Tag Archives: photography

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


A picture is worth…

As you’re reading this post, I’ll likely be furiously packing for a flight to NYC or racing through a terminal somewhere readying for the next leg of my journey to visit daughter Lizabeth for homecoming festivities at Pace University.

Like many others, I consider NYC the quintessential American city — largely due to its diversity. It’s a city full of different languages, different skin colors, different religions, different foods and different ideas — a compelling canvas for photographers and other artists.

I expect to take lots of photos while I’m there. In Zuccotti Park and the Wall Street financial district. At the recently-opened 9/11 memorial, the newly-relocated Anne Frank Center and the Park 51 Community Center still in development.

Closer to home, an organization called Through Each Others Eyes will be readying for their first big fundraiser. “Exposure 2011: A Cultural Journey” takes place Wed, Oct. 19 at the Phoenix Art Museum.

Through Each Others Eyes originated in 1988 as an artistic outreach of the Phoenix Sister Cities program. Today the non-profit specializes in using photography to “help people around the world understand and appreciate cultures different than their own.”

They’ve participated in several photographer exchange programs, donated photography services to students and organizations in need and sponsored more than 100 free photography exhibitions in nine countries on three continents.

Folks who attend the event can enjoy cocktails, hors d’oeuvres from around the world and classical guitar music performed by the Sahnas Brothers. Also silent and live auctions featuring several items with a photographic twist (including “a photo experience trip” with a TEOE photographer). The photos below offer a glimpse of their talents.

The first, exhibited in Havana and Phoenix in 2002, is from their sole exchange with Cuban photographers. The second is from a 2008 trip to China. The third, from 2001, was taken at a shrine located near sister city Himeji, Japan (a site significantly impacted by the major 2011 earthquake and its aftermath).

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To learn more about Through Each Others Eyes or this event, visit www.teoe.org. To assist the Phoenix Sister Cities program with ongoing aid efforts in Japan, click here.

— Lynn

Note: The Phoenix Art Museum offers exhibits and events of interest to children, teens and adults. Click here to explore museum offerings. Click here to enjoy a video featuring TEOE folks taking photos of Valley students.

Coming up: Opportunities for budding writers, Audition tips from young actors, A “dance dad” takes on “Dance Moms”

Music meets photography

Lizabeth, now a college freshman, tickling the ivories as a child

Now that my three kiddos are in college, I finally have time to sort through all those old baby and beyond pictures. As I’m browsing, certain themes are emerging.

Photos of friends and family. Photos of art adventures and craft projects. Photos of pets and playdates. Photos of school and community projects. And photos of food, since apparently every holiday turkey I’ve ever cooked is a rare bird.

Many of my favorite photos feature performance art — Jennifer singing with the Phoenix Girls Chorus or leaping through the air at Dance Theater West, Christopher playing piano for New Way Academy’s middle school graduation or practicing saxophone between lessons at Arcadia Music Academy, Lizabeth playing violin during Suzuki music festivals or acting on the Greasepaint Youtheatre stage.

Daily practice was a must at our house, and some days were more pleasant than others. I’m sure they felt at times like the only three children ever to have such tyrannical parents pushing them on to greater musical heights. But recently I uncovered what I hope will offer evidence to the contrary.

Christopher showing off his saxophone skills as a child

It’s an exhibit of photographs opening this Saturday, Sept 24, at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix. The exhibit is titled “The Power of Music: Photographic Portraits of Americans and Their Musical Instruments, 1860-1915.” I’m eager to explore the exhibit searching for pictures of children experiencing musical instruments in earlier times.

Exhibit materials describe this period in history as “an amazing age for musical transformation, taking place during the boom of the Industrial Revolution.” I suspect the exhibit will tell me a bit about exactly how and why that’s the case.

Apparently it pictures Americans from several walks of life making music. Uniformed infantry soldiers. Young rural children. Increasingly liberal urban women. “The intimate portraits in The Power of Music,” says the MIM, “convey pride, a sense of accomplishment, and a love of music.

I’m still digging for photos of Jennifer playing the flute, and wishing my mother had saved photos of my own piano, guitar and clarinet days. In another hundred years, they might be the perfect fit for a photographic exhibit of music in an age of rapidly-evolving technology.

— Lynn

Note: You can explore Musical Instrument Museum offerings at www.themim.org.

Coming up: Celebrating International Peace Day, Art and patriotism in Gilbert, The beauty of banned books

Origami & beyond

I was struck by a series of hanging paper cranes during a recent visit to Poets House in New York City. Origami is the one form of art I simply can’t pass by without pausing — perhaps because it seems the perfect blend of purposeful and playful.

