Category Archives: Uncategorized

Art camps for at-risk youth

Tatiana (L) and Michael at Free Arts of Arizona’s 2011 Multicultural Arts Camp

Chicano arts. Native American arts. African drumming. Latin dance. And spoken word. They’re all part of this year’s Multicultural Arts Camp presented by Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona, which “uses artistic expression and creativity to heal abused and homeless children across the Valley.”

This year’s camp will serve 125 abused, homeless or at-risk youth, who’ll rotate through five workshops focused on multicultural and multidisciplinary arts as well as team-building activities. All are led by professional teaching artists — including Frank Thompson, Melanie Sainz, Christa Iceforest, Myrlin Hepworth and Misha Pemberton.

“Artists and workshops are purposefully chosen so that campers can experience arts from various cultures as well as various mediums,” according to Barbara DuVal Fenster, executive director for Free Arts. Think dance, music, visual arts and creative writing.

Two camp sessions are taking place at Desiderata Alternative High School in Phoenix. Both include breakfast, lunch and snacks throughout the day. This week’s camp, for 14-17 year olds, concludes with a June 8 showcase. Next week’s camp, for 9-13 year olds, wraps up with a showcase on June 15.

Pam Chu with campers during Free Arts’ 2011 Multicultural Arts Camp

“In addition to our artists and volunteers, we invite a few teens from the first session to serve as volunteers for the second session,” says Fenster. “For them,” she says, “it is a chance to move from camper to leader.” For the folks at Free Arts, it’s “an opportunity to watch young people grow, mature and build their self-esteem.”

Since 2001, the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix has worked with Free Arts to “heal young lives through the performing arts” by giving teens from group homes, shelters and treatment facilities throughout Maricopa County “the opportunity to create and experience the arts” through a two-week theater camp at the Herberger Theater Center.

During this year’s Summer Theater Camp, guest artists and volunteers will help children explore improvisation, character development, mask making, costumes, props and the technical side of theater production — then guide them in creating a production they’ll share during a final performance at the Herberger (Fri, June 29 at 7pm) that’s free and open to the public.

— Lynn

Note: A restaurant called Hula’s Modern Tiki, located at 4700 N. Central Ave. in Phoenix, is donating 10 percent of proceeds every Monday in July to Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona.

Coming up: Feeling like a million bucks

Update: I’m now blogging as “Stage Mom Musings” at Please find and follow me there to continue receiving posts about arts and culture in Arizona and beyond. Thanks for your patience as the tech fairies work to move all 1,250+ posts to the new site. For the latest news follow me on Twitter @stagemommusings. 6/13/12


Make some waves

Tile mural at the San Diego International Airport in California

The Phoenix Art Museum presents “Make Waves!” for teens who like to “mix, mingle and create” Fri, March 2 at 6:30pm. Youth who attend can create their own beach-ware accessories, hear sounds of the ocean and view sea-inspired garments during opening night for the museum’s newest fashion show, “The Sea.”

Mesa Community College Act I Musical Productions performs the musical “Rent” featuring book, music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson through Thurs, March 8 at Theatre Outback.

The Phoenix Municipal Art Collection has more than 1,000 works of art that’ll be featured in rotating exhibits in the newly renovated Gallery @ City Hall. Folks can get their first glimpse Fri, March 2, between 10am and 2pm — when the city unveils “Place: Images of the West,” which includes 23 paintings, photographs and prints from 21 artists inspired by western landscapes.

Scottsdale Community College opens its “13th Annual Spring Painting Exhibition” featuring more than 20 artists Fri, March 2. View the exhibition in the SCC art building Mon-Fri 8am-4pm or Sat 9am-3pm.

Chandler-Gilbert Community College presents the musical “Little Women” March 2-9 at the Arnette Scott Ward Performing Arts Center in Chandler. It’s based on the book by Louisa May Alcott, and features book by Allan Knee, music by Jason Howland and lyrics by Mindi Dickstein.

AZ Musicfest 2012 presents “From A to Z — Abba to Les Miz — Broadway’s Best” Sat, March 3 (a March 2 performance is sold out) at Scottsdale First Assembly. Nat Chandler and Teri Dale Hansen will be singing works from “Chicago,” “Mamma Mia!,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Rent,” “Spamalot” and “Wicked.”

Scorpius Dance Theatre is looking ahead to their next performance of “A Vampire Tale” at the Bram Stoker International Film Festival this fall, raising funds for the trip through an all-day dance class marathon Sat, March 3 from 11am to 8pm. They’re offering hour-long master classes in ballet, modern technique, salsa/cha cha, centemporary jazz, burlesque and hip hop.

Tempe Center for the Arts presents a “Walk-in Artist Workshop” Sat, March 3. The “Plein Air Family Workshop with Ellen Waggener” takes place from noon to 4pm in the Gallery — where families can also enjoy an “Arizona Landscapes” exhibition.

