Tag Archives: Phoenix public library

What’s the word?

WORD artists Betsy BretHarte and Mary Kay Zeeb outside the @Central Gallery at Burton Barr Public Library in Phoenix, where their exhibit runs through March 26

The word is L-O-V-E, according to Phoenix artists Betsy BretHarte and Mary Kay Zeeb, whose “WORD” exhibit at the Burton Barr Central Library runs through Mon, March 26. It’s a collection of black and white photos featuring all sorts of folks spelling the word “love.” There’s one photo per letter for each person pictured, and the library’s @Central Gallery is home to around three dozen sets of these babies for just another couple of days.

I stumbled on the exhibit several weeks ago while exploring other library fare, and did a double take when reading the artists’ statement accompanying the works — because I’ve known Zeeb for years, as one of Lizabeth’s teachers at Arizona School for the Arts. Turns out Zeeb is leaving ASA for pursuits in the healing arts after this semester. BretHarte teaches at New School for the Arts and Academics in Tempe.

Betsy BretHarte and Mary Kay Zeeb give me an "L"

BretHarte and Zeeb, who call the Coronado neighborhood of Phoenix home, met me at the gallery Thursday afternoon to share a bit about their journey into the world of “WORD.” The first four photos in their collection, which includes many more than the library gallery can hold, were taken by BretHarte in 2006 and feature her mother. As we chatted on Thursday, they eagerly showed me other sets depicting special people in their lives.

Betsy BretHarte and Mary Kay Zeeb give me an "O"

Still, most of their subjects are folks they’ve encountered along the way. Seems BretHarte often sports a camera, and Zeeb has the pair’s best people skills — so together they’ve developed the habit of asking those they meet while walking, bike riding and such to pose for their lovely work in progress. Most of the photos were taken outdoors, like the picture up top snapped just outside the gallery. You’ll see snippets of their work, and the reflection of a tree they both admired as we spoke, in the background.

I turned BretHarte and Zeeb loose with my primitive little point and shoot number, inviting them to snap one another’s picture in whatever way they saw fit. They headed straight outdoors, to a little seating area just off the gallery — where they ultimately decided they’d prefer a picture together. I was happy to do the honors, though it felt a bit like fiddling in front of Itzhak Perlman despite their gracious demeanor.

Betsy BretHarte and Mary Kay Zeeb give me a "V"

Once “WORD” leaves the library, it’ll need a new home. An art gallery would be lovely, they tell me — though BretHarte and Zeeb are keen on community spaces like the library that allow people to stumble on the work and feel the joy of finding something unexpected. They’re fondest of the photos taken closest to home, but lit up when I mentioned a note I’d read in a journal filled with comments from gallery visitors.

Betsy BretHarte and Mary Kay Zeeb give me an "E"

Apparently someone has already pictured them going global, which hardly seems a stretch. The photography is exceptional. The subject matter is endless. And the artists are true adventurers. I suspect there’s just a single word standing between these women and the wider world. It’s “funding” — and I fervently hope they meet a great deal of it one day. With every person they photograph, BretHarte and Zeeb get one face closer to capturing the beautiful diversity of humanity.

— Lynn

Note: To learn more about the @Central Gallery at the Burton Barr Public Library, e-mail iris.huey@phoenix.gov or call 602-262-6157. You can contact the artists at bbretharte@yahoo.com or marykhaos@hotmail.com.

Coming up: Nine young poets


Quilting for literacy

Quilting meets literacy at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, where a lovely little children’s library lives on the second floor. It’s currently home to a touring exhibit of cheerful quilts including squares created by beloved children’s book illustrators.

The literacy quilts were designed by retired NYC school librarian Muriel Feldshuh, who began writing letters to children’s book illustrators in 1997, asking them to create works for a quilt celebrating the millenium. After 26 of the illustrators decorated muslin squares as requested, the project grew to include six different quilts — including one that’s Brooklyn-based, and features the artwork of Mo Williams, Melissa Iwai, Ezra Jack Keats and others.

Feldshuh is now a library consultant, and serves on the child literacy and author board for Books for Kids, an organization that promotes literacy among all children with a special emphasis on low-income and at-risk preschool-aged children — creating libraries, donating books and partnering with literacy programs to “develop the critical early foundation and skills which young children need to be successful in life.”

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Here in the Valley, folks are gearing up for “Love to Read AZ,” a celebration of reading sponsored by Bookmans and Friends of the Phoenix Public Library at the Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix.

