Tag Archives: museum gift shops

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


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.

Art adventures: Arizona Capitol Museum

When the Arizona legislature is in session, hardly a day goes by without members of the local or national media reporting on controversial happenings at the Arizona State Capitol. But this is nothing new.

When my oldest daughter (now an ASU student interested in history and cultural anthroplogy) was in grade school, she spent a year home schooling. We spent lots of time at the Arizona State Capitol — exploring museum exhibits and sitting in on legislative hearings.

Back then, the hot button issue was cash rebates and tax credits for folks buying alternative fuel vehicles or converting vehicles for possible alternative fuel use. While the practice sounded good in theory, it became a wildly unwieldy enterprise as costs of the program soared past expectations and spiraled out of control.

I was inspired to revisit the Arizona Capitol Museum after seeing the cast of Greasepaint Youtheatre’s “Schoolhouse Rock” do a run-through of the show the night before opening their May 6-15 run in Scottsdale. It was a lot more fun than watching some of those House hearings back in the early ’90s.

The musical “Schoolhouse Rock” is based on an animated educational TV show that ran on ABC-TV during the ’70s and ’80s. Topics treated by “Schoolhouse Rock” included grammar, science and math — as well as history and civics.

Hence songs like “Just a Bill/The Preamble,” “Great American Melting Pot,” and “Sufferin’ Till Suffrage” — which you can enjoy all over again with your kids at Greasepaint Youtheater this weekend.

I took oodles of photo during my latest trip to the Arizona Capitol Museum just last week, when Christopher and I went to explore the exhibits and grab a bite in the Capitol Cafe, located in the basement of the executive tower.

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Watch for a future post featuring photos of children’s artwork displayed along the corridor connecting the executive tower, where Governor Jan Brewer’s office is located on the 9th floor, and the Arizona Capitol Museum (with doors that open into a courtyard flanked by the Arizona Senate and Arizona House of Representatives buildings).

There’s plenty of material in this slide show for crafting your own version of an “I-Spy” museum adventure or scavenger hunt of sorts. There’s even a Press-A-Penny machine on the museum’s first floor where you can treat your children to one of three nifty designs if they’re successful with your homemade game (you can define success any way you like).

Of course, my children would have preferred viewing the slide show themselves, then coming up with a list of objects for me to identify or locate. And I’d never settle for a single pressed penny as my prize. I’d insist on all three.

— Lynn

Coming up: A trio of Shakespeare posts — featuring new seasons, teacher reflections and student reviews

A labor of love

Last week, after driving my college-age son Christopher to an appointment, I told him I was off to run errands. Bank. Drugstore. Grocery store. All the fun stuff.

I certainly meant well, but simply couldn’t resist the lure of the Scottsdale Civic Center as I drove past. There’s a library, a museum of contemporary art, winding park paths, a museum store, a performing arts center and restaurants galore.

If you can read this, thank a teacher -- and a librarian

I still had the Wickenberg Public Library, recently closed due to budget cuts, on the brain. I wanted to visit my own local libary, and pause a while to reflect by the giant quill and inkwell sculptures near the entrance.

View from a balcony that overlooks the corresponding ink well for this giant golden quill

The whole area — part of Scottsdale’s “Old Town” — is full of places for peaceful reflection. Think park benches, colorful gardens and calming water features.

Old Town Scottsdale is a no-GPS-required zone that's perfect for pedestrians

This was a favorite haunt when Christopher was first learning to take pictures

Plenty of tables and benches make this a great place to enjoy picnic meals or relaxed conversation

While walking through the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts (within easy walking distance of the library), I heard the cheerful voices of children — and soon followed the sound to a small theater where students from a nearby elementary school were about to enjoy a film about dance.

It was just steps away from the large open space where both my daughters have performed with fellow Dance Theater West summer campers.

There’s also a small art exhibit space nearby, the “young@art” gallery, which currently features an exhibit titled “Imagining Dance” — with sculpture, paintings, video of dance performance and more.

Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts presents dance on stage and on exhibit

Imagining Dance exhibit at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

I picked up a brochure for the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts to discover diverse dance offerings coming soon — including the legendary Merce Cunningham Dance Company.

Naturally I hit the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts gift shop on the way out (there’s another gift shop just across the sidewalk at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art).

