Tag Archives: outdoor concerts

The fine art of bugs?

While traveling through Canada many years ago, I explored the Montreal Insectarium — where I learned that bugs can be beautiful. Big, but beautiful. Plus useful to people and the planet in all sorts of ways.

If bugs have a bad rap in your house, it might be time to get to know them better — starting with events, lectures and classes being offered by the Desert Botanical Garden as part of the “David Rogers’ Big Bugs” exhibit.

The exhibit features eleven giant bugs Rogers created from fallen or found wood, cut saplings, twigs, raw branches, twine, bark and other naturla materials. The sculptures weigh from 300-1,20o pounds and range from seven to 25 feet long.

Recently I toured the garden with my son Christopher, a college student who never lost his little boy fascination with bugs. You can enjoy the exhibit with your family through Jan 1, 2012.

Several garden features seem to mirror the materials used for Big Bugs…

This praying mantis greets visitors right after they enter the garden…

This laby beetle in one of several Big Bugs along the garden’s main trail…

Every piece of sculpture is accompanied by a sign with details about the work…

The daddy-longlegs looks like a friendy storybook character…

Compare the grasshopper’s legs to cactus and you’ll see something in common…

We were both most impressed by the spider and web hanging below…

The “Spider-Man” musical on Broadway has nothing on this giant arachnid…

Catch a glimpse of this damselfly both from the path and from the bridge…

Challenge your kids to find differences with the dragonfly below..

The giant assassin bug is hidden away along the wildflower trail…

Thanks to the fine folks at Chase and PetSmart for sponsoring Big Bugs…

We hit the gift shop to look at bug books, calendars, puppets and more…

If you’re both bug and film buff, check out the garden’s “Big Bug Movie Nights” — which start Sat, Oct 1 with “Antz.” Other featured films include “Charlotte’s Web,” “A Bug’s Life,” “The Fly” (1958 version), “Beetlejuice,” and “Arachnophobia.”

The garden clearly has bugs on the brain. Their “Music in the Garden Fall Concert Series” includes a Nov 4 “Get Back: A Tribute to the Beatles!” concert. They’re presenting a “Bug Brunch” Nov 5 & 6. Also classes and lectures to up your B.Q.

Those of you wishing to “be the bug” can don your bug mask or butterfly wings for the garden’s Sept 30 gala fundraiser titled “Moonlight Masquerade.” It’s an adults only evening, so leave the kiddos at home with a sitter who’s not afraid to crack open a bevy of bug books.

Think Eric Carle’s “The Grouchy Ladybug,” “The Very Busy Spider” or “The Very Quiet Cricket.” Throw in some colorful tissue paper, pom poms and pipe cleaners and they can get crafty while you’re tripping the light fanstastic.

“The Big Bug Circus” is also coming to town. The marionette show from the Great Arizona Puppet Theater in Phoenix heads to Gilbert for two performances on Sat, Oct 8 at the Higley Center for the Performing Arts.

Clearly bugs have gone big time.

— Lynn

Note: Visit the Desert Botanical Garden online at www.dbg.org and David Rogers at www.big-bugs.com. Find Eric Carle at www.eric-carle.com, the Great Arizona Puppet Theater at www.azpuppets.org and Higley Center for the Performing Arts at www.higleycenter.com.

Coming up: For the love of Lilly!, Festivals with multicultural flair, VYT debuts “Dora the Explorer”

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No-cost and low-cost concerts

First, a little something you don’t even have to venture outside of the  house for — the Songwrtiters Showcase at Tempe Center for the Arts. It’s perfectly fun to attend in person but you can also enjoy it at home starting Sat, Sept 3, when it hits the PBS airwaves before “Austin City Limits.”

Seems the concert stars are aligned for Sat, Sept 3 — when Paradise Valley Community College kicks off its “First Saturday Concert Series” on the Center for Performing Arts amphitheater stage. Fall offerings include Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian (Sept), R &B with soul and neo-jazz (Oct) and a 30-song Beatles tribute (Nov). Admission is free.

The Chandler Symphony Orchestra will perform several free concerts at the Chandler Center for the Perforning Arts this season

Chandler Symphony Orchestra has announced six free concerts during the 2011-2012 season at Chandler Center for the Arts. Evening concerts are scheduled for Sept 9 and Feb 3. Afternoon concerts take place Oct 9, Nov 13, March 25 and May 6.

