Category Archives: visual arts

Silly old bear

Silly old bear. It’s one of my favorite lines from A.A. Milne tales of the little boy named Christopher Robin whose fluffy companions include a bear called Winnie the Pooh. I’ve got Pooh on the brain today after reflecting a bit more on the transition to a new blog site. I’m remembering my early days with our oldest son Christopher, whose room as a toddler was decorated with all things primary colors and Pooh.

Christopher has been a part of our lives for more than two decades, and I’ve been affiliated with Raising Arizona Kids for nearly that long — joining the staff when my three children were still small enough to read Winnie the Pooh tales in lap mode. They’re all in college now, so the nature of our relationships is evolving. Still, this will always be their home.

That’s how I feel about Raising Arizona Kids. Folks concerned that my new adventures mean their stories won’t get shared with RAK audiences needn’t fret. I’m continuing to cover Arizona arts and culture for the magazine, but in online article rather than blog mode. Also continuing to write an arts page for each month’s print magazine. Your stories are no less near and dear to me now than they were some 1,250 + posts ago when I started blogging.

Like all artists, writers need to explore and grow. We need fresh eyes on new landscapes. I never worry, when seeing associate artists for Childsplay direct or act in other settings, that their love for Childsplay is diminished in any way. I suspect their diverse adventures fuel both their individual creativity and work together as an ensemble. That’s how I feel about both writing for RAK and doing my own “Stage Mom Musings” thing.

Similarly, our children’s college adventures don’t mean they love us any less. It’s just that there are more paths for them to travel. And that’s as it should be. I fully expect that the road back home will stay well trodden. And so it is for my relationship with Raising Arizona Kids. I’ll be sharing arts adventures both there and here, which’ll help me champion Arizona arts both locally and beyond our borders.

I hope you’ll follow along on my road trip. Covering Arizona arts and culture — and those who nurture and create it — continues to be my great joy and privilege. So no worries, silly old bear.

– Lynn

Note: Please send arts and culture news my way at stagemommusings@gmail.com. That’ll get your events and programs on both my RAK and Stage Mom Musings radar. Once RAK recovers from flood mode, we’ll get old “Stage Mom” posts moved over to the “Stage Mom Musings” site at www.stagemommusings.com, where new posts appear each day.

Fertile field, empty nest

Soon I'll be taking flight with new "Stage Mom Musings" adventures

I planted a seed some 1,000 + posts ago, eager to share my love for theater with fellow parents. You could say that Raising Arizona Kids was the soil. It’s been a fertile field for parents to grow, nurture and share experiences for more than two decades. The “Stage Mom” blog has thrived there, growing into a tree of sorts with branches reaching far beyond the Valley of the Sun. I’m grateful for the roots that’ve made the next part of the “Stage Mom” journey possible.

Soon I’ll be leaving the nest to take “Stage Mom” solo, though I know I’ll never really have to fly alone. I’ll still be part of the Raising Arizona Kids family, continuing to write features for the magazine that gave my writing wings and nurtured its growth through the years. My first Raising Arizona Kids article was published in a birthday party issue – something about a Beanie Baby party for daughter Jennifer. Back then, all I knew of writing was “write what you know.”

Karen Barr – the magazine’s founder, publisher and editor – has been a mentor throughout my writing journey, and is incredibly supportive even now as I’m preparing to leave the nest. Much of what I know about writing came from years of “on the job” training with Karen and fellow writers in the RAK family. My writing for RAK has garnered both national and state awards, and I’m grateful for the magazine’s role in helping me find and share my voice about matters great and small.

Most recently, “Stage Mom” earned two Arizona Press Club Awards in the non-metro category – second place for arts criticism and first place for features blog. RAK writers earned an additional six awards. I’ll never stop learning from RAK, but other projects now beckon – including a book about dance that I hope will be the first of several guides to introducing children and teens to the arts. I’ve got an amazing partner for the dance book, and will be sharing more news on that front in coming weeks.

For now, I’m busy making a new home for the writer formerly known as “Stage Mom.” Think Twitter, Facebook, blog and beyond. Watching me wrestle the world of widgets should prove plenty entertaining. Cyberspace is filled with stage moms, so you’ll find me using the “Stage Mom Musings” handle. It seemed the best moniker given my tendency to muse, and I hope you’ll follow me for news of “Stage Mom Musings” developments and future arts adventures.

I’ll continue to cover the Arizona arts and culture that’s so near and dear to my heart, and hope you’ll all stay in touch about your own arts offerings and adventures. Folks who follow @stagemommusings on Twitter will be the first to know as I unroll the new blog.

I’m genuinely grateful for everyone whose support for “Stage Mom” has made the start of this journey possible. Thanks for reading the work, for sharing your own experiences with arts and culture, for making your own contributions to the arts scene in Arizona and beyond. The world is a better place with art, and I’m looking forward to many more years of telling her stories.

