Tag Archives: gift ideas

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


Art meets Mother’s Day

Treat mom to time and art from the heart this weekend

Lately my kids have taken to asking me, “What do you want for Mother’s Day?” But you can’t buy what I really want in a store — because it’s time. More time on the planet. More time with my children. More time to myself. Hence I’m happy to share several places moms can celebrate with their family or escape for a blissful bit of solitude.

The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix is offering brunch in the Café at MIM, prize giveaways throughout the day and museum tours for Mother’s Day. Kids can make crafts for mom ($2/craft), treat mom to something special from the MIM Museum Store or take mom to an evening concert by jazz pianist Brad Mehldau.

Theatre Artists Studio in Scottsdale is presenting a free “Music & Musings for Mother’s Day” performance featuring popular Broadway tunes and touching stories about moms presented by five studio members with special guests (followed by a champagne reception). Reservations are recommended for the Sun, May 13 at 2pm event (and there’s special seating for “Spring for the Studio” donors of $100 or more).

Arizona Jewish Theatre Company’s Curtain Call performs “Annie Jr.” this weekend

The Children’s Museum of Phoenix is offering free admission to moms and grandmothers who bring a child to the museum on Mother’s Day (they’ll be open from 9am-4pm and kids can make a fun craft for mom). And plenty of theater companies are doing family-friendly shows. Think “Annie Jr.” by Arizona Jewish Theatre Company’s Curtain Call youth theater — and more.

If you’re eager to avoid the Mother’s Day crowds, consider celebrating on Saturday with a stroll though one of Arizona’s many art districts. Folks in and around Gilbert can enjoy the “Emerge” exhibition at Art Intersection (open Tues-Sat 10am-6pm) — which features juried works by emerging photographic artists from Gilbert High School, Chandler-Gilbert Community College and ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. Art Intersection is located in the Gilbert Heritage District near plenty of shops with fun fare for moms.

I snagged this flyer while checking out Scottsdale Civic Center Library renovations

Mothers Who Write/Mothers Who Read presents a free public reading by past and present participants in the “Mothers Who Write” workshop led by Amy Silverman of Phoenix New Times and Deborah Sussman of the ASU Art Museum. It’s taking place Sat, May 12 at 2pm at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts (Stage 2), and sponsored by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. (Please note that some material is not suitable for children. Darn.)

When in doubt about what to give, let mom pick a little something from the gift shop at your favorite museum, performing arts venue or local business that supports the arts. For more family-friendly events and special Mother’s Day offerings with an arts twist, click here to explore the Raising Arizona Kids calendar online.

— Lynn

Note: Always check hours of operation before heading to your favorite venue

Coming up: Art meets wellness, Gilbert art adventures

Scottsdale Arts Festival

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Scottsdale Arts Festival continues this weekend with 181 artists exhibiting diverse works made of metal, wood, fiber, glass and more. Think ceramics, photography, drawing/pastel, painting and jewelry. Also digital arts, printmaking, sculpture and mixed media.

Many are local, but plenty hail from other parts of the country — including Colorado, California, the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest and beyond. Most are perfectly charming and happy to chat about both process and finished product. My favorite finds on Friday included furnishings made of metal washers and a palm fiber sculpture resembling a dress form. You can sit on the one, but you can’t wear the other. Art is funny that way.

There’s plenty to do beyond strolling down sunny paths lined with artist tents. Watch dance and music performances on the stage situated on a grassy knoll. Explore works of public art. Enjoy exhibits at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (admission is free for festival goers this weekend). Sample a few wines, wood-fired pizza or gourmet food truck fare. Play with art materials, hoola hoops and more.

Try your hand at journaling in the “Scottsdale’s 100 Journals” tent, or take your kiddos to the “Keep Scottsdale Beautiful” tent so they can create a poster to enter in the fourth annual contest for such things. Check out an online auction of works made by festival artists. Hit two gift shops. And enjoy interactive exhibits at SMoCA and the LOVE sculpture.

Photos near the sculpture are fine, by the way. But climbing it is not. A lovely sign in the grass makes that clear though few pause to read it. Don sunscreen before you head out, but don’t worry if you land without a hat. There’s a tent filled with charming hats, and festival gear includes both baseball caps and the floppy variety I came home with on Friday.

It wouldn’t hurt to bring at least a mental list of folks you’ll need to shop for in coming months. I spied several items that would make amazing Father’s Day fare — including beautifully crafted desk or tabletop kaleidescopes and marble runs with true artistic flair. Also plenty of jewelry and such for Mother’s Day. It’s okay, by the way, to be a little selfish in the art department.

