Tag Archives: Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

From aliens to arm wrestling

Got a thing for UFOs? Hit tonight’s free Summer Opening Celebration — and sign up for a UFO-theme family day on June 21 at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

It sometimes feels like aliens from outer space have already landed in Arizona, and no one would be happier than my hubby if it actually happened. He’s a longtime fan of science fiction who’ll be pleased to learn that the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art has UFOs on the brain these days.

Seems we human types once sent a “Golden Record” into space, eager to put our best foot forward in the event our probes made their way to alien lands. But that was the 70s, and this is now. So a Brooklyn-based composer named Judd Greenstein is working with artists who call themselves “New Catalogue” to imagine how humans might represent themselves now.

Folks curious about the project can hit tonight’s “Summer Opening Celebration” at SMoCA — which’ll feature previews of a new work composed by Greenstein that’s being performed tomorrow night at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Tonight’s affair, which runs from 7-10pm, is free and open to the public. You can hit the Lounge at SMoCA to enjoy a no host bar and Dulce Dance Company.

Meet composer Judd Greenstein tonight at SMoCA and enjoy the premiere of a new Greenstein work tomorrow at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Those who attend tonight’s shindig can mingle with artists, curators, dancers and composers — plus check out four new exhibitions. I’m hoping to pop over after we’ve celebrated Lizabeth’s birthday, but will most certainly be in the house tomorrow night as Greenstein premieres “In Teaching Others We Teach Ourselves,” written for violinist Nadia Sirota. Sirota, a string quartet and members of the Grammy-winning Phoenix Chorale will all be taking to the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts stage.

Families fascinated by UFOs can hit SMoCA on June 21 for their annual “Family Fun Night,” which promises all sorts of UFO-related fare like creating hands-on art projects that involve sending messages to aliens in outer space. Also “a planetarium for stargazing,” a child-friendly docent-led tour of related exhibitions and plenty of good clean fun. Think blowing big bubbles, sampling refreshing treats and enjoying playtime in the Civic Center Mall fountain (BYO bathing suit).

There’s also a free event taking place June 12 that’s dubbed “Summer Stargazing and Music in Outerspace.” That baby features a curator-led tour of “This is a Present from a Small Distant World” plus an ASU ethnomusicologist discussing musical selections performed by Erin Hales. There’s even stargazing at ASU to follow.

I discovered oodles of good stuff browsing through the summer events and exhibition calendars for SMoCA — from film screenings and author events to art workshops and teen gatherings. I’m especially intrigued by “Arm Wrestling for Art” (July 13) and an online experience called “Out of the Cubical.” Watch for another post featuring pearls shared by Greenstein once I’ve rocked the birthday party vibe here at home.

— Lynn

Note: Pre-register for the SMoCA “Family Fun Night” on June 21 by calling 480-874-4642 (The evening is $20 for a family of four and $4 per extra person). I’m assuming any actual aliens from outer space choosing to land in Scottsdale that evening will get in free.

Coming up: Composer Judd Greenstein talks art, music and life

Update: I’m now blogging as “Stage Mom Musings” at www.stagemommusings.com. Please find and follow me there to continue receiving posts about arts and culture in Arizona and beyond. Thanks for your patience as the tech fairies work to move all 1,250+ posts to the new site. For the latest news follow me on Twitter @stagemommusings. 6/13/12


Mischief with metal

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When I learned that mischievous metal artists were in town, I knew I had to take a peek. I’m sure members of the Society of North American Goldsmiths, in town for their annual conference, are plenty tame in everday mode, but some of them are bringing a delightfully odd twist to metal in a pair of exhibitions running through Sunday at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

After previewing the 30 or so works in each juried exhibition (selected from a total of about 700 submissions), I got to thinking how much the folks attending Phoenix Comicon this weekend would enjoy these works. One artist imagined Darth Vadar as a little girl, and another created a jousting helmet for a newborn. Both are part of “Humor in Metal.” The other exhibition is titled “Hot Under the Collar: Survey of Contemporary Necklaces.”

