Tag Archives: unique gifts

Art meets valentine

A work by Sherry Maguire of Tempe exhibited at the "Made in Arizona Festival"

Tucson artist Toni Matison-Horn won’t be spending Valentine’s Day with her husband because she lost him to ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, back in 2005. But she’s creating art and selling art that benefits those living with the devastating neuromuscular condition.

These whimsical "Sofa Chicks" are the work of Tucson artist Toni Matison-Horn

I met Matison-Horn while strolling through the “Made in Arizona Festival” with my son Christopher on Saturday. The event runs through Sunday, so folks still have time to enjoy it. Matison-Horn is sharing a booth with two other artists, located near the Silverland shop that houses a museum called the “House of Broadcasting.”

Toni Matison-Horn works exhibited at the Made in Arizona Festival in Scottsdale

Her husband was a news anchor, making the loss of speech that eventually comes with ALS especially heartwrenching. I imagine it’s like being a writer who can no longer hold a pen, or a painter unable to wield a brush. Seems he had a large collection of ties, which Matison-Horn decided to incorporate into whimsical works of fabric art.

Toni Matison-Horn's "Tie Chicks" Angel Ties benefit people with ALS

Friends suggested she save Harry’s ties, and began gathering and sharing other ties for her creations. Together they donated about 1,ooo ties to the cause. Those of you still searching for Valentine’s Day gifts should explore the festival’s “Ties 4 ALS” booth where Matison-Horn is exhibiting her works.

Sherry Maguire of Tempe repurposes old materials to create works of art

It’s a lovely reuse of items that would otherwise find their way to burgeoning heaps of trash. So too are the works of artist Sherry Maguire, with Eye 4 Art of Tempe. She’s sharing a booth with Matison-Horn, and also creates works by reusing discarded materials. Sometimes, Maguire told me, she find just a single piece of an old toy or other object — and gives it a home until it fits into something she’s working on.

Christopher loved this work by Tempe artist Sherry Maguire

One of her artworks is a black rectangular frame, about the size of a sheet of notebook paper. It’s filled with items that washed up on a beach in Japan — before the devastating earthquake. Some look like fishing lures my dad used to keep in his tackle box. Other look like small parts of brightly-colored plastic toys — something the ocean habitat certainly doesn’t need floating all over the place.

This Sherry Maguire work is perfect for a valentine who loves Dr. Seuss

Like Matison-Horn, Maguire sometimes creates works of art with items donated by friends. Seems several of them know to gather washed up beach fare and bag it for her to add to her collection of materials. Once, she told me, a friend shared tiny starfish washed up in polluted waters. She’s keen on recycling objects that might otherwise land in oceans or other habitats.

A third artist, offering beautifully colored sets of pitchers and margarita glasses, is sharing their booth as well. We actually met her first, and were so pleased to find that all were truly gracious and committed to doing work that makes a difference for people and the planet. Her glassware would make a lovely Valentine’s Day gift for someone who loves to throw parties or entertain friends.

Artist Mary Beier also has several small paintings featuring hearts

We met plenty of other artists too, all in white booths lining either side of Fifth Avenue in Old Town Scottsdale. Artist Mary Beier is showing works from Metalworks Art and “Nana” is rocking adorable knits hat for babies and children. Her handmade Cutie Pie Hats include Elmo, hedgehog, cupcake and many more designs.

On our way out, we stopped for kettle corn. It’s standard festival fare that always looks yummy but sometimes doesn’t taste nearly as tasty as it looks. But these folks made the best batch of kettle corn I’ve ever tasted. It was hot, fresh, lightly salted (on request) — and they served it with genuine warmth and enthusiasm.

Shopping for Valentine’s Day is all good and fine, but there’s no reason we can’t treat ourselves to a litte something too. Plenty of small shops throughout Old Town Scottsdale, featuring everything from fashionable baby gear to turquoise jewelry, are welcoming folks to explore their wares during the “Made in Arizona Festival.”

