as “a musical hoe-down” and “spirited country gospel musical.”

Cullity notes that her husband’s fondness for the E.B. White tale of Wilbur and Charlotte (plus a gossipy goose, a gloomy sheep and a grouchy rat) stems from its “great message of friendship.”

Scottsdale is also home to Greasepaint Youtheatre, which has long performed at the venue formerly know as Stagebrush Theatre (once home to the now defunct Scottsdale Community Players).

The venue also features Cookie Company productions presented by Phoenix Theatre (their production of “Charlotte’s Web” runs March 25-April 3) — so there are plenty of family-friendly offerings in this neck of the woods.

But it’s the jungle, not the woods, that families will be enjoying at Greasepaint Theatre next month as Greasepaint Youtheatre presents “Disney’s Jungle Book” (directed by Scott Storr) March 4-13.

Greasepaint describes the show — which features familiar characters like Mowgli, Baloo and King Louie — as “jumpin’ with jazz,” noting that it’s “specially adapted from the beloved film.”

Given their relative proximity, it’s easy to make a full day of taking in both shows — spending time in between enjoying the many art galleries, restaurants and shops of downtown Scottsdale (known to us old-timers as “Old Town”).

– Lynn

Note: Find more information on Valley performing arts with a family focus in monthly print and daily online editions of Raising Arizona Kids magazine

Coming up: A modern dance legacy

Follow the children

We got some not so welcome news last week about an hour before I was scheduled to judge auditions for a student talent show at Kiva Elementary School in Paradise Valley, whose distinguished alumni include my hubby James.

I was reminded of a song called “Where Do I Go” from the musical “Hair.” It follows the question “Where do I go?” with the answer “Follow the children.” I knew that watching children perform was just what I needed.

I entered the Kiva cafeteria after school last Tuesday to find it abuzz with doting stage mothers and fathers, and kids with all sorts of performing arts fare – a cello in a hard neon green case, a pink Daisy Rock guitar, tattered costumes a la “Annie” orphans, tumbling mats and more.

I sat at a long table in front of the stage, joined by two fellow judges – including Desert Stages Theatre co-founder and executive director Laurie Cullity, who was quick to introduce herself with a confident handshake and broad smile.

The other judge was Matt Peterson, a 14-year-old student at Mohave Middle School who “founded” the Kiva talent show when he was in 5th grade and vice president of the student council.

Peterson eagerly described his acting ambitions and plans to utilize “YouTube” to make his talents known.

As Peterson described his dreams of heading to Hollywood to pursue television or film work before graduating from high school, I thought of my own daughter’s eagerness to graduate and begin B.F.A. studies in theater.

I hope he’ll stay in school – because his experiences there will likely broaden his horizons and add the depth of character that makes an actor’s performance authentic and compelling – and because childhoods cut short can never be recaptured.

Together we judged fifty performances ranging from fiddling and gymnastics to skits and singing. I was surprised by how many details rushed back from watching my own children’s lessons and recitals.

Bow placement on violin strings. Hand position at the piano. Posture during dance. We weren’t judging on these factors, but I realized while judging that I’ve developed a critical eye over the years (for better or worse).

I admire every single one of the students who took to that stage. It takes guts, and all demonstrated true class and composure. I remember my own modern dance and gymnastics performances at that age, which I’m sure were far from perfect.

Whatever the outcome of auditions – students, parents and teachers should be proud. We rated each performance on a scale of 1-10 based on entertainment value and student preparedness, but there’s more to performance than pleasing judges.

Every child gave it all they had – and it showed. The talent show takes place in March, and I’ve no doubt it’ll feature both polished acts and supportive audience members. I hope I’ll be able to attend.

Next time you have a bad day – even a truly dreadful day – just follow the children. Their smiles will show you the way.

– Lynn

Note: The Kiva Elementary School talent show is Thurs, March 10, at 6pm at Saguaro High School (and is open to the public)

Coming up: Arizona art volunteers, You’ve got Spam!, Grammy winner performs for Valley students

Artwork from Kansas City, Kansas Public Library

Get out, get art!

Perhaps this painting will inspire you to enjoy some art fun under the Arizona sun

Families eager to enjoy outdoor adventures this weekend can add a little art to the mix by attending “The Gathering” in Lichtfield Park. It’s a Native American art festival taking place at Scout Park — with free admission for children 12 and under.

Never fear if you missed the event on Saturday. It also runs Sunday, Jan 9, from 10am to 5pm. “The Gathering” features artists who specialize in painting, sculpture, beadwork, carving, basketry, pottery, photography and more.

Main stage performers include hoop dancer Tony Duncan and guitarist Anthony Wakefield — in addition to Grammy Award nominee and Native American Music Award winner Aaron Winter. Click here for details and a discount coupon for adult tickets.

Those of you who missed Saturday’s “MACFEST,” presented by the Mesa Arts and Cultural Festival, will have plenty of other opportunities to experience this free celebration featuring live music, works of local artists and more.

“MACFEST” takes place each Saturday this year through April 30, from 10am to 4pm, in downtown Mesa on Main and Macdonald Streets. This puts you within walking distance of two of Mesa’s kid-friendly museums — the Arizona Museum of Natural History and the Arizona Museum for Youth.

