Tag Archives: Ronald Reagan

Art with a cherry on top

Cherry Ice Cream (oil on canvas) by Barry Levitt

I learned a day too late that the third Sunday in July is National Ice Cream Day thanks to a 1984 proclamation by President Ronald Reagan, though I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to celebrate after the fact with a small scoop or two. 

If live performance art was ice cream, live simulcasts would be the cherry on top. They allow folks to enjoy works of dance, music and theater that they wouldn’t otherwise experience.

National Theatre Live presents “the best of British theatre broadcast live to cinemas around the world” — and you can see their latest offering at the Phoenix Art Museum Sun, July 24 from 2-5pm.

It’s a new version of Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” by Andrew Upton, starring Zoe Wanamaker — known to “Harry Potter” fans as Madame Hooch from the movie “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” It’s being performed at London’s Olivier Theatre.

This production of “The Cherry Orchard,” directed by Howard Davies, is being presented at the Phoenix Art Museum by Arizona Theatre Company. The Phoenix Art Museum is the only Phoenix-area venue to offer this presentation of “The Cherry Orchard.” Here’s their description of the work…

You can see a new production of The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov July 24 at the Phoenix Art Museum

Set at the very start of the twentieth century, Anton Checkhov’s The Cherry Orchard captures a poignant moment in Russian history as the country rolls inexorably towards the October Revolution of 1917. Madame Ranyevskaya returns home, more or less bankrupt after ten years abroad. Luxuriating in her fading moneyed world and blissfully unaware of the growing hostile forces outside, she and her brother snub the lucrative scheme of Lopakhin, a peasant turned entrepreneur, to save the family estate. In so doing, they put up their lives to auction and seal the fate of the beloved orchard.

“The Cherry Orchard,” which was Chekhov’s last play, is being presented in high definition and Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound. Tickets are just $15 for Phoenix Art Museum members, ATC subscribers and students with I.D. — and $18 for others. Space is limited and tickets can be purchased online.

Other providers of live simulcast and taped performances include Emerging Pictures, which offers Ballet in Cinema, Opera in Cinema and Shakespeare in Cinema series. Also Fathom Events — which recently presented a revival of the musical “Company” at several Valley movie theaters.

It’s all art with a cherry on top. Yum.

— Lynn

Note: The Phoenix Art Museum also offers films with an arts twist.  And the Film Bar in Phoenix presents two visual arts-related titles this month — “Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child” and “!Women Art Revolution.”

Coming up: What would Robin Hood do?

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Mixed reviews for Ronald Reagan

The reviews for Ronald Reagan — first as an actor, then as a politician — have always been mixed. Reagan served as our country’s 40th president from 1981-1989, and before that served as Governor of California.

I say “served” out of more than respect for traditional lingo on the topic — because I still believe that holding elected office is an act of public service. We do it a grave injustice today by reducing it to politics and punditry.

I remember my daughters considering service in the Senate when they were younger, having been raised to appreciate and admire the role of legislators.

They liked the idea of getting to know people in the community, listening to their diverse ideas, and working with others to craft ways to move collective dreams forward.

But one politician in particular, who rallies Reagan’s name to further her own causes, gives me serious pause (an expression attributed to Shakepeare’s “Hamlet”).

Lately I’ve been wondering whether actors, like Reagan or Arnold Schwarzenegger (Governor of California from 2003-2010), make good politicians — and whether politicians are becoming more skilled as actors.

I wasn’t terribly steeped in politics as a child. I suspect my mother, holding a more circular than linear view of time, was “apolitical” at best. As a young adult I didn’t pay careful attention to Reagan’s policies.

But I distinctly recall two bookends of his presidency — the 1981 release of American hostages and the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall separating East and West Germany (Reagan’s famous call to “Tear down that wall!” came during a 1987 speech).

Like most people, it’s the history to which I have some personal connection (however remote) that I remember best. Having studied in Heidelberg as part of the Pepperdine University “Year in Europe” program, I’ve always been finely tuned to events taking place in Germany.

When Pepperdine students learned that the Iranian hostages had been released and would be flown to a military hospital in Wiesbaden, we felt a surge of patriotism —  traveling by train to join the relatively small crowd welcoming them to this stop on their journey home.

We rushed to make signs, including a long banner that somehow made its way to the balcony from which the rescued hostages would wave to supporters there to greet them. It read: YOU’RE FREE! “AFTER ALL, WE ARE AMERICANS” (Click here to see the sign in an AP file photo.)

Our son Christopher, now age 21, was born the year the Berlin Wall fell. Parenthood has fueled my growing interest in history and public policy — and motivated me to act each day (if even in small ways, like writing these posts) to make some measure of difference for both my own family and the community we all share.

Ronald Reagan died June 5, 2004 — and was honored with a seven-day state funeral in Washington, D.C. I was attending a national mental health conference at the time, as executive director and non-compensated lobbyist for an Arizona non-profit.

Like many Americans, I stood several hours in line to write a message in one of many condolence books that reside now at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California.

