Tag Archives: Arizona Press Club

Art meets journalism

Student artwork from Desert View Learning Center in Paradise Valley

Journalists from around the state gathered Saturday night at a funky little joint called The Duce to recognize the “best journalism in Arizona” during 2011. A decade ago, journalists gathered at the Heard Museum. Journalists get around, and so does the Arizona Press Club Awards Party.

Several journalists were recognized for coverage of the arts — some in the “metro” (larger circulation) category and others in the “non-metro” (smaller circulation) category.

DVLC student artwork

Congratulations to Dr. Donald J. Behnke of Green Valley News and Sun for taking first place in non-metro arts criticism. Also to Cindy Yuth of Najavo Times for earning first place in arts reporting. Navajo Times went home with several awards, and top billing on my revised “good stuff to read” list.

First place for metro arts criticism went to Margaret Regan with Tucson Weekly, while first place awards for metro arts reporting went to Ed Masley of The Arizona Republic and the staff of Phoenix New Times for “Chow Bella.” I’m already reading that last baby.

Several Raising Arizona Kids journalists were honored as well — but I leave sharing that happy news to founder, publisher and editor Karen Barr. I’ve already got next year’s ceremony on the brain, and visions of rotating back to an arts-related venue.

I’ve been to a couple of amazing Childsplay shindigs at Tempe Center for the Arts, where I also enjoyed last year’s AriZoni Awards ceremony. And it’s fun to imagine all those Arizona journalists making their way through the “noodle forest” at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix.

Thanks to all the volunteers who helped with this year’s awards, including Jill Jorden Spitz (contest chair) and Becky Pallack (awards reception chair). Both work for Arizona Daily Star and serve on the Arizona Press Club board of directors.

But most of all, thanks to everyone who reads and appreciates the work.

— Lynn

Note: Click here for a full list of Arizona Press Club award winners.

Coming up: Arts criticism meets youth theater, Lullabies on Broadway, Playwright profiles


The smell of childhood?

Orange blossom soap from Athens Locally Grown

When I connected recently with Tempe mother and journalist Amy Silverman, she shared a bit with me about her Arizona childhood.

Seems she’d recently purchased a bar of soap with an orange blossom scent. “It literally made me sick,” Silverman told me. “It smelled like my childhood.”

In a sentence, sometimes less, Silverman conjures detailed images that transport readers to other places and perspectives.

Orange blossom cheesecake from Atlanta Cheesecake Company

Hence her many accolades and awards. She’s been twice honored by the Arizona Press Club with the Virg Hill Journalist of the Year award.

For 18 years she’s worked for Phoenix New Times — serving the last six as managing editor.

Still, Silverman finds time to share her talents with others. She’s co-founder, along with Deborah Sussman Susser, of a “Mothers Who Write” class that helps women find and share their voices.

A public reading by “Mothers Who Write” participants (past and present) takes place Sat, May 7 from 2-4pm at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. It’s free and open to the public, though some material may not be suitable for children.

Orange blossom gift basket from LadyBug Great Gifts

I’d like to see Silverman pen a children’s book. Perhaps something about Praying Monk on Camelback Mountain — a Valley landmark Silverman says she’s always thought of as “the camel’s eyelash.”

Silverman and her husband have two daughters, so she’s got plenty of pearls about both parenting and poising the pen. Registration for the next 10-week “Mothers Who Write” workshop will begin July 1 through the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

Orange blossom cocktail from Science of Drink

The workshop offers “support and advice for writing mothers (of all ages) who want to develop their craft and receive feedback on their work.” Though all genres are welcome, the main focus is creative non-fiction, poetry and fiction.

Visit the “Mothers Who Write” website to learn more about classes, readings and the many adventures of “Mothers Who Write” alumni — including Deborah Rich Gettleman of Theatre Artists Studio and Raising Arizona Kids Magazine.

And keep an eye out for the June 2011 issue of Raising Arizona Kids magazine — because the ever-fascinating Silverman and her family are profiled in the “AZ Generations” column.

— Lynn

Note: Click here for a list of journalists who’ve won 2010 Arizona Press Club awards — which includes two mothers who write for Raising Arizona Kids magazine. Winners will be recognized May 21 at the Arizona Press Club Awards Party in Phoenix.

Coming: More mothers who write

Happy times at the Heard Museum

Sunday afternoon I dropped my daughter off to see a show at Phoenix Theatre. It’s located near several of my favorite hangouts—the Burton Barr Central Library, the Phoenix Art Museum and more. It’s also just up the street from the Heard Museum, which is where I decided to spend my time until resuming teen taxi service.

I’ve been to the Heard Museum plenty of times for all kinds of reasons. One year I took Jennifer for Phoenix Girls Chorus photos on the spacious Heard Museum lawn. For several years, I attended the annual awards ceremony of the Arizona Press Club, coming home on two occasions with lovely awards inspired by Native American pottery.

