Tag Archives: Arizona Capitol

We take care of our own

Work by 8th grade student Luis Velasquez exhibited by Young Arts Arizona

Springsteen’s “We Take Care of Our Own” topped the set list at last night’s Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concert at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem. I sat spellbound in Scottsdale as Springsteen and the band rocked their way through 19 tunes heavy laden with tales of upheaval and undying optimism.

Work by 6th grader Elias Galvin Rendon

The Apollo Theater concert was broadcast live by Sirius XM in celebration of its tenth anniversary, coinciding with the recent release of Springsteen’s “Wrecking Ball” album. Yes kids, that’s what some of us old timers call them. Without apology.

Critics have weighed in on both, and I find those from The New York Times most intriguing. But my own read on the concert has a different vibe. The Apollo Theater concert was simply Springsteen taking care of his own. Like all the best storytelllers, Springsteen listens. And he hears people hurting.

Work by 3rd grader Elizabeth Navarro

Hold tight to your anger. Don’t fall to your fear. Put old skills to new uses. Seize the break of blue in a long cloudy sky. Remember those dealt injustice, and help those suffering now. Be the change. Make the change. And enjoy the rock and roll ride — Springsteen’s vehicle for soothing the soul while calling heart and hands to action.

As Springsteen wove older works into newer “Wrecking Ball” fare, the continuity of his decades-long drive for social justice was clear. So too was his genuine gratitude for those who came before — including many an artist who’s graced the Apollo Theater stage. Springsteen is a soul man. And soul must be shared.

Some folks are especially gifted at simultaneously running with and passing the torch. Springsteen is among them. After longtime friend and fellow musician Clarence Clemons died last summer, the torch went to nephew Jake Clemons — now part of “the E Street horns.” The Apollo Theater concert was rich with brass, choral music and strings that make the band’s heart beat just a little louder.

Work by 3rd grader Gabriel Ramirez

Gospel. Soul. Rap. Rock and roll. Irish jigs and mariachi melodies. It’s not your mother’s Springsteen. Or perhaps it is. I remember taking our two daughters, then in high school, to Springsteen’s last concert in Phoenix. They were equally moved by the music and the food collection boxes scattered throughout the venue’s main hall. Music feeds the soul. But it takes more to feed the hungry.

Hence Springteen’s shout out, near the end of the Apollo Theater concert, to fans who support the work of WhyHunger — and to its executive director Bill Ayres, who co-founded the organization with singer/songwriter Harry Chapin (whose brother Tom Chapin recently performed here in the Valley).

Work by 5th grader Victoria Anchondo

Like plenty of Springsteen fans, we won’t be in the house for any “Wrecking Ball” concerts, but there’s much we can do to move our own communities past hard times. Learn more about WhyHunger. Support our local food banks. Advocate for just public policies. Promote the arts that sustain us. And rise up.

Wherever this flag’s flown, we take care of our own. — Bruce Springsteen

— Lynn

Note: Saint Mary’s Food Bank Alliance presents its 11th annual “Kids Cafe Open” on March 30 to raise funds for battling child hunger in Arizona — click here for details. Artwork featured in this post was part of the Young Arts Arizona “Living the Dream, Passing the Torch” exhibit celebrating MLK Day 2012 at the Arizona State Capitol.

Coming up: Rising Youth Theatre shares diverse youth perspectives


I’m just a bill…

Arts advocates gathered at the Arizona Capitol yesterday for the 2012 Arts Congress.

First, a heartfelt thanks to all of you who made it to yesterday’s Arizona Arts Congress — and to the legislators who took time to meet with all the lovely folks who care about arts and culture, and the role it plays in our economy, community, schools and everyday lives.

Thankfully, those of us who couldn’t make it can still weigh in with our legislators about just how much we value arts and culture. Arizona Citizens/Action for the Arts has details about three issues noted on its website — and makes it easy for folks to send e-mails to the folks who vote on such things.

Arizona Representative Steve Farley meeting with arts advocates during the 2011 Arts Congress at the Arizona State Capitol

Seems there’s already a bit of good news on that front. Today the Arizona House of Representatives committee considering HB 2265 decided to move it forward for consideration by the larger legislative body. HB 2265 authorizes the continuation, for another ten years, of the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

This makes me a happy camper, because they’re an invaluable resource for artists, educators and citizens. If you’re not getting their newsletters, you’re missing the latest and greatest news about arts-related events, arts education, funding opportunities, calls for student artwork and much more.

