Tag Archives: art volunteers

Between Oscars and Tonys

Get your fancy on for this year's Governor's Arts Awards, taking place March 27 at the lovely Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix

Those of you needing a bit of an awards show fix between the Oscars and the Tony Awards have a friend is Governor Jan Brewer, who’ll be hosting an annual awards event celebrating some of the best in Arizona arts and culture.

More than 80 nominations were submitted from 18 Arizona communities in six categories for the 31st annual Governor’s Arts Awards — being presented Tues, March 27 at the Herberger Theater Center.

The celebration begins at 5pm with a reception — complete with silent auction.  Honorees will be recognized at the “Oscar-style ceremony” at 7pm. An 8pm dessert reception follows. Yum.

The Governor’s Arts Awards are presented by Arizona Citizens for the Arts in partnership with the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the Office of the Governor.

Since 1981, 144 artists, individuals, arts and cultural organizations, educators and businesses have received Governor’s Arts Awards.

Nominees by category are noted below, along with nominee hometowns.

Arts in Education ~ Organization

Arizona School for Arts, Phoenix; Arizona Theatre Company, Phoenix; EPIK Dance Company, Phoenix; Grand Canyon Guitar Society, Flagstaff; Lovena Ohl Foundation, Scottsdale; Marshall Magnet Elementary School, Flagstaff; Morristown Elementary School, Morristown; Phoenix Conservatory of Music, Phoenix; Prescott College Visual Arts Program, Prescott; Scottsdale Artists School, Scottsdale; Sedona Arts Center, Sedona; Sonoran Glass Art Academy, Tucson; Southwest Shakespeare Company, Mesa; Superstition Review, Mesa; The Rise Project, Phoenix; UApresents, Tucson; Walnut Canyon Press, Scottsdale; West Valley Arts Council, Surprise.


Adelante Healthcare, Phoenix; DMB Associates, Inc., Buckeye; General Growth Properties, Tucson; J.P. Morgan Chase, Phoenix; Southwest Ambulance, Mesa.


Anthology, Mesa; Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering, Prescott; Del E. Webb Center for the Performing Arts, Wickenburg; Flagstaff City- Coconino County, Flagstaff; KXCI Community Radio, Tucson; New Carpa Theater Company, Phoenix; Public Art Program, Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, Phoenix; United Cerebral Palsy of Arizona; University of Arizona Poetry Center, Tucson; Young Arts Arizona LTD, Phoenix.


Robert Breunig, Ph.D., Flagstaff; Nancy DeStefani, Mesa; Jody Drake, Prescott; Rebecca Dyer, Mesa; Linda Essig, Phoenix; Carmen de Novais Guerrero, Mesa; Kathy Hotchner, Scottsdale; Steve Jennings, Scottsdale; Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, Tempe; Dr. Larry Lang, Tucson; Amanda Kate Marques, Tucson; Fletcher McCusker, Tucson; Bill & Merry Nebeker, Prescott; Judy Phillips, Yuma; Julie Sasse, Tucson; Charles Spillar, Tucson; Aimee Stewart, Chandler; Nancy Wolter, Gilbert.


Charles Bruffy, Phoenix; Warren Cohen, Cave Creek; Bob Cooper, Phoenix; James L. Covarrubias, Tempe; Persephone Dimson, Scottsdale; Lawrence Enyart, FAIA, Phoenix; Eugene Grisby, Phoenix; Kristine Kollasch, Phoenix; William LeGoullon, Scottsdale; Gertrude Lopez, Phoenix; Patsy Lowery,
Phoenix; John Massaro, Phoenix; Ed Mell, Phoenix; Antonio Pasos, Phoenix; Brad Richter, Tucson; Jared Sakren, Scottsdale; Synde Heather Schinkel, Scottsdale; Louise Stidham Photography, Gilbert; Matthew Wiener, Phoenix.

Arts in Education ~ Individual

Linda Ahearn, Toscana Gallery, Tucson; Annica Benning, Walnut Canyon Press, Scottsdale; Mariana Carreras, Pima Community College, Tucson;.William Eaton, Roberto-Venn School of Luthery, Phoenix; Evelyn Holbrook, Desert Foothills Community Theatre, Cave Creek; Janet Klein, Kyrene District Art Educator, Tempe; Beth Lesard, Ph.D., Tempe; Barbara Nueske-Perez, Tesseract School, Phoenix; Claude Pensis, Grand Canyon University, Phoenix; Lesa Schuur, L. Thomas Heck Middle School, Avondale; Debra K. Stevens, Childsplay, Tempe.

