Tag Archives: Arizona Commission on the Arts

Lightning strikes

National Poetry Month strikes again in Arizona

Poet Eduardo C. Corral, a native of Casa Grande who holds degrees from Arizona State University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, will read from his recently released collection “Slow Lightning,” Tues, April 10 at the Piper Writers House on the ASU Tempe campus.

Slow Lightning,” Corral’s first collection of poems, was selected as winner of the 2011 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition — making Corral the first Latino to receive this honor. Next week’s reading, sponsored by the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing, is free and open to the public.

There’s plenty of poetry around these parts nowadays because April is National Poetry Month. Tempe Center for the Arts, for example, is presenting four “Tempe Poetry in April” events this month — featuring Josh Rathkamp (April 4), Jeannine Savard (April 11), Margaret Holley (April 18) and Sherwin Bitsui (April 25). These TCA events are free, so you’ve really no good reason not to give poetry a whirl.

Center Dance Ensemble presents two performances of “American Voices,” featuring new choreography coupled with words by great American poets, Sun, April 15 at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix. And PVCC Dance at Paradise Valley Community College presents “Kinetic Poetry” — a “collection of dances reflecting the inner voice of the artist” that features “the voices and movement of PVCC dance students and guest artists” — April 27 & 28.

Art Intersection in Gilbert presents “Haibun: The Poetry of Walking” with instructor Mark Haunschild April 7 & 14 — noting that haibun is a classical Japanese form of travel writing combining prose and poetry, first popularized by Matsuo Basho during the 17th century.

The Tucson Poetry Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary this year with participating poets that include Eduardo C. Corral, Karyna McGlynn, Ander Monson and Patricia Smith. All are offering free writing workshops, and taking part in a two-hour panel, Sat, April 7 at the University of Arizona Poetry Center in Tucson.

The Poetry Center presents “Poetry Off the Page” April 9-May 31 — which they describe as a gathering of poets “for whom the stage and all of its demands, such as voice, projection, sound effects, lighting, body movement, acting, props and image, all help create a new syntactic breadth for the poetic voice.”

Seems participating poets will be “pressing into new territories in theatre and song and film, performing, in many cases, original never-seen-before work for the Poetry Center.” The center is also offering exhibits featuring poets working in the visual arts. Think Cecilia Vicuna, Danielle Vogel and Jeff Clark. While you’re there, check out “Artistexts,” curated by Johanna Drucker, too.

The Arizona Humanities Council presents “Sharing Words, Changing Worlds” Thurs, April 12 at Tempe Mission Palms. The keynote speaker for the free 6:30pm-8:30pm event is Pulitzer Prize Winner and Poet Laureate Rita Dove — who’ll share poems from her recent book “Sonata Mulattica,” about a young mulatto violinist’s encounters with Beethooven.

Event organizers note that Dove will “reveal how she came to be uniquely suited to the task of rescuing the mixed race violinist George Augustus Polgreen from the shadows of history, and how history comes alive through art.” Dove, who taught creative writing at ASU from 1981 to 1989, and has been honored by both President Clinton (National Humanities Medal) and President Obama (National Medal of Arts). She served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 1993 to 1995.

Things are looking good at this point for a bill moving through the Arizona state legislature to create an Arizona Poet Laureate, according to Rusty Foley, executive director for Arizona Citizens Action for the Arts. Nothing’s a sure thing, of course, until the ink dries on a bill. But I like our chances, and there’s already good news to celebrate with the passage of a bill reauthorizing funding for the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

To find additonal poetry-related events in your area, check the calendars for your local libraries, museums and bookstores — plus performing arts venues and college/universities. Also the websites for organizations like the Arizona State Poetry Society and Arizona Authors Association.

Wanna trip out your kids? Just tell ’em you’re heading out with friends to play with words for a while. Then buy them a journal, watch for kid-friendly poetry programs in your community and inch them along towards the day they’ll be the ones making lightning.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to find family-friendly events any day of the year from Raising Arizona Kids magazine. If your April poetry event in Arizona isn’t listed above, you can comment below to let our readers know.