There’s a similar exhibit as you enter the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa, inside a foyer that also houses a giant hanging paper crane. Recently I visited the museum with my adult son Christopher, who’s been enjoying the museum with me since he was just knee-high.

We explored the museum’s ArtZone — which currently features an exhibit titled “One Thousand Paper Cranes.” Exhibit materials note that in Japan it’s believed that a wish comes true for the person who folds 1,000 paper origami cranes. 

A sign at the museum invites visitors to fold paper cranes in an effort to secure their wish for world peace — collecting them for shipment to Hiroshima, Japan — where they’ll hang in the Children’s Peace Monument.

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Admirers of Japanese and other Asian art can always find it in the Phoenix Art Museum’s permanent Asian Collection. Its offerings, which can be viewed online, include several Japanese prints and screens.

Phoenix Art Museum holds its next “First Wednesday Asian Gallery Talk” at noon on August 3. It’s free with museum admission or membership.

The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix presents a “Museum Encounter” with Bobby Seigetsu Avstreih and the Japanese Shakuhachi Flute at 11:30am and 2:30pm on Aug 6. It’s free with museum admission.

Through Each Others Eyes, an organization that uses photography to promote international understanding, has a photographic exchange exhibit with Japanese photographers. It’s the 17th such exchange between photographers in sister cities Phoenix and Himeji.

The Japanese Friendship Garden (Ro Ho En) in Phoenix, which closes for the summer months, is holding an “Opening Day Celebration” on Oct 1. Their annual “Moonviewing Festival” (Ot sukimi) takes place Oct. 15.

Musical theater fans are keeping an eye on the development of “Allegiance — A New American Musical,” which follows a family touched by the internment of Japanese Americans in parts of the U.S. following the attack on Pearl Harbor. “Allegiance” is described as a work about “love, loss and heroism.”

Cast members include Lea Salonga as Gloria Suzuki, George Takei as Old Sam Omura and Telly Leung as Young Sam Omura. A private workshop was held last week in New York, and the musical will enjoy a world premiere next year at the Old Globe theatre in San Diego.

If you share my love for origami, or you have yet to appreciate its wonder, check out the PBS “Independent Lens” film titled “Between the Folds.” It features the art and science of origami by exploring the work of ten powerful paper-folders.

You can learn more about the history of origami and all sorts of paper-folding resources from PBS “Independent Lens” online. But your best bet is still buying a bunch of origami paper so you and your children can learn by doing.

— Lynn

Note: Start today if your family celebrates Christmas and you’d like to decorate your tree this year with paper cranes like those shown in one of the images above. Paper cranes and other origami or kirigami (paper cutting) art also make beautiful garlands and table decorations.

Coming up: Valley studios offering acting classes

Contemporary art meets Comicon

Potential by Laura Favela of South Mountain High School

My youngest daughter Lizabeth, who’ll turn 18 next month, will be enjoying one of her holiday gifts next weekend — tickets to Phoenix Comicon, taking place May 26-29 at the Phoenix Convention Center.

I’ve encouraged her to swing by the SMoCA and Scottsdale Public Art table while she’s there, so she can get the scoop on comic book-themed tandem exhibitions conceived by Phoenix artist Jon Haddock — showing at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art May 21-Oct 2.

The comic exhibition is titled “Idios Kosmos: Koinos Kosmos” — meaning “Us Versus Them” and “Masters of Collective Reality.” Seems a fitting exhibit in light of the fact that we’re all still here today despite predictions to the contrary.

If you head to SMoCA before June 5, you can see the work of Brazilian conceptual artist Rivane Neuenschwander in an exhibit titled “A Day Like Any Other” that was organized by the New Museum in New York City.

Trapped by Andrea Kidd of South Mountain High School

The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art presents 10-14 exhibitions of contemporary art, architecture and design every year. But my favorite SMoCA exhibit space, the young@art gallery, is actually located at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

The young@art gallery houses only works by youth, and exhibits change several times each year. Each summer SMoCA presents works by students at area high schools who’ve participated in an education program for teens titled “Visions.”

The current “Visions” exhibit is titled “Picture I.D.” It features works by students from five Valley high schools — Central, Chaparral, McClintock, Saguaro and South Mountain. Think photography, painting and sculpture. Then think talented. And enjoy the “sneak peeks” throughout this post.

Work by Kalynda Barton of McClintock High School

To learn more about experiencing these works in person, visit the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art website at www.smoca.org.

Thursday nights, by the way, are always free — as is admission for museum members and youth 15 and under whenever the museum is open.

My children enjoyed many a SMoCA exhibit when they were younger, but their favorite times took place at Scottsdale Civic Center Mall — where low, gentle hills make for fun play areas. The museum is holding two family-friendly events in June.