The Sat, March 24 event (11am-2pm) promoting literacy features story times, crafts, music, face painting, puppets, mini-train rides and all sorts of activities for children and families.

Think performances by the Great Arizona Puppet Theater. Family photos in the Bookmans Story Time Photo Booth. Casual BYOC (bring your own camera) photo opps with Curious George and other book-related characters. Even a musical intrument parade.

A dozen or so organizations, including Raising Arizona Kids Magazine, will be on hand to chat with parents. Many will share tips and strategies for fostering a family love for reading. Click here to see a lovely list from Bookmans.

Books make for wonderful explorations both locally and on the road. Visit community libraries and museums when traveling with your children. But don’t forget the treasures all around us right here at home.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn about the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, here for details about the Tucson Children’s Museum and here for information on a special museums roundup from The New York Times that includes Arizona’s own Heard Museum.

Coming up: Last chance for love, Exploring the very first children’s museum

Writer, writer on the wall…

Want to be the fairest writer of them all? Read often. Write daily. And learn from the masters.

Amy Silverman and Deborah Sussman Susser just announced that registration is now open for the next “Mothers Who Write” workshop, a 10-week series that starts Feb. 23 at Scottsdale Center for the Arts. It meets Thursday evenings from 6-8pm and costs $200 (Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Arts members pay just $175).

A teen writing workshop called “Fems with Pens,” for girls in grades 7-12, begins Jan. 23 at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe. The six-week series also include 5-6pm sessions on Jan. 30, Feb. 6, Feb. 13, Feb. 27 and March 5. Participants write fiction and non-fiction using various exercises, then discuss and edit their work in a “creative, supportive environment.” The series costs $60.

Phoenix Public Library and Changing Hands Bookstore present a “Young Adult Writing Conference” featuring writing classes and a writing panel on Sat, Jan. 28 at the Burton Barr Central Library. Presenters and panelists include authors Adam Rex, Bree Despain, James Owen, Anna Carey, Kiersten White, Aprilynne Pike, Amy Fellner Dominy, C J Hill (Janette Rallison), Robin Brande, Cecil Castellucci and Tom Leveen. The event runs 9am-3pm and costs $85 ($75 through Jan. 19).

A “Yallapalooza” event for teens and tweens takes place at the library that same day at 4pm. The 11 authors noted above will attend, and the event also features free pizza — plus games, prizes and book signing opportunities. Admission is free.

ASU’s Virgina G. Piper Center for Creative Writing holds its 2012 “Desert Nights, Rising Stars” conference Feb. 23-26 at the center, located on ASU’s Tempe Campus. Conference faculty include Sally Ball, Robert Boswell, Bernard Cooper, Denise Dumahel, Carolyn Forche, Pam Houston, Adam Johnson, Mat Johnson, A. Van Jordan, Antonya Nelson, Alix Ohlin, Jem Poster, Melissa Pritchard, Jeannine Savard, Eleanor Wilner and Xu Xi. Writers of all levels are welcome, and general registration is $375 (master class tuition is an additional $125).

The UA Poetry Center in Tucson is presenting several classes and workshops in coming months, including “Poetry in the 21st Century” with Joel Arthur. The eight week literature class, which begins Feb. 6, will explore trends including conceptual poetry, Gurlesque, flarf, virtual poetics, Vispo and more. Participants will read, discuss and listen to American poetry from 2000 to the present. The class costs $200 (plus a $10 materials fee).

The Poetry Center also offers “Possibilities of Short Plays” with Laura Owen, an eight-week writing workshop on writing short form theatrical pieces — monologues and ten-minute plays. Participants will explore voice and dialogue, as well as the intersection of poetry and other forms. Students can expect to complete several dialogues and at least one complete ten-minute play. The workshop, which starts Feb. 8, costs $200 (plus a $5 materials fee).

Scottsdale Public Library and the Scottsdale Society of Women Writers present a “Local Writers Workshop” at the Mustang Library at 1:15pm on Feb. 19. The free workshop covers writing, publishing, an online author toolkit and networking. It’s one of many free writing-related events offered by Scottsdale Public Libraries. (Check your local library for additional options.)

If your organization offers writing classes for youth or adults, feel free to comment below to let our readers know.

— Lynn

Note: An organization called Friends of the Phoenix Public Library needs donations of children’s books to help economically-challenged schools stock their libraries and classrooms. Click here for donation details, and to learn about the Friends’ annual “Winter Book Sale” taking place later this month.

