Tag Archives: art classes

Art intersection

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I headed out a few weeks ago to enjoy the opening of “Emerge” at Art Intersection in Gilbert, which offers exhibitions and classes focused on visual arts for youth. I first met the fine folks of Art Intersection while attending this year’s Scottsdale Arts Festival near my own neck of the woods.

Driving east up Gilbert Rd. towards their studio and gallery space in Gilbert’s Heritage District, I spotted a long line of teens waiting their turn at a bit of Joe’s Real Barbeque. I like to believe they’d have hit the nearby Gilbert Farmers Market too had it been Saturday morning rather than Wednesday night.

A arrived at the two-story building housing Art Intersection to find an upper level courtyard filled with youth watching a fellow teen doing his singing thing. While exploring the Heritage Court complex, I stumbled on Banner Neuro Wellness — which offers diverse programs for people living with Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions. Think visual arts, dance and more.

When I got to Art Intersection, I found several teens huddled around a tall table talking art and everyday life. Nearby, I spied a collection of works drawn with colored markers by an artist named Sam Irving who’s living with autism. A father and son admired old cameras displayed on a high shelf and checked out the venue’s collection of art books.

I turned right down a short, narrow hall to discover a nicely-sized and well-lit space where classes in everything from painting to photography are held, then made my way to a wide-open gallery with blonde wood floors where a dozen or so folks were milling around enjoying student artwork.

“Emerge” includes works by “emerging talent ranging from high school to undergraduate students” — and runs through May 26. Next up is “All Art Arizona 2012” (June 2-July 28), an exhibition of sculpture, photography, painting, ceramics, mixed media, artist books and more — all juried by Art Intersection’s curatorial staff.

After exploring Art Intersection offerings, I strolled west on Gilbert Rd. and stopped in to chat with all sorts of business owners. One graciously granted my request to photograph inspirational quotes painted on several walls. Another told me about their creative birthday party fare. After complimenting a boutique owner on her vibrant offerings and display, she shared a bit about her interior design background.

Nearby, the owner of a gallery filled with eclectic wares answered my questions about several quilted works as students and their grown-ups from a nearby school worked to take down items from an auction held that evening to raise funds for their school.

If you’re eager to explore all things arts and culture in Gilbert, you can enjoy this season’s final “4th Friday Gilbert Art Walk” from 6-10pm on Fri, May 25. Remember too that Gilbert is home to the Gilbert Historical Museum and Hale Centre Theatre, which opens “To Kill a Mockingbird” directed by D. Scott Withers (also an associate artist with Childsplay in Tempe) this week. Hale’s Children’s Theatre continues its “Rapunzel” run through June 30.

Look for Art Intersection where N. Gilbert Rd. meets Cullember Ave. It’s an intersection surrounded by art that’s full of heart.

— Lynn

Note: Look for an article on the changing face of libraries in the June 2012 issue of Raising Arizona Kids, then click here to learn more about public libraries in Gilbert.

Coming up: More East Valley fun finds, Once upon a window


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”

Get creative!

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The weather’s too lovely for living at my laptop these days, so I headed to the Mesa Festival of Creativity with my son Christopher recently after Mala Blomquist raved about her family’s last Mirazozo experience. He gravitated towards the LEGO brick creations from guitar to cactus, even a LEGO brick portrait of artist Dave Shaddix’s father.

We chatted at length with Brian Scott of Building Bonanza, who eagerly told me about their camp, school and community programs. The Chandler-based business, started in 2009 to provide after-school programs, is run by three friends seeking to teach students life skills like “communication, teamwork, problem solving and critical creative thinking.”

After watching several families working on a community LEGO build, we explored several other hands-on activities taking place around the Mesa Arts Center where I’m often found enjoying the works of resident performing arts groups — Southwest Shakespeare Company, Ballet Etudes, East Valley Children’s Theatre and plenty more.

We watched families folding origami birds at the Bookmans Activity Area, and spied several birds that’d been created earlier and hung on trees outside the Mesa Arts Center entrance. Then discovered James Reid juggling and sharing “how to” tips with children gathered all around while a nearby stilt walker from Taylor Family Troupe exchanged plastic bowling pins with a little girl who looked mesmerized. Also a trio doing mime time donned in white.