Coming up: Musings on “Dance Moms Miami,” Movie review: “Bully”


The poetry man

Poetry man Joshua Furtado, who hails from Tucson, won the 2012 Arizona Poetry Out Loud finals and will now compete in Washington, D.C.

You can’t make this stuff up. No sooner did I leave Phoenix Center for the Arts, site of Thursday night’s 2012 Arizona Poetry Out Loud finals, than the song “Poetry Man” by Phoebe Snow came blasting over my speakers — though I suppose “blasting” is a bit of an oversell. Weird considering how infrequently that baby wafts over the airwaves these days.

It felt a fitting homage to this year’s Arizona state champion, Joshua Furtado of Tucson High Magnet School, whose parents and younger sister were there to share the proud moment. Furtado was one of nine Arizona state finalists to recite two poems for judges including Robert Breunig, Jaime Dempsey, Carole FitzPatrick, David Mittel and Kelly Nelson.

Judges had to evaluate each student recitation on a scale of one to six using several criteria — physical presence, voice and articulation, dramatic appropriateness, level of difficulty, evidence of understanding and overall performance.

Judges narrowed the finalists down to four students, who then performed their choice of a third piece. Furtado’s first recitation, of Eve Merriam’s “Catch a Little Rhyme,” was especially enchanting. Think whimsical, lyrical, lighthearted and sweet. His second poem was Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabel Lee,” and his third “Contraction” by Ravi Shankar.

Joshua Furtado is the 2012 Arizona Poetry Out Loud champion

I chatted with Furtado and his family after the competition, wondering whether his trip to Washington, D.C. to represent Arizona in the national finals will be his first journey to the nation’s Capitol. Yes, his mother told me — who suspects she’ll be the one to go along. Furtado was born and raised in Tucson, and his parents raved as we spoke about the quality and diversity of the city’s arts scene, though Furtado dreams of acting on the big screen in L.A.

I enjoyed meeting several of the finalists, and hope even those I didn’t get to connect with personally will consider this my open invitation to write a guest blog post for our readers — about whatever arts-related topic catches their fancy. A favorite poet. The value of arts in education. Ways poetry can change a life. A teacher who inspired them to transform words into art.

I saw several familiar faces in the audience — and chatted while there with both Boyd Branch, who is doing some new and interesting work blending art and science (more on that in a future post), and Francis Smith Cohen. Cohen is artistic director for Center Dance Ensemble, a resident company at the Herberger Theater Center — where “American Voices” will celebrate National Poetry Month on April 15.

Cohen is also busy readying for the annual “Arizona Young Artists’ Competition,” an outreach program of the Herberger Theater Center that awards scholarships to winners in three categories — voice, acting and dance. Seems there’s no shortage of youth vocalists in the Valley, but dance participants can be harder to come by thanks to all those spring recitals. Interested youth in the dance, acting or voice category now have until midnight on Sun, April 1 to enter (click here for details). This year, says Cohen, dancers can perform a modern or lyrical jazz piece.

“American Voices” includes both dance and poetry recitation, and at least one of the young poets I met Thursday night will likely participate. He’s Garrett Pauli, an intern with the Arizona Commission on the Arts who’s been a spoken word artist and performance poet for about a year. Seems Pauli caught the bug after hearing a motivational speaker, then running with his own passion for tackling injustice.

Injustice felt top of mind as I listened to guest reader and judge Charles Jensen recite several of his own poems Thursday night — including two on the subject of health care. His work is poignant and funny, and worthy of a wide audience. Stephen Colbert, take note. This gentleman would rock a stint on your show. In the meantime, folks can follow Jensen’s work via LOCUSPOINT online, where he serves as founding editor and “explores creative work on a city-by-city basis.”