The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture and the Seventh Street Merchants Association unveil new artwork and poetry Sat, March 3 at 1:15pm during the “Melrose on Seventh Avenue Street Fair” (11am-5pm) in Phoenix. The works comprise series 8 of the “Seventh Street Streetscape.”

Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe presents a “Meet and Greet Booksigning” with Roxanna Green Sat, March 3 at 5pm. Green authored “As Good As She Imagined: The Redeeming Story of the Angel of Tucson, Christina-Taylor Green” after losing her daughter last January in the Tucson tragedy and now heads a foundation that bears her daughter’s name.

Arizona State University in Tempe holds an Arizona SciTech Festival event dubbed “Night of the Open Door” Sat, March 3 from 5-9pm. The Piper Writers House hosts author readings/book signings that night with Conrad Storad (author of more than 40 science and nature books for children and young adults) and Stephen J. Pyne (author of nearly two dozen books who specializes in history of the environment, exploration and fire).

Never fear if you’re over 21 but still eager to make waves. You can hit opening night for the “Phoenix Fringe Festival” Fri, March 2 — with offerings that include performance by Dulce Dance Company, a choreopoem presented by BlackPoet Ventures, a trio of short plays from Actors Alchemy and more.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to find additional events for families featured in the Raising Arizona Kids Magazine online calendar. Always check with venues before attending to confirm event details.

Coming up: Five freebies for families

Two fairs, three festivals

Unplug the kids this weekend for a bit of camp fair and festival fun

I’m heading out this morning, and tomorrow, to enjoy this year’s Raising Arizona Kids Magazine Camp Fair — taking place at the Tesseract School Shea Campus in Phoenix (Feb. 25) and the Seton Catholic Preparatory High School in Chandler (Feb. 26). I’m especially eager to chat with folks from all the camps offering visual and performing arts fare.

I’ll have plenty of good choices for weekend fun, including three festivals, once I get my Camp Fair fix — a Black History Month festival in Peoria, a Matsuri festival in Phoenix and a Sunday A’Fair “mini-festival” in Scottsdale.

The Black History Month celebration in Peoria actually kicked off last night with a jazz concert featuring Dennis Rowland, but those of you who missed it will be pleased to know that he’s also part of a concert taking place at the Herberger Theater Center Mon, Feb. 27 to benefit Actors Theatre (which also stars Walt Richardson, and Bob Sorenson as master of ceremonies).

The Black History Month Festival happens today from 10am to 7pm in Osuna Park in Peoria (83rd and Grand Aves.). I’m told they’ll have live music, vendors, community and medical service stations, and a kids zone — plus lots of information and educational materials. Admission to the festival is free, and the day also includes a tribute to the late Whitney Houston.

Sunday A’Fair in Scottsdale takes place Sun, Feb. 26 from noon to 4pm on the large lawn adjacent to the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Admission to this baby is free as well.

This week’s Sunday A’Fair features the Chuck Hall Band playing “a spicy Texas stew of originals and unique blues-based standards” from noon to 1:30pm and Powerdrive playing “Red-hot salsa dance numbers, R & B, classic oldies and Tex-Mex.”

Sunday A’Fairs also take place March 4 & 25 and April 1 & 8 — and each features different concert fare. All include a fine arts and crafts market, activities for children and free admission to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

Arizona Matsuri, the 28th Annual Festival of Japan, hits Heritage and Science Park in downtown Phoenix both Sat, Feb. 25 and Sun, Feb. 26 from 10am-5pm. It features exhibits, demonstrations, arts and crafts, children’s activities and three stages with live entertainment. Plus Japanese food and bonsai displays.

Folks dressed in Japanese attire are invited to participate in the Matsuri parade that starts at 10:10am today (start gathering at the Plaza Stage around 9:45am).  An opening ceremony at 10:30am this morning features Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki, Japan’s ambassador to the United States.

Festival organizers note that “flowering cherry trees have seen symbols of Japan’s friendship to the people of America for 100 years.” In 1912, more than 3,000 cherry trees were gifted from the Tokyo to Washington, D.C. so 2012 has been dubbed the Japan-U.S. Cherry Blossom Centennial.

Enjoy all these fabulous fairs and festivals while you can. In another couple of months the only things we’ll be celebrating are ice cubes and air conditioning.

— Lynn

Note: Ice cube meets art at the corner of First St. and Brown Ave. in Scottsdale, where you’ll find a 2006 work created with concrete, forged iron and pavers that also includes a rose, cowboy boot, boxing glove and more. It’s “Hidden Histories for Old Town Scottsdale” by Elizabeth Conner with Benson Shaw, Duke Grenier, and Tawn Endres.

