Tag Archives: Phoenix tourism

Bringing art alive

Learn more about this Van Gogh-inspired artwork at http://www.edunloaded.com

The Arizona Science Center in Phoenix is the first venue in North America to host a touring exhibition titled “Van Gogh Alive,” which was created by Grande Exhibitions in Australia. Two members of the Australia group were on hand for its opening, which presented some challenges because everything was designed for 220 volts rather than 100 volts.

The exhibition materials arrived in just two trucks, according to Janice Dell of the Arizona Science Center. Seems the recent pirate-theme exhibition required 40. So there’s much to love about the exhibit before you even see it. It’s got a smaller environmental footprint than most, so proponents of all things green can rejoice.

Learn more about this Van Gogh-inspired artwork at http://www.thecraftycrow.net

Though some have been surprised to learn that the Arizona Science Center is hosting an exhibition focused primarily on art, Dell hails the historical connection between art and science. There’s plenty of evidence, including the work of Leonardo DaVinci, to support her observation that fields like art and math are fundamentally intertwined.

Van Gogh Alive” demonstrates that art, music and language are similarly connected. Visitors to the exhibition enter a pitch black entryway that opens onto a vast space full of giant panels awash with Van Gogh’s works, a lone black wall with rotating quotes and musical selections from Van Gogh’s own period in history. Images also scroll over several groupings of large platforms on the ground.

Several people were experiencing the exhibition during my visit, and it seemed they all had a different way of approaching it. I focused on Van Gogh’s quotes — on everything from nature and friendship to colors and poetry — glancing all around me as related images scrolled over giant screens on nearby walls, columns and platforms. Self-portraits. Famous and lesser known paintings. Handwritten letters. Simple and sophisticated sketches. Photos from the time.

Others seemed more gripped by the images, or music and sound. Dell notes that the music is meant to mirror Van Gogh’s changing moods. It shifts throughout from light and airy to somber. Sometimes with a slow, consistent tempo — other times with a fast, irregular pace. Even those not well versed in classical music will find familiarity in much of what they hear.

While museums have been trending for many years towards featuring more interactive exhibits, Dell notes that this type of exhibition takes the museum experience to a whole new level through “immersion.” It’s plenty effective. After spending time with “Van Gogh Alive,” I began to feel a part of his world. I know Van Gogh, the artist and the man, better for having seen it.

Learn more about this Van Gogh-inspired artwork at http://www.meetthemasters.com

I suspect that children will be as wowed by the technology used in the exhibition as they are by the works of art. It’s all good, and we’ll all be seeing more of it as museums continue to finesse the fine art of adapting new tools to showcase classic and contemporary works.

Parents hoping to bring out the artist in their child should remember that Van Gogh didn’t paint with real passion until well into adulthood. His first loves as a child and teen were spending time in nature, and losing himself in books. Tell them the story of Van Gogh before you go, and make art materials available if they run home inspired to create their own works.

But remember that artists blossom in different seasons. Not all will show an early interest or affinity for drawing or painting. But all can benefit from learning to approach the world with genuine curiosity, an open mind and keen powers of observation. Make time and space in your child’s world for moments of serendipity and spontaneity. That’s the best way to bring art alive.

— Lynn

Note: The Arizona Science Center is holding a “Van Gogh Valentine’s Soiree” (Tues, Feb. 14, 6-10pm) for singles and couples that includes time with the “Van Gogh Alive” exhibition, planetarium star shows, a romantic selection of treats and more. Call 602-716-2028 to learn more or make your reservations for this event at valetinesreservations@azscience.org. And remember the Arizona Science Center gift shop for Valentine’s Day gifts for the kiddos.

Coming up: To protect and preserve


My favorite New Year’s greeting

Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix (Photo by Susan O. McCall)

My virtual inbox filled quickly most December days as retailers alerted me to various sales and organizations pleaded their case for year-end donations.

