Tag Archives: Blue Star Museums

Fun finds for Father’s Day

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Folks eager to find unique gifts and experiences for celebrating Father’s Day need look no farther than local arts and culture. Museums make for fun family outings, and many have gift shops filled with fascinating fare making gifts like striped ties look purely passé.

Got a dad who’s into science? Hit your local science center. Got a dad who’s into art? Treat him to time at your local art gallery or museum. Got a dad who’s into history? Take him along for some time at the nearest history museum. And remember all those neighborhood arts districts with funky fare it’s hard to find elsewhere.

Military dads and their families can enjoy free admission to museums that participate in the Blue Star Museums program. Most museums participate from Memorial Day through Veterans Day — but some offer free year-round admission (with specified I.D.s) to active military personnel and up to five family members.

For dads who enjoy making art, consider taking a Father’s Day walk together in search of found objects for future art projects. Or looking around the house for boxes and other recyclable objects you can turn into forts, musical instruments and works of art. Or get dad a gift certificate to your favorite small business featuring art supplies or classes.

Remember studios in your community that offer hands-on arts experiences like painting pottery, folding origami, recreating famous art masterpieces and such. Check your local libraries, independent book shops,community centers and parks and recreation facilities for activities of special interest to fathers and families.

Also theater companies that offer family-friendly fare — plus performing arts venues that offer fun film, music, dance, poetry and other options. You’ll never know whether the dad in your life is hot for hip hop until you give it a try together.

— Lynn

Note: I’ll be updating this post with more photos as I discover more Father’s Day fare

Coming up: Art meets wild west, Getting to know Jimmy

Update: I’m now blogging as “Stage Mom Musings” at www.stagemommusings.com. Please find and follow me there to continue receiving posts about arts and culture in Arizona and beyond. Thanks for your patience as the tech fairies work to move all 1,250+ posts to the new site. For the latest news follow me on Twitter @stagemommusings. 6/13/12


Ode to blue

I'd love to see The Blue Bike Kid Show picked up by PBS

I’ve got blue on the brain after learning that one of Lizabeth’s theater teachers, Boyd Branch, is launching a project called “The Blue Bike Kid Show” with Steve Wilcox and Elizabeth Peterson.

Blue Bike encourages kids ages 8-13 to shift their focus on technology from consuming to creating.

It’s got live, video and web components, and is seeking backers via an online “funding platform for creative projects” called “Kickstarter.” Cool.

While running with the blue theme, I discovered that the next “Music in the Garden” at the Desert Botanical Garden features “blues and boogie” by The DelRayz and Sistah Blue. It’s an adults only performance (Fri, June 17) with catered dining options and a “professional ballroom dance floor.” I suppose suggesting that we all wear blue might be a bit much.

ASU Gammage presents Blue Man Group as part of their 2011/2012 season (Photo: Paul Kolnink)

There’s plenty of blue at the Phoenix Zoo. But you’ll find wild of a whole different order when the “Blue Man Group” hits ASU Gammage Nov 1-6. Think three guys. Blue skin. No spoken word. And lots of technology.

If songs like “Blue Suede Shoes” are more your style, hold out for “Million Dollar Quartet,” coming to ASU Gammage June 5-10. 2012.

Chandler Center for the Arts presents “The Official Blues Brothers Revue” Sat, Oct 22. It’s an homage to characters Jake and Elwood Blues, first played by John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd. There’s nothing blue about them, really, except the name. It’s hard to imagine Jake and Elwood trading in those black suits, hats and shades for blue Spandex — though they might be tempted if told their skinny black ties give them a bit of that “The Book of Mormon” vibe.

The Phoenix Symphony performs Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin as part of their 2011/2012 Pop Series

No review of the blue would be complete without a mention of George Gershwin’s famous “Rhapsody in Blue.” It’s be performed by the Phoenix Symphony Jan 6-8, 2012. Again, no Spandex — but lots of women and men in black.

Perhaps those needing a Spandex fix will fare better when “live circus meets the live symphony” March 25-27, 2012 during the Phoenix Symphony’s “High Flying! Cirque de la Symphonie” concerts.

Remember too that the “Blue Star Museums” program offers free admission to more than 1000 participating museums for active duty military personnel and their families from Memorial Day to Labor Day 2011.

Blue Nude was painted by Pablo Picasso during his Blue Period

Click here for a list of participating Arizona museums — which include Arizona Museum for Youth, Arizona Science Center, Heard Museum, Phoenix Art Museum, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and more.

Surely somewhere there’s a Blue Star Museum housing works from Pablo Picasso’s “Blue Period.” And I won’t rest until I find it.

— Lynn

Note: For those of you following the adventures of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” (Hey–it’s a mostly blue costume!), there’s a review by The New York Times posted here. If you see the show, please drop me a line at rakstagemom@gmail.com to let me know what you think.