Coming up: Celebrating black history on stage and screen

Walking with Waddell

Detail of the John Waddell Dance installation in downtown Phoenix

I pause each time I pass a work by sculptor John Waddell, whose pieces meld metal with movement to evoke emotion and reflection. Waddell is being honored Friday evening at the Herberger Theater Center, home to his “Dance” works created between 1969 and 1974.

Detail of Dance by John Waddell

I first encountered Waddell’s work when my children attended schools housed at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix — the church where we took our son Christopher to Gymboree classes as a toddler. It was designed by Blaine Drake, a protege of Frank Lloyd Wright.

The UUCP has lovely meditation and memorial gardens, which I strolled through on Wednesday before paying a visit to several of my children’s former teachers at Desert View Learning Center.

A winding path with a border of small stones on either side leads from the church parking lot to a Waddell piece titled “That Which Might Have Been, Birmingham, 1963” — created in reaction to a Sunday school bombing in Alahama that killed four young girls.

That Which Might Have Been, Birmingham, 1963 by John Waddell

The UUCP has a long tradition of promoting social justice, and is active in several areas — including immigration, health care, the environment, education, homelessness and gender equality.

John Waddell sculpture at the Burton Barr Central Library

Still, it’s the Waddell work exhibited at the Burton Barr Central Library that I walk by most often, as I make my way from their @ Central art gallery back to my car with an armload of books or goodies from the Friends’ Place shop.

Folks who’ve enjoyed similar walks with Waddell can join fellow appreciators of his work Friday evening as Waddell becomes the 2011 inductee into the Herberger Performing Arts and Broadcast Arts Hall of Fame.

The Nov. 18 ceremony includes an hors d’oeuvres and cocktails reception, a performance by the Phoenix Boys Choir and screening of a Marlo Bendau work titled “Rising: The Art and Life of John Waddell.” Also coffee and desserts, a silent auction and the unveiling of Waddell’s “The Gathering.”

Photograph of sculptor John Waddell taken by Michel Sarda

Recently I enjoyed a photograph of Waddell exhibited in the Herberger Art Gallery titled “Retrospective Exhibition of the Art Photography of Michel Sarda.” Sarda has authored several books, including “John Henry Waddell: The Art and the Artist” — which features more than 400 illustrations.

Sarda is chairing Friday’s event, which benefits the Herberger Theater’s arts education and outreach initiatives. These include the Arizona Young Artists competition, the Wolf Trap program serving preschool and Head Start students, and a multicultural theater camp for homeless, abused and neglected teens.

— Lynn

Note: Other weekend events at the Herberger Theater Center include the iTheatre Collaborative production of Mamet’s “Race” and the Arizona Theatre Company production of “God of Carnage.” Center Dance Ensemble opens “Frances Smith Cohen’s Snow Queen” Dec. 3. Also note that the Herberger Theater Festival of the Arts takes place Oct. 6, 2012.

Coming up: Bella does bridal, ThesCon tales

Children’s Book Week

I’m no math genius, but when I first learned of “Children’s Book Week” it occured to me that this left 51 other weeks in the year. So what are these, exactly? “Children’s Twitter Week?” “Children’s Junk Food Week?” “Children’s Tattoo Week?”

Let’s hope not — because if “Children’s Book Week” sets the bar, our children may soon be enjoying free nachos or sailor “tats.” Seems that Friends of the Phoenix Public Library is giving away free used books to children during “Children’s Book Week.”

“Children’s Book Week” was started in 1919 — the idea of Franklin K. Matthiews, librarian of the Boy Scouts of America, who toured the country promoting higher standards in children’s books.

Enjoy music inspired by literary classics like Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz and The Secret Garden in Chandler this weekend

Today it’s orchestrated by “Every Child a Reader,” the philanthropic arm of the children’s publishing industry.

How lovely to have a philanthropic enterprise that helps kids and boosts sales.

I’m all for running right out to buy the kiddies a slew of books, but why not head to the Burton Barr Central Library in Phoenix as well?

That’s where the small shop operated by Friends of the Phoenix Public Library is doing their used book giveaway. It’s a one-a-day deal (for readers 17 and younger) as long as the books last during “Children’s Book Week.” There’s a special book cart with teen selections.

“Children’s Book Week” runs May 2-8 — and is also being celebrated by participating bookstores throughout the country. In Arizona, special “Children’s Book Week” events are taking place at Tempe’s Changing Hands Bookstore, proud member (like Raising Arizona Kids Magazine) of Local First Arizona.