While I’m all for charitable giving, I’m not a fan of requests for cash couched  in holiday greetings.

So an e-greeting offering heartfelt thanks and genuinely helpful tips for enjoying a tranquil holiday season stood out among all others.

It was from Ro Ho En, also called the Japanese Friendship Garden, in Phoenix. And it didn’t ask for money, though I’m guessing they need the support just as badly as other cultural resources.

I asked their executive director, Susan McCall, for photos to share with readers, and she sent three she’d taken herself– a perfect complement to the three holiday wishes I’m passing along in the hopes they’ll bring needed perspective amidst all the New Year’s revelry.

Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix (Photo by Susan O. McCall)

Ro Ho En shares these tips for enjoying the season…

1. Take a deep breath.

2. Share kindness with everyone you meet.

3. Give thanks for all that is good in your life.

Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix (Photo by Susan O. McCall)

If you’re not feeling particularly calm or collected as you greet the new year, find a little spot on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror for these simple tips so you can read and reflect upon them often. Or head to the Japanese Friendship Garden for a peaceful stroll. You can click here to learn more about their hours and many offerings.

— Lynn

Coming up: More than a day for MLK

My “Peanuts” pilgrimage

A pilgrimage of sorts has been taking place in Phoenix for the past several days as baseball devotees, including my husband James, have made their way to MLB All-Star Game activities.

But I took my son Christopher on a different baseball-related pilgrimage not too long ago — to enjoy the artwork of Charles M. Schultz on exhibit at the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa.

Arizona Museum for Youth is currently showing several types of art with baseball-related themes, making the museum a “must see” for anyone here in the Valley to enjoy all things “baseball.”

My favorite is the “Peanuts at Bat” exhibit, which features 43 digital prints from five decades of original Schultz drawings plus vintage “Peanuts” baseball memorabilia. Think bobble head dolls, banners, board game and more. 

The exhibit also features a Louisville Slugger Joe Shlabotnik bat and over-sized Snoopy doll decked out in his favorite team uniform. Shlabotnik, by the way, is Charlie Brown’s favorite player. He’s a serious “underperformer” never actually seen in the strip. 

The lackluster baseball games of “Peanuts” lore were inspired by Schultz’s own childhood experiences playing sandlot baseball. Schultz has said that Charlie Brown’s string of losses was inspired by a game his own team once lost with a score of 40 to 0.

As an adult, Schultz often played pickup games on baseball diamonds he had built at his home and near his studio. I’m told that Schultz followed major league baseball and was a keen admirer of Willie Mays and other talented athletes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

While exploring “Peanuts at Bat” at the Arizona Museum for Youth, we saw one young boy having fun at Schroeder’s “live playing piano” and another perfecting his pitch at the “baseball toss range.”

A father joined the fun as his three daughters enjoyed the “do-it-yourself interactive comic strip design center” and several toddlers crawled through Snoopy’s “life-sized dog house and fireplace nook.”

Our personal favorite was Lucy’s giant “psychiatry booth” — complete with nickels. It’s nice to know that Lucy’s rates haven’t changed through the years, since it sometimes feels like hers are the only mental health services not being cut these days.

We had a great time exploring the gift shop, which has plenty of affordable fare related to current and past exhibits. Outer space-related items were on sale the day we stopped by, and there were all sorts of items featuring “Peanuts” characters like Snoopy and Woodstock.

Superheros come and go, but the “Peanuts” gang and America’s love affair with baseball are here to stay. As the freckle-faced character Peppermint Patty might say —  “Thanks, Chuck!”

— Lynn

Note: An exhibit titled “Play Ball: The Cactus League Experience” runs through Aug 7, 2011 at the Arizona Museum for Youth

Coming up: Art meets water, Babies ala Broadway

Art adventures: PhxArtKids

After spending last Saturday morning at the Phoenix Public Market, enjoying local arts and crafts in a farmers market setting, I was ready to stroll through cooler fare — so I headed to the Phoenix Art Museum with my college-age son, Christopher. They recently re-opened their PhxArtKids gallery, and I was eager to explore it.