While enjoying the exhibitions with my son Christopher, I ran into another mom who was there with her 7-year-old daughter, Arianna. Seems we’d each hit the center looking for something interesting to do that’d keep us out of the midday heat. I asked Arianna to show me her favorite piece, and she was quick to choose one featuring LEGO bricks.

I recalled Christopher’s many years of building elaborate LEGO towns on a large table in his bedroom when he was younger as Arianna told me about her favorite LEGO sets. Soon her mom, Arianna, was telling me about LEGO builds they’ve attended at Chandler Fashion Center together — and I was sharing tales of a long-ago babysitter who once taught at the school Arianna attends in Scottsdale.

As we got to talking about art, Arianna told me about her favorite programs for making art on the computer and Starrla spoke of her daughter’s love for drawing — mentioning that Arianna was once invited by a muralist to help paint a skull on the Barrio Cafe building after driving by one day and seeing the artist at work. I stopped to photograph that very mural today on my way to retrieve the cell phone misplaced during this year’s Arizona Press Club awards ceremony at the Duce.

It gets harder to meet fellow parents once kids leave the stroller stage, so I was delighted to meet a fellow art afficionado at the center that day. We parted ways as Christopher and I set out to explore Father’s Day gift options at The Store at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, but ran into each other again afterwards.

Arianna and her mom had just come from the young@art gallery, which is operated by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art but located inside Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts — and Arianna was clearly excited about all she’d seen there, telling us we should be sure to check it out.

We did, of course, and found plenty of fun works. A pair of white buckets filled with body parts made of plaster. A box filled with little toy soldiers. A mannequin donning a skirt made of colorful comic strips. And much more — all created by students from various high schools who’ve participated in the museum’s “Visions” program for teens. There’s another exhibition of youth work in a hallway just off the center’s foyer.

Take it all in if you hit the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts to enjoy this weekend’s exhibitions by the Society of North American Goldsmiths. Both “Humor in Metal” and “Hot Under the Collar” take place Sat, May 26 from 10am to 5pm — plus Sun, May 27, from noon to 5pm. Some of the works featured are being offered for sale, and The Store will gladly give you all the fine print.

I spied a lovely “Chicken Choker” that’d be all the rage at Phoenix Comicon. Don’t say I didn’t warn you if someone beats you to that baby. For those with exotic tastes, finding just the right accessories can be brutal. And there’s nothing quite like artists who take pride in making mischief with their metal.

— Lynn

Coming up: Veterans who write, Musings on “First Position”

Spilling secrets

The real playwrights of Arizona will be spilling secrets this weekend as they present the 6th annual Pandora Festival, dubbed “Secrets Revealed.” It’s a three-day event featuring diverse works about everything from teen misfits to gripes with the corporate world. Even lack of privacy in the digital world and memories of a failed marriage.

ASU alumna Jennifer Giralo’s first play is part of this weekend’s “Pandora Festival” in Scottsdale

It’s “idealism versus realism” as Patty Hackmann directs Jennifer Giralo’s “Married to Marriage.” Seems characters Andy and Kim try to work through differing world views “in a late night bet they will never forget.” Something tells me they’re not wagering over who’s better at separating whites from brights.

Micki Shelton’s “Holly,” directed by Kate Hawkes, imagines a woman lost in Utah struggling to balance GPS, a Native American Park Ranger and a man on a horse. It’s all good, I suppose, assuming she doesn’t add texting while trailblazing.

Shelton notes that while she’s written plays starting with characters (“Circles”), theme (“Discovery: The Lost Gospel of Judas” — still a work in progress), and basic plot (“Fred and Mary”), she hadn’t “written a play beginning with setting” until a trip to Hovenweep National Monument about 18 months ago inspired her to write the work that became “Holly.”

Folks who enjoy “Holly” can experience more of Shelton’s work this July as “Fred and Mary: An Unconventional Romance” makes its world premiere at the historic Elks Opera House in Prescott. While others watch “Holly” come Saturday night, Shelton will be attending her daughter’s graduation in California. Some babies are penned, others born.

