Travelcraft Journal

Navigation Menu

A Friend in the Cellar

Posted by on Mar 27, 2017 in Travel | 1 comment

Monticello

Phillip and I are walking through the passage into the cellar under Monticello, when a woman coming the other direction stops us. Because she wants to take a photo. Of us. For us.

Wait…what?

“It just looks so cool with the light filtering through the fog behind you…it’s okay…I work here,” she reassured us with that non-sequitur.

Still slightly stunned, we hand her a phone, pose for a photo, and then find ourselves in a conversation about our visit to Virginia and her work at Monticello (which does not typically involve walking around taking strangers’ photos).

Momticello window

“Have a good trip!” she calls after us when we finally part ways.

I randomly respond with “Thanks! May the Force be with you!”

She stops in her tracks. “Have you seen it?”

Of course, she means the then-newly-released Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens, that had shocked fans (including us) with the death of a hero.

“Yes!” I was still moving through the stages of fictional character grief, and she just opened her arms to hug me.

The three of us stood in the passageway awhile longer, talking about the movie and the plot twist and feelings and nostalgia, and it was this beautiful moment of connection in a really unexpected location.

monticello passage by liz marshall




P.S. I just posted more about what to see at Monticello and will be posting how to tackle tickets and tour schedules later this week.

Last photo by Liz Marshall.

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

Read More

Our Time at Monticello (part 1)

Posted by on Mar 23, 2017 in Travel | 0 comments

Monticello

The fog had started rolling in as we wound through the woods on the way to Monticello and had thickened by the time we were standing outside the House itself. It obscured the view, swallowing up all but the nearest trees. We stood on the side of the House away from the waning crowds, and, for a few moments, it was as quiet as if we were the only ones in the world. As if we had traveled back in time. As if, at any moment, we would hear approaching hoof beats and see Thomas Jefferson emerging through the white-gray veil.

Monticello

Even in his day, visitors to the House would not have been unusual. In fact, Monticello had already become a tourist attraction during the former president’s lifetime [audio].

People touring the U.S. or who wanted to learn more about Jefferson stopped at his Charlottesville, Virginia home frequently enough that they strained the resources of both the residence and the residents.

Monticello

Today, people continue to stop there for many of the same reasons as those early admirers – although a visit no longer comes with free wine or overnight lodging.

The House and plantation buildings continue to perch atop their hill (a.k.a. the “mountaintop”) with orchards, vineyards, and gardens stretching out across the landscape.

Nearly 100 years ago, a foundation was set up to maintain the House and the grounds, continue research, and manage the steady flow of visitors. In keeping with Jefferson’s ardor for order, the whole place still runs like clockwork.

Thomas Jefferson at Monticello

Places you can visit at Monticello:

Monticello visitor center

1. Visitors Center

The entry point for contemporary visitors is a complex of buildings at the bottom of the hill. The Rubenstein Visitor Center, Smith Education Center, Milstein Theater, Smith Gallery, gift shop, and cafe all form kind of a square around a central courtyard.

Visitor center exhibits take a variety of forms: models of Monticello, a projection of key Jeffersonian ideas, hands-on activities for kids, explanations of Monticello’s architecture, and interactive LCD screens about liberty.

Monticello

At the far end of the square, there’s a shuttle stop with a covered waiting area. Shuttles arrive every 5-10 minutes to take you to the mountaintop, parking you directly in front of the East Walk to the House. You can also walk the half mile (25 minutes) to the top. Either way, make sure you have your ticket first.

If you haven’t already purchased and printed out your pass, you pick it up at the Dominion Welcome Pavilion on your way in from the parking lot.

Monticello house

2. The House

When the shuttle dropped us off for our House Tour, there were still crowds of people around the East Portico, waiting for their tour time.

You need a timed ticket to go inside Monticello.

Monticello

While we waited for our tour, we saw how the guides work in sync to keep groups staggered just the right distance apart. Once a tour headed inside, the next one began right there on the front-porch-like portico, while the following one was gathered off to the side.

We saw two different guides’ introductions. They each had their own style but were very knowledgeable and passionate about the place and its history.

The main house tour is wheelchair accessible, but you need to be in a chair that meets a certain size requirement. If not, you can borrow one of theirs. Even though some of the spaces are tight, the guides know exactly how to navigate through and are very helpful, making sure everyone on the tour is taken care of.