Mesa Arts Center offers free fall and spring Out to Lunch concerts

The fall “Out to Lunch Concert Series” at Mesa Arts Center features free entertainment in an outdoor setting Thursdays between Oct 27 and Dec 8. Like most venues, they recommend bringing folding chairs, cushions or blankets along.

Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts presents a series of concerts with ASU musicians from Aug to Oct 2011. The series opens with a Mon, Aug 22 “Opera and Operetta Extravaganza.” Watch for additional concerts featuring everything from classical to modern urban sounds. Students (with I.D.) are free and general admission is just $10.

Watch for free Sunday concerts at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts early next year after the weather cools

Their free “Sunday A’Fair” outdoor concerts take place select Sundays from Jan to April 2012. You can pop in anytime during these four hour affairs to enjoy arts and crafts exhibits, hands-on art activities for children and families, and free admission the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

Bring those cameras along for fall and winter concerts, since photos will allow you to tastefully tease friends and family in colder parts about the deliciousness of desert living.

— Lynn

Note: Chandler Center for the Arts is accepting applications (through Aug 31) from 13-18 years olds for its new Youth Advisory Council, which fosters art appreciation, community service and leadership skills.

Coming up: More arts offerings from Arizona universities

Summer festivals & sun safety

This adorable little girl and her mom attended a recent sun safety event at Phoenix Children's Hospital

Arizona is home to all sorts of fall, winter, spring and summer festivals. Before the 4th of July, we’ve got the Flagstaff Folk Festival, the Prescott Bluegrass Festival, the Pine-Strawberry Arts & Crafts Festival and more. And plenty of outdoor events — many featuring music and other types of art — happen during the 4th of July weekend.

So I was delighted to attend the June 21 “Sun and Heat Safety Event” at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. It was my first experience with the hospital’s rooftop garden, located on the 3rd floor of their majestic new main building. It’s got brightly-colored flower pots taller than most of the patients, and it’s a lovely space for patients and families to enjoy a bit of quiet time away from procedure areas and such.

Dr. Price with two of her patients

The event featured safety displays and demonstrations by the hospital’s injury prevention center, arts & crafts, games and fun refreshments like sun cookies and snow cones.

A doctor from their dermatology team demonstrated how to apply sunscreen and several patients who’ve survived skin cancer shared their experiences. And hospital mascot Dudley was on hand too.

Event volunteers included candy stripers Mia and Joseph

I learned some interesting facts while I was there. That Arizona is second only to Australia in skin cancer rates worldwide. That just one blistering sunburn can double a child’s chance of skin cancer. That melanoma kills one person every hour. That the temperature in a car can rise to 172° with just 15 minutes of direct sunlight. That children’s body temperatures rise five times faster than adult body temperatures.

This cutie got one of the orange sun safety shirts

So as you’re enjoying summertime art walks, festivals and outdoor concerts with your family, please make sun safety a priority. When Kurt and Shonda Schilling lived here in the Valley, Raising Arizona Kids publisher and editor Karen Barr always bought a table for the annual event benefiting the SHADE Foundation they support. We’re all big believers in sun safety.

Here are a few tips from the fine folks at Phoenix Children’s Hospital (who also offer tips on all sorts of health and safety issues online):

  • Never leave children unattended in a vehicle
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your face and eyes
  • Seek shade whenever possible
  • Remember when planning activities that the sun is strongest from 10am-2pm
  • Wear protective clothing whenever you are outside (UV rays bounce off snow, concrete, water, sand and more)
  • Use a broad spectrum sunscreen that screens out UVB and UVA rays
  • Apply sunscreen of at least SPF 15 (use liberally and re-apply often, especially after swimming, sweating or drying off)
  • Protect sensitive skin (nose, cheeks, ears, shoulders) using a sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium oxide
  • Keep infants (6 months and younger) out of the sun

The teen cancer survivors who shared their stories were quick to say that they’d rather live with being teased about wearing a hat or suncreen than have to go through cancer again.

Dudley must go through a huge amount of sunscreen

But if your child is worried that sun safety isn’t cool, consider some of your options in hip protective clothing — including offerings from UV Skinz, which are available through Suit Up Kids at Desert Ridge Marketplace.