The June 24 “Summer Opening Celebration” includes hands-on craft activities for adults and children — thanks to the Scottsdale crafting community and a new family-friendly store called “Splendid” (coming soon to Scottsdale Fashion Square).

The June 30 “Summer Family Night at the Museum” includes a kid-friendly tour of comic-theme exhibitions, an outdoor make-your-own comic book creature activity and a bit of giant bubble play coupled with splash time in outdoor fountains.

Bring your towels and bathing suits…

— Lynn

Note: SMoCA participates in a reciprocal museum program so membership in SMoCA entitles you to free admission to several other museums around the country. Click here to explore a list of reciprocal museums before planning your next vacation. Also check with SMoCA before attending their events to confirm dates/times, costs and other details.

Coming up: Remembering JFK, From Sondheim to South Park

Updated with corrections 4/26/12 LT

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

Military matters

I was struck Tuesday afternoon by two sentences from a press release sent by the Arizona Commission on the Arts

The first sentence read as follows: Six Arizona museums will offer free admission to all active duty personnel and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day 2010…. 

The final sentence read like this: We imagine an Arizona where everyone can participate in and experience the arts. 

I began to consider for the first time the many challenges that military families must face in enjoying the arts and culture that’s such an integral part of the country they serve and defend each day. The limits that tours of duty place on their together time. The economic hardship of wages way beneath their worth. 

I also wondered about the ways many of America’s military members and artists might be similar. Both bring passion, dedication and immeasurable hard work to their craft. Both are essential to promoting and supporting the many freedoms we enjoy as Americans—including our rights to self-expression. 

Yet both are woefully under-appreciated, often working with too few resources amidst intolerable apathy. 

Desert Caballeros exhibit features 'cowgirl' art

So I was delighted to learn that military families across the country can enjoy free admission to more than 600 participating museums thanks to the “Blue Star Museum Initiative”–a partnership of the National Endowment for the Arts with Blue Star Families, a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit network of families from all ranks and services including guard and reserve who work to “support, connect and empower military families.” 

Arizona museums participating in the program are: 

Arizona State Museum in Tucson. This museum, located at the University of Arizona, notes that it “holds the largest whole vessel collection of Southwestern Indian pottery in the world”–and is “the primary repository for archeological materials excavated on Arizona’s state lands.” www.statemuseum.arizona.edu 

Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenberg. The museum’s permanent collection features Native American arts and artifacts, gems and minerals, early Arizona street scenes and period rooms, and history dioramas. Current exhibitions include “Cowgirl Up!” featuring “art from the other half of the West” and “Snapshots of Early Twentieth Century Arizona: A Postcard Legacy” featuring the art of Jeremy Rowe. www.westernmuseum.org 

Heard Museum in Phoenix. This museum is “dedicated to the sensitive and accurate portrayal of Native arts and cultures” through combining the “stories of American Indian people from a personal perspective with the beauty of art.” Their collection features “art ranging from ancestral artifacts to contemporary paintings and jewelry.” www.heard.org  

Phoenix Art Museum presents "In the Mood"

Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff. The museum features exhibits in four main disciplines: anthropology, biology, geology and fine art. It showcases the land and people of the Colorado Plateau with permanent exhibits in five galleries and changing exhibits in three additional galleries. www.musnaz.org 

Phoenix Art Museum in Phoenix. This museum offers diverse collections including American, Asian, European, Latin American, Western American art and much more (fashion, photography, etc.). Current exhibitions include “Ansel Adams,” “Sumatra,” “Exposing Time” and “In the Mood.” www.phxart.org 

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art in Scottsdale. The museum features innovative programming that currently includes an exhibit called “Text Messages” developed through the museum’s teen “Visions” program. Other current exhibits include “Architecture + Art: 90 Days Over 100 degrees” and “Spyhopping: Adventures with Sue Chenoweth and the permanent collection.” www.smoca.org 

Mini-Time Machine Museum. This museum displays “an entertaining and interactive array of antique and contemporary miniatures as well as enchanting artifacts” and features “over 275 miniature houses and room boxes.” The museum “styles itself as a miniature time machine” in which visitors explore “different lands and times both real and imagined.” www.theminitimemachine.org 

Sue Chenoweth work on exhibit at SMOCA

If you know of a military family who might enjoy these museum adventures, please share the word. Remember too that all Arizona families are welcome to explore the arts and culture on exhibit at diverse museums throughout our state

We could all use a little more gratitude for both the women and men who serve our country in the military and the artists who further the ideas and conversations so crucial to the freedoms we all hold dear. 


Note: Click here to find a list of all museums throughout the country participating in this program

Coming up: Museum-related careers, More Valley venues unveil upcoming seasons