Arizona Representative Ruben Gallego meeting with David Hemphill of the Black Theatre Troupe during the 2011 Arts Congress attended by more than 200 advocates

But HB 2265 is just one of three arts-related issues working its way through this legislative session. Another, SB 1348, would establish an Arizona poet laureate. We need a state poet; don’t I know it. Finally, there’s a section of the governor’s proposed budget that would further cut funding for arts — and advocates can still weigh in on that prospect.

Those of you who remember the musical “Schoolhouse Rock” can probably still sing David Frishberg’s lyrics for “I’m Just a Bill.” But nothing is ever “just a bill.” Every piece of legislation working its way through both the Arizona House of Representatives and the Arizona Senate has the potential to impact our daily lives. Click here to join fellow citizens championing the arts in Arizona.

— Lynn

Note: If you have photos from this year’s Arizona Arts Congress to share, I’d love to see them — and you may find them featured in a future post. Click here to learn more about this weekend’s “Arizona Best Fest” Phoenix taking place at, and around, the Arizona Capitol Mall (and watch for a future post highlighting monuments your family can explore during your visit).

Coming up: Reflections from Catherine “Rusty” Foley, executive director for Arizona Citizens/Action for the Arts

Photos: 2011 Arts Congress photos courtesy of Arizona Citizens/Action for the Arts

The eight days of Chanukah

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Chanukah celebrations are already underway in the Valley and beyond, as Jewish families across the globe commemorate the second century B.C.E. rededication of the second temple in Jerusalem during the Maccabean revolt against Greek rule. This year’s “festival of lights” begins at sunset tonight (Dec. 20) and runs through sundown on Dec. 28.

Governor Jan Brewer is scheduled to attend tonight’s “Arizona Capitol Menorah Lighting Ceremony” at 5pm, and plenty of Valley groups are planning to participate.

Youth who recently performed in the Arizona Jewish Theatre Company production of “Fiddler on the Roof, Jr.” will be joining Brewer in full costume to light the menorah, according to Janet Arnold, the company’s founder and producing director. They’ll also be singing a song from the musical that’s titled “Tradition.”

Chabad of Arizona begins their “Grand Menorah Parade” at 3:30pm today — traveling to Wesley Bolin Plaza at 1700 W. Washington in Phoenix from Chabad Lubavitch of Arizona at 2110 E.Lincoln Drive.

Their “Grand Menorah Lighting” celebration kicks off at 4pm — featuring yo-yo entertainment, donut decorating, a visit from Judah the Maccabee and more. Even door prizes for every child, a raffle with additional prizes and goodies like latkes, sufganiyot and hot drinks.

It’s a great way for parents eager to help children understand and appreciate a variety of traditions to help their children learn more about Jewish faith and culture. Remember, as you pass all those elaborate displays of Christmas lights, that friends and neighbors may be celebrating the “festival of lights,” mindful of a miracle that kept oil burning in a temple long ago.

— Lynn

Note: This post has been updated with photos of Wednesday’s celebration taken by Jeff Lynn, provided courtesy of Chabad of Arizona/Chabad of Downtown.

Coming up: Jewish arts and culture in Arizona — and beyond

Update: Those of you who missed the public menorah lighting on Dec. 20 will have other opportunities in coming days as various Chabad groups host lightings. Click here for a listing of these and other events compiled by Jewish News of Greater Phoenix. 11/21/11


Family gathered for the Sabbath in Fiddler on the Roof, Jr., being performed by Arizona Jewish Theatre Company's Curtain Call Youtheatre (Photos: Mark Gluckman)

It’s easy to forget, when faced with cities awash in Christmas lights, that not all Americans celebrate the Christmas holiday. Recent studies by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life indicate that nearly one-fourth of all Americans embrace traditions other than Christianity.

Jacob Shore as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, Jr. by Arizona Jewish Theatre Company

So I was delighted to learn that Arizona Jewish Theatre Company’s Curtain Call Youtheatre is performing “Fiddler on the Roof, Jr.” this weekend — giving Valley audiences a break from nearly non-stop Christmas fare while offering a glimpse into traditions of Jewish faith and culture.

Scene from Arizona Jewish Theatre Company's Fiddler on the Roof, Jr.

