Tag Archives: dinosaurs

The fine art of dinosaurs?

The Arizona Museum of Natural History opens a new exhibit about flying reptiles in February (Graphic image by Mike Ramos)

When the Arizona Museum of Natural History opens a new dinosaur-theme exhibit in February, families will enjoy new opportunities to learn about pterosaur groupings and diversity. Pterosaur is a fancy word for flying reptile, by the way — a little factoid I picked up during earlier museum adventures with my once dinosaur-enamored son.

Today he’s the proud keeper of a leopard gecko named “Sunny,” who seems to like lounging under his little lamp more than flying. Just one more thing to be grateful for this New Year, I suppose. Christopher and I have been visiting the Arizona Museum of Natural History together for nearly two decades now.

This hanging pterosaur will be part of the First Flight exhibit (Photo: Kathy Neenan)

When their “First Flight: Rulers of the Prehistoric Skies” exhibit opens next month, we’ll be able to explore not only flying reptiles, but also the evolution of flight from insects to birds and bats thanks to assorted narrations, fossils, casts and paleo-art.

Ed Mack is building a lifesize pterosaur for the exhibit (Photo: Kathy Neenan)

Even a lifelike Pteranodon sternbergi created by artist Ed Mack. I’m told that exhibit volunteers are busy building everything from “rock blocks” to puzzles — plus lifesize replicas of the reptiles themselves. Let’s hope Sunny doesn’t get wind of it and expect his own miniature monument.

The "First Flight " exhibit is being built in-house (Photo: Kathy Neenan)

The “First Flight” exhibit will include various sections dedicated to topics like pterosaur anatomy, feeding strategies and babies. Consider reading up on pterosaurs with your little ones before you go. That way they’ll have fun learning new facts while gaining confidence sharing what they already know.

These fingers or toes help to demonstrate pterosaur anatomy (Photo: Kathy Neenan)

The museum shared a bit of “Pterosaur 101” with me so you’ll also be in the know before you go. Pterosaurs were the first vertebrates to achieve self-powered flight. They had both distinctly-shaped thin hollow bones and membranous wings that were likely flexible and able to change shape during flight.

I’m told that the actual mechanical details aren’t completely understood by paleontologists, so there’s ample room for multiple arguments and opinions. What do you think? Did the evolution of flight take place from the ground up or from the trees down?

You’ll find plenty of answers, and intriguing questions too, as the Arizona Museum of National History continues exploring the fine art of dinosaurs.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn learn more about current and upcoming exhibits at the Arizona Museum of Natural History, and here to learn about public art exhibited on museum grounds.

Coming up: Exploring Mesa’s Main Street, Movie meets message

This post was updated 1/7/12 to amend the exhibit’s opening date


Walk a mile in my shoes

Yesterday was a half-day for my youngest daughter, Lizabeth, who attends a school for the arts in downtown Phoenix, so I decided to hit the area a bit early with my son, Christopher, and his nifty camera.

We've long enjoyed this sculpture located near Phoenix Theatre

I ended up covering only a mile or so in distance, yet I managed to explore all sorts of art offerings. As we approached the Phoenix Art Museum, we saw a sculpture that’s been located for some time near Phoenix Theatre.

This sculpture joined the Phoenix Art Museum collection on Dec 12

It’s quite different from the sculpture that recently took up residence on the lawn outside the Phoenix Art Museum. You can see it up close as you enter the museum or find it by looking through a peek-a-boo window of sorts along a wall that faces Central Ave.

Kids will love playing 'peek-a-boo' with this giant red dinosaur

Walk just across the street and you’ll discover a charming performing arts venue — the “Playhouse on the Park” located in the towering Viad Corporate Center. It’s used by several community groups for an interesting assortment of theater productions and other performance fare.

The Viad tower is home to Playhouse on the Park

Hop on the metro or stoll just a few blocks north and you’re at the Heard Museum — where I always seem to find both plenty of diverse exhibits and oodles of interesting events. Think hoop dancing contests, Indian markets, student art shows, films and more.

I've always enjoyed the architecture of the Heard Museum

This weekend it’s the “NU (Native + You)” event, taking place on “Free 3rd Friday Evening,” Dec 17 — from 6-9pm. The spacious grounds of the Heard Museum will be “filled with light from luminaria and candles” and guests can enjoy both music and traditional Apache storytelling (by Ken Duncan).

