Tag Archives: Tempe Public Library

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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Desert goes digital

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The desert goes digital Thurs, March 1 as an 18-wheeler rolls into the south parking lot of the Tempe Public Library from 10am-4pm. It’s part of a national tour for the Digital Bookmobile that’s 74 feet long and equipped with all sorts of technology for helping readers cross the digital divide.

The Digital Bookmobile is “a high-tech update of the traditional bookmobile that has served communities for decades.” Folks who venture inside will discover  broadband Internet-connected PCs, high definition monitors, premium sound systems and a variety of portable media players.

Interactive learning stations inside the Digital Bookmobile give visitors an opportunity to search the library’s digital media collection and use supported mobile devices — plus sample eBooks, audiobooks, music and video.

The Tempe Public Library notes that patrons can take advantage of the download service 24/7 when they visit the library’s website. From there, they can browse the growing collection of bestselling, new release and classic titles — and check out a digital title (with a valid library card).

I discovered during a recent visit to the Tempe Public Library that library cards are on their way to becoming miniature works of art. Patrons of the Tempe Public Library have several designs to choose from, making it just a little more hip to be a card-carrying member of a literate citizenry.

Once downloaded, digital titles can be enjoyed on a computer or transferred to supported mobile devices. Many audio titles can also be burned to audio CD. Titles automatically expire and get returned to the digital collection at the end of the loan period. Hence no fees for late or damaged items.

The Digital Bookmobile is operated by OverDrive, Inc. Visit www.tempe.gov/library to explore and download digital offerings, or to learn more about the library’s many programs for children, teens and grown-ups.

— Lynn

Note: Tempe Public Library shares a courtyard with the Tempe History Museum and the Edna Vihel Center for the Arts, so make time to explore these too. Click here to learn more about public art in Tempe, and here to learn about art exhibited at Tempe Public Library.

Coming up: Women unite to offer arts scholarships, Art meets cell phone, Dancers on the fringe, Family-friendly festival fare

Touching history

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Plenty of little ones were touching history during my recent visit to the Tempe History Museum. One mom looked on as her daughter pretended to ride various old-time vehicles spied in the museum, and another watched her son give an impromptu performance on a small stage near a pair of grown-ups enjoying a computer presentation of ASU’s role in preserving biodiversity.

The Tempe History Museum, dubbed the Tempe Historical Museum until completion of its renovation two Februaries ago, was founded by the Tempe Historical Society. They first opened it to the public in 1972. It was housed at the time in the east wing of the Tempe Public Library, which has since become the museum building. The museum also operates a restored Queen Anne Victorian house called the Petersen House Museum.

Folks who approach the library near the corner of Southern and Rural Roads will see the word “MUSEUM” in giant silver letters. Each of the letters is six feet tall and five feet wide — and weighs more than 500 pounds. The powder-coated metal is 3/4 inch think and has an anti-graffiti finish.

While planning renovations, the museum worked to include several “touch points for a good exhibit” — including ease of wayfinding and layering of information. Also lighting both comfortable for visitors and consistent with conservation requirements.

It’s clear when strolling through the museum that they achieved several additional goals as well — integrated multi-media, a personal connection with visitors, visual presentations well-matched to content, effective educational strategies, recreational value and multiple perspectives in terms of age, race and such.

But don’t tell the little ones that. Let them think it’s simply a cool place to find totem poles, old-fashioned vehicles, dress-up clothes and a play pit called Little Devil’s Stadium filled with soft colorful shapes. There’s plenty of interest to adults as well, and places to sit and linger over books or keep an eye on the kiddos.

The main exhibition hall includes several theme areas designed to demonstrate the ways Tempe is distinct, diverse and dynamic. There’s “College Town,” “Building Our Community,” “Living Together” and “Surviving in the Desert.” Those of you who’ve been in the Valley for a while will recognize several familiar faces — including that of Colleen Jennings-Roggensack of ASU Gammage — among those gracing giant hanging squares inside the museum.

The museum’s Community Room currently houses an Arizona Centennial photo exhibit, curated by local photographer Dick George, which “tells of the people, events and trends that have shaped Tempe over the past 100 years.” Its Changing Gallery features an exhibit about the history of rodeo and a trio of Arizona brothers, the Finley boys, who hailed from a ranching family and rose to national rodeo fame from the 1930s to the 1950s.

The Tempe History Museum also offers two online exhibits — “Doors to the Past: Preserving Tempe’s Architectural Heritage” and “Buffalos, Bulldogs & Bowl Games: 100 Years of Football in Tempe.” I’ll have to tell my hubby about that last one since attending bowl games was a family tradition before he headed off to college in California. Our daughter Jennifer, a student at Arizona State University, would get a kick out of all the museum’s nostalgic Sun Devil fare.

The February calendar for the Tempe History Museum looks plenty fascinating. This month’s “Third Thursday Night Cafe at the Museum” features Bruce Rittman sharing a bit about harvesting lipids produced by photosynthetic bacteria for biodiesel production. A concert celebrating Black History Month takes place at the museum Sat, Feb. 25 at 6pm. It’ll feature gospel, folk, jazz and soul tunes — and a reading of MLK’s “I Have a Dream Speech” by Elmer Green. Also works by artists in the black community.

The museum hosts a monthly series of lunchtime talks presented by the Tempe Historical Society, and a special concert for children and families takes place next month. Folks can click here to learn about these and other upcoming events at  the Tempe History Museum.

When you visit, make time to explore artwork exhibited at the Vihel Activity Center adjacent to the museum, where you can also pick up information about all sorts of programs and activities presented by the City of Tempe, and the Tempe Public Library. The library is home to an entire floor dedicated to children, youth and families.

In a single outing, you can touch art, literacy and history.

— Lynn

Coming up: Time at the Tempe Public Library, Exploring Scottsdale’s Little Red Schoolhouse

Photos: Lynn Trimble

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