Coming up: Starry, starry playwright

A labor of love

Magazines. Newspapers. Books. Blogs. We’re nothing without our readers. So today, as folks take special care to remember those they love, I’m feeling the love for “Stage Mom” readers — and all the people who support our work at Raising Arizona Kids magazine.

It’s a labor of love that began more than two decades ago, headed by our publisher and editor Karen Barr — who’s gathered an amazing team of folks who feel like a second family. It’s a big, extended family, I think, because all of you are in it. I hope her own first family knows how much we appreciate them sharing her with us each day.

Parenting is hard work. Publishing seems no easier. But Karen never loses her passion for gathering and sharing stories and community resources with others on the journey. So whether you’re a reader, subscriber or advertiser, I thank you from the bottom of my heart — and wish you the happiest of “heart” days.

— Lynn

You are my sunshine

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I’ve got a long way to go in the speaking Spanish department. One of the few words I know is “sol” — which means “sun,” something I likely learned from all those years watching the “Parada del Sol Parade” make its way through Scottsdale.

I enjoyed Saturday’s parade sitting on a curb next to three young girls rocking a bohemian vibe with multicolor sundresses, silk scarves donned like capes, cowboy boots and adorable hats. Also a couple who’d arrived by bike.

The gentleman got a hoot out of watching one of the high school marching bands go by. Seems he and about two dozen seniors spent five hours on a little high school prank at their school, which made the local papers a few decades ago. Best I not repeat it here for fear the next generation will feel inspired to continue his legacy.

I also ran into dogs sporting tiny little cowboy hats about the size of a teacup. One, dressed in a furry little leopard version, probably gave a shout out as the animal rescue organizations marched by — but to no avail.

Several high school marching bands — complete with brass, drums and all sorts of fanfare — strutted their stuff. Some were accompanied by cheerleaders, both male and female. And a large group of Arizona Twirling Athletes made their mark with a sparkling red, white and blue float.

Mojave Middle School students deserve high praise for cheerfully cleaning up after all those high-stepping horses. At one point I overheard a man suggest he’d vote for any politician willing to do the same.

Lots of scouting groups took part in the parade, and red wagons passed by every so often attached to folks selling Girl Scout cookies. I forget, do any of their cookies have the word “sunshine” in their name?

No matter, I suppose. Because the real stars of the parade were those representing veterans. Onlookers clapped with genuine enthusiasm as people representing our MIA/POW citizens, and various wars or branches of the military, went by. Law enforement was well received as well.

Several giant balloons added a larger than life feel to the event, one of many dubbed an official part of Arizona’s centennial celebration. Think giant Saguaro cactus, coyote and more. Plus a silvery snake head on wheels.

Plenty of old cars, trucks and souped up (or down) vehicles made their way down Scottsdale Rd. too — reminding me of parades I attended many decades ago in the tiny South Dakota town where my father grew up. My favorite, of course, was a fire truck from the Hall of Flame museum in Phoenix.

To all the children and youth who smiled and waved while marching down a long parade route in the Arizona sun — you did an amazing job. No doubt friends and family looked on with pride, thinking all the while: You are my sunshine.

— Lynn

Note: You’ve still got plenty of time to enjoy a myriad of events celebrating Arizona’s 100th birthday — click here for ideas. And click here to learn about upcoming events from the Parada del Sol organization.

Coming up: Festivals celebrating native cultures, High school musicals

Arizona’s got talent

As NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” conducts auditions this weekend in Austin, a freelance casting producer is searching for the best of the best in Phoenix. Although there’s no open call audition in Phoenix for the show’s upcoming season, Sarah Furlong is busy reviewing video submissions — inviting select performers to a producers showcase for America’s Got Talent taking place Sat., Jan. 21 in Phoenix.

Prince Poppycock meets Americana

I chatted with Furlong yesterday about what they’re looking for — mainly variety acts and performers with an unusual or over-the-top vibe. Seems they’d “love to find a killer hip hop dance group” or another “Prince Poppycock type.” Fans of the show know Prince Popppycock as an uber-over the top performer with a Baroque persona and set list.

Furlong shared other examples of acts they’d love to locate during their time in Phoenix — from ropers to ventriloquists, and drag queens too. Folks who think they’re a good match need to create a video Furlong can screen before the middle of next week. Invites to the producers showcase will follow for those she selects.

I’ve encounted plenty of talented groups of young performers here in the Valley — ballet folklorico and Irish step dancers, circus and acrobat performers, twirling and martial arts athletes, and more. Also adults with diverse talents like animated storytelling with hand-crafted masks.

We’ve got lots of talented young singers, as well as bands, though Furlong says these aren’t the types of acts she’s looking for here in the Valley. But don’t feel disappointed if you’re the proud parent of a young actor, dancer or singer — because there’s another competition coming our way.