Click here to learn more about activities for children and teens at Changing Hands, and be sure to check with your own local bookstores and libraries to see what they’ve got planned during “Children’s Book Week.” There’s no “Grown-ups’ Book Week,” but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some reading of your own as well.

Children who see their parents reading get the message that reading is a fun way to spend a part of each day — and may just do more reading of their own. It can only help them do better in school and in life.

— Lynn

Note: While I have books on the brain, I’m pleased to report that the musical “The Book of Mormon” has been nominated for 14 Tony Awards. Click here for a list of all nominations announced this morning. To enjoy a lovely bit of family-friendly music closer to home, head to Chandler Center for the Arts Sat, May 7 at 7pm for the Chandler Children’s Choir “Singing Happily Ever After…” concert featuring music inspired by literary classics, plus poetry, fables, Shakespeare and more.

Coming up: Government rocks!

Art books seek good homes

Plenty of new books made their way into our home last year — most related to art, history or philosophy.

My favorite titles included When Art Worked: The New Deal, Art, and Democracy (Roger Kennedy), Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet (Jennifer Homans), and Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes (Stephen Sondheim).

Also The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution (Denis Dutton) and Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1 (Mark Twain). Leaving Art: Writings on Performance, Politics, and Publics (1974-2007) (Suzanne Lacy) will likely be the next book I tackle.

Of course, I’ll have to make room on my bookshelves for these newer acquisitions, which has prompted me to start hauling out some old still-packed boxes labeled “books” in search of titles that might be better off in a new home — so more folks can enjoy them.

I figure that once our third and youngest child heads off to college in the fall, we really won’t need all those picture books and early readers. Of course, we’ll save the classics (like Pat the Bunny and Goodnight Moon) — and the favorites (like Rainbow Fish and I Love You Forever).

But the rest will be going to a good cause, or several of them. In case you’re feeling similarly inspired, I’m happy to share my list of places that need donations of gently-used books — though you should always call ahead to confirm specific needs, donation procedures and such.

The Volunteer Non-Profit Service Association (VNSA) will hold its 55th annual “VNSA Used Book Sale” Sat, Feb 12, and Sun, Feb 13 — at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix.

The sale includes rare and unusual books and foreign language titles, and many general titles will be half-off on Sunday. The event is free, though the fairgrounds do charge for parking.

Proceeds from the VNSA book sale “benefit Valley human service agencies.” To date, “more than $6,000,000” has been donated to local charities. This year’s beneficiaries include the “Arizona Friends of Foster Care Foundation” and “Literacy Volunteers of Maricopa County.”

The VNSA website provides details on two options for those wishing to donate gently-used books — at-home pick up or drop box locations throughout the Valley.

The Heard Museum will present its “15th Annual Heard Museum Guild Library Book Sale” Sat, Jan 29, and Sun, Jan 30 — at the Heard Museum in Phoenix. The sale includes “30,000 books in every genre.”

The Heard Museum will also have other items for sale, including “American Indian and vintage jewelry, katsina dolls, prints, pottery and ceramic vessels.” Sounds like a great way to jump start your Valentine’s Day shopping.

Proceeds from the book sale benefit the “Billie Jane Baguley Library and Archives” of the Heard Museum, “one of the country’s most comprehensive research facilities about indigenous art and culture from around the world.” The event has raised more than $250,000 in its 14-year history.

Special features of the sale include a silent auction of “high-end items and rare-edition books,” a Sunday sale, a special children’s area featuring children’s books and other items, and early bird member shopping (on Friday).

The Heard Museum website offers details on each day’s schedule and activities — and how you can donate books to the cause. Although admission to the book sale is free, there is an admission charge for those who also wish to explore the museum’s exhibits.

The Friends of the Phoenix Public Library organization holds book sales throughout the year, which include special shopping opportunities for “Friends” members.  The next sale is Sat, Feb 12, and Sun, Feb, 13 (members can shop Fri, Feb 11).

All sales take place at the Friends of the Phoenix Public Library warehouse in Phoenix. Those wishing to donate gently-used books have two options — requesting pick-up of books or taking books to one of several drop box locations.

Visit the Phoenix Public Library website to learn more about donation procedures, or to request a donation of books to your local non-profit organization. The site also offers tips on hosting a book drive to benefit the Friends organization.

With week one of the “New Year” — and all those well meaning resolutions — nearly behind us, this is the perfect time to declutter your home while enriching the literary lives of others.