Cast members were asked to write about family traditions rather than submitting traditional bios for the program, so folks who atttend the show can enjoy both the timeless tale of a family facing changing times and the reflections of Valley youth on their own traditions within contemporary society.

Two young cast members from Fiddler on the Roof, Jr. by Arizona Jewish Theatre Company

Janet Arnold, founder and producing director for Arizona Jewish Theatre Company, shared a few “tradition” tidbits from the program, many focused on family holiday celebrations. Levi Gettleman (Rabbi, age 11) shared a Passover seder tradition in which his dad asks the kids questions, then rewards correct answers with two dollar bills.

Scene from Fiddler on the Roof, Jr. by Arizona Jewish Theatre Company

Julia Caplan (Mendel/Bottle Dancer, age 9) shared her family’s tradition of spending one night of Hanukkah buying presents for children who don’t have other Hanukkah gifts to open. Mykael Cooper (Constable, age 11) shared his family’s tradition of lighting a Holocaust candle every Friday to honor his grandfather, who is a Holocaust survivor.

Scene from Fiddler on the Roof, Jr. by Arizona Jewish Theatre Company

Jordyn Drake (Avram, age 13) shared his family’s tradition of watching holiday television shows together after putting up the Christmas tree, and Karlie Gibson (Yente, age 15) shared her family’s tradition of sending the kids on a treasure hunt to find their big Christmas gifts.

Young actors performing in Fiddler on the Roof, Jr. by Arizona Jewish Theatre Company

Emily Ginsberg (Villager/Bottle Girl, age 12) shared her family’s tradition of having a huge Thanksgiving feast with relatives who fly in from out of state, and Eric Flayton (Lazar Wolf, age 11) shared his family’s Thanksgiving tradition of letting the kids do an “annual trashing of the playroom.”

Scene from Fiddler on the Roof, Jr. by Arizona Jewish Theatre Company

Seems that Halloween is a favorite for Maddie Felder (Tzeitel, age 14) and her family, whose traditions include making their own costumes, designing “Tim Burton-esque” pumpkins and watching lots of Halloween movies during the week. Something tells me they’re already planning next year’s theme.

Scene from Fiddler on the Roof, Jr. by Arizona Jewish Theatre Company

Several cast members shared traditions involving food. Emily Bachus (Villager, age 11) noted a long list of food and drink they share during the annual Super Bowl party her family hosts for about 100 people, and Mykael Cooper (Constable, age 11) revealed his family’s penchant for crab legs instead of turkey and dressing during Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.

Scene from Fiddler on the Roof, Jr. by Arizona Jewish Theatre Company

Rachel Ginsberg (Russian/Villager, age 12) shared her family’s tradition of enjoying a meal, and plenty of conversation, together every Sunday night. Shira Hamer (Villager, age 9) shared her family’s tradition of making up new recipes, noting that cooking is a bit like stand up-comedy. “If you’re confident,” says Hamer, “you can get away with anything.”

A little dance from Fiddler on the Roof, Jr. by Arizona Jewish Theatre Company

Arizona Jewish Theatre Company presents “Fiddler on the Roof, Jr.” — complete with young fiddler — tonight (Sat, Dec. 10) at 7pm and tomorrow (Sun, Dec. 11) at 1pm and 4pm. They perform at the John Paul Theatre on the campus of Phoenix College, an intimate venue that’s perfect for introducing children to the joys of live theater performance.

Scene from Fiddler on the Roof, Jr. by Arizona Jewish Theatre Company

The “Fiddler on the Roof” story features themes we can all related to. Changing roles for youth. Shifting political influences. Mixed feelings about watching children grow. Challenges to traditions held near and dear. Whatever winter holiday you celebrate, it’s always nice to be reminded of the importance of family and the power of tradition.

— Lynn

Note: “All Rights Reserved,” the teen improv troupe for Arizona Jewish Theatre Company, performs prior to each “Fiddler” — and can also be seen Wed, Dec. 14 at the Arizona Jewish Historical Society (near ASA) in Phoenix. Click here for details, plus information on the company’s full season, current online auction and theater training for youth. Click here to learn more about Mark Gluckman Photography.