I nearly found myself wishing — as I encountered beautifully-crafted works of original furnishings, table and wall art — that I had a law firm, swanky restaurant or other business where I could display them. I suppose it’d be tacky to call the dentist, orthodontist and such over the weekend, but it’s more than a little tempting.

Still, I’m happy with my humble blogging gig — which’ll find me hitting “Gypsy” at Phoenix Theatre, Arizona Poetry Out Loud finals at Phoenix Center for the Arts, “The Great Gatsby” at Arizona Theatre Company, “Green Eggs & Ham” with The Phoenix Symphony (and lots more) this month. It’s all in a day’s art.

— Lynn

Note: The Scottsdale Arts Festival runs 10am-6pm Sat, March 10 and 10am-5pm Sun, March 11.

Coming up: We take care of our own, Art adventures in NYC

Tempe tales

I spotted these beauties, each named for a Childsplay artist, while at TCA today

I headed out with a simple mission — hit the first of two Saturday matinees for Childsplay’s production of “With Two Wings” at Tempe Center for the Arts. But in typical TCA fashion, there were plenty of other things to explore.

After seeing “With Two Wings,” I headed to the lobby and spied a trio of dancers in beautiful turquoise garb performing in the “Breaking Ground 2012” pre-show that preceded their 2pm student showcase. There’s also a pre-show for tonight’s 8pm professional showcase, featuring both dance and film.

While checking out Childsplay’s 360° activities in the TCA lobby, I met a lovely grandparent named Bill who noted that both he and his wife are retired educators and longtime holders of Childsplay “play passes” — who often discuss themes from plays they’ve seen together with their grandchildren after the shows.

Themes from "With Two Wings" are explored in TCA lobby exhibits and activities

I explained that my daughter Lizabeth, just cast in her first Pace University theater production, trained for many years with Childsplay Academy — and left a little note on a 360° bulletin board thanking Childsplay for helping her take flight. Then I grabbed a tissue from my purse and spent a bit of teary-eyed time in the ladies room.

Next I met a couple from Canada who were delighted at discovering a venue with so much to offer, and watched a boy making paper airplanes with paper and directions set out at one of two Childsplay tables — before hitting the other table to check out baskets of unique fiber art dolls that seemed a fun spin on sock monkeys and books mirroring “With Two Wings” themes.

Families enjoyed making Frida Kahlo inspired artwork in the TCA Gallery on Saturday

After noticing a sign about kids’ crafts taking place in the TCA gallery, I headed inside to find children and families making artworks inspired by Frida Kahlo (with help from folks at Carmen Creations and Phoenix Frida) — and realized the amazing “Mixing It Up” exhibit closes today. “Arizona Landscapes,” their next exhibit, opens Feb.11.

This community mural created with Martin Morena is exhibited in the TCA Sculpture Garden

I also hit the TCA sculpture garden, which is a wonderful place for children to stretch their legs while experiencing several works of three-dimensional art. One piece reminds me of a beautiful mosque, and several mirror Native American themes. Another features painted butterflies on a surface that gently sways as the breeze blows all around it.

I hit the gift shop every time I’m at the TCA, because there’s always a new crop of unique work that’s both lovely and very reasonably priced. It’s run by volunteers, and I often run into artists while I’m there. Today I chatted with an artist who showed me her “tuxedo scarves” (black on one side, patterned on the other) and a batik scarf with a beautiful beachy feel.

Carol Mickey wearing some of her own artwork, a beautiful "tuxedo scarf"

The gift shop is full of rings, earrings, necklaces and other jewelry fare — plus works of art in many mediums. Today I admired works by Cheryl Willis, Evelyn Gholson, Bonnie Lou Coleman, Mary Poindexter and others. Now that Valentine’s Day is near, their collection of heart-shaped items is growing. I was thrilled to discover that they’ve got gift certificates too.

I also headed outside to the patio overlooking the lake, where I found Carley Conder working on sound. I did a little shopping at the CONDER/dance table too — picking up a set of postcards featuring dance photos while chatting with board member Casey Blake, who works with the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

Finally I headed home, amazed to have stumbled onto so much art in a single outing. Watch for a future post reviewing “With Two Wings,” plus a little something shared by my daughter Lizabeth by phone this afternoon. Her afternoon theater experience was quite different than mine.

— Lynn

Note: Your next opportunity to see “With Two Wings” is Sun, Jan. 29 at 1pm. Click here for show and ticket details.

Coming up: A word about the Golden Rule

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

“Black Friday” meets arts & culture

The Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts gift shop has lots of unique items

If you’ve always shopped in traditional ways – rising early the day after Thanksgiving to get the best deals, frothing at the mouth each time a sale ad crosses your path or hitting big box retailers to snag items in extremely short supply – think about trying something different this year.