— Lynn

Note: Once the new site is up and running, we’ll transfer all “Stage Mom” posts to the new blog — and many will also continue to be available through RAK’s online archives. Please continue to share your news about Arizona arts and culture with me at rakstagemom@gmail.com.

Coming up: Once upon a widget

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

Fun finds for Father’s Day

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Folks eager to find unique gifts and experiences for celebrating Father’s Day need look no farther than local arts and culture. Museums make for fun family outings, and many have gift shops filled with fascinating fare making gifts like striped ties look purely passé.

Got a dad who’s into science? Hit your local science center. Got a dad who’s into art? Treat him to time at your local art gallery or museum. Got a dad who’s into history? Take him along for some time at the nearest history museum. And remember all those neighborhood arts districts with funky fare it’s hard to find elsewhere.

Military dads and their families can enjoy free admission to museums that participate in the Blue Star Museums program. Most museums participate from Memorial Day through Veterans Day — but some offer free year-round admission (with specified I.D.s) to active military personnel and up to five family members.

For dads who enjoy making art, consider taking a Father’s Day walk together in search of found objects for future art projects. Or looking around the house for boxes and other recyclable objects you can turn into forts, musical instruments and works of art. Or get dad a gift certificate to your favorite small business featuring art supplies or classes.

Remember studios in your community that offer hands-on arts experiences like painting pottery, folding origami, recreating famous art masterpieces and such. Check your local libraries, independent book shops,community centers and parks and recreation facilities for activities of special interest to fathers and families.

Also theater companies that offer family-friendly fare — plus performing arts venues that offer fun film, music, dance, poetry and other options. You’ll never know whether the dad in your life is hot for hip hop until you give it a try together.

— Lynn

Note: I’ll be updating this post with more photos as I discover more Father’s Day fare

Coming up: Art meets wild west, Getting to know Jimmy

Update: I’m now blogging as “Stage Mom Musings” at www.stagemommusings.com. 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

From aliens to arm wrestling

Got a thing for UFOs? Hit tonight’s free Summer Opening Celebration — and sign up for a UFO-theme family day on June 21 at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

It sometimes feels like aliens from outer space have already landed in Arizona, and no one would be happier than my hubby if it actually happened. He’s a longtime fan of science fiction who’ll be pleased to learn that the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art has UFOs on the brain these days.

Seems we human types once sent a “Golden Record” into space, eager to put our best foot forward in the event our probes made their way to alien lands. But that was the 70s, and this is now. So a Brooklyn-based composer named Judd Greenstein is working with artists who call themselves “New Catalogue” to imagine how humans might represent themselves now.

Folks curious about the project can hit tonight’s “Summer Opening Celebration” at SMoCA — which’ll feature previews of a new work composed by Greenstein that’s being performed tomorrow night at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Tonight’s affair, which runs from 7-10pm, is free and open to the public. You can hit the Lounge at SMoCA to enjoy a no host bar and Dulce Dance Company.

Meet composer Judd Greenstein tonight at SMoCA and enjoy the premiere of a new Greenstein work tomorrow at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Those who attend tonight’s shindig can mingle with artists, curators, dancers and composers — plus check out four new exhibitions. I’m hoping to pop over after we’ve celebrated Lizabeth’s birthday, but will most certainly be in the house tomorrow night as Greenstein premieres “In Teaching Others We Teach Ourselves,” written for violinist Nadia Sirota. Sirota, a string quartet and members of the Grammy-winning Phoenix Chorale will all be taking to the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts stage.

Families fascinated by UFOs can hit SMoCA on June 21 for their annual “Family Fun Night,” which promises all sorts of UFO-related fare like creating hands-on art projects that involve sending messages to aliens in outer space. Also “a planetarium for stargazing,” a child-friendly docent-led tour of related exhibitions and plenty of good clean fun. Think blowing big bubbles, sampling refreshing treats and enjoying playtime in the Civic Center Mall fountain (BYO bathing suit).

There’s also a free event taking place June 12 that’s dubbed “Summer Stargazing and Music in Outerspace.” That baby features a curator-led tour of “This is a Present from a Small Distant World” plus an ASU ethnomusicologist discussing musical selections performed by Erin Hales. There’s even stargazing at ASU to follow.

I discovered oodles of good stuff browsing through the summer events and exhibition calendars for SMoCA — from film screenings and author events to art workshops and teen gatherings. I’m especially intrigued by “Arm Wrestling for Art” (July 13) and an online experience called “Out of the Cubical.” Watch for another post featuring pearls shared by Greenstein once I’ve rocked the birthday party vibe here at home.

— Lynn

Note: Pre-register for the SMoCA “Family Fun Night” on June 21 by calling 480-874-4642 (The evening is $20 for a family of four and $4 per extra person). I’m assuming any actual aliens from outer space choosing to land in Scottsdale that evening will get in free.