Folks shopping for tiny valentines have lots of Cutie Pie Hats choices

The area is also home to all sorts of art galleries and restaurants, so it’s easy to make a day of it. Just promise me you won’t go home sporting a kitten hat.

— Lynn

Note: The “Made in Arizona Festival” takes place 10am-5pm through Sunday on Fifth Avenue in Scottsdale between Scottsdale Rd. and Goldwater Blvd. Feel free to bring your old ties along — Toni Matison-Horn of “Ties 4 ALS” is happily accepting tie donations.

Coming up: Along the parade route, More fun with festivals


Celebrate with art from the heart

We tend to divide ourselves into two categories around Valentine’s Day each year. The haves — as in romance. And the have nots. Those of you who err in the gift giving department can quickly slip from one category into the other. So pay careful attention.

Pajama-grams and thongs — bad. Vacuum cleaners and blenders — worse. Even the red ones. Jewelry — good. Unless it’s something every other woman in America is wearing. Or it cost $2.99. Your safest bet is a solo or joint trip to the Tempe Center for the Arts gift shop — or the arts and culture equivalent in your own area.

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Museum gift shops carry works created by local artists. Their offerings are more unique than most big box fare, though still lovely and often quite reasonably priced. And the shopping experience, with less noise and fewer crowds than you’re likely accustomed to, tends to be ever so nice.

Shopping alone is fine and dandy, but museums, performing arts venues and local art galleries make for fun outings for those who like to take their sweetie among to pick out a little something. See a show, shop. Stroll through an exhibit, shop. What’s not (pardon the pun) to love?

— Lynn

Note: No worries, of course, if you’re without romantic partner this Valentine’s Day. It’s plenty fun to shop and support the arts in solo mode too. The TCArt Shop also carries gift certificates, so ask about gift certificates/gift cards if you’re unsure of what to choose at your local arts and culture gift shop.

Coming up: Arizona remembers

“Black Friday” meets arts & culture

The Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts gift shop has lots of unique items

If you’ve always shopped in traditional ways – rising early the day after Thanksgiving to get the best deals, frothing at the mouth each time a sale ad crosses your path or hitting big box retailers to snag items in extremely short supply – think about trying something different this year.

Dozens of Valley museums and performing arts venues have gift shops full of unique, affordably priced items. Think toys and games, clothing and jewelry, music and artworks – and more. Shopping in museum and art venue gift shops is more relaxing by far than tackling all those stores at the local mall. You can find a list of museums through the Central Arizona Museum Association (call ahead to see which ones have gift shops and when they are open).

I’ve been gathering gifts here and there all year each time I head to performing arts venues in my neck of the woods – Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Mesa Arts Center and Tempe Center for the Arts. In years past, I’ve also shopped at holiday boutiques presented by art groups like Ballet Arizona and the Phoenix Symphony.

The Children's Museum of Phoenix has all kinds of books you don't see elsewhere

In some cases, you can shop without leaving home. Arizona Theatre Company is offering a “buy four, get two free” deal on tickets this Friday – and all it takes is a call or visit to their box office. For those unsure about what to get in the gift department, places like the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix offer gift cards.

Hoodlums Music and Movies in Tempe hopes shoppers will head their way for “Indie Black Friday” (part of a nationwide “Record Store Day”) on Nov. 25, and support this year’s “Small Business Saturday” on Nov. 26. Hoodlums is part of Local First Arizona, which has designated Nov. 25-Dec. 4 “Buy Local Week 2011.”

Folks who visit the Local First Arizona website can search businesses by category – and there’s a special category for “Entertainment & Arts.” Check out the number of listings they’ve got in these art-related categories – theater (24), music (52), dance (8), art museums and galleries (40), artists and sculptors (73) and arts venues (65). They’ve got other entertainment/art categories too.