— Lynn

Note: You may also wish to check with local schools, day care centers, pediatric medical facilities and children’s charities about their book needs. If your organization accepts donations of gently-used books to benefit local non-profits, please comment below to briefly let our readers know.

Coming up: Cupid meets curator, Art of “Sacred Places,” Film tackles bullying

What’s so funny?

With any luck at all, it’ll be my weekend.

Jeffrey Davey in "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee"

Back to school week hasn’t exactly been a jolly good time around here, so I’m feeling the need to overcorrect a bit. I started by getting tickets to two comedic works opening this weekend — one a play and the other a musical.

But don’t take my word for the funny part. Just check out the photos peppered throughout this post. They’re all from “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” being performed at Mesa Arts Center Aug 27 to Sept 12. (FYI: Mature content)

I’ll also be enjoying “Noises Off” at Phoenix Theatre, which also runs through Sept 12. It hardly seems fair to Sept. 13th.

So what else can you look forward to this weekend? Let’s start with today — Friday, Aug 27.

Chuck Caruso, Shandy Mortenson and Brett Aiken

Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa presents “Artful Tales” (free with paid museum admission), an interactive storytime with art activity, from 11am to noon (space is limited).

The Scottsdale Community College Art Department presents their “11th Annual Drawing Exhibit” starting Friday and running through Sept. 23. Today’s hours are 8am to 4pm (it’s free) — and exhibited works feature 17 “advanced artists of all ages” working primarily with charcoal.

Brittany Bradford in "Spelling Bee"

Spotlight Youth Theatre of Glendale presents “bROCKway!” — a “fusion of musical theatre and rock and roll” for one night only.

The Scottsdale Civic Center Library continues its “Where the Wild Things Are” exhibit (and activities) through Aug 31, so sail on over if Maurice Sendak is your vibe.

If social justice is your thing, head to Tempe for a free community movie night presented by Hoodlums Music and Movies and Changing Hands Bookstore. Tonight’s film is an Academy Award nominee for feature documentary called “Children Underground.”

Aya Nameth in "Spelling Bee"

In the free concert department, there’s an evening performance by guitarist and composer “Brad Richter” at the Chandler Center for the Arts.

Or you can hit the cool pines of Prescott for an Aug 27-29 “Prescott Jazz Summit” sponsored by Friends of Big Band Jazz. For weeks that even funny can’t fix, a trip to the forest is always in order.

But what of Saturday?

All the funny stuff is still there — but there’s more.

Chad Campbell in "Spelling Bee"

Head to the Phoenix Art Museum if you enjoy your films on the funny side. They’re presenting the silent film “Gold Rush” with Charlie Chaplin Aug 29 at 1pm.

It’s free and features an intro plus Q & A by Martha Strachan of Paradise Valley Community College, but space is limited.

Alexandra Ncube in "Spelling Bee"

For the kids, Phoenix Art Museum presents “PhxArtKids” Days from noon to 3pm for five to 12 year olds (with adult companions).

Kids can enjoy making prints, creating miniature paintings and listening to jazz music — and it’s all free with paid museum admission.

Music lovers can head to the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix for the first installment of a MIM series honoring the bicentennial celebration of Mexican independence — which features “Son de Madera” performing the “rousing music” of Veracruz, Mexico.

Entire cast of "Spelling Bee"

Dance afficianados can waltz on over to Mesa Arts Center for “Debut” — a performance featuring three world premieres presented by Convergence Ballet Company.

Sunday’s offerings include a host of theater productions throughout the Valley — including “45 Minutes from Broadway” by Fountain Hills Community Theater, “Baby Bear Goes to School” by the Great Arizona Puppet Theater, “Cinderella: A Ragtime Musical” by Scottsdale Desert Stages Theatre, “Grease” by Valley Youth Theatre, “Annie Get Your Gun” by Hale Centre Theatre  and “Into the Woods” by Theater Works (now scheduling “Tom Sawyer” auditions).

There’s always plenty to choose from in arts and entertainment — but this weekend my word is “funny.”

What’s yours?

— Lynn

Note: If your 12-18 year old might enjoy learning to knit (a form of fabric art), send him/her to the teen corner (with supplies, if you have them) at the Desert Broom Library in Phoenix. Their “Sit & Knit” event takes place Sat, Aug 28, from 1:30-3:30pm (registration not required).

Coming up: Lynn and Liz enjoy a sneak peek at the new film “Easy A” featuring Valley Youth Theatre alumna Emma Stone