Remember too that you can always find indoor fun at the Mesa Arts Center, which is home to several performing arts companies who offer a diverse assortment of music, dance and theater (including the Southwest Shakespeare Company).

To enjoy an outdoor all-arts weekend, couple a Saturday “MACFEST” with a “Sunday A’Fair” in Old Town Scottsdale. “Sunday A’Fair” takes place Sun, Jan 9, from noon to 4pm at the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall — as well as nine other Sundays through April 3.

Each “Sunday A’Fair” features a free outdoor concert and the opportunity to enjoy a wide range of arts and crafts made by local artists — as well as hands-on art activities for children and families. You can purchase food there, or bring your own picnic basket (with blanket/lawn chair) along.

Admission to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, which I often enjoyed with my three young children (now young adults), is free during “Sunday A’Fair” — and you can also enjoy the eclectic gift shop at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. 

Treat your children to the artwork of fellow youth by taking them to explore the “Bridges: Connecting Earth to Sky” exhibit at the “young @ art Gallery” located inside the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. It runs through Mon, Jan 17.

The Scottsdale Civic Center Library is also located at the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall, and is open Sundays from 1-5pm. The library is a lovely bit of architecture to behold, and features a giant fountain pen and ink well sculpture just outside the entrance. It’s a fun way to introduce your children to the quills used long before texting messages by cell phone took hold.

The “Sunday A’Fair” on Jan 16 is part of Scottsdale’s 2011 celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day — which they’ve dubbed “Peace & Community Day.” Featured entertainers will include Walt Richardson & The Peaceful Warriors, who promise a “classy mix of folk, rock and reggae,” and Nancy Gee, performing “sultry ballads and classic standards” from the world of jazz.

Stay tuned for word of other MLK Day celebrations, and drop me a line if your community offers outdoor art adventures that you’d like to share with our readers.

– Lynn

Note: For a comprehensive listing of family-friendly events throughout the Valley, visit the daily calendar of Raising Arizona Kids magazine online. Always check event details — including dates/times, locations, admission fees and such — before attending.

Coming up: Conversations with a 5th grade arts advocate

Must-see museums for holiday visitors

Visit the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa to enjoy this bead exhibit, a special NASA exhibition and plenty of hands-on activities

Truth be told, I never met a museum I didn’t like — and Arizona is home to plenty of them, many with very focused collections ranging from beads to military memorobilia.

When friends and family visit for the holidays, it’s hard to hit them all.  So here’s a roundup of some of my favorite Valley museums…

First, in the East Valley, a double whammy of sorts…

The Arizona Museum for Youth is Mesa features permanent and visiting exhibits that are especially hands-on and child-friendly. 

It’s right next door to the Arizona Natural History Museum, which sports the best dinosuars in town as well as plenty of other kid-pleasing exhibits.

Our children couldn't get enough of the Arizona Museum of Natural History in Mesa when they were younger

With the Mesa Arts Center and so many shops and cafes nearby, this neck of the woods makes for a lovely outing for hometown and out-of-town folks alike.

Our newest museum is truly global in nature — featuring musical instruments and music-related artifacts from more than 50 countries and regions around the world.

The Musical Instrument Museum, or MIM, is located in north Phoenix but close to many Scottsdale shopping and entertainment destinations. Still, it’s located in a serene desert setting that features the beauty of open sky and native plants.

This global Musical Instrument Museum features hands-on activities, wireless audio guides, video of instruments being played in their settings of origin, a music theater and more

Here, musical instruments are coupled with the sights and sounds of people making music in their home countries and natural environments — so you enjoy a visual feast of history, culture, religion, art and more.

There’s even a large “Experience Gallery” full of diverse types of instruments, big and small, that beckon visitors to play them. It’s a refreshing change from the ‘don’t touch’ policies of so many of the museums I grew up with — and a sure way to convert folks of all ages who insist that all museums are bound to be boring.

The Heard Museum has Phoenix and Scottsdale locations that feature artwork with appeal to visitors of all ages

Arizona boasts many museums that exhibit the works of native peoples, but the single largest collection of American Indian arts and culture is housed in the Heard Museum in downtown Phoenix.

It too features lovely, open outdoor spaces and items of interest to folks of all ages (including animal depictions favored by the younger set).

Thanks to the light rail system, it’s easy to travel from the Heard Museum to other downtown destinations — including performing arts venues like the Herberger Theater Center and Symphony Hall.

The Phoenix Art Museum is full of nooks and crannies that make exploring especially fun, and it features all sorts of modern technology that will update your perspective on how modern art is being created and delivered.

The RACE Exhibit at the Arizona Science Center is full of hands-on activities and interactive features

The Phoenix Art Museum is at one end of a grassy courtyard that’s also home to Arcadia Farms resturant and Phoenix Theatre — so a trip the this museum is easily coupled with taking in a show or enjoying some lovely time outdoors.

Downtown Phoenix is home to two especially family-friendly museums, the Arizona Science Center and the Children’s Museum of Phoenix — plus smaller museums like the Arizona Latino Arts and Culture Center.