I didn’t agree with everything Reagan said or did as President, but I respect the office — and those who sacrifice so much of self and family to faithfully carry out their duties each day (and night). I was humbled to witness our nation’s capitol mourn his loss.

I got to thinking about Ronald Reagan the other day as the airwaves broadcast celebrations of what would have been Reagan’s 100th birthday. One interview struck me in particular — I believe it was with his son Ron Reagan (just two years my senior) and another man who knew Reagan well.

Two thoughts offered during the interview left me feeling empathy with Reagan in ways that hadn’t ever occured to me before.

First, that Reagan’s political optimism was fueled by his dogged determination as a child to will painful experiences into positive perspectives somehow.

And second, that Reagan — despite being a deeply caring and genuine man — had very few, if any, close friends.

In both these ways I feel a certain sympatico with Reagan that I might never have developed otherwise.

But what, you might wonder, does this have to do with the arts?

I also heard a gentleman explain that Ronald Reagan loved inviting a few friends over for politics-free evenings of swapping stories. He noted that Reagan’s favorite storyteller of all time was his father.

Whatever your reviews for Ronald Reagan, on screen or off, embrace the power of storytelling. Make sure your children know about your own experiences with pivotal moments in history.

Remind them that public service is a noble profession. And work alongside them to create a better future for all Arizona families.

— Lynn

Note: Visitors to the website for the Ronald Reagan Foundation and Library can enjoy an introduction by actor Gary Sinise, who will be attending this month’s 2011 “Sedona International Film Festival

Coming up: A week of firsts

National Hispanic Heritage Month

Artwork from ALAC in Phoenix

Some of the Valley’s richest cultural resources are tucked away in places you might not even know exist. I stumbled on one just the other day as I was parking for the Phoenix Symphony/Phoenix Theatre performance of “The Music Man.”

It’s the Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center, just across the street from Phoenix Symphony Hall.

The center, also known as ALAC, is a consortium of local Latino groups and artists featuring Galeria 147 — which includes art exhibit spaces, a multi-use performance venue and a gift shop/bookstore. Their current exhibit, “La Phoeniquera,” features the works of Latino & Latina artists in Phoenix.

I wasn’t able to enjoy it because it’s closed Sundays and Mondays, but I look forward to touring the space in the future — perhaps during one of Artlink Phoenix’s “First Friday” events. I’m also eager to see their exhibit of newspaper sculpture and costumes by Christopher Plentywounds, which is titled “The Fine Art of Fine Print.”

"Hechale" by Eduardo Oropeza

ALAC is one of several organizations identified as a partner by the CALA (Celebracion Artistica de las Americas) Alliance, which will hold its kick-off event on Sept 24 at Phoenix Symphony Hall — a “signature concert featuring the exciting Grammy Award winning Poncho Sanchez and his Latin Jazz Band.”

Plans are underway for the first bi-annual CALA Festival — a two-month Valleywide celebration spotlighting “the vibrant artistic, musical and culinary offerings of the regional Latino community through various exhibits, concerts, street fairs and more.” Interested artists can visit their website to learn about the jury process.

"The Love That Stains" by Maya Gonzalez

Other alliance partners include XICO, which “promotes Chicano artists by nourishing the appreciation of the cultural and spiritual heritage of Latino and indigenous people,” and CPLC (Chicano Por La Causa, Inc.), “an organization dedicated to the well-being of Arizona’s economically-deprived communities by providing the tools to empower people and families to achieve their aspirations.”

If you’re eager to learn more about Hispanic culture, you’ll have plenty of opportunities during National Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated Sept 15 through Oct 15.

Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama, notes that the month “celebrates the cultures of Americans who trace their ancestry to Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.”

Local family-friendly events include “Fiesta Surprise” on Sept 18 and “Tempe Tardeada” on Oct 10. “Fiesta Surprise,” being held at the Surprise Stadium, features live music and dance, a kids’ fun zone and more. “Tempe Tardeada,” taking place at the Tempe Community Complex (near the Tempe Public Library), features music, dance and art exploring Tempe’s Hispanic roots and culture.

"First Aztec on the Moon" by Santiago Perez

Stay tuned to local venues — including museums, community colleges, universities, performing arts centers, libraries, parks and recreation centers, and bookstores — to learn about National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations in your area.

Online resources include www.pbskids.org, www.smithsonianmag.com, www.smithsonianeducation.org, and www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov — which notes that “the observance started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period.”

September 15 is the anniversary of independence for several Latin American countries, while Mexico celebrates independence on Sept 16 and Chile celebrates independence on Sept 18. Columbus Day (Oct 12) also falls during the 30-day period designated as National Hispanic Heritage Month.

"Cumpleanos de Lala y Tudi" by Carmen Lomas Garza

If your organization or venue offers events and activities to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, please feel free to comment below to let our readers know.

–Lynn

Note: To enjoy more Latino art, visit www.latinoartcommunity.org.

Coming: More season previews