The Pandora Festival of New Works 2012 looks like this:

  • Ten short plays. Fri, May 18 at 7pm.
  • “Duty & Duplicity,” a full-length play by Michelle Lambeau (directed by Barbara Aker). Sat, May 19 at 2pm.
  • Four one-act plays. Sat, May 19 at 7pm.
  • “Father’s Ashes,” a full-length play by Esther Blumfield (directed by Kandyce Hughes). Sun, May 20 at 2pm.

All works are being performed at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. It’s one of many gems you’ll discover by exploring a section of their website dubbed “Events Presented by Visiting Groups” (others include “Swan Lake…The Big Splash” presented by Dance Theater West).

Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts is located right next to Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, which has plenty of its own intriguing offerings — including this weekend’s first-event SMOCA “Teens Night Out” Sat, May 19, from 7-11pm in front of the museum.

“Teens Night Out” is free for teens with school I.D. or drivers license, and features everything from break dancing to painting performance. Think four bands, outdoor community chalk mural, hands-on art activities, free raffles, DJ and more. Reminds me of a recent dance party enjoyed at the Brooklyn Museum in NYC.

Let the kids party while you Pandora. Click here to learn more about the Arizona Women’s Theatre Company, which presents the Pandora Festival plus other opportunities for playwrights and lovers of the new. Then tell a friend, because some secrets are fine to share.

— Lynn

Coming up: Ten ways to celebrate International Museum Day, Arts meets women’s rights, From Brooklyn to Scottsdale

Two fairs, three festivals

Unplug the kids this weekend for a bit of camp fair and festival fun

I’m heading out this morning, and tomorrow, to enjoy this year’s Raising Arizona Kids Magazine Camp Fair — taking place at the Tesseract School Shea Campus in Phoenix (Feb. 25) and the Seton Catholic Preparatory High School in Chandler (Feb. 26). I’m especially eager to chat with folks from all the camps offering visual and performing arts fare.

I’ll have plenty of good choices for weekend fun, including three festivals, once I get my Camp Fair fix — a Black History Month festival in Peoria, a Matsuri festival in Phoenix and a Sunday A’Fair “mini-festival” in Scottsdale.

The Black History Month celebration in Peoria actually kicked off last night with a jazz concert featuring Dennis Rowland, but those of you who missed it will be pleased to know that he’s also part of a concert taking place at the Herberger Theater Center Mon, Feb. 27 to benefit Actors Theatre (which also stars Walt Richardson, and Bob Sorenson as master of ceremonies).

The Black History Month Festival happens today from 10am to 7pm in Osuna Park in Peoria (83rd and Grand Aves.). I’m told they’ll have live music, vendors, community and medical service stations, and a kids zone — plus lots of information and educational materials. Admission to the festival is free, and the day also includes a tribute to the late Whitney Houston.

Sunday A’Fair in Scottsdale takes place Sun, Feb. 26 from noon to 4pm on the large lawn adjacent to the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Admission to this baby is free as well.

This week’s Sunday A’Fair features the Chuck Hall Band playing “a spicy Texas stew of originals and unique blues-based standards” from noon to 1:30pm and Powerdrive playing “Red-hot salsa dance numbers, R & B, classic oldies and Tex-Mex.”

Sunday A’Fairs also take place March 4 & 25 and April 1 & 8 — and each features different concert fare. All include a fine arts and crafts market, activities for children and free admission to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.

Arizona Matsuri, the 28th Annual Festival of Japan, hits Heritage and Science Park in downtown Phoenix both Sat, Feb. 25 and Sun, Feb. 26 from 10am-5pm. It features exhibits, demonstrations, arts and crafts, children’s activities and three stages with live entertainment. Plus Japanese food and bonsai displays.

Folks dressed in Japanese attire are invited to participate in the Matsuri parade that starts at 10:10am today (start gathering at the Plaza Stage around 9:45am).  An opening ceremony at 10:30am this morning features Ambassador Ichiro Fujisaki, Japan’s ambassador to the United States.