Remember places like the Arizona Museum for Youth, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix and the Arizona Science Center when looking for children’s gifts that foster creativity and spark the imagination. Each has a gift shop full of items that blend learning with fun.

The Musical Instrument Museum gift shop has fun offerings for adults and children

If you start now, you’ll have several weeks to visit the museums and performing arts venues of your choosing. You’ll become better acquainted with the riches of your city while assuring that your gifts for friends and family members are unique rather than run of the mill.

— Lynn

Note: For additional gift-giving ideas, check out the December 2011 issue of Raising Arizona Kids magazine – which features a “Local First” gift guide for families. Click here for information on finding the current issue or ordering holiday gift subscriptions.

Coming up: Family fun with holiday concerts

Shakespeare shorts

Snippets of Shakespeare are being performed all over the Valley this week. An intermediate class at Childsplay in Tempe has 8-12 year olds working on Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” this week. And Paradise Valley Community College performs “Twelfth Night” for a final weekend — June 24 & 25 at 7:30pm and June 26 at 2pm — at the PVCC Center for the Performing Arts.

A “youth and education” cable channel operated by the City of Phoenix, know99 Television, presents “Shakespeare Shorts” this Thurs, June 23 at 8am and noon. It features leading actors discussing the motivations of major characters in scenes chosen from five Shakespeare plays, using clips from past television and film versions of the works.

These Shakespeare shorts from Cafe Press feature a quote from Twelfth Night

If you’ve never explored know99 offerings, you can click here to learn more. Turns out they offer programming in six subject areas they call “teach,” “word,” “think,” “arts,” “science,” and “society.” They even have “know99 stories” on things like the Audubon Center, Academic Decathlon and Ballet Folklorico — plus a place for viewers to suggest story ideas.

The education access channel also offers something called “Student Film Presentation” every night at 10:30pm. It “showcases the productions of elementary, high school and college students.” The channel “accepts documentaries, shorts and full-length films” (click here for submission details). Local films they’ve featured include “The Artist” by Jennifer McCuen and Heather O’Neil, “Writers Block” by Jake Cibik and many others.

Evening programming on know99 Television includes “Inside Creative Minds” (which “showcases the work, knowledge, passion, and talent of people throughout the Valley”), “Beyond Our Borders” (which features “living images of world cultures”) and “Link” (which focuses on “world music, current events, films & documentaries”). “Explore” segments feature documentaries “showcasing nonprofit efforts & leaders around the world.”

The channel also offers “youth at-risk/prevention” programming. There’s “Connect With Kids” (with “true stories of youth dealing with issues like bullying and drugs”), “Four More Days” (showing “dangers of drinking while driving”), “Online Predators: Invading MySpace & A Parent’s Guide” (about how to protect yourself online) and more. Even something called “Scenarios USA” — with winning teen scripts made into short films with the help of Hollywood producers.

The beauty of Shakespeare Shorts on TV is the fact that you can watch them in your Shakespeare shorts

Shakespeare knew a thing or two about youth (and adults) enjoying risky behaviors only to suffer heartbreaking or hilarious consequences. Check out “Shakespeare Shorts” this week to learn more about his take on human nature. Then enjoy all the jealousy, mistaken identity, cross-dressing and dueling of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” at Paradise Valley Community College.

If you find yourself wanting more, stay tuned for 2011/2012 offerings from Arizona’s own Southwest Shakespeare Company — and consider a family trip to the Utah Shakespeare Festival, where you can enjoy several of Shakespeare’s works over the course of just a few days.

— Lynn

Note: PVCC’s production of “Twelfth Night” is directed by Eric Schoen, well-known to Valley theater goers for performances with Southwest Shakespeare Company, Arizona Jewish Theatre Company and more. Schoen is also the founder and artistic director of Class 6 Theatre in Phoenix, which just completed its second season.