One of many sculptures you'll find in and around the Heard Museum courtyard

Cash bar. $5 taco bar. Classical guitar music. Vocal performance by the Xavier College Preparatory Honor Choir. There’s plenty to enjoy — just check the Heard Museum website for the fine print on what happens at which times. And, says the Heard, feel free to bring the kiddos.

Heard Museum grounds are especially lovely when bathed in luminaria and candlelight

There’s free admission to the museum and Berlin Gallery, and the gift shop will be open for those still doing their holiday shopping. Think rugs, jewelry, folk art, baskets, children’s books, holiday ornaments and more. Or shop for yourself –the good folks at the museum store won’t blow your cover.

This time of year, the Heard Museum gift shop features Christmas trees with ornaments crafted by American Indian artists

The Valley has several cities where walking just a mile or so will take you all kinds of exciting places. Watch for future art adventures as I head east, and west, in search of more places you can enjoy music, dance, theater and art.

— Lynn

Note: Stay tuned for more photos of our adventures at the Phoenix Art Museum and the Heard Museum in Phoenix (the Heard Museum also has a Scottsdale site). If your child loves dinosaurs, check out the Arizona Museum of Natural History in Mesa.

Coming up: New Year’s celebrations — some for families, some for grown-ups — but all with an arts twist, The fine art of dinosaurs, Growing up with Childsplay, “New Kid” comes to the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, Walk a mile — Mesa style

Photos: Lynn Trimble

Red dinosaur meets white elephant

If your holiday office parties are bland and boorish, you’re not fortunate enough to work with the folks of Raising Arizona Kids magazine — who held their annual holiday party today at their offices near Scottsdale and Shea.

With salads and pasta from Macaroni Grill, there was no pot luck fare to worry about lugging along. But I was rather intimidated by the “white elephant” gift exchange, knowing that this bunch would never stoop to exchanging truly tacky gifts.

Worry about what to take nearly kept me from going. Knowing it’s a very fit crew, I figured something fattening might be the biggest elephant in the room. Or maybe industrial strength hair goop, since they’re all so perfectly coifed (including the office mascot, a pampered pooch who treated me to a “toe bath”).

I was heading to the party after dropping my daughter off at school figuring I’d hit the Phoenix Art Museum gift shop for a mouse-shaped cheese grater, which seems a nice balance of “white elephant” and understated elegance.

Because the museum is closed on Mondays, I wasn’t able to explore all those fun kitchen utensils that double as modern art.

But I did get to see the museum’s newest work, a giant dinosaur — shiny and red — inside a red cage. This work of contemporary Chinese sculptor Sui Jianguo is displayed on a lawn adjacent to the museum’s Central Ave. entrance.

Happily, the Heard Museum was also on my way to the shindig. There’s nothing “white elephant” about the museum’s gift shop offerings, but I knew I could find something whimsical and affordable for my discriminating magazine friends.

Naturally, I chose a turquoise flying pig ornament — an homage to the incredible magic it takes to put together a monthly print magazine and daily e-zine of such high quality. I got another, this one purple, for magazine publisher, editor and founder Karen Barr — knowing she’d appreciate the “when pigs fly” motif.

Forgive me if I’ve mixed up the colors here. I readily admit to being under the influence of Karen’s sangria, Debbie’s chocolate chip scones and Mala’s red velvet cupcakes (way to rock the icing in Hanukkah colors).

The woman who helped me at the gift shop was truly delightful, taking time to help me find just the right objet d’art (the flying pigs are works of Navajo folk art, and just one example of the museum’s many unique holiday ornaments). I expect to do a lot more shopping there.

But what of the “white elephant” gift exchange? Well, there wasn’t a dud in the bunch — except, perhaps, a little something involving toilets that I think I’ll leave for a braver writer to tackle. It was the humorous hit of the day.

Other gifts exhanged included photo frames (since we’ll all so adoring of our children). Jewelry (which I resisted stealing from Mala only to have Mary do the deed). Wine (for those, perhaps, who are celebrating children preparing to leave for college). And more.

Watch for a future post featuring fun “white elephant” gift ideas inspired by the world of art. And remember my little cheese grater friend at the Phoenix Art Museum — he’s mighty cute and still looking for a good home.