One of Jensen’s poems plays with words in the Miranda warning. Seems he was especially pleased about delivering his first “law poem” in the presence of a judge. Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch of the Supreme Court of Arizona served as emcee of the 2012 Arizona Poetry Out Loud finals. Turns out she holds both a J.D. and a Master’s degree in English. Perhaps one day we’ll hear her recite poetry as well.

For now all eyes, and ears, are on Joshua Furtado — the poetry man.

— Lynn

Coming up: Working miracles

Doing poetry proud

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You don’t have to write poetry to enjoy it, as evidenced by the bios of nine students competing tonight (March 29) in the 2012 Arizona Poetry Out Loud finals at Phoenix Center for the Arts.

Some write poetry. Some do sports. Some enjoy performing. But all have at least one thing in common — a talent and taste for reciting poetry aloud, which is exactly what the national Poetry Out Loud program seeks to nurture in high school youth.

Here’s the rundown on this year’s Arizona finalists — courtesy of the Arizona Commission on the Arts, which presents the Arizona Poetry Out Loud finals in partnership with the Young Writers Program at ASU in Tempe and the Poetry Center at UA in Tuscon…

John DeMino of Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix will recite “It Couldn’t Be Done” by Edgar Albert Guest and “Ego” by Denise Duhamel. DeMino is a senior who spends a lot of time performing in plays inside and outside of school. He loves to act and wishes to acquire a BFA in acting and pursue a career in the industry.

Travis Marino of Freedom Christian Academy in Queen Creek will recite “Self-Inquiry Before the Job Interview” by Gary Soto and “The Oldest Living Thing in L.A.” by Larry Levis. Marino is a 17-year-old junior. This is his second time as a finalist in the Arizona Poetry Out Loud competition. He is a prolific poet, publishing several poems portraying his passion.

Rebecca Andersen of Kingman High School in Kingman will recite “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd” by Sir Walter Raleigh and “I am the People, the Mob” by Carl Sandburg. As an aspiring novelist, poetry means a great deal to Andersen. Not only does her love for Emily Dickinson possess deep roots into her childhood, but her beliefs match those of Carl Sandburg and her views of love parallel Sir Walter Raleigh. She plans on studying forensic psychology and creative writing in college.

Sophia Licher of Sedona Red Rock High School in Sedona will recite “The Albatross” by Kate Bass and “The Children’s Hour” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Licher, a sophomore, is a member of the swim team, key club and photo club. She takes private singing lessons and enjoys art, writing, music, reading, photography, hiking, archery, swimming, traveling, animals, friends, family and, last but not least, eating. She would like to study marine biology or veterinary medicine.

Mark Anthony Niadas of St. Augustine Catholic High School in Tucson will recite “The Meaning of the Shovel” by Martin Espada and “I Am!” by John Clare. Niadas is passionate about acting and has performed in several productions at St. Augustine. When not busy acting, he is working to improve his performance on the track team or spending time with friends. Mark, a member of the campus ministry, hopes to attend UNLV, Maryland State or Abilene Christian to study either business or psychology.

Cassandra Valadez of Sunnyside High School in Tucson will recite “The End of Science Fiction” by Lisel Mueller and “The Destruction of Sennacherib” by Lord Byron (George Gordon). Valadez is a leader with a passion to help others. She is a member of the National Honor Society, AVID, MESA and DECA. “I have a solid belief that through the uneven patches of my life I have picked up some of the most valuable lessons, and through the accomplishments in my life I have learned to be appreciative.”

Adriana Hurtado of Tri-City College Preparatory in Prescott will recite “Bilingual/Bilingue” by Rhina P. Espillat and “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley. Hurtado is a freshman. She is active in creative writing and is a member of the softball team.

Joshua Furtado of Tucson High Magnet School in Tucson will recite “Catch a Little Rhyme” by Eve Merriam and “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe. Furtado is a senior and is ecstatic about performing! He would like to thank his parents for their unconditional support, as well as his wonderful English teachers, Merle McPheeters and Kurt Garbe. Furtado is an actor hoping to pursue a career in film and is planning on making the move to L.A.