Coming up: Art meets market, Bullying and the arts, Bike shorts? (featuring an update from the Blue Bike Kids Show, which has the honor of being “Kickstarter” of the day today)

Images from www.cafepress.com

Gifts for mom

Soon I’ll be heading to the local nursery, searching for colorful blooms to freshen up flower pots my mother-in-law keeps on her front patio. I lost my own mom to cancer many years ago, but try to do justice to her love of nature.

Time is fleeting, and moms aren’t forever. What most moms wish for today is time. Time with family. Time with fellow moms. Time with hobbies too often sacrificed to the demands of family. Maybe even time alone.

If you’re running a little late in the gifts for mom department, forget about waiting for the mall to open — and consider gifts with an arts and culture twist instead. Because the best gifts are those that kindle or create fond memories.

Membership with a museum that features something your mom loves. Maybe modern art. Maybe nature and wildlife. Maybe music. Maybe history or science.

Season tickets for a music, dance or theater company your mom loves. Maybe a classical music series. Maybe ballet or modern dance. Maybe musical theater. (Most season tickets, like museum memberships, can be purchased online.)

Don't even think about getting mom a kitchen utensil for Mother's Day unless, of course, it comes from the Phoenix Art Museum gift shop

Most moms feel like they have plenty of stuff. For the moms who insist that gifts really aren’t necessary, or moms who hate the clutter that things can bring, consider making a donation in mom’s name.

To the arts program at her alma mater. Her favorite museum. Her favorite theater company. Her favorite performing arts venue. Her favorite art gallery.

If you must shop, think local. Hit the charming arts districts in Phoenix, Glendale, Mesa and other parts of the Valley where local artisans create and sell works as original as your mom.

Or take mom with you to pick out a special piece of jewelry at one of the Valley’s many museum gift shops. Maybe Phoenix Art Museum. Maybe the Heard Museum. Maybe the Musical Instrument Museum. All have unique, high quality items your mom will love to brag about you buying for her.

If your mom enjoys celebrating over Sunday brunch, consider a cafe located at or close to one of the Valley’s many cultural hubs. Maybe “Arcadia Farms” at the Phoenix Art Museum. Maybe the cafe at the Musical Instrument Museum of Phoenix.

And don’t forget the power of play. If you’re a dad still mulling over fun ways for mom and kids to spend time together today, Valley museums and performing arts venues offer lots of good options.

Think the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix. The Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa. The Children’s Museum of Phoenix. The Great Arizona Puppet Theater in Phoenix.

I’ll be heading out later to enjoy a play with my youngest daughter. I know that someday, when I’m no longer around, what seem now like merely simple outings will become the stuff that memories are made of.

— Lynn

Note: Please call ahead to check dates/hours these venues are open (and to ask about Mother’s Day specials). Remember that you can always find fun ways to spend family time by checking the Raising Arizona Kids calendar online.

Coming up: Take mom to the movies

Greasepaint musings

A jar of theatrical greasepaint created by Ross (Photo: http://www.cosmeticsandskin.com)

In times past, the term “greasepaint” referred to a specific type of stage make-up. I’m told it was a lard-based improvement of sorts over lead-based make-up once worn by theater folk.

Though today’s performers have better options, the term is still used by some to harken back with nostalgia to the early days of on-stage acting. And it was the name chosen back in 1984, when a new youth theater was formed in Scottsdale.

I was a newlywed at that point, still five years away from having my first child. So I didn’t experience my first Greasepaint Scottsdale Youtheatre performance until many years later.

I came across some old Greasepaint programs the other day, including one for an April 2000 performance of “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.” And another for an April 1999 performance of “Pinocchio.”

I spotted a familiar name in the “Pinocchio” cast list — Jennifer Trimble (performing the role of “Bella”). Her bio reads like this: “Jennifer is a 7-year-old 2nd grader at Desert View Learning Center. She studies dance and the piano, and is a member of the Phoenix Girls Chorus.”