— Lynn

Note: To learn more about the magazine family that can make even pigs fly, visit the “About Us” section of our website. And remember that Raising Arizona Kids magazine subscriptions make great holiday gifts for new or experienced parents.

Coming up: Squishy tiles and children’s smiles

Weekend whimsy

There’s a little something for everyone when it comes to family arts and entertainment this weekend. Here’s a roundup by category–featuring everything from concerts and musicals to nature walks and museum exhibits–with a bit of whimsy thrown in just for fun…

From sweeping beauties to singing mermaids

Theater performances include “Cinderella: A Ragtime Musical” at Desert Stages in Scottsdale, “Grease” at Valley Youth Theatre in Phoenix, “The Little Mermaid” at Hale Centre Theatre in Gilbert, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre in Mesa, “Two Bad Mice” by Great Arizona Puppet Theater in Phoenix, “Into the Woods” at Theater Works in Peoria (featuring a fabulous raffle)

From choral auditions to singing with Elmo

Music events include “Phoenix Boys Choir auditions” at the Phoenix Boys Choir in Phoenix, “Andreas Klein” (piano) and “Rahim Alhaj” (Iraqi oud) at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, “Breakfast with Elmo” (including song and dance) at Family Time in Gilbert

From movies in the park to movies at the museum

Community movie events include “Movie Night at the Park” (“Hoot” plus lessons on burrowing owls) at Estrella Mountain Regional Park in Goodyear, “Dinner and a Movie” (“G-Force”) at Eddie’s House in Scottsdale, “Movies in the Ballpark” (“Cars”) at Goodyear Ballpark, “Kid’s Night Out Movie Night” (“Spirited Away”) at the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa

From art walks to hands-on art projects

Art activities include “Downtown Chandler Art Walk” (art/entertainment), “Free Art Friday” (art projects/games) in Tempe, “Great Expectations and Dreams: Arizona Teens Speak Up” at ASU Downtown (to benefit PCH cancer/blood disorder patients)

From baseballs to carved dolls

Museum exhibits include “Goose Bumps! The Science of Fear” and “Solarville” at the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix, “Play Ball: The Cactus League Experience” and “Jump to Japan: Discovering Culture Through Popular Art” at the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa, “Therizinosaur: Mystery of the Sickle-Claw Dinosaur” at the Arizona Museum of Natural History in Mesa (adjacent to the Arizona Museum for Youth), “What Moves Us: Art of Transportation from the Permanent Collection” at the ASU Art Museum in Tempe, “Visions: Text Messages” at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, “Hopi Katsina Dolls: 100 Years of Carving” and “More Than Child’s Play: American Indian Dolls” at the Heard Museum in Phoenix

From flashlight tour to wildflower walk

Nature activities include “Wildflower Walk” at The Arboretum at Flagstaff, “Hummingbird Banding” (professionals band, onlookers watch) at Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, “Summer Saturday Evenings” at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, “Silent Sunday” at South Mountain Park in Phoenix, “Flashlight Tours” at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix

For additional details–including dates/times, fees/reservations, recommended ages and such–check with hosting venues. Additional information on many of these events/activities is also available through the online calendar for Raising Arizona Kids magazine.


Note: If you’re on the prowl for art-related books, music or movies, try your luck at the free “Bargain Book Sale” from 9am-4pm today at the North Valley Regional Library in Anthem.

Coming up: From lemons to lemonade, Multicultural performance art, Season openers from Valley theaters, ASU Libraries’ Child Drama Collection, All about art walks, More movie reviews

Graphics from Cafe Press. Click here to see their extensive selection of gift items in black, white and beyond.

Update: Thanks to Carley Conder for sharing the news that renowned choreographer Charlotte Boye-Christensen, freelance choreographer/teacher/dancer originally from Denmark, is in Arizona for a six day residency. To enjoy a free showing of Boye-Christensen’s new work set for CONDER/dance, attend a Sat, Aug 21, performance at ASU FAC122 (11:45am-noon).

The fine art of nature

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature,” admonished architect Frank Lloyd Wright. “It will never fail you.”