We saw seniors choosing fabric strips to tie onto a community weaving wall — a long bit of fencing outside the Mesa Contemporary Arts museum (currently home to several exhibits) which is also sporting all sorts of signs with creativity-related quotes during the festival that runs from noon to 9pm each day through Sun, March 18. And we enjoyed music on two outdoor stages.

Most of the younger set was busy exploring “The Desert is My Playground” — a group of interactive artworks created by a team of artists and technicians led by Boyd Branch and Daniel Roth. I tried my hand at playing a cactus pipe organ, and spotted children floating paper rocks down a water feature before heading over to a portion of the MAC parking lot transformed into a chalk art canvas — where we also marveled over the design and scale of the inflatable “Mirazozo” sculpture.

We went in search of the giant “Earth Harp” after Robin, who was rocking the Arizona SciTech Festival booth, told us it was a must see — but the knee my kids have taken to calling “delapidated” wasn’t up to the task after my first attempt to find it failed. Best to hit just two more high points, I decided — sample classes in the MAC Art Studios and, of course, the gift shop.

Christopher will be the first to tell you that there’s no such thing as seeing “just two more things” in my world. Soon we were talking with one artist about musical instruments made of paint cans and another about his hanging metal work depicting Arizona’s 5 Cs. After exploring the Mesa festival, I’m inclined to lobby for the addition of a sixth — creativity.

I might have walked right by the incredible classroom and camp spaces at MAC were it not for a teaching artist who beckoned me in with a silkscreened square of fabric bearing a shamrock. Lucky call. She introduced me to Billy Jones, arts education program coordinator, who described teaching high school English to one of my friends at MAC. I assured him that he’d done good — then paused to admire works crafted by young campers.

After exploring space used to throw and fire pottery, I realized that this might be just the place I was looking for — a home for my oldest daughter, Jennifer, who’s been creating with anything she can get her hands on since she was a wee little thing. And I remembered my own ceramic works created in high school art classes back when art and science weren’t seen as dichotomous.

The Mesa Festival of Creativity is a fun place to explore the overlapping worlds of art and science, best appreciated by parents who understand the importance of unhurried, open-ended play that lets children take the lead in their own journeys of discovery. Thanks to Mala and Mirazozo for inspiring us to take it all in.

— Lynn

Note: While at MAC, you can view artworks created through MAC’s creative aging program, enjoy student art exhibitions at the MAC Art Studios and sign up for the museum shop’s new gift registry. Click here to learn more about ticketed events from concerts to theater productions — and remember that the area is also home to three additional museums. The Mesa Festival of Creativity runs through March 18. Click here to enjoy Mala’s amazing photos of Mirazozo inside and out!.

Coming up: Musings from “Lynn’s Library,” Smashed!, Art meets U.N.

Painting meets personality

What happens when a writer trades pen for paintbrush?

There’s a pathetic little poppy sitting in the garden I once tended with more care. I began wishing one morning that I’d done more to keep it blooming. I wanted to study every detail of its petals and stems, hoping it’d help me “get it right” during a painting party I was attending later that day.

I got to pondering the potential for painting to reveal one’s personality when first invited to the affair. Agreeing to paint with a group of peers meant several things. At the very least, they’d see my work. Worse still, they might judge it. Or me. It wouldn’t be perfect. And that felt intolerable.

Still I agreed — though saying “yes” seemed a monumental act of courage. Learning to let go is a good thing. I know this in theory, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I arrived late, after a morning appointment, to find most were about halfway through their painting.

I dived in, chatting nervously while attempting to allay my own insecurities. My level of painting prowess lies somewhere between color by numbers and just let ‘er rip. Once I had paintbrush in hand, my concerns about making a masterful finished product melted away.

Instead I enjoyed the feeling of drawing my brush across the canvas, of capturing new bits of color off the paper plate that served as my palette. I loved the movement, and began to remember earlier experiences, like dancing and speed skating, that elicited similar emotions.

Still, I was disappointed with the finished product — which I decided to call “Patriotic Poppies.” Too much blue, Too much white. I vowed to “fix it” once I got home. But my daughter Jennifer got ahold of it first — approaching me one morning with painting in hand.

