Tempe tales

I spotted these beauties, each named for a Childsplay artist, while at TCA today

I headed out with a simple mission — hit the first of two Saturday matinees for Childsplay’s production of “With Two Wings” at Tempe Center for the Arts. But in typical TCA fashion, there were plenty of other things to explore.

After seeing “With Two Wings,” I headed to the lobby and spied a trio of dancers in beautiful turquoise garb performing in the “Breaking Ground 2012” pre-show that preceded their 2pm student showcase. There’s also a pre-show for tonight’s 8pm professional showcase, featuring both dance and film.

While checking out Childsplay’s 360° activities in the TCA lobby, I met a lovely grandparent named Bill who noted that both he and his wife are retired educators and longtime holders of Childsplay “play passes” — who often discuss themes from plays they’ve seen together with their grandchildren after the shows.

Themes from "With Two Wings" are explored in TCA lobby exhibits and activities

I explained that my daughter Lizabeth, just cast in her first Pace University theater production, trained for many years with Childsplay Academy — and left a little note on a 360° bulletin board thanking Childsplay for helping her take flight. Then I grabbed a tissue from my purse and spent a bit of teary-eyed time in the ladies room.

Next I met a couple from Canada who were delighted at discovering a venue with so much to offer, and watched a boy making paper airplanes with paper and directions set out at one of two Childsplay tables — before hitting the other table to check out baskets of unique fiber art dolls that seemed a fun spin on sock monkeys and books mirroring “With Two Wings” themes.

Families enjoyed making Frida Kahlo inspired artwork in the TCA Gallery on Saturday

After noticing a sign about kids’ crafts taking place in the TCA gallery, I headed inside to find children and families making artworks inspired by Frida Kahlo (with help from folks at Carmen Creations and Phoenix Frida) — and realized the amazing “Mixing It Up” exhibit closes today. “Arizona Landscapes,” their next exhibit, opens Feb.11.

This community mural created with Martin Morena is exhibited in the TCA Sculpture Garden

I also hit the TCA sculpture garden, which is a wonderful place for children to stretch their legs while experiencing several works of three-dimensional art. One piece reminds me of a beautiful mosque, and several mirror Native American themes. Another features painted butterflies on a surface that gently sways as the breeze blows all around it.

I hit the gift shop every time I’m at the TCA, because there’s always a new crop of unique work that’s both lovely and very reasonably priced. It’s run by volunteers, and I often run into artists while I’m there. Today I chatted with an artist who showed me her “tuxedo scarves” (black on one side, patterned on the other) and a batik scarf with a beautiful beachy feel.

Carol Mickey wearing some of her own artwork, a beautiful "tuxedo scarf"

The gift shop is full of rings, earrings, necklaces and other jewelry fare — plus works of art in many mediums. Today I admired works by Cheryl Willis, Evelyn Gholson, Bonnie Lou Coleman, Mary Poindexter and others. Now that Valentine’s Day is near, their collection of heart-shaped items is growing. I was thrilled to discover that they’ve got gift certificates too.

I also headed outside to the patio overlooking the lake, where I found Carley Conder working on sound. I did a little shopping at the CONDER/dance table too — picking up a set of postcards featuring dance photos while chatting with board member Casey Blake, who works with the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

Finally I headed home, amazed to have stumbled onto so much art in a single outing. Watch for a future post reviewing “With Two Wings,” plus a little something shared by my daughter Lizabeth by phone this afternoon. Her afternoon theater experience was quite different than mine.

— Lynn

Note: Your next opportunity to see “With Two Wings” is Sun, Jan. 29 at 1pm. Click here for show and ticket details.

Coming up: A word about the Golden Rule

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