Know any dancers looking for a unique dance bag?

The best museum stores offer serious and humorous fare

It’s a fun place to find teacher gifts, unique items for children and all sorts of arts-related fare — and I love shopping where I can support local arts and culture.

But my fondest memories of Scottsdale Civic Center involve adventures with my young children — reading in the children’s section of the library, taking pictures together of flowers and public art, watching performances by artists we admire.

My son was apparently very eager to explore it even before his late August birth 21 years ago. I felt the first pangs of labor while having dinner with my husband at a joint that’s since been replaced with an Indian restaurant — and walked for some time around the grounds hoping to speed up the process.

This balcony once housed the restaurant where I felt my first labor pangs

While the walking may have helped, it wasn’t a quick fix. I didn’t head to the hospital until later that night after my water broke and the cramping grew hard to ignore.

I’d chosen a small stuffed animal — “Big Bird” of Sesame Street — for my focal point during labor (the thing that supposedly takes your mind off the pain if you stare at it hard enough).

With Jennifer, our second child, I used a giant clock. The moving hands were more distracting than the stillness of a stuffed animal.

With Lizabeth, our last, it was the row of tiny buttons on James’ shirt (by then I was too busy to think ahead in the childbirth department).

But it occurred to me as I passed the giant LOVE sculpture at the Scottsdale Civic Center, that I should have used a replica of this work (I hadn’t yet discovered them for sale at the SMOCA gift shop).

This iconic sculpture sits on a lawn at Scottsdale Civic Center

As my children continue their journey through adulthood, I suspect these detours to the places we’ve so often enjoyed together will happen more and more often.

Labors of love stay with us forever.

— Lynn

Note: The art teacher I met that day, from Zuni Hills Elementary School, recently got in touch with me — so I look forward to learning more about their art program.

Coming up: The fine art of friendship, Got graffiti?, Broadway tales, Copper rush, Three necessary things

Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center

After dropping one of my kids off for a meeting in downtown Phoenix on Saturday, I had an hour or so of spare time on my hands. Recently armed with a new camera, I decided to go in search of art venues I could explore and maybe snap some photos.

The view as I walked east towards ALAC and Symphony Hall

I found a metered parking spot along Adams, and headed a block or so up the road to the Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center. I entered through the gift shop, lured by a vast array of colorful objects of art, attire, jewelry and more.

ALAC has a humble exterior but boasts great works of imagination within

There I met two cheerful gentleman who welcomed me to the Center, and assured me they’d be happy to answer any questions. I got permission to use my flash and off I went.

This bracelet with hearts might make a nice Valentine's Day gift

While going from room to room, I enjoyed works ranging from small metal sculptures to giant artworks drawn with colored pencils.

Sweet Dreams by David Romo sits at a nice height for younger viewers

I enjoyed artwork featuring cars, owls, desert animals, children, butterflies, the wide open sky and so much more. It’s a place you can explore in less than an hour, and I saw plenty of works that have strong kid-appeal.

Detail, Til the Road Ends by Ray Rivas

The Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center is in a great location for walking city streets and enjoying all sorts of shops, restaurants, galleries and performing arts venues.

Untitled by Carlos Navarrete is part of a Visions of Guadalupe exhibit

You could easily make a day of it by taking in a show at Valley Youth Theatre nearby or htting the Phoenix Burton Barr Central Library. (Both have small art exhibits on site.)

Like many musems, ALAC uses technology to enhance cultural exhibits

But back to my ALAC adventures — which included a lengthy and lively chat with one of the young men who’d greeted me when I arrived.

This metal and found objects sculpture (R) is Cicso's Ride by David Romo

I learned late in our conversation, after mentioning my fondness for the colored pencil works, that I was talking with artist Carlos Rivas.

Detail, Must Not Sleep by Carlos Rivas - Part of the "Off the Grid" exhibit

Rivas is a 33-year-old “self-taught” artist from El Paso, Texas who has been creating art since childhood, but only embraced his talent within the past few years. His passion for art and community are evident as he speaks.

Detail, Lord Ganesh by Carlos Rivas - My favorite work on exhibit at ALAC

I mentioned seeing yet another Arizona-related story on the front page of The New York Times — regarding recent changes to policies regarding ethnic-studies courses in high school.