Coming up: Art meets pluralism, Talking with “Elmo,” Teen improv tales

Update: Janet Arnold was excited to share that more than 200 people attended opening night for “Fiddler on the Roof, Jr.” and gave the show a “thunderous standing O.” Look for the “Fiddler” cast at the Arizona State Capitol Dec. 20 at 5pm, where they’ll sing “Tradition” (in full costume) and participate in “lighting the first candle on the official State Menorah for Chanukah.” 12/11/11

Moving Memories

As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approached, I realized that my three children (now grown) had never seen “Moving Memories,” the Arizona 9/11 memorial located at Wesley Bolin Plaza across from the Arizona State Capitol.

So I headed out one morning with my son Christopher to explore the 9/11 memorial — as well as other memorials located at the plaza. “Moving Memories,” the subject of controversy both during its development and after its installation, is the site of an interfaith memorial taking place Sun, Sept 11 (11:30am-12:30pm). Members of the public are welcome. www.azifm.org.

I’ve explored many a memorial while following coverage of 9/11-related events — and find some to be utterly lacking in imagination. That’s not the case with “Moving Memories.” The structure, designed by Jones Studio in Phoenix, captures light, creates shadows and shares words that reflect the diversity of an ever-evolving democracy.

The words stenciled into “Moving Memories” present a jarring juxtaposition of everyday life and larger than life events — which is exactly how life presented itself on 9/11. I was particularly struck by words reflecting personal experiences. Making T-shirts to raise memorial funds. Writing songs to honor a brother. Some are captured in the images below.

“Moving Memories” sits on a lawn opposite a circle of other Arizona memorials…

The memorial includes this section of a building from the World Trade Center…

This metal arc is stenciled with words so light passes through to the concrete below…

Sunlit words are projected on to the concrete circle at the memorial’s base…

Children intrigued by these stencils can create the same effect at home…

Examples of both readily accepted and controversial wording on the memorial…

Some wording reflects the ways everyday Americans responded to 9/11…

The most important words in this memorial may be those pictured below…

If you’re heading to outdoor memorial events today, remember to take along plenty of water and sunscreen — and to be especially kind on a day when many may be hurting.

— Lynn

Note: While you’re at Wesley Bolin Plaza, make time to explore other memorials you’ll find there — to peace officers, veterans, victims of genocide, canines who work with law enforcement, workers who’ve died on the job and many others. Visit the calendar section of www.raisingarizonakids.com to learn about additional 9/11 memorial events in the Valley. To learn more about controversial 9/11 art visit www.artinfo.com/news/story/38569/7-controversies-that-shaped-the-debate-about-911-art/?page=2. To explore additional images of “Moving Memories” visit www.jonesstudioinc.com/26/index.htm.

Coming up: Spotlight on “CATS,” A trio of tea parties, Honk if you love Hans!, From acting to anatomy, The making of “Munched”

Update: Ground Zero photos taken during the past ten years are now posted at www.boston.com/bigpicture/2011/09/ground_zero_september_11_2001.html

Talking to kids about 9/11

Artwork from an Arizona Capitol exhibit by Young Arts of Arizona

Dispensing parenting pearls is easier than following them — hence my proficiency now in urging others to talk sensibly and sensitively with their children about 9/11 a decade after my own children experienced far too much television footage filled with fire, tears and trauma.

They’re old enough now that I can indulge my instinct to spend much of the weekend following live coverage of 9/11 memorial events — in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania — on television, radio and internet. And I can reflect on ways I might have done a better job talking with them about 9/11 in its immediate aftermath.

Children born in 2001 are now elementary school students old enough to feel genuine curiosity about events of that day, but young enough to need adult support as they make their way through atttempting to grasp and come to terms with them.

The national 9/11 Memorial in New York City, which provides information on the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath at www.911memorial.org, offers several
“broad guidelines” helpful to parents of children from preschoolers to teens:

  • Listen. Actively listen to their thoughts, attend to their body language, validate their emotions, and encourage respectful conversation and discussions.
  • Don’t avoid difficult conversations. Let the child’s interests and thoughts guide the conversation. Use age-appropriate language and be aware of your tone, reassuring children about their own safety and allowing them to express concerns about 9/11 and its aftermath in more depth.
  • Answer questions about the attacks with facts. Be prepared for your child to ask questions about death when dicussing 9/11, and to answer these questions in a way that is honest and developmentally-appropriate.
  • Acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers. If you can’t answer your child’s question, be honest. Use the opportunity to model yourself as a learner, and to explore the questions together.
  • Be specific. The story of 9/11 is actually thousands of individual stories. Highlight those specific stories to help humanize the events, and avoid stereotypes and simplifications.
  • Emotions vary. Children’s responses vary widely depending on their age, personality, actual or perceived ethnic or religious background, connection to the attacks, and exposure to other past traumatic experiences.
  • Monitor the TV and internet. Programs may include footage from 9/11 itself, and include scenes that are not appropriate for children to view at all or without supervision.
  • Know yourself. Recognizing your feelings beforehand and then sharing them honestly with your children offers them a model in their own difficult conversations and will help engender a safe, trusting environment.
  • Emphasize hope. Help your children recognize how their own compassion can prevent future acts of intolerance and violence by reminding them to express their ideas respectfully and to treat people who are different from themselves with kindness.

The 9/11 Memorial website offers several resources for parents and teachers — including lesson plans and 9/11 FAQs. Also sections on “Tribute Art & 9/11” and “The Spirit of Volunteerism.” Plus links to other “suggested resources.”

Artwork exhibited by Young Arts Arizona at the Arizona State Capitol

Additional tips are available online from Teaching Tolerance at www.tolerance.org and 9-11 Heroes at www.9-11heroes.us.

Whatever the topic, children need to know that it’s okay to have questions, to express their thoughts and feelings. They need to know their parents will listen with an open mind, not passing judgement or pushing their own agenda.

We can’t guarantee that our children will never come to harm, but we can offer them spaces and places that feel physically, emotionally and intellectually safe.

— Lynn

Note: Artwork by children at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center recently exhibited at the Arizona State Capitol by Young Arts Arizona (www.youngartsaz.org). Photos by Lynn Trimble.

Coming up: Broadway remembers 9/11, Arizona’s 9/11 memorial

A work in progress

Five panels of an Annette Sexton-Ruiz piece being used in a poster to promote a short-play festival featuring student and other works on the topic of immigration

Playwright James Garcia has worked for years with students at Carl Hayden Community High School on robotics and other projects.

Garcia says he learned “by coincidence” that some of the students had written a play titled “Should We Stay or Should We Go?” with teacher Trish Galindo Kiser — and that the work has themes similar to plays he’s assembling for an upcoming festival.

Garcia, who founded the New Carpa Theater Company in Phoenix, is organizing a “Performing 1070 Short-Play Festival” featuring works “centered on themes related to immigration.”

The festival will include 12 plays, chosen from 70 submissions, which vary in length from four to 12 minutes. The list of works being presented was finalized earlier this month — and you’ll have two opportunities to view them.

The “Performing 1070 Short-Play Festival” takes place Wed, March 30 at Arizona State University West (as part of an annual event examining “border justice” issues) and Thurs, March 31 on the lawn of the Arizona State Capitol.

Students from Carl Hayden High School will be working with Garcia and their teacher this week to consider which vignettes from their piece would best compliment the other plays. Chosen vignettes will be performed by students during the festival.

Works being presented by Arizona playwrights include “Freedom Trail” by Terry Tess Earp, “In Old Arizona” by Guillermo Reyes, and “Joe Arpaio Meets La Virgen de Guadalupe” by Stella Pope Duarte.

Playwrights from California, New York, Massachusetts, Texas, Pennsylvania and Idaho are also represented. Most, says Garcia, have “awards and/or professionally produced plays under their belts.”

Garcia notes that New Carpa is “especially honored” to present an excerpt from a new work by Josephina Lopez titled “Detained in the Desert.” Lopez authored the play “Real Women Have Curves” — and co-wrote the screenplay for the film version featuring actress America Ferrera.

“The purpose of this short-play festival,” shares Garcia, “is to highlight the effects of a series of state-based immigration-related legislation enacted or proposed in Arizona over the last decade.” 

Garcia describes the festival as “a non-partisan, grassroots, community-based theater project…on one of the most compelling human and civil rights issues of our time.”

Admission to the festival is free, but Garcia notes that “donations to the nonprofit New Carpa Theater Company will be accepted.” Click here for event details.

— Lynn

Note: The festival’s title refers to SB1070, an immigration-related piece of legislation signed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on April 23, 2010.

Coming up: East Valley high school students sound off about “Macbeth”