She noticed the things I liked best about the work. Paint applied thickly. A streak of red through the yellow sunset. I shared that painting the poppies had reminded me of her, because they’ve always been one of her favorite flowers and they’re plentiful in parts of Northern California we’ve traveled together.

Jennifer smiled when I gave her the painting, sharing that she’d been planning to ask me whether she could have it after I died. “I’m glad I don’t have to wait,” she told me. Me too.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to explore Carrie Curran Art Studios, where all sorts of art is in bloom

Coming up: Dance by the dozen

Art classes for children and teens

Student at the Scottsdale Artists' School youth academy

As resources for school art classes continue to dwindle, art programs in our communities become increasingly important. Thankfully, Valley families can draw upon art classes offered by various community centers, museums and private studios.

In Old Town Scottsdale there’s something called the Scottsdale Artists’ School, which offers art classes for children and teens through its youth academy. It’s near museums, theaters, restaurants, shops and a lovely library so parents who drive kids to and from classes have plenty to do in between.

Teen taking an art class at Scottsdale Artists' Academy

“Inspiring Artists” classes for ages 6 & up are being held for a series of eight Saturday mornings Jan. 7-Feb. 25, 2012. Students explore a different project, and a different medium, each week. They’ll paint trees, create journal/map art, make pop art portraits, craft treasure boxes and more. “Inspiring Artists” classes meet from 9am-noon and cost $40/class — which includes all supplies (though students should bring their own sketchbooks).

A new “Young Masters” program for youth ages 11 & up takes place Saturday afternoons from 1-4pm during Jan., 2012. These classes are also $40 each, and include all supplies. Class themes include translating sketches into paintings, simplifying nature for impact, finding the pattern of light and exaggerating colors.

The “Underground Art Club” for teens ages 13-19 takes place Thursday nights from 6:30-9pm from Jan. 12-Feb. 23, 2012. These classes are offered on a drop-in basis to accommodate teens’ busy schedules, according to Linda Pullinsi, youth academy program manager for the Scottsdale Artists’ School — who says the club also holds periodic art shows at the school.

Student works on drawing during a class at Scottsdale Artists' School

Class themes include still life, live costumed model, portrait, landscape and more. Single classes cost $30 (a 3-pack of classes costs $25/class and a 5-pack of classes costs $20 class).

Scottsdale Artists’ Studio notes that their fine art program is taught by professional working artists, adding that it’s designed to help students “discover new concepts and master basic skills while gaining confidence, pride, and self-discipline through their efforts.”

Art classes give kids a chance to meet others with similar interests, express themselves in positive ways, enjoy breaks from everyday stressors and spend time free from technology. Ah, the power of the paintbrush…

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about art classes for adults, and here for scholarship information

Coming up: Civil rights take center stage, Some enchanted evening

The Big Draw

We’re fortunate in Arizona to have several museums and organizations dedicated to preserving and sharing American Indian culture, including the Heard Museum — with locations in both Phoenix and Scottsdale.

So I was curious, during a recent trip to New York City, to see the National Museum of the American Indian. While there, I stumbled on one of their educational programs called “The Big Draw” — which featured music and dance performance, as well as drawing opportunities, for children and families.

I’m hoping some of my pictures from that day will inspire new drawing adventures in your own home or classroom — and serve as a friendly reminder to visit our own local museums, which I’m convinced are some of the best in the country.

Entrance to the National Museum of the American Indian in New York City…

One of several Big Draw participants getting tips on her artwork…

One of many families who were seated around the room drawing together…

Visitors see this foyer, where I found visitors’ art on display, as they enter…

These panels hold children’s art created during The Big Draw event…

One of several pastel works displayed near The Big Draw activity area…

Another piece of art created during The Big Draw experience at the museum…

Another art selection created during The Big Draw experience…

This piece of art from The Big Draw appears to be a sign of the times…

Click here to explore the National Museum of the American Indian, here to find other Smithsonian museums, here to learn more about the Heard Museum and here to visit the Central Arizona Museum Association.

— Lynn

Coming up: The fine art of Wall Street?

Arts in Education Week

During a recent episode of “Jeopardy,” the final question required knowledge of both children’s literature and opera. Think Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh” meets Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado.” Only one contestant seemed to know much about either — and he walked away with the cash. I’m guessing there’s an art teacher he ought to be thanking back home.