We agreed that it would be nice to read good news about Arizona for a change, and Rivas shared his conviction that the Center serves the community by increasing knowledge, understanding and dialogue.

I hadn’t yet heard the tragic news of the shooting in Tucson, and it occured to me that the national media should visit the Center to find a bit of what’s beautiful here in Arizona.

You can enjoy the Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center free of charge during regular operating hours — but a glass jar welcomes donations by those who wish to support the Center’s work.

ALAC has a room/stage dedicated to performance and educational events

Or head to the Center for Phoenix “First Fridays” so you can enjoy several arts and cultural activities in one evening.

Remember ALAC next time you enjoy a symphony, opera or ballet downtown

If you’re a teacher taking students on a field trip to the Herberger Theater Center, Phoenix Symphony Hall or other nearby venue, leave some extra time to explore the Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center.

The Herberger Theater Center has a stunning new look both inside and out

The Center is also a nice pairing with an afternoon spent at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix. I left the Center with a wee bit of time left on my parking meter, so I scurried over to the Herberger Theater Center Art Gallery to enjoy their new “Sacred Places” exhibit.

This James Van Fossan work titled Sky IV is part of the Sacred Places exhibit

On my way back to get Lizabeth, I drove past the Phoenix Center Theater and noticed a long line of folks heading into the theater for a performance of “Grease” by youth in an afterschool program titled “Art & Sol.” The show runs through Sat, Jan 22.

Enjoy true community theater just off the Loop 202 at 3rd St. in Phoenix

I’ll share more of my Saturday afternoon adventures in another post. In the meantime, feel free to suggest other venues you’d like me to explore and share with our readers.

Watch for roving Phoenix Ambassadors eager to assist downtown visitors

Inspired by the work and words of Carlos Rivas, I expect to take not only my camera, but also a sketch pad and colored pencils, on future art adventures.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about arts and cultural attractions in the downtown Phoenix area.

Coming up: Art at the Herberger — inside and out

Photos (decent and lousy) by Lynn Trimble

Get out, get art!

Perhaps this painting will inspire you to enjoy some art fun under the Arizona sun

Families eager to enjoy outdoor adventures this weekend can add a little art to the mix by attending “The Gathering” in Lichtfield Park. It’s a Native American art festival taking place at Scout Park — with free admission for children 12 and under.

Never fear if you missed the event on Saturday. It also runs Sunday, Jan 9, from 10am to 5pm. “The Gathering” features artists who specialize in painting, sculpture, beadwork, carving, basketry, pottery, photography and more.

Main stage performers include hoop dancer Tony Duncan and guitarist Anthony Wakefield — in addition to Grammy Award nominee and Native American Music Award winner Aaron Winter. Click here for details and a discount coupon for adult tickets.

Those of you who missed Saturday’s “MACFEST,” presented by the Mesa Arts and Cultural Festival, will have plenty of other opportunities to experience this free celebration featuring live music, works of local artists and more.

“MACFEST” takes place each Saturday this year through April 30, from 10am to 4pm, in downtown Mesa on Main and Macdonald Streets. This puts you within walking distance of two of Mesa’s kid-friendly museums — the Arizona Museum of Natural History and the Arizona Museum for Youth.

Remember too that you can always find indoor fun at the Mesa Arts Center, which is home to several performing arts companies who offer a diverse assortment of music, dance and theater (including the Southwest Shakespeare Company).

To enjoy an outdoor all-arts weekend, couple a Saturday “MACFEST” with a “Sunday A’Fair” in Old Town Scottsdale. “Sunday A’Fair” takes place Sun, Jan 9, from noon to 4pm at the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall — as well as nine other Sundays through April 3.

Each “Sunday A’Fair” features a free outdoor concert and the opportunity to enjoy a wide range of arts and crafts made by local artists — as well as hands-on art activities for children and families. You can purchase food there, or bring your own picnic basket (with blanket/lawn chair) along.

Admission to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, which I often enjoyed with my three young children (now young adults), is free during “Sunday A’Fair” — and you can also enjoy the eclectic gift shop at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. 

Treat your children to the artwork of fellow youth by taking them to explore the “Bridges: Connecting Earth to Sky” exhibit at the “young @ art Gallery” located inside the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. It runs through Mon, Jan 17.