India Parsons of Westview High School in Avondale will recite “The Collar” by George Herbert and “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Parsons is a senior with a passion for English and the swim team. She devotes hours every day to the exercise of her mind and body, so that she can excel in both arenas.

Two common threads emerge in the lives of those competing in this year’s Arizona Poetry Out Loud finals — an appreciation for the fine art of poetry and the choice to be engaged in their communities. One and all are doing poetry, and Arizona, proud.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to read a post with details about tonight’s event if you’d like to come out and show your support for these gifted and hard-working students — the competition is free and open to the public. Click here to explore poems, poets and more through the Poetry Foundation in Chicago.

Coming up: Celebrating National Poetry Month, Tarzan tales

Cactus meets creativity

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Artist Ed Mell, who most recently designed the Arizona Centennial Postage Stamp, was named Artist of the Year and ASU Gammage Executive Director Colleen Jennings-Roggensack and Museum of Northern Arizona Director Robert Breunig shared the Individual Award at tonight’s 31st annual Arizona Governor’s Arts Awards at the Herberger Theater Center.

Several additional awards were presented as well, all after remarks by Governor Jan Brewer and others who spoke in unison about the importance of arts to Arizona’s economy, quality of life, education landscape and more. Here’s the rundown:

Arts in Education-Individual Award: Beth Lessard, Tempe, former chair of the Arizona State University Department of Dance

Arts in Education-Organization Award: Arizona School for the Arts

Community Award: Arizona Cowboy Poet Gathering, Prescott

Business Award: JP Morgan Chase

Arts advocate and leader Darryl Dobras of Tucson received the 2012 Shelley Award for advancing the arts through strategic and innovative work in creating or supporting public policy beneficial to the arts in Arizona.

SRP was the Presenting Sponsor of the 2012 Arizona Governor’s Arts Awards. Other sponsors for the event included Boeing, Arts Entertainment Sponsor; Resolution Copper Mining, Commemorative Program Sponsor; Southwest Ambulance, Artist Award Sponsor; and Herberger Theater Center, Venue Sponsor. Nicely done, one and all.

Honorees received specially created awards reflecting Arizona’s beauty and diversity — by Arizona artists Joe Ray of Scottsdale, Fausto Fernandez of Phoenix, George Gaines-Averbeck of  Flagstaff, Gennaro Garcia of Ahwatukee, Judith Walsh of Oracle, Catherine Nash of Tucson, Emily Costello of Superior and Julius Forzano of Scottsdale.

Nearly 500 arts supporters, advocates, business leaders and elected officials attended the annual event — which featured entertainment by Desert Dance and Friends (think percussion a la Samsonite), Childsplay, (think rap meets American history) and the Bad Cactus Brass Band (think Arizona with a twist of New Orleans). Also a silent auction beforehand and swanky dessert reception after. Think dainty little red velvet whoopie pies, coconut cupcakes and such.

More than 80 individuals, artists, businesses, arts education programs and community programs from about two dozen communities around the state were nominated for this year’s awards.

Here’s the scoop on 2012 honorees, provided by the fine folks who present the Arizona Governor’s Arts Awards…

Ed Mell. Born and raised in Phoenix, Mell has been a working artist in Arizona for more than 40 years. His work elevates the public profile of arts in the state through his unique blend of cubist forms that capture Arizona landscapes and depicts the brilliance of the Arizona sky. Mell left a prestigious career as an art director and illustrator in New York to accept a teaching position on the Hopi reservation in 1970 that reconnected him with the land he loved and that set his artistic course. He has produced oils, print series and bronze sculptures and has donated his work to Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona, the Arizona Cancer Society, to name only a few. His works are found in major public and private collections. Mell’s painting of Cathedral Rock in Sedona was selected as the artwork for the first-class stamp commemorating Arizona’s centennial this year.