The seventh annual Shelley Award also will be presented to an Arizona individual who has advanced the arts through strategic and innovative work in creating or supporting 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.

Ticket prices are $135 for members of Arizona Citizens for the Arts and $150 for non-members. Sponsorships are available. Recipients, by the way, are selected by an independent panel. But, duh. They’re all winners — as are those of us who reap the rewards of their hard work and dedication.

For information or reservations, visit www.governorsartsawards.org.

— Lynn

Coming up: Awards for young artists


Artists caught in the act

Mesa artist Sherri Aldawood told me about the Arizona Art Alliance Gallery in Scottsdale

I enjoyed a delightful conversation with Mesa artist Sherri Aldawood and her husband last week. Aldawood was one of many artists I met during a “Visions of Arizona” reception at the Arizona House of Representatives building. Her oil paintings “Balcony With Bougainvillea” and “Boys Fishing” are part of the exhibition.

One of two artists caught in the act of painting during our Saturday visit to the gallery

When I asked Aldawood where her work is currently exhibited, she told me about the Arizona Art Alliance Gallery in Scottsdale. I’ve actually driven past it many times during shopping jaunts to what’s now called The Pavilions at Talking Stick — but assumed it was a purveyor of mass produced fare.

The Arizona Art Alliance Gallery is full of paintings, photographs, sculpture, jewelry and more

I decided to explore the gallery with my son on Saturday, and was thrilled to be proven wrong. It’s actually home to a volunteer organization whose 33 member groups, all based in Arizona, represent more than 4,000 visual artists.

I was thrilled to discover a new place to find gifts of jewelry and original art

The Arizona Art Alliance has an outreach program funded through the proceeds of art sales, donations and grants — which features art education and art mentoring programs.

Country House by Claude Picard is one of many works I'd love to live with every day

It’s part of their overall mission to “celebrate Arizona’s diverse communities and rich cultural traditions, inspire creativity, grow local economies and enhance the quality of life for all Arizonans.”

Christopher enjoyed these and other works with animal-related subjects

We take art for granted far too often, but I suspect most of us would feel a deep loss were arts and culture removed from our homes, schools and public gathering places for even a single day.

Franco Valentini's Primordial Land is one of several works featuring nature scenes

The Arizona Art Alliance Gallery is a great way to introduce children to artworks including sculpture, jewelry, carving, painting and more. Gallery volunteers greeted us warmly when we arrived, and we got to watch two artists paint while we were there.

This photographer, standing next to his "Swizzle," graciously shared tips with my son

Another artist, whose photograph “Swizzle” was among our favorites, spent lots of time talking cameras and film with Christopher — and we were delighted to encounter so many folks of generous spirit.

Artworks are exhibited in all sorts of creative ways at the Scottsdale gallery

One shared that she’s been a longtime reader of Raising Arizona Kids magazine, something it’s heartening to hear in an age when print publications are struggling much like arts organizations to find and keep advertisers and subscribers.

There's plenty of room to stroll and linger at the Arizona Art Alliance gallery

I hope all the parents who frequent The Pavilions at Talking Stick for arts and craft supplies (Hobby Lobby, Jo-Ann, Michaels), toys (Toys “R” Us) and movies (UltraStar Cinema) — will make time to enjoy the Arizona Art Alliance Gallery during their future visits.

We both loved the lines and colors in these works by Barbara Lacy

Keep the gallery in mind next time you’re shopping for artwork for your home or gifts like jewelry for family and friends. It’s fun to catch artists in the act of painting, and lovely to spend time with folks who are so gracious.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about the Arizona Art Alliance, here to learn more about “Visions of Arizona” and here to learn more about The Pavilions at Talking Stick

Coming up: Art meets automobile, Bald is beautiful

In the spotlight

Samantha Utpadel of Litchfield Park remembers her daughters auditioning during 2008 for the school edition of “Les Miserables” being performed by Spotlight Youth Theatre in Glendale. Both Alexandra (Ixy), now a junior music major at Willamette University in Oregon, and Sophia (Sophie), now a soon-to-be senior at Arizona School for the Arts, were cast.

Beauty and the Beast cast working on choreography

Utpadel says “the show turned out to be a very special experience in many ways.” She’d started her own college studies as a theatrical design major, and helping out with costumes, hair and make-up — plus serving as spot operator for most of the run — helped Utpadel return to her roots.

“For the girls,” she says, “it crystallized a love of performance.” Utpadel describes theater as “addictive” and notes that “things kind of went on from there.” Soon she was doing serious costume duty alongside a good friend whose son got involved thanks to Utpadel’s daughters.