Festival organizers note that “flowering cherry trees have seen symbols of Japan’s friendship to the people of America for 100 years.” In 1912, more than 3,000 cherry trees were gifted from the Tokyo to Washington, D.C. so 2012 has been dubbed the Japan-U.S. Cherry Blossom Centennial.

Enjoy all these fabulous fairs and festivals while you can. In another couple of months the only things we’ll be celebrating are ice cubes and air conditioning.

— Lynn

Note: Ice cube meets art at the corner of First St. and Brown Ave. in Scottsdale, where you’ll find a 2006 work created with concrete, forged iron and pavers that also includes a rose, cowboy boot, boxing glove and more. It’s “Hidden Histories for Old Town Scottsdale” by Elizabeth Conner with Benson Shaw, Duke Grenier, and Tawn Endres.

Coming up: Starry, starry playwright

Artists and their children

Several young artists were joined by family and friends at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts last Thursday evening for the public opening reception of “Artists and their Children,” which runs through Jan. 23, 2012.

It’s housed in the young@art gallery operated by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, which sits adjacent to the the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts in a complex that also includes two museum gift shops, several restaurants, lovely garden paths and many works of public art.

“Artists and their Children” features works by the following artists and their family members — Carrie Bloomston & Kris Keul, Jeremy Bridell & Cyndi Coon, David Dauncey, Jon Haddock, Angela Cazel Jahn, Nissa Kubly, Becky McDonah, Ken Rosenthal, Aaron & Rebecca Rothman, Randy Slack and Robert You. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Cindi Coon & Jeremy Bridell, along with James Hajicek & Carol Panaro-Smith and Anne & Jerry Schutte, will participate this Thurs, Dec. 8, in a SMoCA event titled “Dynamic Duos” — which features Valley artist couples discussing ways they create “both collaboratively and in proximity to one another.” It’s free, and taking place at 7pm in the SMoCA Lounge.

If you’re more into wearing art than creating it, check out the “Holiday Jewelry Trunk Show” at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts — where “innovative jewelry artists working in all media will showcase and be present to discuss their work.” It’s happening Dec. 9 from 5-8pm and Dec. 10 from noon to 8pm.

Remember local artists, and their families, as you’re choosing gifts for your own family members and friends this time of year. Their individual works make precious holiday gifts, and their collective works do much to enrich our communities every day of the year.

— Lynn

Coming up: From book to stage, Authors tackle name-calling through the ages

Small world, small artists

The lounging end of the new Cartel Coffee Lab in Old Town Scottdale

I discovered while taking photos for Small Business Saturday that a delightful little coffee joint in Old Town Scottsdale is now Arizona’s fourth “Cartel Coffee Lab” location — and that they’re currently exhibiting the work of local artist Cynthia Millikin.

An artist reception for the exhibit featuring Millikin’s charcoal drawings takes place tomorrow night, Dec. 1, from 6-8pm. Remarkable when you consider that Millikin alerted me to another art event taking place that evening — the reception for an exhibition including the work of Robert and Cheyenne You, along with other parent/child artist pairings.

The “Artists and Their Children” exhibit opens with a Dec. 1 reception from 6-8pm, and the You family is looking forward to seeing Cheyenne’s work hanging in the young@art Gallery inside the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

I spoke with You, who teaches art at Scottsdale Community College, earlier this afternoon. He recalls a similar exhibit of six or so years ago, but admits it wasn’t high in his radar at that point. Daughter Cheyenne was just a baby and even art has to take a backseat to dealng with diapers and bibs.

It soon became clear that Cheyenne had her own artistic flair. “She began painting before she was two,” recalls You, who says his daughter “loves to play with color.” While his piece for the “Artists and Their Children” exhibit is a black and white ink drawing on canvas, Cheyenne’s piece is a work on paper created with ink and colored pencils.

The lovely invitation I received from Scottsdale artist Cynthia Millikin

When You shared that his work (which is untitled) measures three by six feet, I asked where he found room to create such things. Turns out the family living room in Scottsdale has a wooden floor and sparse furnishings making it the perfect space for dad’s drawing, mom’s yoga and Cheyenne’s dance.