Robert Breunig, Flagstaff. When Robert Breunig arrived as director in late 2003, the Museum of Northern Arizona was in imminent danger of closing. The museum had lost its American Association of Museums accreditation and its severe financial condition required that 20 items its collection be sold to pay for operating expenses and cover the deficit. Since those dark days, Dr. Breunig has guided the museum back on a path of financial stability and organizational credibility. The museum collection has grown to 3,200 fine art pieces and 15,000 ethnographic objects and its cultural anthropology collection totals 225,000 artifacts and research collections from 28,000 sites representing 12,000 years of native occupation. Before taking on the responsibilities at the Museum of Northern Arizona, Breunig had served as director of the Desert Botanical Garden from 1984 to 1995 and was deputy director at chief curator at the Heard Museum from 1982 to 1985.

Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, Tempe. Colleen Jennings-Roggensack has been presenting the performing arts for 33 years and will celebrate her 20th anniversary as Executive Director for ASU Gammage and Assistant Vice President for Cultural Affairs in June. Her leadership and her mission at ASU has been to “Connect Communities” by enabling patrons, artists and the entire community to discover new avenues of intercultural communication through the arts. Under her leadership, the Broadway series has grown into one of the top touring markets in the nation producing an annual economic impact of $40 million in the Valley. Jennings-Roggensack was nominated by President Clinton and served on the National Council on the Arts from 1994 to 1997. Since 2007, she has served on The Broadway League’s Board of Governors and she is Arizona’s only Tony Award voter.

Beth Lessard, Tempe. The chair of the ASU Dance Department from 1977 to 1993 and professor until her retirement in 1999, Dr. Lessard elevated the dual degree path for dancers interested in both teaching and creating and performing dance. Under her guidance, the Arizona Dance Education Organization was formed to provide resources, scholarships and educational support for Arizona teachers and schools to provide quality dance curriculum.  She also established the artist-in-residence program at ASU to bring national dance artists and companies to Tempe to teach, collaborate and perform with students and faculty.

Arizona School for the Arts. ASA is a high-achieving school for students who want to work with professional artists as part of the core school experience. Now in its 16th year, students and the non-profit college preparatory/performing arts school spend their mornings immersed in core academic studies and their afternoons in the performing arts. The Arizona School for the Arts has been recognized by the US Department of Education, the state of Arizona Department of Education and the Kennedy Center.

Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, Prescott. The Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, the oldest in Arizona, will celebrate its 25th anniversary in August to support its mission to educate, promote and preserve cowboy poetry, music and western heritage culture and history. The Gathering not only provides entertainment, but an opportunity for poets and bearers of cowboy oral traditions to assemble in a spirit of mutual appreciation and support and to strengthen ties with the ranching community and general public. In recent years, the organization has brought poetry into fourth-grade classrooms in the Prescott area to introduce students to poetry, the ranching heritage of Yavapai County and the music of the cowboy.

JP Morgan Chase Bank. JP Morgan Chase strives to increase community access to rich cultural resources that foster creativity, promote self-expression, celebrate diversity and strengthen the environment. An active supporter of the arts for more than 20 years, the company’s recent funding of Arizona Theatre Company offset expenses of producing a statewide education program connected to ATC’s America Plays! Celebrating Great American Stories Initiative. JP Morgan Chase also has been a consistent supporter of Childsplay, Ballet Arizona, Phoenix Symphony, Alliance for Audience and the Desert Botanical Garden, to name only a few.

The Arizona Governor’s Arts Awards are presented by the Office of the Governor, Arizona Citizens for the Arts and the Arizona Commission on the Arts. It’s lovely when cactus meets creativity.

— Lynn

Coming up: Celebrating National Poetry Month, Broadway trends

Nine young poets

Nine students compete this Thursday at Phoenix Center for the Arts to become the 2012 Arizona Poetry Out Loud champion. The event is free and open to the public.

Nine young poets will compete Thursday evening in this year’s Arizona Poetry Out Loud finals — taking place at 7pm at Phoenix Center for the Arts. The event features guest emcee Arizona Chief Justice Rebecca White Berch — as well as guest reader, poet and author Charles Jenson.