“Spotlight truly is a labor of love,” shares Utpadel. “It started at a time when theatre for youth was disappearing in the Valley, and is really the result of a crazy love for theatre and the belief that kids should get the opportunity to take part in that.”

Sophie describes Spotlight Youth Theatre as “an amazing place to be.” She praises them for producing consistently “awesome” work and for “being a place where I feel I truly belong.” Here’s more from Sophie in her own words…

Backstage at Beauty and the Beast

When I first auditioned at Spotlight, I was terrified, not just by the prospect of not being cast, but by not fitting in. Would the other kids like me? Would I like them? Would there be drama? Thankfully, I didn’t need to worry about any of these things. I was welcomed into the Spotlight community.

Sophie says the acceptance she’s experienced at Spotlight is a “huge part” of why she’s such a loyal fan, despite the fact that there are other youth theaters in the Valley. “I have made friends there, and even better, I have made a family.”

Doing hair and make-up backstage for Fools

Utpadel eagerly shared the 2011/12 season for Spotlight Youth Theatre with me as soon as it was released, noting that it “exemplifies” the company’s work. It’s a mix, says Utpadel, of classic and challenging materials. And it gives young actors a chance to “learn different styles of music, choreography, and scripts.”

The 2011/12 season for Spotlight Youth Theatre opens with “Cats.” Sophie recalls loving the show since she “was little” — even naming her cat “Victoria” after a white cat in the show. “I think that it will appeal to lots of people,” she says.

Rehearsing the number Luck Be a Lady

Next up is a musical double feature with a Halloween vibe — “Zombie Prom” and “Once More With Feeling” (an homage to “the musical episode of Buffy“). I suspect that my own daughter, Lizabeth, will applaud the effort. Her senior quote in the ASA yearbook is a little pearl from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

Spotlight presents “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” in December, then moves on to “Godspell” during January. “Godspell” holds special meaning for Sophie because it was the first show she did at ASA. Ixy also performed in “Godspell,” as well as “Runaways,” with ASA — and she’s been in two operas presented by Willamette students.

Next up is “James and the Giant Peach,” based on a book of the same title by Roald Dahl. Utpadel describes herself as “a huge fan” of the offbeat author and already seems to be imaging the outraeous set possibilities.

Bushel and a Peck from Guys and Dolls

My own favorite from the 2011/12 Spotlight Youth Theatre season is “Sweeney Todd School Edition.” I’ve seen two live performances with Lizabeth, one by the Arizona Opera and another a touring production at ASU Gammage — and enjoyed the movie with my older daughter Jennifer.

I never tire of telling Lizabeth that “Sweeney Todd” is a love story, but she disputes the claim every time. I’m hoping the youth theater version, devoid of some of the show’s bloodier elements, will make the many moments of profound love portrayed in the piece more apparent.

Spotlight Youth Theatre closes its 2011/12 season with “Annie” — the one musical people just can’t seem to get enough of. It makes for a great mother/daughter outing. Or grandmother/granddaughter outing, according to Utpadel — who recalls that “Annie” was the first show she costumed as a sophomore in high school.

I saw Spotlight Youth Theatre earn all kinds of awards at last year’s AriZoni awards ceremony. Still, it’s clear that there’s more to this story. Sure, they’re making good theater. But they’re also creating friendships, confidence and memories — all things especially worthy of the spotlight.

— Lynn

Coming up: Summer dance and theater offerings

Photos by Samantha Utpadel

Home sweet theater

After learning of a recent “community day” at Desert Stages Theatre in Scottsdale, I decided to head over and check it out myself.

I found dozens of volunteers sorting props on the back lot, building sets for upcoming productions and painting all sorts of candy images on black walls inside Cullity Hall, where Desert Stages opens their production of “Willy Wonka, Jr.” on Fri, May 20.

They even let me sit in as energetic children and teens peforming in “Willy Wonka, Jr.” packed into another performance space to practice various songs from the show.

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In keeping with the “Willy Wonka, Jr.” theme, Desert Stages Theatre presents their “Golden Ticket Gala” May 14 at the Scottsdale Hilton Resort. They’re also plenty busy with another show, “The Miracle Worker,” which runs through May 29.

As kids and grown-ups participating in last Saturday’s rehearsals and work day gathered around mid-day to share pizza and perky conversation, it was clear that these families truly relish their time together.

— Lynn

Note: Desert Stages Theatre has just announced that tickets for the “Golden Ticket Gala” can still be purchased through today, so act quickly if you want to be part of this evening featuring dinner, dancing, a silent auction and more. Tickets for adults or children are $60 each. Click here for details.