Dozens of Valley museums and performing arts venues have gift shops full of unique, affordably priced items. Think toys and games, clothing and jewelry, music and artworks – and more. Shopping in museum and art venue gift shops is more relaxing by far than tackling all those stores at the local mall. You can find a list of museums through the Central Arizona Museum Association (call ahead to see which ones have gift shops and when they are open).

I’ve been gathering gifts here and there all year each time I head to performing arts venues in my neck of the woods – Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Mesa Arts Center and Tempe Center for the Arts. In years past, I’ve also shopped at holiday boutiques presented by art groups like Ballet Arizona and the Phoenix Symphony.

The Children's Museum of Phoenix has all kinds of books you don't see elsewhere

In some cases, you can shop without leaving home. Arizona Theatre Company is offering a “buy four, get two free” deal on tickets this Friday – and all it takes is a call or visit to their box office. For those unsure about what to get in the gift department, places like the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix offer gift cards.

Hoodlums Music and Movies in Tempe hopes shoppers will head their way for “Indie Black Friday” (part of a nationwide “Record Store Day”) on Nov. 25, and support this year’s “Small Business Saturday” on Nov. 26. Hoodlums is part of Local First Arizona, which has designated Nov. 25-Dec. 4 “Buy Local Week 2011.”

Folks who visit the Local First Arizona website can search businesses by category – and there’s a special category for “Entertainment & Arts.” Check out the number of listings they’ve got in these art-related categories – theater (24), music (52), dance (8), art museums and galleries (40), artists and sculptors (73) and arts venues (65). They’ve got other entertainment/art categories too.

Remember places like the Arizona Museum for Youth, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix and the Arizona Science Center when looking for children’s gifts that foster creativity and spark the imagination. Each has a gift shop full of items that blend learning with fun.

The Musical Instrument Museum gift shop has fun offerings for adults and children

If you start now, you’ll have several weeks to visit the museums and performing arts venues of your choosing. You’ll become better acquainted with the riches of your city while assuring that your gifts for friends and family members are unique rather than run of the mill.

— Lynn

Note: For additional gift-giving ideas, check out the December 2011 issue of Raising Arizona Kids magazine – which features a “Local First” gift guide for families. Click here for information on finding the current issue or ordering holiday gift subscriptions.

Coming up: Family fun with holiday concerts

In & Out of Oz

Detail of a mural at the Gershwin Theatre in New York City

I felt I’d walked right into Oz last month when I entered the Gershwin Theatre to enjoy the Broadway musical “Wicked” with my 18-year-old daughter Lizabeth. Giant murals of scenes from “Munchkinland” and the “Emerald City” line an expansive theater wall. Props from the original film are exhibited inside the theater. Families gather at a special photo booth for pictures set in the land of Oz. And there’s no shortage of green — or sparkle.

We’ve seen the musical “Wicked” several times now, and will happily see it again at every opportunity. The touring production returns to ASU Gammage next year for a Feb. 15-March 11 run. Tickets go on sale Nov. 28. So while others are distracted by “Black Friday” sales, Broadway lovers will be waiting for “Green Monday.”

Folks familiar with books by Gregory Maguire are eagerly awaiting his Nov. 14 appearance at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe — where his new book titled “Out of Oz” will be featured during a discussion, Q & A and booksigning. It’s the final installment of his four-part “Wicked Years” series.

Other books in the series include “Wicked,” “Son of a Witch” and “A Lion Among Men.” It’s his first book that inspired the Tony Award winning musical “Wicked.” In “Out of Oz,” a once peaceful and prosperous Oz is “knotted with social unrest” and “wracked by war.”

I’ve always found the social justice piece of “Wicked” its most fascinating strain, so I’m eager to read Maguire’s tale of “the Emerald City mounting an invasion of Munchkinland.”

Still, “Wicked” is for most the tale of two witches — one who sparkles and shines while enjoying glowing popularity, and other scorned for her green skin and less-winning ways. It’s a morality tale with important lessons about friendship and the perils of judging those around us. But first and foremost, it’s a magical spectacle of stagecraft and storytelling.

— Lynn

Note: “Wicked” is one of many shows participating in the 2012 “Kids Night on Broadway” program in NYC. Click here for details. Click here to learn about the wicked women of Goosebottom Books (and watch for a future review of two new titles). And click here for a sneak peek at the “Storytellers 2012” calendar featuring Gregory Maguire.

Coming up: Broadway’s “Theater Hall of Fame,” If you give a mouse a musical…