The Scottsdale Civic Center Library is also located at the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall, and is open Sundays from 1-5pm. The library is a lovely bit of architecture to behold, and features a giant fountain pen and ink well sculpture just outside the entrance. It’s a fun way to introduce your children to the quills used long before texting messages by cell phone took hold.

The “Sunday A’Fair” on Jan 16 is part of Scottsdale’s 2011 celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day — which they’ve dubbed “Peace & Community Day.” Featured entertainers will include Walt Richardson & The Peaceful Warriors, who promise a “classy mix of folk, rock and reggae,” and Nancy Gee, performing “sultry ballads and classic standards” from the world of jazz.

Stay tuned for word of other MLK Day celebrations, and drop me a line if your community offers outdoor art adventures that you’d like to share with our readers.

— Lynn

Note: For a comprehensive listing of family-friendly events throughout the Valley, visit the daily calendar of Raising Arizona Kids magazine online. Always check event details — including dates/times, locations, admission fees and such — before attending.

Coming up: Conversations with a 5th grade arts advocate

From Senegal to Seeger

Michael J. Miles performs on banjo at the MIM this Wednesday

I’m told there’s a gentleman who has quite the diverse banjo repetoire, and will be playing seven of these babies Wednesday night at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix — in a concert dubbed “From Senegal to Seeger.”

He’s Michael J. Miles — musician, composer and musical playwright. Think J.S. Bach. Woody Guthrie. And wordsmiths like Walt Whitman too. They’re all part of this picker’s performance art.

Michael J. Miles sports an impressive banjo collection

Miles’ concert is described as a sort of “social and political portrait of America.” And it makes me wonder. Is there some odd alignment of banjo playing with brilliance?

I ask because only yesterday morning I witnessed Renaissance man Steve Martin playing banjo on CBS News Sunday Morning. Martin also spoke of his experiences with art and his newest novel, titled “An Object of Beauty.”

The banjo has its own special sort of beauty

If you’ve never considered the banjo itself, or the music it makes possible, an object of beauty — it might be time for you to experience the banjo up close and personal.

Perhaps at the MIM Museum Encounter this Wed, Dec 8, at 11:30am or 2:30pm. It’s an opportunity to “meet Miles and hear his entertaining mix of music, history, literature, politics and humor.”

Miles makes a serious fashion statement with this banjo

MIM Museum Encounters are free with museum admission, so you can explore the MIM collection of banjos and other instruments while you are there.

And it won’t cost you a thing to jump online and watch the Steve Martin segment on yesterday’s CBS News “Sunday Morning” show — as well as their hour-long webcast.

If you conjure images of “King Tut” or “Pink Panther” when you think of Steve Martin, you’ve got quite a bit of catching up to do. He’s also author, musician, art collector and more.

Martin makes his own "Peace Corps" fashion statement

I love his description of writing — really three simple elements — which is part of the interview you can listen to by clicking here. I’m off to curl up with “An Object of Beauty” now, so I can enjoy the theory put into practice.

The upcoming Miles concert also got me thinking about Arizona Theatre Company’s next production — “Woodie Guthrie’s American Song.”

It runs Dec 30, 2010-Jan 16, 2011 at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix, and features “songs and writings by Woody Guthrie.”

Fans of folk and theater will appreciate this ATC offering

The “play guide” is already available online, and it looks to be stellar. It’s my next read after I’m done musing over Martin.

I’m also rather smitten with Bruce Springsteen’s 2006 work titled “We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions.” Turns out Springsteen plays a mean banjo. Check out this version of “Fever” featuring Bruce on banjo if you doubt me on this one.

Some heard Springsteen play folk during concerts at ASU Gammage

Watch for a future post exploring more of the beauty of the banjo — and ways you can introduce your children to the richness of American folk music, past and present.

— Lynn

More proof that banjo players are brilliant

Note: If you’re a fan of American folk music, I hope you were tuned to PBS last night for “My Music: Folk Rewind” featuring folk singers of the ’50s and ’60s. It reminded me that the online PBS gift shop is another great resource for holiday shopping.

Coming up: “Narnia” from books to big screen, Art adventures: Arizona Science Center, Hippies hit ASU Gammage in Tempe