Coming up: Art by children at St. Joseph’s Hospital

Charmed (literally) by Childsplay

Though never big on bling, my 17-year-old daughter Lizabeth was sporting a new piece of jewely Friday night. It’s a silver necklace with a crystal ball-shaped bobble and a silver charm set with the Childsplay minstrel logo.

I came home with a bright blue hobo style handbag that I can only hope to have the guts to actually carry in public one day. Not because it isn’t amazing, but because it’s such a stark contrast to my usual attack of the black.

Now Lizabeth can take a bit of Childsplay with her to NYC...

We found these puppies at the silent auction for Childsplay’s annual event to support their arts in education program — dubbed “Childsplay Celebrates Its Greatest Hits” this year.

It’s a good thing we snagged these babies, because there are still far too many kids who need companies like Childsplay to introduce them to the world of live theater.

Steve Martin, managing director for Childsplay, shared some truly sobering statistics about just how little art exists in Arizona schools, and how little we invest as a state in arts education.

We enjoyed the evening at a table of fellow Childsplay fans, who enjoyed chatting with Lizabeth about her experiences growing up with Childsplay and her plans to begin college theater studies in NYC this fall.

To my right sat a longtime supporter of Childsplay named Andy Dzurinko, whose third book espousing “the power of optimism” will be published later this year. I hope to review a copy since Dzurinko shared that the book offers plenty of insights for youth, parents and teachers as well as business folk.

Childsplay’s warm and genuine graphic designer was seated to our left. She gets to play with the Childsplay mistrel on a regular basis. And she was supremely excited to learn at the end of the evening that she’d won the auction prize of her dreams (which I’d best not share here in case it’s a surprise for her 15-year-old son).

Dinner tables were decorated with fiber artist Sonja Saar’s “Benjamin Bears” — Build-a-Bear teddies that tug at the heart with their handmade, no-two-alike sweaters. Guests were invited to purchase a bear and give it a good home, and we all heeded the admonishion to share rather than fighting over them.

The bears raise awareness and money for a special “Benjamin Fund” named in honor of artist Benjamin Saar, son of David and Sonja Faeroy Saar, who died of AIDS-related complications following a blood transfusion to treat his hemophilia. He was just 8 years old, and a well-worn bear named “Muffa” who lives on in each of Sonja’s sweaters, was his constant companion.

I enjoyed learning a bit more about David Saar during his remarks. Seems his first encounter with making theater came after Saar was recruited for a second prop master gig. Later he nailed the role of “Captain Hook” in a production of “Peter Pan,” a real thrill for a boy who’d years before fallen in love with the original “Peter Pan” starring Mary Martin.

Shopping is almost bearable when it's for a good cause...

We enjoyed running into all sorts of creative folk at the gala, including Frances Smith Cohen of Center Dance Ensemble, who was honored with the “Pied Piper Award” at last year’s Childsplay shindig. She was amazed to see Lizabeth, now several feet taller than when she started dance lessons with “Susie” and “Frannie” at Dance Theater West while in preschool.

This year’s “Pied Piper Award” — given to honor achievement in preserving imagination and wonder by supporting and advocating for quality art and education programs — went to Don Dolye and Lin Wright, founders of the “Theatre for Youth” graduate program at ASU.

This year’s “Sonja Award,” named for Sonja Saar and established to honor volunteer service of time given over time, was presented to Donna Gerometta, Jenny Lucier and Dan O’Neill, and the National Charity League-East Valley Chapter.

The evening concluded with a musical presentation by members of the Childsplay acting ensemble, each donning a glorious costume from one of Childsplay’s “greatest hits” — starting with “Still Life With Iris,” the first Childsplay production I enjoyed with my children.

The ensemble sent us off with “Oh, The Thinks You Can Think” — a fitting ode to all the imagination and wonder that is Childsplay. Perhaps Lizabeth will recall its lyrics each time she wears her Childsplay necklace, a talisman of sorts for carrying the good wishes of her many theater friends back home as she makes her own way amidst all the imagination and wonder that is NYC.

— Lynn

Note: Childsplay performs “The Borrowers” through May 22 at Tempe Center for the Arts. Click here for show and ticket information.

Coming up: Summer arts adventures, What’s new: Shakespeare

Make an art teacher’s day!