Coming up: Playing “20 Questions,” Is your child a theater geek?, Fun with Free Arts

Update: Check out this blog post from Wired magazine featuring the Blue Bike Kid Show. Meet the Blue Bike Kids Show gang Sun, June 26, at Tempe Beach Park when they hold a FREE nostalgic-style picnic from 5-7pm.

Combat meets canvas


Visitors to the National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago pause at the Warrior Writers Wall

Imagine a collection of military dog tags, one for each member of the military who died in the Vietnam War, hanging above you in a 10 x 40 foot space. That’s just what visitors experience as they enter the National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago, which opened in 1996.

The dog tags — more than 58,000 of them — are part of a permanent installation titled the “Above & Beyond Memorial.” The exhibit has been in place since Memorial Day 2001, so today marks its tenth year honoring veterans of the Vietnam War.

The museum evolved from works created by artists of the Vietnam Veterans Art Group, established in Chicago in 1981, and was originally named the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum. A January 2010 name change signaled the museum’s intent to broaden the collection to feature art by veterans of other combat.

An 'Unfit' Effect by Erica Sloan

Today the museum opens an exhibit titled “Charlie Shobe Memorial Show.” Shobe, who died on Jan 16, was a lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. He served in the Vietnam War in 1967 and 1968. Shobe, both artist and musician, was a founding member of the Vietnam veterans artist group whose works toured the U.S. and led to the museum’s creation.

Also on exhibit is “Prayer Boots,” an interactive piece by Jon Turner that “asks patrons to reflect on their relationship to war and to offer their meditations.” Turner is a three-tour Marine Corps veteran whose work is also featured in the museum’s “Intrusive Thoughts” exhibit, which “explores the aftermath of military service and combat in the 21st century.” Contributing artists are “veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan and/or the Global War on Terror.”

POW Series by John McManus

Current exhibits at the National Veterans Art Museum also include “Angels in the Desert” (a sculpture by Marcus Eriksen, the first veteran of a Persian Gulf War to exhibit at the museum), “The Things They Carried” (inspired by Tim O’Brien’s book by the same name) and “Conflict Zone: A Reflective Look at War” (housed at Expo 72 in the Chicago Cultural Center).

The National Veterans Art Museum works to “inspire greater understanding of the real impact of war with a focus on Vietnam.” They collect, preserve and exhibit “art inspired by combat and created by veterans” — and they’re seeking a new home to increase their capacity to store and exhibit veteran art. Executive Director Levi Moore was kind enough to give me a call on this, their busiest weeked of the year, to share a bit more about the museum’s plans.

The National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago

Their current site, a three-story building located in a largely residential district, was donated to the museum many years ago by Mayor Richard M. Daley (who was later honored with the first dog tag from the “Above & Beyond” exhibit). It was sold “back to Chicago parks” in 2008, which helped the museum pay off its debt and begin the journey to a new space.

Today it’s a tenant occupying just the single floor of the building that’s being repurposed as a community center — something Moore says is dearly needed with so many young families moving into the neighborhood. He mused, as we spoke, about both the day’s drenching rain and the many “baby carriages” he squeezes past on the stairs each day.

Letters Home by Frankie J. Howery

Moore says the museum is looking for a centrally located space in Chicago, with easy access to public transportation and high appeal for tourists. Ample parking, a bear in any big city, is on the wish list too. Moore says they’re open to building a new site, moving to an “underperforming building” or relocating to an existing space — and they’re seeking donations, big and small.

Having more room, notes Moore, will increase their ability to offer education and outreach programs. In the meantime, they’ve got exhibits to manage and stories to collect from or about each of the artists with works in the museum’s collection. “Stories from veterans about why they created the art is as telling as the artwork itself,” reflects Moore. He hopes they’ll have a new home come April 2012.

Fallujah by Paul Leicht

I’m eager to see the museum, and now I’ll have an excuse to fly through Chicago when I visit Lizabeth at college in NYC. For folks who can’t get there, Moore says they’re planning a larger virtual presence thanks to a grant that’ll fund photographing museum works and combining them with other elements to create a virtual museum anyone can experience online.

Closer to home, Arizona veterans enjoy diverse art classes through an organization called the “American Healing Arts Foundation.” Classes, including supplies, are free — and the organization also provides art therapy. It’s all part of “reuniting veterans with their peers…in a peaceful environment” — and giving them opportunities to “discover their talents and achieve an art career.”

Fear by Stan Gillett

Art heals some wounds, but not all. So remember too that veterans and their families need our support through programs that provide good medical and mental health care, housing assistance, job training, educational opportunities and family supports.

Offer the paintbrush and the pen. But don’t stop there. Raise your voice, and offer your hands, to support public policies that honor and assist our veterans. And thank them, in your heart and out loud, for each and every day you enjoy our many freedoms.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about Warrior Writers, and here to read their blog.

Coming up: More stories of art that heals, Film takes flight

Photos courtesy of the National Veterans Art Museum (Artwork details and artist statements are available on their website).

Update: Click here for a compelling read from Reuters, which explores the museum’s offerings and impact.