Tag Archives: shoe mill

Truckin’ through Tempe

I found myself “truckin’ through Tempe” today while searching for a new installation of public art along Mill Avenue. Six utility boxes between Rio Salado Parkway and 7th Street have been painted by artists whose designs also grace new library cards for Tempe Public Library patrons.

I spied the “Sonoran Afternoon” utility box painted by Bud Heiss on Feb. 4 first, because it’s on the same corner as the Shoe Mill — my favorite haunt when new shoes beckon, and a splendid place to fondle handbags I can scarcely afford.

While making my way up Mill Avenue to check out other utility boxes, I stopped to chat with a woman named Susan who was playing her violin along the street — but was soon distracted by a painted truck whizzing past so quickly I couldn’t catch a photo.

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I turned my attention to exploring other shops in the area — including a charming hole-in-the-wall bookstore called Old Town Books that reminded me of taking my babies to Changing Hands Bookstore back when it occupied a similar space along that very strip.

While there, I spied a book about Helen Keller — reminding me that “The Miracle Worker” opens later this month at Scottsdale Community College. I’ve no young children to buy such books for anymore, but snapped a picture that’ll help me rekindle memories of reading to my children when they were small.

I also lingered over artwork and furnishings with a vintage/retro vibe at Loft a Go Go, a shop I’ve been eager to explore since spotting it one evening on a hurried walk from parking structure to Stray Cat Theatre. Its diverse offerings include all sorts of goodies plastered with the likenesses of Elvis, Audrey and Marilyn.

I spotted a few more painted utility boxes in my travels, and one of the unpainted variety that made me appreciate the others even more. Colton Brock’s “Mill District” work is located near the light rail stop most convenient for folks eager to explore the Mill Avenue District.

Dawn DeVries Good’s “Be the Good,” painted on Feb. 6, sits at the corner of 6th Street and Mill Avenue. I’m saving others for another trip once my bum knee is on the mend. They include Lucretia Torva’s “Tempe Shine,” Oliverio Balcells’ “Tempe Roots” and Linda Parker’s “Day Dreaming at Tempe Town Lake.”

I was about to head home when I spotted the painted truck again — parked and perfectly primed for an impromptu photo session. As I suspected, it was covered with assorted paintings, each bearing the name and city/state of its creator. There was just a single catch — it was a beer truck. While I snapped photos, a driver for Crescent Crown Distributing did his delivery thing. To the restaurants, not the nearby dorms.

Then, after a successful dig for more parking meter change, I made one final stop — to a brick building called Hackett House that was once Tempe Bakery. Hackett House is home to the Tempe Sister Cities program, so folks who hit their gift shop or cooking classes can help a worthy cultural cause in the process.

I spotted all sorts of rabbits, chicks and other fare with a whimsical Easter vibe. Even a trio of ceramic “see, hear and speak no evil” bunnies. Also Raggedy Ann dolls, tiny tea sets in charming picnic baskets, richly textured scarves, accessories for wine lovers and glass flowers to hold birthday candles. Even plenty of bobbles and bling for those thinking ahead to Mother’s Day.

I’ve been truckin’ through Tempe for a good twenty years now. First pushing a stroller. Now strolling with camera in hand. It never gets old — thanks to book stores, beer trucks, bunnies and beyond.

— Lynn

Coming up: Sunday at Seton, Conversations with local artists, Poetry meets drumroll, A prophet tale

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Small business everyday

While most folks were rushing to and fro in search of Black Friday bargains at big box retailers, I went in search of small business options in several Valley cities — and found the following places you might enjoy visiting during today’s  “Small Business Saturday” event created by American Express.

Mystic Paper in Mesa has amazing scrapbook and paper art supplies

The Eclectic Monkey Emporium in Mesa has a nifty retro vibe

Gunnell’s Jewelry in Mesa has jewelry, watches and a repair service

Book Gallery in Mesa has unique and rare titles for children and adults

Gotham City in Mesa has comic books, action figures and original artwork

Milano Music in Mesa has instruments, sheet music and related gifts

Yucatecan Imports in Tempe has clothing, jewelry and leather goods

Shoe Mill in Tempe has funky shoes, boots, slippers and handbags

Candy Addict in Tempe has sweets and related treats

Zoolikins in Scottsdale has fashion, toys and parent supplies

Purr-suasions in Scottsdale has decor, fashion, handbags and jewelry

The Paper Place in Scottsdale has leather goods, handbags and fun papers

Russian Oasis in Scottsdale has nesting dolls for kids and adults

Tea Time in Scottsdale has fine teas and related gifts for tea lovers

Remember as you’re shopping for self and others that although recognizing “Small Business Saturday” is all good and fine, small businesses welcome your business every day of the year.

— Lynn

Note: This post may be updated as I uncover more “fun finds” during my own “Small Business Saturday” adventures. For additional small business options, visit Local First Arizona online– which lists businesses by specialty and region, and has information on discounts and special promotions.