Small gifts of time, talent or financial resources can make a big difference in school arts programs — especially when we all pitch in. Enjoy supporting  arts learning at your child’s school in one or more of the following ways:

Research, plan and/or chaperone for arts-related field trips

"Kate's Flower" by Kate M., Age 5

Volunteer to create/install bulletin boards or other exhibit spaces

Donate arts-related books or other media materials to the school library

Attend school arts performances — even when your child is not performing

Pay (or offer to simply do the shopping) for arts-related supplies

Invite friends, family and neighbors to school art exhibits and performances

Share information on arts events and organizations happening in the community with school art teachers

Volunteer to assist with art projects in the classroom (and school clubs)

Donate funds dedicated to professional development for arts teachers

"Lion's Heart" by Gabriel C., Age 7

Volunteer to plan, coordinate and/or execute art exhibits and other events

Suggest community partnerships that might benefit schools and businesses/other organizations

Donate arts-related items you’re no longer using at home (such as musical instruments)

Offer to fund an arts-related field tip to visit a museum or see a theater, dance or music performance

Talk to art students about your own arts-related interests, hobbies or career

"Shy Bear" by Isaiah G., Age 7

Donate art storage items such as cabinets, shelves and crates

Volunteer time to sew costumes, paint sets and more

Stay informed about arts education issues and let legislators know the arts matter in our schools

Support creative play at home with time, space and materials for making visual art, theater and more

Give arts-related gifts such as subscriptions to arts magazines dealing with teacher areas of interest

Help arts teachers develop and share their wish lists of needed materials

Photograph student art to display on the school website

"Happy Flower" by Eilene, Age 12

Volunteer to read arts-related books during storytimes

Share interesting articles you come across about arts news, education, policy and more

Donate gift cards teachers can use at art supply stores

Collect supplies arts teachers are looking for (such as newspapers for paper mache)

Volunteer to arrange guest speakers/guest performers in the arts

Let administrators and board members know you value arts education

"Cutout Snowflake" by Toby M., Age 7

When in doubt, just ask. And remember to thank and compliment your child’s art teachers when you admire their work. Encouragement and appreciation can be the finest gifts of all.


Note: If you’re an arts teacher or parent with other ideas and suggestions on supporting school arts programs, please share them with fellow readers in the comment section below

Coming up: Arts camps for fall/winter break

Artwork featured in this post is from the PCH Kids Art collection, available through Phoenix Children’s Hospital at www.pchkidsart.com. The collection includes art prints, all occasion cards, holiday cards and more — with proceeds benefiting the PCH Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.

Art is everybody’s business

"The Dream Boat" featured on the Schuff-Perini Climber at the Children's Museum of Phoenix

American consumers rarely want for more choices. Just ask the new parents whose heads spin when they try to tackle the baby food aisle, or the teenager who walks into a quaint little record or book shop and tries to decide how to spend a gift card.

We forget too often that the way we shop, the businesses we choose to support, are a reflection of our values. For arts supporters, it makes sense to support businesses that support the arts.

Mesa Arts Center, recently honored by the Arts and Business Council of Greater Phoenix

I never open a Playbill without noting the corporate and business sponsors of the event I am enjoying–because I want to know which Arizona companies, large and small, are investing in the arts and culture of our local communities.

Check out these award recipients, selected from among 42 nominations throughout Maricopa County, honored earlier this week at the Business in the Arts Awards Breakfast organized by the Arts & Business Council of Greater Phoenix and presented by Wells Fargo:

Large Business Partner of the Year: Schuff Steel Southwest for donating labor. materials and expertise to creating and installing a three-story climber at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix.

Small Business Partner of the Year: DMB, Inc. of Scottsdale for providing various types of support to the West Valley Arts Council and making arts/culture a focus of their Verado development.

Arts Organization of the Year: Mesa Arts Center for launching four major initiatives, along with two partners, for expanding the reach of arts and culture within its community.

Arts Advocate of the Year: Bobb Cooper of Valley Youth Theatre in Phoenix for programs supporting underserved children and integrating youth theater into the community.

Arts Board Member of the Year: Harold Dorenbecher, chair of the Ballet Arizona board of directors, for longtime involvement that has helped the organization secure quality leadership and funding.

A Special Business Volunteer Award went to Mike Nolan for “donating more than 75 hours to four different arts organizations during the past year.” Nolan’s volunteering–focused on marketing, development and volunteer programs–benefited Phoenix Theatre (which opens its 90th season on Aug 25), Four Seasons Orchestra (of Scottsdale), Red Rocks Music Festival (Sept 1-5 in Sedona) and String Sounds (of Phoenix).

Next time you attend a music, dance or theater performance where business sponsors are recognized on stage or simply by name, put your hands together. Without their financial support of the arts, all that clapping we offer after the show might never come to pass.