Most recently I’ve been intrigued by the sign I see each time I head down Central Avenue—highlighting the museum’s current exhibit of Inuit art. The Inuit are among indigenous peoples inhabiting several Arctic regions across the globe.

My mother began collecting native prints, jewelry, basketry and pottery after spending several years living in Alaska, where she developed substance abuse prevention programs for native communities in the northernmost portions of the state.

The china cabinet that once belonged to her mother now houses some of her collection, along with soapstone carvings crafted by her brother (who even wrote a book on the subject), an engineer who worked for the government in Juneau for many years before retiring to master the fine art of hostel travel with my aunt. (If you have similar pieces, check out the Heard Museum’s upcoming appraisal event.)

When I picked Lizabeth up after the show and told her about my Heard Museum adventure, her reaction surprised me a bit: “Oh, I love that museum!” She toured the museum during a Desert View Learning Center field trip several years ago, and still remembers it well.

Keep this in mind next time you fear those trips to the museum are going unappreciated. I’m not sure she confessed all those years ago to having so much fun, but it clearly had a positive impact. Frankly, I had forgotten that this museum is so exceptionally kid-friendly.

Were my three children not on the cusp of leaving the nest, I’d be signing my family up for a Heard Museum membership pronto. Admission prices are reasonable, but it took me less than an hour to recognize that I want to visit this museum over and over again.

I’ll be offering tips in a future post about making museum time with children enjoyable, but for now let me share one simple suggestion—don’t overdo it. Invest in the membership so future trips are free and you don’t have to worry about trying to squeeze everything in to one visit.

I spent most of my Sunday visit enjoying one particular exhibit—Arctic Spirit: Inuit Art from the Albrecht Collection, which is housed on two stories (something I noted because my kids would have loved peering down from the top level to the bottom). The colors, textures, themes and subjects of the artwork grab you from the get-go.

There’s no mulling around looking for items of possible interest to children, especially if your child’s an animal lover. There are animal-related sculptures, figurines, textiles, drawings, paintings, prints and more. There’s plenty of space so you don’t feel crowded, yet nothing feels overwhelming or overly stimulating.

The Heard Museum features 10 exhibition galleries so there’s plenty to experience beyond the Inuit art. As I strolled through the museum, several things struck me as particularly child-friendly…

There’s a pair of large black ceramic beetles with pincers sure to light up the faces of insect-loving little boys. There are black and white mural size photos showing scenes of whale fishing and more. There’s a traditional Navajo home, called a hogan. There are more than 1,000 “katsina” dolls (check the FAQ section of the Heard Museum website to learn why these aren’t referred to as “kachina” dolls).

Several elements of these collections—including jewelry and belt buckles crafted of silver, turquoise and various natural materials—are grouped in a single display area stretching nearly wall to wall and floor to ceiling. They’re quite breathtaking, though the teenage girl giggling as she eyed these spectacular pieces hardly seemed to think so. Perhaps she was raised with more mall time than museum time, which is truly a pity.

The outdoor environments at the Heard Museum are every bit as intriguing and inviting as the indoor exhibits. They feature wide open spaces, a generous number of benches, a variety of sculptures and creative displays of natural elements including rocks, plants and water. It’s the kind of place where looking and listening, an opportunity not often afforded to today’s hurried families, is genuinely relaxing and fun.

Other elements that caught my eye included a story room featuring comfy chairs, furry stuffed animals, painted wall murals and art hung at children’s eye level (thanks to SRP for funding this baby)—as well as a funky gift shop with something for visitors of all ages (books and such for the grown-ups, plus activity books and stuffed animals like prairie dogs and javelina for the smaller set).

If you’ve never been to the Heard Museum, you may be guilty of that pesky ‘take it for granted’ thing so many of us do when it comes to hometown treasures. Happily, a remedy is at hand…

Save some time the weekend of March 6 and 7, when APS will present the 52nd Annual Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair and Market—a festival featuring “more than 700 of the nation’s most outstanding and successful American Indian artists.”

The festival takes place from 9:30am to 5pm both days, and admission for adults (ages 17 +) is just $15.00. Children (16 & under) are free, and students with I.D. pay just $5 to attend. Festival tickets include admission to the Heard Museum’s 10 exhibit galleries.

To learn more, visit http://www.heard.org/fair or call 602-251-0209, ext. 6414.

Don’t wait until your Midwest or East Coast relatives arrive to take in the Heard Museum. That would be like living in Paris and never setting foot near the Eiffel Tower


Note: Watch for future posts featuring “museum musings”—including tips from parents and museum professionals on how to enjoy museum experiences with young children.

Crepes, jarring journalism and resources for writers

Jennifer and I discovered a lovely little crepe joint in Tempe a few years ago when she had an overnight birthday party at the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel (we took a couple crates of craft supplies along and had a giant arts fest between trips to the rooftop swimming pool).