The bio also notes her performance earlier that season in “Hansel and Gretel” with Greasepaint — which conjures memories of putting icing on gingerbread cookies with young cast members in the green room, spray painting angel wings with glow-in-the-dark colors, and adjusting Jennifer’s peasant blouse and cotton floral skirt.

I got to looking for other names too — like Katie Hart, Tyler Smalley and Amanda Glenn — knowing the three Greasepaint alumni will soon be joining current Greasepaint performers on stage at the ASU Kerr Cultural Center.

Sure enough, Smalley was there — along with siblings Krysten and Tanner. Back then, Tyler was a 12-year-old home-schooling 7th grader studying dance. He was already represented by the Ford/Robert Black Agency and had several Valley Youth Theatre and Greasepaint shows among his list of credits.

Tubes of greasepaint make-up from Max Factor (Photo: http://www.cosmeticsandskin.com)

There are plenty of reasons to attend the April 16 “Greasepaint for Tomorrow” event taking place this Saturday night at the ASU Kerr Cultural Center in Scottsdale. Catching up with young adults who’ve acted with Greasepaint in years past should be especially fun.

“Greasepaint for Tomorrow” — scheduled from 6pm to 10 pm — features a reception with wine and hors d’oeuvres, a live performance titled “Broadway Heroes & Villains” directed by Kelli James, a silent auction and more.

“Broadway Heroes & Villains” includes selections from diverse musicals including “13,” “Billy Elliot,” “Hairspray,” “Jekyll & Hyde,” “Les Miserables,” “Mamma Mia,” “Spring Awakening,” “Sweeney Todd” and “Wicked.”

Producing director Maureen Dias-Watson, who heads the theater company now known as Greasepaint Youtheatre, promises more than 70 items for silent auction shoppers — including trips, gift certificates, theater tickets and more.

Think Fleming’s and Neiman Marcus. Sailing and skiing. Athlete and rock star memorabilia. Jewelry and art. Clever Mother’s Day and Father’s Day shoppers take note — because silent auctions present opportunities to snag good deals on unique fare. (The time for finding year-end teacher gifts is fast approaching too.)

You can learn more about Saturday’s “Greasepaint Youtheatre” fundraiser by visiting www.greasepaint.org — where you’ll also find information on their next show, an upcoming master class and summer theater camps for kids.

Folks who attend “Greasepaint for Tomorrow” will want to hang on to their programs — because you never know when the children and teens performing today on local stages might be listed down the road in programs from Broadway to London’s West End and beyond.

— Lynn

Note: To learn more about the history and uses of greasepaint, as well as other forms of cosmetics, visit www.cosmeticsandskin.com. The above photos are just a few of those featured on this website.

Coming up: “Jersey” girls, Pinky’s picks

Art adventures: Historic Glendale

When I found myself with unexpected free time last weekend, I headed to Glendale to explore their historic district in search of all things arts and culture.

First I headed to a street lined with antique shops, cafes and other charming offerings — and then hit the Glendale Civic Plaza, where I admired the city’s public safety memorial.

After driving just a few blocks, I discovered Catlin Court, but failed to notice until after I’d parked that the lot I’d chosen was adjacent to the Manor at Catlin Court — where a young couple was exchanging wedding vows during an outdoor ceremony.

I tip-toed away from my car, camera in hand, and strolled the neighborhood in search of a bit of local flavor — and am pleased to share some photos from my adventures below:

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If you’re eager to enjoy some casual outdoor time this weekend, consider attending the free “Artwerks First Saturdays” event April 2 from 10am-4pm.

To learn more about arts and culture in the city of Glendale, check out their online “Glendale Public Arts” brochure  — available at the www.visitglendale.com website.

— Lynn

Note: Say a special hello to the fine folks at “A Shot of Java” and “The Open Door” — who were especially gracious during my visit to their neck of the woods. I’m sorry to report that you can no longer enjoy The Bead Museum because it’s been permanently closed.

Coming up: Phoenix Improv Festival, Fringe gets twisted