The Arizona Young Artists’ Competition offers aspiring young artists ages 15-19 the opportunity to compete in the areas of acting, dance and voice. The competition showcases diverse emerging artists, introduces young artists to the audition process and gives young artists a chance to interact with arts-professionals.

Preliminary auditions by category take place April 17-19 at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix, which presents the competition each year in collaboration with Center Dance Ensemble, the venue’s resident modern dance company led by Frances Smith Cohen.

Four finalists from each category are then selected to participate in the final competition on Sat, April 21. Judges select a winner in each category to receive a $1,000 scholarship to help further their education in the arts. Audience members participate as well, selecting a “People’s Choice Winner” in each category to receive a $100 award.

Registration for the Arizona Young Artists’ Competition is open through March 25, and the registration fee is $25 per discipline. Visit for event details and registration information.

— Lynn

Note: America’s Got Talent is accepting video auditions online through Feb. 15. Click here to learn more. Parents of youth who’d like to be considered for the show’s producers showcase in Phoenix can contact Sarah Furlong at 310-857-8575.

Coming up: A vision of loveliness, Art meets angst

Update: Click here for a comprehensive audition notice from Durant Communications about talent of all ages being sought for “America’s Got Talent.”

Tourist tale

New York City is swarming with tourists — especially in the area near Zuccotti Park, home to the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the 9/11 Memorial. I’m one of them, of course, though I do my best to blend in. I like to think it’s only my frequent use of the words “thank you” and “excuse me” that give away my “not-from-around-these-parts” status.

It’s not that I think New Yorkers are rude. On the contrary, my experiences with native New Yorkers have been delightful. But the tourists are starting to get on my nerves. I paused at New York Comic Con yesterday to wait for a tourist who seemed to be having trouble deciding which way she wanted to turn.

She stood for a long time, eventually turning and running smack dab into me. I’m not the quickest thing off the block anymore, but I mean well — and would have been happy to apologize had she not cussed me out and dashed away from the scene. It seemed a fluke until a little-run in I narrowly escaped in a Lower Manhattan coffee house — one of 172 of this particular brand in the city, I’m told.

I'm going local in search of the fine art of customer service (Photo is from a lovely local joint near the Burton Barr Central Library in downtown Phoenix)

Fearing my feet were quite literally about to give way, I sought out a seat after getting my coffee. Two seats had been empty for 15 minutes as I waited in line, so I asked a couple, tourists with heavy German accents, if I could use the chairs. They’d been guarding them like the people version of a pit bull for all that time.

I went in search of other options after they told me the seats were saved. Soon a heavy downpour started to fall, and there were a lot more people in search of coffee and a place to sit for a spell. I watched as the couple, in their 60s I suppose, turned away other people who politely requested the seats.

I headed back to the counter and asked, very nicely, for a manager. I explained that a couple had been saving two seats for well over 20 minutes and that I really needed to sit down. He came out from behind the counter to ask them about the seats — then told me they were saving them for friends who were in the bathroom.

“The bathroom line gets really long here,” the manager told me. There was no line, and I’m guessing no friends. “First come, first served,” he shouted at me. Then he hurried back behind the counter. No “I’m sorry I couldn’t help you miss” or “Can I help you find another solution?” He couldn’t have cared less.

I returned to the couple and asked, again very nicely, whether I could just borrow one chair until their friends finished in the bathroom. But they turned nasty in a hurry. A gentleman sipping coffee with his wife at a nearby table quipped, “That’s why we had a second World War — Germany wanted more space.” I didn’t tell him my birth mother hailed from Germany.

Again, they refused — and the other couple, sensing my very real physcial pain — suggested I simply sit down. Nobody owns the chairs, they told me. So I tried that, explaining that I’d be happy to get up once the bathroom buddies returned. The older couple yelled at me, appalled by my so-called rudeness, until the more gracious couple noted that they had an extra chair at their table.

I was happy to move. I didn’t want to make a scene. I only wanted to get off my feet before they gave out. I’d take up a lot more space if I collapsed. I chatted with the friendly couple for a bit, who shared that they too have found New Yorkers to be perfectly civil — but that they’ve had similar encounters with other tourists in New York.

I can’t do anything about people who guard public spaces like they own them, but I can choose to get my coffee elsewhere at every opportunity. You can make the finest coffee in the world, but I won’t have anything to do with it until I get the sense that the people on your “team” really care about their customers.

After resting for ten minutes or so, I watched a lone man in his 20s politely ask the couple if they were using the two empty chairs. Half an hour later, they still refused to share. So I offered him my seat, explained that the couple sitting at the table were truly lovely — and that I was about to head out the door.

I’d have enjoyed a bit more time off my feet and out of the rain, but it seemed a nice way to end the experience. I wanted to pay the couple’s kindness forward — and New Yorkers need to know that not all tourists are tyrants.

— Lynn

Coming up: The art and soul and New York Comic Con