Recently Lizabeth and I headed out on a frosty morning to read our newspapers and enjoy toasty drinks. Liz recalled the lovely artwork and comfy couches at the Mill’s End Café and Creperie on Mill Avenue, so that’s where we headed.

When we got there, a copy of the New Times—strewn with other reading materials atop a two-tiered metal cart near the cash register—grabbed Lizabeth’s attention.

The otherwise stark white cover featured a broken piece of glass covered in blood. A bit jarring for morning reading, but then, sometimes the best reading gives us a jolt. The lead story, by managing editor Amy Silverman, was titled “Suicidal Tendencies.”

Silverman’s story, part of an ongoing series called “Lost Kids,” recounts harrowing tales of youth with serious mental illness within Arizona’s juvenile justice system. (I use the word “justice” here with more than a tad of trepidation.)

Later that day I hit my pile of yet-to-be-read newspapers in search of earlier pieces in Silverman’s series—including “Saving Alex” and “Losing Erica.” They were near the top, and I set about reading them right away.

The series was reading to remember. It was writing that reverberated. It may well be the single best collection of Arizona journalism I’ve read all year. Not surprising, I suppose, when you consider that Silverman has twice been honored as “Journalist of the Year” by the Arizona Press Club.

Work for consideration for the 2009 awards must be submitted per Arizona Press Club guidelines and postmarked no later than Jan. 20th of 2010. Award categories have been modified somewhat to reflect growing trends in journalism such as increased news content on the Internet.

I last saw Silverman at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. She was there with Deborah Sussman Susser, co-instructor for Mothers Who Write—an enterprise that engages writers in developing their craft while sharing feedback on each other’s work.

We’re proud to count one of their alumni—Debra Rich Gettleman—among our fellow writers at Raising Arizona Kids magazine. Gettleman never fails to deliver a lively read, so check the magazine’s online archives when you’re craving a kernel of controversy.

Several of the women who participated in the last Mothers Who Write workshop were at SMOCA with Silverman and Susser to read portions of their work aloud from behind a humble podium located adjacent to a magnificent museum exhibit of Nick Cave “soundsuits.” 

Listening to their works conjured memories and musings—of things simple, scary, sentimental and strong—much like a magical night at the symphony or the theater.

Mothers Who Write is a testament to the power of the pen.

Their next 10-week workshop begins Feb. 25th and I must admit that I’m toying with taking part. (First I have to quell the intimidation factor.) Registration for the workshop, which often fills quickly, begins Jan. 4th. 

We’re partial to parents who write around here, but equally fond of youth who commit pen to paper—so I’m always on the lookout for events that engage children and teens in reading and/or writing. Here’s one that recently caught my eye…

Changing Hands Bookstore and Hoodlums Music and Movies present “YAllapalooza! 2010” from 4-7pm on Saturday, Jan. 9th. They’re located side by side on the corner of S. McClintock Dr. and E. Guadalupe Rd. in Tempe. (The fact that Wildflower Bread Company is next door is an added bonus—especially when you have a hankering for breakfast on a budget.)

The event is described as “a literary musical extravaganza featuring live bands, pizza, games, prizes, and a chance to mix and mingle with your favorite YA authors and get books signed.” (YA is bookstore speak for “young adult.”)

As the proud parent of an ASU student and “indie-minded” consumer, I often hear of these events firsthand. But it doesn’t hurt that I’m on the e-mail alerts for both Hoodlums and Changing Hands.

The Changing Hands e-newsletter alerted me to several writing-related events scheduled for January—some for grown-ups, some for tweens and teens—covering everything from poetry and journaling to how to get published and how to beat writer’s block.

A teen workshop titled “Indie Mini-Comics” (for ages 13 and up) will take place at Changing Hands on Saturday, Jan. 16th. Check the store’s website for event and registration information.

Every author I’ve ever spoken with offers the same advice to potential writers: The best way to improve your writing is simply to write—and write, and write. The most proficient writers are often the most prolific readers, so blossoming writers do well to have their nose in a book when there’s no pen in their hand.

Anyone witnessing the recent exchange of gifts at our house might suspect that we’re destined to become a writing version of the famous singing von Trapp family (whose story is loosely told in the movie “The Sound of Music”). If you can’t eat it, listen to it or read it, it probably wasn’t on any of our holiday wish lists.

The bookseller to whom I handed Jennifer’s list was especially surprised to see one of Freud’s works on the list. I thought I’d get a good chuckle when I mentioned I had one daughter who planned to give it to another, but no—just a blank stare. He wouldn’t have had any fun celebrating the holidays at our house.

If you want your teen to love reading and writing, expose them early and often to good books and writing opportunities.