Arizona Poetry Out Loud is a program of the Arizona Commission on the Arts, facilitated in partnership with the Young Writers Program at Arizona State University and The Poetry Center at the University of Arizona.

More than 13,000 Arizona high school students competed in this year’s Poetry Out Loud program at the classroom and school level — and 44 school-level finalists competed in three regional competitions that led to the selection of the nine finalists you’ll be able to watch in action come Thursday night.

State finalists from Central Arizona include John DiMino of Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, Travis Marino of Freedom Christian Academy in Queen Creek and India Parsons of Westview High School in Avondale.

State finalists from Northern Arizona include Rebecca Andersen of Kingman High School in Kingman, Sophia Licher from Sedona Red Rock High School in Sedona and Adriana Hurtado of Tri-City College Preparatory High School in Prescott.

State finalists from Southern Arizona include Mark Anthony Niadas of St. Augustine Catholic High School in Tucson, Cassandra Valadez of Sunnyside High School in Tucson and Joshua Furtado of Tucson High Magnet School in Tucson.

The Poetry Out Loud program encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance and competition. “The students work hard to get to the finals,” reflects Robert C. Booker, executive director of the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

“Watching such a diverse group of exceptional young people from around the state stand tall, recite, and display their understanding and love of poetry is truly remarkable and inspirational,” adds Booker. “These young people learn skills through this competition that will serve them for a lifetime.”

Poetry Out Loud is a national program that seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers by capitalizing on the latest trends in poetry—recitation and performance — inviting the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken word and theater into English classes.

The program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence and learn about their literary heritage. The Arizona state winner will receive $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip to compete for the national championship in Washington, D.C.

The state winner’s school will receive a $500 stipend for the purchase of poetry books. One runner-up will receive $100, with $200 for his or her school library. The Poetry Out Loud program will award a total of $50,000 in scholarships (including a $20,000 scholarship for the national champion) and school stipends at the national finals.

Watch for a future post previewing Thursday’s state finals — complete with photos and fun facts about each of this year’s state finalists, plus the scoop on what they’ll be reciting. I’ll also be inviting this year’s state champion to write a guest post featuring his or her experiences with the Poetry Out Loud program.

— Lynn

Note: Learn more about Poetry Out Loud at www.poetryoutloud.org or www.azarts.gov/pol.

Coming up: Art meets incarceration, Exploring students art exhibits

One of a kind

The 2012 Arizona Governor’s Arts Awards, an event hailed as the state’s largest annual gathering of folks who support arts and culture, takes place Tues, March 27 at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix.

It’s presented by Arizona Citizens Action for the Arts, the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the Office of the Governor — and celebrates “the extraordinary contributions of artists, arts organizations, businesses, educators and individuals to the quality of life in our state.” Each award recipient will receive a one-of-a-kind work created by an Arizona artist (you can enjoy a sneak peek below).

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We pause too infrequently to appreciate the value of arts and culture in our everyday lives. I chatted with Rusty Foley, executive director for Arizona Citizens Action for the Arts, during the opening of an exhibition of works by Arizona artists at the Arizona House of Representatives — and she shared a stunning insight.

Imagine a world, she suggested, devoid of arts and culture. Imagine that every work of art encountered in the course of a day was no longer there. Sculptures gone. Paintings gone. Crayon masterpieces hung on refrigerators gone. School plays gone. Outdoor concerts gone. Dance performances gone. It’s not a pretty picture.

So I’m especially grateful for those nominated in six categories for this year’s awards — who remind us to use it lest we lose it. In a world of competing interests, those of us who recognize the value of arts and culture in building strong economies, sustaining creative communities, developing well-rounded students and such can’t sit idly by and expect others to champion the cause. We must advocate for the art we wish to see in the world.