It’s been heartening to see arts and culture play such a pivotal role in 9/11 anniversary ceremonies. Sunday’s event at the newly opened 9/11 Memorial in NYC featured Yo-Yo Ma, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Emi Ferguson, Paul Simon and James Taylor. Opening remarks by Michael Bloomberg quoted Shakespeare, and poetry was prevalent throughout.

The Pushcart Players perform one of five school shows offered by Mesa Arts Center this season

Too often our nation forgets all that has been forged by arts and culture, and fails to appreciate the role they can play in moving us forward. So I’m delighted that Congress passed a bill last year designating the second week of September “National Arts in Education Week.”

For those who love the arts, no explanation of their impact or importance is needed. Art is an instinct, in impulse. An adventure of imagination as necessary as air. For others, they seem a mere nicety at best — perhaps because the joys of art never touched their lives as children.

But those unmoved by art’s aesthetic power should recognize its more tangible benefits. Art creates jobs. Creates cities where people want to live. Creates schools full of innovators and imaginators. Maybe even the “creative class” touted by a presidential candidate in his stump speeches.

Ninety percent of Arizonans believe that arts education is either important or very important, according to results of a public opinion poll conducted by ASU in May 2009 — a poll cited in the background report for this year’s Arizona Town Hall, the first of 98 Arizona Town Halls to focus on Arizona arts and culture. www.aztownhall.org.

The Arizona Arts Education section of the report was authored by Mandy Buscas (then director of arts learning for the Arizona Commission on the Arts, now the arts education outreach coordinator for Mesa Arts Center) and Lynn Tuttle (director of arts education for the Arizona Department of Education).

MAC presents Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters for grades K-6

Their work considers results of the 2009 Arts Education Census. It also looks at federal, state and local educational policies — noting that state support for arts in education has suffered significant losses of late due to “efforts to close significant stage budget shortfalls.”

Their reporting on the arts census notes that “20% of schools offered no courses in any arts discipline” and that “79% of schools spend less than $1 per year per student for arts instruction.” This despite the fact that U.S. employers rank creativity/innovation among the top five skills growing in importance.

So what can be done to move Arizona forward? A report issued after the Arizona Town Hall on arts and culture says that “Arizona residents need to speak up, stand for what we support, and make that support known at the ballot box at all levels, from the legislature, to the superintendent of public instruction, and to local school boards.”

It sounds rather daunting if you’re not accustomed to advocating for issues with local and stage officials, but there are plenty of resources to help you get started — including Arizona Citizens Action for the Arts. www.azcitizensforthearts.org.

The report also urges the arts and culture community to partner with the business community to “lobby for improved arts education” — and calls on nonprofit organizations and arts professionals in our communities to “continue augmenting arts education in the schools.” Think artist residencies, school field trips and such.

There’s plenty we can do as parents. Volunteer to help with art projects in the classroom. Coordinate field trips to places like libraries, performing arts venues, museums and exhibit spaces. Donate art-related supplies to local schools. Urge schools to integrate arts learning into other subjects. Vote art at every opportunity.

MAC presents Native American Song & Dance for grades K-12

Folks who separate art from the other disciplines, orchestrating false dichotomies that pit science and math against music and theater should learn more about artists like Emi Ferguson, a distinguished student of both music and epidemiology. Or scientists like Oliver Sacks.

To learn more about arts and education in Arizona, sign up for the free arts learning newsletter from the Arizona Commission on the Arts. www.azarts.gov.

The latest issue features details on the Poetry Out Loud program, a student art competition, an opportunity to participate in the Kennedy Center Partners in Education program, Target field trip grants, teacher workshops and more.

As for the “Jeopardy” answer that won the big bucks, it was “Pooh-bah.”

— Lynn

Note: Additional arts in education resources include the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities (www.pcah.gov), Americans for the Arts (www.artsusa.org) and the Arts Education Partnership (www.aep-arts.org). Learn more about Mesa Arts Center arts education programs at www.mesaartscenter.com.

Coming up: Country music meets arts and culture, Art meets airport, Who let the cats out?, Shakespeare meets Sweeney Todd