Coming up: Art gallery hosts local student artists, Making homemade gifts with children, Munchkin musings, “Godspell” tales

From peach to poodle

I headed out Saturday to see the opening performance of “James and the Giant Peach” at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts. It’s being presented by Theater Works’ Youth Works through Feb 20 — and it’s a truly charming take on Roald Dahl’s book of the same name.

I ran into a fellow stage mom at the box office, who told me to “take a lot of pictures of the aunts.” A lovely idea but impossible because my camera is in NYC for a week with my 17-year-old daughter Lizabeth.

Zane Reisert (Old Green Grasshopper) and Evan Arganbright (James)

After the show, I hung around to chat with cast and family members — including a young actor named Evan Arganbright who performed the role of “James.”

He reminds me of Lizabeth during her early years with Greasepaint Youtheatre in Scottsdale.

For a time, it’s all about the cute factor — and Arganbright has it.

I’ll share a bit more of his story, and a review of “James and the Giant Peach” in a future post.

On my way home, I got a call from my 21-year-old son, Christopher, who finished a volunteer gig early and was waiting for the teen taxi.

I picked him up and we headed to Tempe to get my 19-year-old daughter Jennifer, an ASU student who still heads home on weekends for laundry, tech support and life’s little essentials like Dr Pepper.

We got to Tempe just before 4pm — and a lightbulb went off. I dropped Christopher off at a burger joint and headed back to the Tempe Center for the Arts, where Childsplay is performing “Go, Dog. Go!” (based on the book by P.D. Eastman) at 1pm and 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays through March 6.

Scene from a former Childsplay production of "Go, Dog. Go!"

I got to TCA in the nick of time, and took a seat near one of three houses (the dog house) that anchor the set.

“Go, Dog. Go!” is performed “theater in the round” style, so preschoolers were seated all around the circular floor-level performance area.

They were giggling nearly non-stop, as were more than a few of the grown-ups sitting in rows behind them.

Both “James and the Giant Peach” and “Go, Dog. Go!” are performed in relatively small spaces — and even feature somewhat similar lighting for scenes with a starlit sky. One is done with a giant set piece (a rotating peach) in the center of the space, while the other features three houses around the perimeter of the performance area.

Each production puts a unique spin on things. The “James and the Giant Peach” set includes a screen showing puppetry mirroring the action of the play. The “Go, Dog. Go!” set extends to the theater’s first balcony — where a character named Hattie (sporting some serious pink) glides along while asking, “Do you like my hat?”

I had to duck out during the “Go, Dog. Go!” intermission to take care of some things for my own kids, but stopped on the way to admire the books, CDs and even pink poodle purse at the Childsplay display tables on the way out.

I’ll share more about the performance, and the educational lobby display, in a future post. I expect to see the show again with Lizabeth once she’s done with college audition travels.

It’s just as well, I suppose, that I got called away early. I fear my own uproarious laughter, more like snorting really, was a bit too much for the more subdued grown-ups in the audience — though someone from Childsplay did laud my “setting a good example” for those less inclined to let go and let dog.

Before scurrying out of the Tempe Center for the Performing Arts, I was lured by visions of glass in the venue’s dedicated exhibit space — stumbling first on a trio of works by Angela Cazel Jahn, co-founder and former artistic director for the Children’s Museum of Phoenix.

Today she’s part of the “eye lounge” artist collective in downtown Phoenix. Cazel Jahn also is a dedicated stage mom, in the most positive sense of the word, and I hope to share more of her story in a future post as well.

TCA's exhibit of glass art features several intriguing mixed-media works

The current TCA Gallery exhibit also features works coupling glass with neon, metal and other intriguing materials.

The exhibit space is modest in size with a very intimate feel–making it a perfect introduction for children to the world of art exhibits and museums.

My final stop before getting Jennifer and going home was a longtime Mill Avenue haunt called “The Shoe Mill” — where we found a rugged but stylish pair of black leather boots that we photographed via cell phone for Lizabeth. How odd, I thought, that a teen surrounded by NYC shopping options might find the finest boots back home in Tempe.

Eventually the three of us made our way home, happy to be off our feet and out of the cold (by Arizona standards) weather. Soon the washing machine was humming and we were waiting word from Lizabeth about her first day of auditions.

But that’s a story for another day — and it’s her story, not mine, to tell.

The little girl who once would have joined me for a day of peaches and poodles is making her own way in the world of theater, and I couldn’t be more proud of her hard work, talent and passion for the craft.

— Lynn

Note: Lizabeth has studied with each of the actors performing in Childsplay’s “Go, Dog. Go!” — which makes watching them perform even more meaningful as a mom. Click here to learn about Childsplay summer classes. Click here to learn about Theater Works summer camps. Click here to learn about “Glee” camp with “Yellow Dog” actor Kristen Drathman. Finally, click here to learn about the 2011 RAK Camp Fair featuring diverse camp options for Valley children and teens.

Coming up: Valley teachers talk theater