The Arizona Science Center features many diverse exhibits, including one titled “RACE: Are We So Different?” All are hands-on and intriguing for both children and adults.

The Arizona Science Center is located at Phoenix’s Heritage and Science Park, home to the historic Rosson House and other smaller specialty museums. It’s also within walking distance of the Children’s Museum of Phoenix.

The Shuff-Perini Climber is one of many kid-friendly, hands-on adventures that await you at the Children's Museum of Phoenix

The Children’s Museum of Phoenix features hands-on exhibits and activities that are fun for even the very young.

Newer installations include a giant climber that gives children plenty of ways to use both mind and muscles.

Two other destinations of note if art adventures strike your fancy…

 There’s Old Town Scottsdale, featuring art galleries, quaint shops and plenty of restaurant choices.

Old Town is near the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art – so it makes for a full day of visual and performing arts adventures.

The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is one of many places to enjoy art in Old Town Scottsdale

And there’s Arizona State University, home to several museums and performing arts venues both big and small.

There’s plenty of greenery and open space at the center of campus, so you can explore various attractions while enjoying the outdoors — and find several places for food and drink.

Which museums you choose will reflect your own interests and geographical preferences, but I’m especially grateful this holiday season to live in a metropolis with ready access to arts and culture for folks of all ages.

– Lynn

Note: Learn about Arizona’s diverse museums by exploring the Central Arizona Museum Association website here. Always call ahead for days/times of operation, locations/directions and costs of exhibits/special events.

Coming up: Black Friday and beyond — arts & culture style; Art activities for airline travel with kids; Celebrating the holidays — chorale and symphony style

VYT earns an “Easy A”

"Easy A" opens in movie theaters nationwide on Sept 17

Note: This post has been corrected subsequent to its initial posting.

Usually a stickler for staying home on school nights, I made an exception last Wednesday to take Lizabeth to a preview of “Easy A” at the AMC Movie Theatre at the Arizona Center in Phoenix.

We learned of the movie’s Arizona premiere because we get e-alerts from several Valley theaters — including Valley Youth Theatre, where Lizabeth volunteered not too long ago on the technical crew for “Cinderella” at the Herberger Theater Center.

“Easy A” stars Emma Stone — well known to Valley theater buffs as one of many young actors who honed their skills performing with Valley Youth Theatre, which is headed by the highly acclaimed and heavily awarded Bobb Cooper.

Stone, known to Valley audiences for years as “Emily,” has performed in several VYT productions — including Old Queen Maude in “The Princess and the Pea” and Portia in “Cinderella” (both earned AriZoni Awards).

Cooper proudly introduced the movie after sharing that VYT’s current production of “Grease” has just been extended due to popular demand (you can now enjoy the work being performed at VYT through the Labor Day weekend).

I met an especially delightful mother and son during the “Easy A” premiere. The son first caught my eye while going in and out of the aisle where we were sitting. I always choose an aisle seat, so other folks have to step over me for those fabulous popcorn runs.

Stone's character "Olive" only pretends to be "easy"

“Excuse me,” he said each time he passed. Always a stickler for manners with my own children, I’m ever impressed when I see other youth (and their parents) shine in good manners mode.

We got to chatting after the movie — which easily earned an “A” in my book (despite rampant use of words I’d rather not print here). It’s smart, funny and best described by Lizabeth as “sophisticated.”

The screenwriter pretty much rocked our world, for a whole host of reasons that I’ll share in an upcoming post.

Anyhow, the mom shared that her son will soon be performing in his third VYT production. Recently he appeared in “The Hobbit” and “Willy Wonka.” Next up is “Pinkalicious” — being performed at VYT Oct 1-17.

Seems he’s also a film buff, so I invited him to shoot me a review for possible posting. I can’t wait to see what he does with it — especially since I gave him a rather short deadline.  He shook my hand and I knew he’d work hard at crafting a strong piece.

VYT alumna Emma Stone

I expect to post a detailed review as the movie hits theaters nationwide on Sept 17. For now let me just share how delightful it was to enjoy a movie premiere featuring more than one longtime local talent.

Lizabeth noted that the cast also includes Max Crumm, who first gained national attention as the winning “Danny” on NBC’s reality show titled “Grease: You’re the One That I Want” and went on to star in a Broadway revival of the musical “Grease.”

Hit the VYT website to learn about the many acting gigs and other adventures of VYT alumni – and the many shows you can enjoy seeing them perform this season (including “Annie” at the newly-renovated Herberger Theater Center in downtown Phoenix).

And stay tuned for a guest blogger review of “Easy A” — which has already earned high marks with at least a solid 4 out of 5 stars in my book.

– Lynn

Note: Auditions for VYT’s “Winnie the Pooh Christmas Tale” (a musical) will be held Sept 20 and 21 at 3:30pm at Valley Youth Theatre in Phoenix. Click here for audition details. Or click here for a comprehensive listing of Valley auditions for youth and adults provided by Durant Communications.

Coming up: Shakespeare ala symphony, opera and ballet; Multicultural music and dance