I’ve been enjoying the Phoenix Art Museum with my children, sometimes as a school field trip chaperone, for more than a decade. Thanks to evolving interests and changing exhibits, it never gets old. In many ways, it’s like several museums in one. Sometimes I’m in the mood for European classics. Other days I’m drawn to contemporary works.

But I stop by the PhxArtKids gallery every time I’m there, and hope you’ll enjoy these photos from my most recent visit…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You can click here to learn more about Phoenix Art Museum offerings especially for kids, but remember that the museum offers a little something for everyone — and that it makes a great escape when summer temperatures soar.

— Lynn

Coming up: “Stage Mom” reviews of “The Book of Mormon” and “War Horse,” this year’s Tony Award winners for best musical and best play

Circle time

I first encountered “circle time” as a young mother, when I’d volunteer in my children’s preschool classroom and everyone would gather to share music, stories or “show and tell” type offerings.

Today I enjoyed “circle time” of a different sort, as Lizabeth and I headed to the Herberger Theater Center for the final Actors Theatre performance of an Annie Baker play titled “Circle Mirror Transformation.”

It opens with students in a community acting class lying in a circle trying to count from one to ten within certain parameters, for the purpose of developing a certain mindfulness of those around them — with mixed results.

Valley audiences can experience another Baker work, titled “Body Awareness,” during Actors Theatre’s 2011-2012 season. The work of playwright Sarah Ruhl (whose “In the Next Room” was a hit for Actors Theatre earlier this season) also returns as Actors Theatre presents “Dead Man’s Cell Phone.”

Their 2011-2012 season opens with “A Conversation With Edith Head” by Paddy Calistro and Susan Claassen — and also includes “Next Fall” (Geoffrey Nauffts), “Hunter Gatherers” (Peter Sinn Nachtrieb) and “Time Stands Still” (Donald Margulies).

We enjoyed our time with “Circle Mirror Transformation” — more than we might have otherwise were it not for astute acting by Valley veterans of the stage.

Though I’d have been happy to simply sit and linger over the stunning set, designed by Kimb Williamson of Scottsdale Community College.

After the show we chatted and shared hugs with Maren Maclean (one of five actors in the show), who is one of Lizabeth’s most beloved acting teachers. Lizabeth was eager to share her college decision with Maclean in person. Her choice of an NYC school drew a fitting response: Duh!

Soon we were talking all things East Coast. Maclean’s upcoming reunion at “Indian Hills High School” in Oakland, New Jersey. Our attempts to snag “The Book of Mormon” tickets when we’re in NYC for Lizabeth’s college orientation.

I was keen on showing off my Mother’s Day gifts from Lizabeth — a bracelet and sterling silver earrings with a very circle/mirror vibe. I suspect I’ll be wearing them next Mother’s Day too — my first one without all three kids roosting at least part-time in the nest.

When we got home from the show, I made dinner before sitting down to relax with the latest issue of “American Theatre” magazine, a subscription I enjoy as a gift from my husband for another occasion I’ve all but fogotten by now.

There in the “On Stage: May/June 11” section I spotted a picture of Maclean, Staci Robbins and Rusty Ferracane performing in “Circle Mirror Transformation.”

Just more evidence of the “full circle” nature of my day, and of life. The only thing missing is a bit of “circle time” with two and three year olds. Don’t be surprised if you see me sitting cross-legged on the floor somewhere singing along with a bunch of preschoolers this week.

That’s the best “circle time” of all.

— Lynn

Coming up: More new season announcements

Transformation tales

Art meets architecture at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix (Photo by Lynn Trimble)

The Herberger Theater Center, already a jewel among Valley theater venues, underwent a beautiful transformation last year — with changes that included the installation of this shimmering sculpture of light that hangs through a circle in the center of the lobby.