Coming up: Composer Judd Greenstein talks art, music and life

Update: I’m now blogging as “Stage Mom Musings” at www.stagemommusings.com. 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

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 www.stagemommusings.com. 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

Walk on the wildlife side

Humor with snapshots is the closest I get to creating animal art

I encountered all sorts of animals during a weekend trip to Prescott with our youngest daughter Lizabeth. Live sheep and goats at the Sharlot Hall Museum’s Folk Art Fair. Dozens of dogs walking their owners at a dog fair held in Prescott’s Courtyard Plaza. And lots of horse-inspired paintings and sculpture at the Phippen Museum.

All reminded me about a new “Wildlife Restoration Ecology” program at Scottsdale Community College — which features coursework in wildlife, plant biology and ecology with “an overall emphasis on restoration of populations and habitats.” Students in the program can earn an A.S. degree at SCC, then transfer SCC credits to ASU — which offers a B.S. degree in Wildlife & Restoration Ecology.

Our son Christopher has long been interested in wildlife conservation, so this comes as exciting news. The rest of us merely admire, read about and sometimes draw animals. Turns out folks can earn a good living in wildlife-related careers, helping both people and animals in the process.

I learned while visiting the Phippen Museum on Sunday that they’re opening an exhibit called “The Wild West” next month. But don’t expect cowboys and such. Instead, the exhibit will feature “the very best in contemporary Western wildlife art.” It’ll run July 21-Oct 29 (there’s a preview and reception on July 20).

There’s much for animal lovers to enjoy at the Phippen Museum. Small sculptures of animals in an exhibit featuring miniature works. Gift shop fare including home accessories sporting beautiful images of horses. And plenty of demonstrations and activities.

Artist Edward Aldrich will share tips and techniques for drawing and painting animals during a July 21 (1-3pm) demonstration at the Phippen Museum. Artist Ken Rowe will discuss his techniques for capturing animals in art during an “Art Conversation” on Oct. 6.

Christopher’s favorite by far would be a “Live Animal Demonstration” headed to the Phippen Museum on Aug. 11. It’ll feature animal handlers from Prescott’s Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary, sharing information about native animals of Arizona — along with a few animals from the wildlife park.

A more serious artist created this work displayed in the Phippen Museum’s family area

Our girls, also in college now, would love the “Youth Art Workshop” coming to the Phippen Museum Oct. 6 were they a bit younger. The 1-2:30pm event is for kids ages 6 to 16, who’ll be able to “paint their very own 3-dimensional horse sculpture.” Lizabeth came home with a just a single souvenir of our weekend in Prescott — a small stuffed animal from the museum’s gift shop.

I’ll share more about the Phippen Museum in a future post. For now just mark your calendar with their events that pique your interest — and tell fellow wildlife lovers about the new SCC/ASU partnership. Whether through art or science, learning to appreciate wildlife is a good thing.

— Lynn

Note: Remember SCC’s Center for Native and Urban Wildlife when planning school field trips for the 2012/13 school year.

Coming up: Brooklyn meets Scottsdale, Dancing in the line of duty

Cancer meets creativity

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We’ll be spending lots of time at Scottsdale Healthcare this week, all part of Christopher’s one-year follow up for cancer diagnosed and treated last spring. I often admire the Wall of Valor at their Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center when I’m there. It’s filled with tiles created in honor of friends and family members who’ve lived with cancer. Several of the tiles are pictured above.

Like hundreds of communities throughout the world, the folks at Scottsdale Healthcare are observing today’s 25th annual National Cancer Survivors Day, which “provides an opportunity for all people living with a history of cancer  — including America’s 12 million cancer survivors — to connect with each other, celebrate milestones, and recognize the healthcare providers, family, and friends who have supported them along the way.”

NCSD started in the United States in 1987 and is celebrated in Canada, Australia, India, Saudi Arabia, Italy, and Malaysia, according to NCSD spokesperson Laura Shipp. Sunday’s events will include parades, carnivals, walks, races, art exhibits, health fairs, dances, inspirational programs and more. Folks can find events in their area by checking with local cancer treatment centers and hospitals, or the American Cancer Society — and find more information about cancer here:

Cancer survivors and their families are gathering at Scottsdale Healthcare Shea in North Scottsdale today for festivities that include a mayoral proclamation, seed planting, beading, music and light refreshments.  Also master gardener Carol Stuttard sharing “the healing powers of gardening and horticultural therapy.”   Though registration has closed, there’s no harm in calling 480-882-4636 to see whether space is still available. 

If you’re celebrating the day with family or friends, consider painting some tiles of your own, taking to your own garden or creating your own annual tradition.

— Lynn

Note: Click here for a list of cancer-related titles from Amazon, and remember that most can be found at (or ordered through) your local brick and mortar bookstore. Click here for the titles about children’s cancer written for young readers.

Coming up: World history — sidewalk style