One very special individual will receive the 7th annual Shelley Award for “advancing the arts through strategic and innovative leadership to create and support public policy beneficial to the arts in Arizona.” The award is named for Shelley Cohn, who spent more than 25 years as executive director of the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

Tuesday’s shindig begins with a 5pm reception featuring a silent auction — a great opportunity to support local arts and culture while shopping for teacher gifts, Mother’s Day gifts and such. Honorees will be recognized at an Academy Award style ceremony at 7pm, followed by an 8pm dessert reception — so wear the swanky outfit that’ll leave a bit of room for sampling sweets.

Click here to read the list of this year’s nominees — which includes many names familiar to those of you whose children are involved in dance, music, theater or visual arts. Attending the Arizona Governor’s Arts Awards is a great way to laud their efforts while getting to know more of the folks who make Arizona arts and culture sing.

— Lynn

Note: You can purchase tickets by clicking here.

Coming up: Raising children who care

Art for peace

I was pleasantly surprised, while visiting the United Nations Visitors Centre in NYC last week, to discover all sorts of artwork — quilts with a “women’s rights” theme, a giant wall mural featuring all sorts of animals, and photographs depicting the aftermath of Japan’s early 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The United Nations clealy understands the power of art to effect social change. Hence their call for artwork by youth on the theme of nuclear disarmament. The “Art for Peace Contest” is sponsored by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs and the Harmony for Peace Foundation.

Detail of wall mural located in the children's section of the New York Public Library Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

The contest runs through April 30. Youth in all countries who are between 5 and 17 years of age can enter the contest. They can draw, paint, sketch, use pens, pencils, crayons, charcoal, oil, acrylic paint or watercolor to create their artwork. “Be creative,” say contest organizers. “Use your imagination to show a world free of nuclear weapons, a world without bombs, without wars, without fear.”

Participants are encouraged to watch a short film online before creating their own artwork based on the content of the film and the contest theme. Different films are available for different age groups. Films and entry details are available at www.unartforpeace.org.

Artwork submitted for the contest is posted online so family, friends and others can share works via social media. Contest organizers note that “children between the ages of 5 and 12 will need to have their parents or teachers help them with their submissions.”

Detail of "Find a Cure" quilt by fifth grade students at Chapman Elementary School in Huntsville, Alabama

There will be four winners in each age category (ages 5-8, ages 9-12 and ages 13-17), and all entries will be judged using the same criteria: creativity, composition, theme and technique. The winners will be announced before the end of May.

For age groups 5-8 and 9-12, the winners will receive art supplies. For the 13-17 age group, there will be cash prizes of $500 for first place, $300 for second place, $200 for third place and $100 for fourth place.

Each winning entry will also receive a certificate from the United Nations and all winning artwork will be reproduced in a United Nations calendar. All artwork submitted must be original. Click here for full contest rules.

Lions Clubs International Poster for Peace 2010-11 merit award winner by Sheelam Arun Kumar of India

While buying stamps for my daughter Jennifer at the the U.N. Visitors Centre post office I overheard a gentleman ask about U.N. stamps issued in years past which featured artwork by winners of previous Lions Clubs International art contests for children. Seems Lions clubs hold a “Peace Poster Contest” each year, inviting children to submit artwork on a designated peace-related theme.

Students who will be 11, 12 or 13 years old on Nov. 15 can enter the 2012-13 contest, which features an “Imagine Peace” theme. Works can be submitted in a variety of mediums, including charcoal, crayon, pencil and pastel, and prizes will be awarded to 24 young artists. One grand prize winner will receive $5,000 and 23 merit award winners will receive $500. Click here for contest details, and here to see posters created by 24 grand prize winners from years past.

— Lynn

Note: To find calls for artwork and art contests for children within the state of Arizona, visit the Arizona Commission on the Arts at www.azarts.gov. Click here for details on the 2012 Arizona Young Artists’ Competition (the deadline to enter is March 25).

Coming up: Art meets women’s rights, Remembering Mr. Rogers, Art in the North Valley