But I’ll be enjoying a circle of a different sort at the Herberger Theater Center this weekend. It’s the Arizona premiere of Annie Baker’s play titled “Circle Mirror Transformation” — which follows the misadventures of students in a small acting class at a community center.

I’m especially eager to see the performance of one actor in particular — Maren Maclean in the role of acting student Theresa. In real life, Maren is a mom and acting teacher extraordinaire.

Maren Maclean, now performing in Circle Mirror Transformation, with my daughter Lizabeth

I know this because my daughter Lizabeth studied acting with Maclean for many years — at Arizona School for the Arts, Scottsdale Community College and in private coaching sessions.

Lizabeth is beginning a transformation of her own — from high school theater student to college student in an acting B.F.A. program back East. I’ll share word of her college decision in a future post if she gives me the green light.

For now, I am delighted to have the opportunity to watch Maclean and the other Valley actors featured in Actors Theatre’s “Circle Mirror Transformation.” I know the power they’ve had in transforming the lives of students and audiences for years.

Maren Maclean in a scene from Circle Mirror Transformation (Image from photo by John Groseclose)

We think too often that NYC has somehow cornered the market on all that is good and true in theater. But tonight, as I’m feeling a bit teary-eyed with thoughts of sending Lizabeth off to the big city, I know her real transformation started right here in the Valley.

She’s been nurtured, inspired and challenged for years — as a person and an artist — by many in the Arizona theater community. Childsplay. Greasepaint Youtheatre. Phoenix Theatre. And others whose work has touched her along the way.

“Circle Mirror Transformation,” though full of humorous moments, offers profound insights as well. Into human nature. Into our own personal foibles and follies. Into what people can accomplish together. Into what we must undertake alone.

The cast of Circle Mirror Transformation with Actors Theatre of Phoenix (Photo by John Groseclose)

This weekend, as I experience the Actors Theatre production of “Circle Mirror Transformation,” I’ll be thinking of the little girl whose time at the Herberger Theater Center has been such an important part of her transformation to young adult and blossoming artist.

I know the cast of “Circle Mirror Transformation” will deliver a powerful performance, and suspect those who experience their work will leave the theater feeling their own taste of transformation.

— Lynn

Note: Those who attend the Sun, May 1 performance of “Circle Mirror Transformation” are invited to stay after the show for a free talkback with cast and creative team members — who can share their own insights about transforming Baker’s script into their own performance of the piece.

Coming up: Remembering the Holocaust, May art picks, Town hall meets arts and culture, International Museum Day

Arizona meets Smithsonian

I’ve always been awed by the size and scope of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. — which describes itself as “the world’s largest museum and research complex, with 19 museums, 9 research centers and more than 140 affiliate museums around the world.”

But I’ve often taken for granted the fact that there are several Smithsonian Affiliates right here in Arizona, including the following:

  • Arizona Historical Society (Tucson)
  • Arizona State Museum (Tucson)
  • Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum (Bisbee)
  • Challenger Space Center (Peoria)
  • Heard Museum (Phoenix)
  • Sharlot Hall Museum (Prescott)
  • Tucson Unified School District (Tucson)

The newest Arizona museum to earn Smithsonian Affiliate status is the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, another museum that never ceases to amaze thanks to the breadth and depth of diverse offerings both musical and music-related.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’ve always found that trips to the MIM feel more like exhilerating jaunts around the world than stuffy strolls through museum corridors. Just as the Heard Museum in Phoenix features a comprehensive collection of American Indian arts and culture, the MIM features a comprehensive collection of music-related artifacts.

If you’ve yet to explore the Musical Instrument Museum, or other museums noted above, you’re missing the opportunity to enjoy some of the country’s finest museums right in your own backyard.

— Lynn

Coming up: Valley venues performing Broadway classics

Photos courtesy of the Musical Instrument Museum