Suit Up Kids was at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital event, and brought along 200 adorable orange UV Skinz for babies — which were donated to the hospital through UV Skinz’s “Save a Baby’s Skin” campaign. Several babies left the event sporting these adorable tops, which will make them the best dressed babies at any summer festivals their families attend.

Get your family’s summer festival supplies — including sun safety items, water bottles and such — together now. That way you’ll be ready to go next time you decide to enjoy an outdoor art fair or concert.

— Lynn

Note: Click here for information on festivals and other events around Arizona — and here to read a feature about Shonda Schilling I wrote many years ago for Raising Arizona Kids magazine.

Coming up: Arizona art walks, Reflections from Ground Zero, Baseball art meets MLB All-Star game, Review of “Cars 2”

Update: The Arboretum at Flagstaff just announced that their “Summer Plant Sale and Penstemon Festival” is scheduled in early July to take advantage of the monsoon rains — visit www.thearb.org for details

Big MAC attack!

Sunday is your last chance to see Mesa Encore Theatre perform The Music Man, which beat out West Side Story to win the 1958 Tony Award for best musical

Knowing the 2011 Tony Awards are right around the corner, I decided to go in search of local productions of Tony Award-winning musicals. I started with shows coming to the Mesa Arts Center after getting an e-mail alert that tickets for their 2011-2012 Broadway series, which includes four shows, start at just $95.

Watch the Tony Awards on CBS this Sunday night to see who wins best musical for 2011

The series includes “Rock of Ages,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and “The Rat Pack is Back” — plus “My Fair Lady,” winner of the 1957 Tony Award for best musical. The 1958 Tony Award for best musical went to “The Music Man,” which is being performed at MAC by Mesa Encore Theatre through June 12.

I’ll have to share other Tony Award winners coming to Valley stages in a later post, because I’m experiencing a bit of a”big MAC attack” at the moment. Turns out there’s a ton of good stuff happening at the Mesa Arts Center, so I’ve got MAC on the brain instead.

The Mesa Arts Center has offerings in four main areas — shows, classes, events and museum exhibits. Upcoming shows sound plenty intriguing. There’s “Retro,” “Live Love Dance!,” and even Steve Martin and his banjo buddies. Events to watch for include fall and spring “out to lunch” concert series, the Mesa Arts Festival and celebrations of Dia de los Muertos.

This girl should have signed up for music classes through Mesa Arts Center

Mesa Arts Center offers classes in visual and performing arts. Think blacksmithing for the grown-ups and ceramic “mud pups” for children. Also American tribal dance and belly dance classes. Plus “scenes for teens” acting classes and a “dance sampler” for kids who want to explore various dance options.

Exhibits opening today at MAC’s “Mesa Contemporary Arts” space — a collection of five galleries — include “Picturing Maricopa” and “Women’s Work.” Other current exhibits include “Chicanitas,” “Vermilion Remains,” and “Wood & Substance, Substance & Spirit.”

Another snappy dresser from the Mesa Encore Theatre production of The Music Man

That’s a lot of art for an admission fee of just $3.50. Kids age 7 & under are always free — and admission is free for all on Thursdays (the museum is closed on Mondays). I’m going to have to move this to the top of my “me time” to do list. My grown children would enjoy the works, but they’re already off and running in a million directions this summer. Bummer.

— Lynn

Note: The Theater League 2011-2012 Broadway series also performs at the Orpheum Theatre in Phoenix

Coming up: Art meets science — with a twist of creative genius

Photo credit: Sarah Rodgers and Wade Moran

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

Native trails

Enjoy Native American arts in an outdoor setting at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts when NATIVE TRAILS kicks off on Jan 20, 2011

The Heard Museum in Phoenix is the place to be through Sun, Jan 2 — as they present the final days of this year’s “Holidays at the Heard” — featuring traditional and contemporary performance art and artist demonstrations, which are free with general museum admission.

One of many American Indian works on exhibit through Sunday at the Mesa Arts Center

Those who appreciate American Indian art will also want to see the “Transcending Traditions: Contemporary American Indian Artwork” exhibit at the Mesa Arts Center through Sun, Jan 2 only.

The exhibit features works in “a wide range of mediums” by more than 25 “established and emerging American Indian artists from across North America who integrate a contemporary flare to traditional indigenous art forms.”