Aspiring teen writers can learn a thing or two from “how-to” books like “A Teen’s Guide to Getting Published: Publishing for Profit, Recognition and Academic Success” (Jessica Dunn and Danielle Dunn), “The Young Writer’s Guide to Getting Published” (Kathy Henderson) and “Screen Teen Writers: How Young Screenwriters Can Find Success” (Christina Hamlett).

Still, nothing replaces the acts of reading and writing. When you can share them with others—especially while enjoying crepes and coffee or cocoa together—so much the better.


Note: When last I visited the Stone Soup magazine website, it announced blogging opportunities for creative writing teachers. If you’re interested in learning more, check it out at www.stonesoup.com

Coming soon: The Young Writers Program at ASU, Upcoming community college theater productions, Youth symphonies in the Valley of the Sun

Musings on the fine art of writing…

I’ve never really thought of myself as a writer, let alone an artist. But something Tempe fiber artist Sonja Faeroy Saar was gracious enough to share gave me pause the other day. ‘Thank you,’ she commented, ‘for the beautiful writing.’ I’d worked hard to craft a piece capturing the spirit of her son Benjamin on the eve of a Childsplay event benefiting the Benjamin Fund, a free ticket program for Arizona charities and schools that work with children and families who live with disabilities or economic disadvantages.

Sonja made me realize that the pen has just as much power and poise as the paintbrush. For others, I suspect, this comes as no surprise. The magazine’s own Debra Rich Gettleman, the real performing arts expert/artist in our midst, is among many distinguished alumni of a program called Mothers Who Write. I’ve never been brave enough to join them because I rarely think of myself as a creative writer. I’m more of a who, how, what, where, when and why kind of a gal.

But I’m going to experience my first Mothers Who Write reading this weekend at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art—Saturday, November 14th, at 2pm. A lot of people are competing for my time this weekend—the youth theater that needs a newly painted stage (you can have me after the reading), the school that needs to move furniture into a new building (you get me Sunday if the Saturday crew can’t tackle it all), and my youngest daughter’s first memorial service for a friend. The reading will be a stimulating yet soothing experience amidst a week of chaos and commitments.

Mothers Who Write was founded by Amy Silverman and Deborah Sussman Susser, both commentators for KJZZ (the Phoenix affiliate of NPR) in the spring of 2002. Silverman is the managing editor of Phoenix New Times and Susser is the associate editor of Jewish News of Greater Phoenix. Both are proud parents living in Tempe. Both are gifted artists. Registration for their next 10-week Mothers Who Write workshop begins January 4th, 2010. Classes start February 25th and space is limited. Visit www.motherswhowrite.com to learn more.

It became clear to me that today was an all-about-writing sort of a day when I opened The Arts section of The New York Times to discover an announcement about “The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards” presented by The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. The paintbrush and the pen. The alliance invites students in grades 7-12 to submit work in “30 categories of visual art and writing.” New categories this year include Video Games, Persuasive Writing, and Creativity and Citizenship. For more information, visit www.artandwriting.org.

Come to think of it, I did earn a college scholarship for an essay I wrote as an undergraduate. And early in my career with Raising Arizona Kids magazine, I was honored with a National Media Award from the National Mental Health Association for a piece called “Understanding Childhood Mental Illness.” I even earned a couple of awards from the Arizona Press Club for my work with the magazine—for a feature story written about autism and another written about juvenile fire setting. (I always choose the meatier pieces over the fluffier ones.) Still, I’m slow to embrace the “writer” mantle. Perhaps I’ll grow into it one day.

There are plenty of local resources to support us aspiring writers, including the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University in Tempe. Forget the chocolate cake I was salivating over during yesterday’s blog. Today I’m breaking into a sweat reading through the center’s calendar of events. Looks like many of them occur at some of my favorite places in the Valley—Changing Hands Bookstore, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Stray Cat Theatre, Tempe Center for the Arts, the Phoenix Art Museum.

The Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at ASU offers writer conferences, opportunities to meet visiting writers, a writer’s studio, a resource center library, an online book club, an online calendar of writing-related events and more. I’m adding a trip to the Piper Center Resource Library, which is open to both the ASU community and members of the larger community, to the top of my ‘fun things for free time’ list!

My last writing encounter occurred Saturday night at a Starbucks in central Phoenix. Somehow I’ve managed to go from serious addict to social drinker. As I sat outside at a small round table rereading my tattered copy of The Social Media Bible, a gentleman at a nearby table stuck up a conversation. He peered up from his laptop to share that he was an Iraqi American working to translate his first novel from Arabic into English. He spoke with more eloquence than I could ever muster about great American novelists and playwrights.

“What do you do,” he asked.

I said, “I’m a writer too.”

Thanks Sonja…


Coming soon: Paul Taylor Dance Company at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, Arizona State Thespian Society Festival, Little House on the Prairie comes to ASU Gammage