Fond as she is of drawing and painting, Cheyenne’s first love is dance — both ballet and flamenco. She’s in Miss Betsy’s class at the School of Ballet Arizona, a class my own daughter loved to pieces as a child. I hope early bedtimes won’t preclude Cheyenne’s ballet classmates from joining the You family at Thursday’s free gallery event.

“I told Cheyenne she’s lucky to have her art shown in a gallery at such a young age,” says You. “She’s really fired up.” Cheyenne’s work is titled “Inside of a Rainbow” — but don’t expect an arch in traditional rainbow colors. You describes the work as “non-representational,” sharing the importance of letting young artists use their own imaginations. “I really don’t want to tell her what to do.”

— Lynn

Note: Millikin also shared with me that a new coffee joint in Arcadia called Black Cat Coffee House is currently featuring artwork by Barbara Lacy.

Coming up: Artists fighting hunger

From Vietnam to the Valley

Speak Peace,” a touring exhibit currently being presented by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, was created in partnership with Kent State University’s Wick Poetry Center and School of Art Galleries with Soldier’s Heart, War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City and the Young Writers Program at Arizona State University.

Though the “Speak Peace” exhibit opened only recently in the young@art Gallery housed inside the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, folks from ASU’s Young Writers Program say they’re proud to have been involved for some time.

Sean Nevin, director of the ASU Young Writers Program, recalls meeting the director of a Kent State writing program at a conference about two years ago when both sat on a panel about teaching writing to kids. Nevin returned to Tempe and got to work writing a curriculum focused on teaching students in grades 9-12 how to write in response to experiencing art.

Several MFA in writing students and alumni worked with Nevin on taking the curriculum to Valley high schools as part of something called “Poetry Central.” Nevin is thrilled that “Speak Peace” includes “poetry written by Valley teenagers who participated in Young Writers Program workshops.”

He notes that participating students came from Carson Jr., Alhambra, Bostrom, Camelback, Carl Hayden, Central, Cesar Chavez, Maryvale, Metro Tech, North, South Mountain, and Combs high schools.

Jess Burnquist, ASU MFA graduate and YWP teaching assistant, leading a Speak Peace session with TUHSD students during Poetry Central 2010 (Photo courtesy of ASU YWP)

“Speak Peace” continues to use the curriculum on their website, and you can click here to explore it for yourself.

Nevin notes that those who visit the “Speak Peace” exhibit presented by SMoCA can enjoy several of the written pieces created as part of the ASU/Valley schools collaboration. 

A work created by Valley students working with the YWP is featured below:  

Who Knows

Who knows if peace will come or not?

People are afraid of touching peace,

Hands folding so if won’t fly away.

All that we know is all that we give.


We work together to reach the swan.

Peace tastes like the victuals of Eden.

Peace is the color of fire

And the burning motion of time.

With fingertips like irons,

Peace brands the unborn.

 –Collaborative poem by students from the Phoenix Union High School District (written at a YWP “Poetry Central” workshop)

Renee Simms, ASU MFA graduate and YWP teaching artist, leading a writing exercise with students from the Tolleson Union High School District during Poetry Central 2010 (Photo courtesy of ASU YWP)

“Art works to unite kids across the country and the world,” shares Nevin, who describes the response of youth to art as “a pure one.” Art, says Nevin, allows youth to “share a common language.”

Nevin recalls that the ASU/”Speak Peace” collaboration started near the 40th anniversary of the Kent State shootings, and that many of the students who wrote in response to the artwork created by Vietnamese youth had a parent or sibling deployed in a current conflict.

“It’s sad,” reflects Nevin, “that so little has changed.”

— Lynn

Note: Poet Bruce Weigl, who was awarded a Bronze Star for his service during the Vietnam War, will read his work and sign books at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art at 7:45pm on Thurs, Oct. 13. SMoCA will present a guided tour of the “Speak Peace” exhibit at 7pm.

Coming up: A tale of family and forgiveness, Dance meets the diary of Anne Frank