Later in January 2011, you can enjoy the first of several “Native Trails” events at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. The first event in the series takes place Thurs, Jan 20, at noon. More are scheduled through Sat, Apr 2.

These “Native Trails” events take place on the Center’s outdoor fountain stage. Take along a lawn chair or blanket so you’ll be more comfy enjoying the music, art, dance and traditional food (including Indian fry bread).

Sounds like a lovely lunchtime break from the office, a fun way to entertain visiting family or friends, or an easy playdate with fellow parents and their little ones.

Experience hoop dancing at the Heard Museum the first weekend of Feb 2011

There’s plenty more to experience at the Heard Museum — including the “World Championship Hoop Dance Contest” Sat, Feb 5, and Sun, Feb 6. It features “more than 70 of the top Native hoop dancers from the United States and Canada.”

The “53rd Annual Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market” takes place Sat, March 5, and Sun, March 6. Think music, dance, artist demonstrations and the artwork of “more than 700 top American Indian artists.”

Other upcoming Heard Museum events include an “American Indian Art & Artifacts Appraisal Day” (Sat, March 19), “A Gathering of Carvers: Katsina Doll Marketplace” (Sat, Apr 2) and an “American Indian Student Art Show & Sale” (Apr 2-6).

The exhibit of American Indian dolls at the Heard Museum North ends on Sunday

One final exhibit of note, which you can see only through Sun, Jan 2, at the Heard Museum North Scottsdale — “More Than Child’s Play: American Indian Dolls.”

It features dolls, diverse in both materials and forms, which “reflect the vibrancy and range of Native life ways.”

— Lynn

Note: Always check with event venues before attending to confirm details (dates, times, locations, costs, etc.) — especially when bad weather might strike.

Coming up: Sneak peek at 2011 film festivals

Art for lunch?

There’s plenty of news about Arizona nightlife. But what of daytime arts offerings? Several Valley venues offer morning or afternoon performance art.

The ASU Kerr Cultural Center in Scottsdale offers several daytime options.

“Coffee at Kerr” is an informal series of free performances and discussions with guest artists. Patrons are encouraged to bring a can of food or sealed personal item for the Vista Del Camino Food Bank. The next performance (Jan 5, 2011) features an “Introduction to Turandot” presented by Arizona Opera.

ASU Kerr co-presents “Tuesday Morning Music Concerts” with the ASU School of Music. The free concerts feature performances and commentary by  ASU faculty and graduate students. The ASU Student Jazz Combo performs Dec 7.

“Monday Morning Musicale” performances at ASU Kerr feature intimate chamber music — and are also free of charge. The next event takes place Dec 6.

The Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix has a “Lunch Time Theatre” program that showcases the work of young, emerging theater companies.

Each one-act play lasts 30-45 minutes — and patrons are free to bring their own lunch or pre-order a box lunch through the Herberger’s caterer.

In most cases, shows open their run with a Monday night preview with tickets at a reduced price (or free for actors who bring resume and headshot).

The next show, a seasonal cabaret titled “A Dreamers Holiday,” is sold out — so don’t delay if you’d like to see the first 2011 offering. It’s a one woman play about the first African American female correspondent to receive White House credentials.

Mesa Arts Center presents an “Out to Lunch Concert Series” and invites patrons to bring their own lunches to enjoy during these outdoor performances.

December concerts include jazz/pop by Kirsten (Dec 9) and jazz by Nuance Jazz Trio (Dec 16).

Phoenix Art Museum hosts film and musical performances, which are free or included with museum admission (depending on the event).

December films include an art world documentary titled “The Art of the Steal” and an Italian comedy titled “Swept Away” (in Italian, with English subtitles).

The Phoenix Art Museum presents the film “Waste Land” (English and Portugese with English subtitles) on Jan 16, and a “Music Inspiring Vision” performance on Jan 29 (featuring the photography of Brett Weston and the music of Bach).

These performances are typically free or very affordable, and feature artists you might not otherwise get to enjoy.

Consider daytime art offerings next time you’re meeting a friend for lunch, looking for something unique to enjoy with co-workers, needing a little time away from children during the day or just looking for ways to support some of our newer or smaller arts organizations.

— Lynn

Note: Please confirm all event details before attending — including date, time, location, ticketing policy, pricing, parking and such.

Coming up: Symphony in the schools; Christmas, cacti and candles