Last week, after driving my college-age son Christopher to an appointment, I told him I was off to run errands. Bank. Drugstore. Grocery store. All the fun stuff.
I certainly meant well, but simply couldn’t resist the lure of the Scottsdale Civic Center as I drove past. There’s a library, a museum of contemporary art, winding park paths, a museum store, a performing arts center and restaurants galore.
I still had the Wickenberg Public Library, recently closed due to budget cuts, on the brain. I wanted to visit my own local libary, and pause a while to reflect by the giant quill and inkwell sculptures near the entrance.
The whole area — part of Scottsdale’s “Old Town” — is full of places for peaceful reflection. Think park benches, colorful gardens and calming water features.
While walking through the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts (within easy walking distance of the library), I heard the cheerful voices of children — and soon followed the sound to a small theater where students from a nearby elementary school were about to enjoy a film about dance.
It was just steps away from the large open space where both my daughters have performed with fellow Dance Theater West summer campers.
There’s also a small art exhibit space nearby, the “young@art” gallery, which currently features an exhibit titled “Imagining Dance” — with sculpture, paintings, video of dance performance and more.
I picked up a brochure for the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts to discover diverse dance offerings coming soon — including the legendary Merce Cunningham Dance Company.
Naturally I hit the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts gift shop on the way out (there’s another gift shop just across the sidewalk at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art).
It’s a fun place to find teacher gifts, unique items for children and all sorts of arts-related fare — and I love shopping where I can support local arts and culture.
But my fondest memories of Scottsdale Civic Center involve adventures with my young children — reading in the children’s section of the library, taking pictures together of flowers and public art, watching performances by artists we admire.
My son was apparently very eager to explore it even before his late August birth 21 years ago. I felt the first pangs of labor while having dinner with my husband at a joint that’s since been replaced with an Indian restaurant — and walked for some time around the grounds hoping to speed up the process.
While the walking may have helped, it wasn’t a quick fix. I didn’t head to the hospital until later that night after my water broke and the cramping grew hard to ignore.
I’d chosen a small stuffed animal — “Big Bird” of Sesame Street — for my focal point during labor (the thing that supposedly takes your mind off the pain if you stare at it hard enough).
With Jennifer, our second child, I used a giant clock. The moving hands were more distracting than the stillness of a stuffed animal.
With Lizabeth, our last, it was the row of tiny buttons on James’ shirt (by then I was too busy to think ahead in the childbirth department).
But it occurred to me as I passed the giant LOVE sculpture at the Scottsdale Civic Center, that I should have used a replica of this work (I hadn’t yet discovered them for sale at the SMOCA gift shop).
As my children continue their journey through adulthood, I suspect these detours to the places we’ve so often enjoyed together will happen more and more often.
Labors of love stay with us forever.
Note: The art teacher I met that day, from Zuni Hills Elementary School, recently got in touch with me — so I look forward to learning more about their art program.
Coming up: The fine art of friendship, Got graffiti?, Broadway tales, Copper rush, Three necessary things