Frank Lloyd Wright, regarded as one of the 20th century’s greatest architects, lived from 1867 to 1959—spending his last two decades at Taliesin West in Scottsdale, which now houses the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.

Artists and philosophers (sometimes one and the same) have long recognized the link between nature and art. “Art,” noted Aristotle, “takes nature as its model.”

I’ll share a few more quotes on the subject of art and nature at the end of this post, but first I’d like to tell you about several opportunities to traverse that bridge between art and nature for yourself.

The Phoenix Zoo offers “Wild Art Classes” for “child/caregiver pairs” (recommended for children ages 2 to 5). Classes take place on specified Saturday mornings from 9:30-10:30am, with Zoo members enjoying discounted class fees.

The first “Wild Art” class for 2010 takes place Jan. 23rd, and features a “mask making theme.” The Feb. 20th class features “heart felt cards” (never fear that this follows Valentine’s Day—just save those cards for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or a grandparent’s birthday).

Additional dates are listed with “family programs” on the Phoenix Zoo website. Class sizes are limited so call early for reservations (602-914-4333). Classes are taught by Emily Holgate, a longtime Phoenix Zoo employee and art teacher for the Higley Unified Schools.

The Desert Botanical Garden, in partnership with Arizona Highways, will soon debut “an exciting new lecture series bringing the wonders of Arizona to life.” The “Arizona Explorers” series kicks off Monday, Jan. 25th, from 6:30-8:30pm with “Storm Chasing with Photographer Warren Faidley.” For information and/or tickets, visit the garden’s website (members enjoy reduced ticket prices).

Our son, Christopher, would have loved hearing this professional storm chaser recount tales of monsoons, hurricanes, and twisters when he was younger, and might still be excited to attend now that he’s in college. I suspect the storm safety and severe weather photography tips might be his favorite part of the lecture.

I love these types of things—which present such wonderful opportunities to build bridges between school and home learning. If your child’s curriculum this year has (or will) include weather phenomena, consider enlarging the experience by attending this event together. (I can imagine my kids coming home after this lecture to write their own creative weather stories.)

Mesa Arts Center has partnered with National Geographic Live to present the “National Geographic Live Arizona” speaker series. Paleontologist Paul Sereno, who has discovered more than two dozen new species of dinosaurs on five continents, will share “the thrilling everyday life of a dinosaur hunter” on Wednesday, Jan. 27th at 7:30pm.

Having done my time with ant farms at home and frog habitats in the classroom, I’m particularly excited about another National Geographic Live event coming to Mesa Arts Center. Ecologist and photographer Mark Moffett (described as “intrepid and eccentric”) presents “Army Ants and Flying Frogs” on Wed., March 17th at 7:30pm. Visit the Mesa Arts Center website for information and/or tickets to National Geographic Live performances.

The Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior, Arizona presents a “Tom Boggan Photography Walk-A-Bout” on Sunday, Feb. 21st from 2-4pm—an opportunity to walk the garden, camera in hand, while enjoying tips from a professional photographer who’s happy to answer questions about all things camera and nature photography. Visit the arboretum’s website or call 520-689-2723 for information and/or tickets (members receive a discount).

If you’re eager to try doing nature crafts at home, check out a book titled “Nature Crafts for Kids” by Gwen Diehn and Terry Krautwurst. Just promise me you won’t rub it in when friends in Chicago or family in North Dakota call to ask what you’ve been up to this winter.

“Nature Crafts for Kids” features 50 projects using natural objects (and various craft supplies) and is most suitable for kids ages 9 to 12 (although I adapted the projects for use when my kids were just toddlers and preschoolers). We used to enjoy taking nature walks through the neighborhood to collect twigs, pine cones, leaves and more that we’d later transform into hanging mobiles, greeting cards, photo frames and more.

Need more inspiration to get out there and dirty your hands and open your mind?

Consider the following pearls about art and nature…

“Art,” said Pierre Bonnard, “will never be able to exist without nature.”

“Great art,” said Marc Chagall, “picks up where nature ends.”

“Art,” said Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “is the child of nature.”

Most importantly, perhaps, the marriage of art and nature (sometimes one in the same) matters precisely for the reason cited by Vincent van Gogh…

“If one really loves nature, one can find beauty everywhere.”


Coming soon: Professional development opportunities for artists, Diverse storytellers take to Valley stages