Art in the checkout line?

Brown paper bags coupled with markers and scissors make fun craft projects, but I have something else in mind for the man who last bagged my groceries...

Sometimes it’s hard to snag a single bagger at the grocery store, but somehow I managed to score two on my last trip. I enjoyed watching their playful “my hometown’s better than yours” banter — and was tempted to side with the gentleman from Chicago given the city’s wealth of art museums.

But then his talk turned to Arizona, and he began to rail against the city of Phoenix for its supposed lack of arts and culture. He’s lucky the eggs were already bagged. I’d just seen “Romeo and Juliet” performed at the newly renovated Hergerger Theater Center downtown, while folks across the way at Symphony Hall enjoyed Ballet Arizona’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

I went into serious myth-busting mode, which I’m going to do a little more of in today’s post. Since running my post on this week’s hidden art treasures, I’ve heard from oodles of folks with more art adventures to share — which I’m happy to pass along for your weekend planning pleasure.

Don’t even think about popping off about how you’ve nothing to do in the Valley if you don’t get out there to enjoy at least one of these art offerings. Arts and culture is grand and growing in plenty of Arizona communities, but you won’t know if you don’t go…

First, for military veterans, active duty service men and women, and their immediate families — the Phoenix Art Museum offers complimentary admission on Veterans Day (Thurs, Nov 11). At 3pm the museum presents a special Veterans Day lecture that explores “the way artists have helped shape the country’s ideas of war.”

For educators, there’s the 19th annual “Party for Educators’ Appreciation” event at Changing Hands bookstore in Tempe, playfully dubbed the P.E.A.C.H. If the name makes you hungry, just head next door to the Wildflower Bread Company — which has one of the Valley’s tastiest breakfast menus at affortable prices.  Or hit the produce section.

If pie is more your style, skip the grocery store altogether and get to know some of the folks who elevate pie-making to a fine art. I hope to find them gathered at this weekend’s “Pie Social” presented by Chow Bella and Roosevelt Row.

The “Pie Social” sounds like a lot more fun than a midnight dash to the fridge for a mug of ice cream to gobble in guilt and solitude in front of the television or laptop. And it’s for a good cause — the afterschool programs of Roosevelt Row and Phoenix Elementary.

You can pie with pride on Sat, Nov 13, from 2-6pm at Fifth St. and Roosevelt in downtown Phoenix — where folks will gather for community pie tasting, celebrity pie tasting, pie crafts, silent auctions and more.

If you’ve been looking for a reason to treat your kids to a trip on the light rail, consider making a day of it by partnering pie with a trip to other downtown art adventures. You’re unlikely to find a better weekend weather-wise, and it’s a great way to enjoy together time before the holiday rush swoops in.

It just so happens that the 5th annual P.A.P.A. event (Phoenix Annual Parade of the Arts) occurs that same day at 5pm — starting at 5th St. and Roosevelt. It’s described by organizers as “the world’s only parading art fair” and includes all those must-haves like magicians, balloon twisters, silly hats, lively music, and fun contests with prizes

If your greatest adventures consist of solo trips to the grocery store, you might be ready for your first experience with the “Pandora Showcase” coming to the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts this weekend and next.

It’s perfect for those eager to reconnect with the inner woman underneath all those layers of mommyhood. You can enjoy evening shows on Fri, Nov 12, and Sat, Nov 13 — or a Sunday matinee performance.

It’s being presented by the Arizona Women’s Theatre Company, which produces “theatrical works by and with women for our community,” including recent plays not previously produced in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

I may have to postpone my pandora for a bit to experience that odd ’50s coupling of prejudice and polka dots as only Phoenix Theatre can present it. I hope to attend their production of “Hairspray,” which opens Fri, Nov 12.

Lizabeth enjoyed a sneak preview with the folks from QSpeak Theatre and came home with a fabulous review — something along the lines of “My cheeks hurt from smiling so much.”

It seems the show presents a bit of a challenge, however, if you’re troubled by feeling the uncontrollable urge to dance along. Personally, I think you should just go for it.

In reality, I’ll likely spend the weekend in teen taxi mode. It’s a busy weekend for the Southwest Shakespeare Company, and Lizabeth will be joining her fellow “Wenches and Knaves” for some fun happenings — which include a festive food and wine tasting Fri., Nov 12, that benefits the company’s education programs (SSC’s intern company will perform “Romeo and Juliet”).

Pie. Pandora. Peaches for teachers. Oodles of theater options for kids and adults — and plenty more. The next grocery store bagger I catch promulgating the myth that Phoenix lacks a vibrant art scene gets the paper variety right over his big head.

— Lynn

Note: No grocery checkers or baggers were harmed in the making of this post. I should also note that the checkers in question do not work at Trader Joe’s. During our last trip to Trader Joe’s, in fact, their fine folks went above and beyond to help us find raw pumpkin seeds for roasting and even pointed out that they were made in the U.S.A.

Coming up: Strolling through Old Town Scottsdale, Mommy musings on mega-movies, Art adventures: Heard Museum North, Holiday theater happenings

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