Monticello bookshelf

A few objects that stood out:

  • The Great Clock has faces inside and outside and a system of balancing weights that also show the day of the week. The days were listed down the wall and, due to a miscalculation, had to extend down through the floor into the cellar. It is still wound weekly [video].
  • Books – Jefferson’s entire collection went to help re-establish the Library of Congress after it was burned down during the War of 1812. The original volumes are still in D.C. on exhibit at the Library of Congress (Southwest Pavilion, 2nd Floor, Thomas Jefferson Building). So Monticello curators have stocked the Book Room’s shelves with other copies of the titles he owned that were published around the same time.
  • Jefferson’s bed was wedged into an alcove between two of his private rooms, as a space saving measure, and he would sleep sitting up. (I’m not convninced it actually saved space, but Jefferson was really into putting beds into alcoves.)
  • Polygraph – clever writing implement used to make copies.
  • Wine dumb waiter – contraption to bring bottles straight up from the wine cellar into the dining room (and the fixture in the House I may be most jealous of).

Monticello
To visit the second and third floors, you would need to purchase a Behind the Scenes Tour (or Upper Floors Tour) ticket ahead of time and be able to navigate a steep staircase.

Monticello

3. The Plantation Community and Grounds

Before or after your tour, you can check out the self-guided areas of the mountaintop.

Monticello

Walk through either the North or South Cellar Passage to go under the House. You can see food preparation and storage areas and wander into the wine cellar to find where the dumb waiter lands.

Monticello wine cellar

I should note that present-day Monticello does not shy away from – but certainly doesn’t condone – the fact that many of Jefferson’s workers were enslaved people. The introductory film even addresses the paradox that such an advocate for freedom also denied it to people on his own estate.

Monticello

In recent years, Monticello has moved to provide more information about the entire community who lived there along with Jefferson, highlighting the skills of the craftspeople, adding exhibits about enslaved individuals, and creating a Slavery at Monticello app. There’s also a House Tour option that focuses on the Hemings family, and all Day Passes include the option of an additional Slavery at Monticello tour.

Monticello kitchen

We did not venture into the grayness to find Mulberry Row or get off the shuttle at the Monticello Graveyard stop that already-dark evening, opting instead to head back to the warmth of the visitors center.

Monticello tree

As much as we enjoyed the romance of our fog-cloaked winter visit, condensation droplets hanging on bare branches like tiny glass ornaments, we hope to visit again on a clearer day, when leaves are back on the trees, and we have the luxury of a little more time.

Monticello

 




More info

  • Monticello is open 364 days a year (closed Christmas Day)
  • Parking is free.
  • Monticello is a short drive from Charlottesville, and there are a variety of lodging options there, incuding the Omni where we stayed and the Oakhurst Inn near UVA.
  • Your tour/day pass is your admission ticket. Adult passes start at $20.
  • Monticello is not a National Park. The House and 2500 acres (of the original 5000) are owned and maintained by a non-profit organization without federal or state funding.

Photos

No photos are allowed inside the house, due to certain items being on loan from other institutions or individuals.

You can also get a glimpse of what the tour is like and a close-up of some of Monticello’s objects and features in videos by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. There are also 360 views of rooms on the first floor, as well as an image gallery on Monticello.org.

Planning

If your schedule allows it, I’d recommend planning on at least half a day there. Visit Charlottesville suggested visiting Monticello in the morning, having lunch at Michie Tavern, and then visit another historical site (like Ash-Lawn Highland) in the afternoon.

I’ll have more itinerary recommendations for you next week, plus tips for picking your tour and planning your time.

Monticello


We were guests of Monticello.

Read More

Fingers Crossed

Posted by on Mar 20, 2017 in Travel | 4 comments

I’d like to think I’m not superstitious, but then something good happens, and I’m afraid I’ll jinx it.

Can I whisper this to you?

We booked tickets to Europe.

Italy mural

There was a killer deal on round-trip flights to Madrid at the end of August. And, while I love Spain, it’s not our final destination this time.

Neither of us have been to Italy, and I have wanted to go since I was a kid, since learning that Venice had streets made of water, since I first saw photos of Pompeii’s ruins frozen in time, since my young fascination with Renaissance art, since seeing Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday.

We had planned to go for our 10th anniversary, and then our 11th, and, by last year, I had pretty much lost hope.

Michelangelo

But now there’s an international flight with our name on it.

We plan to celebrate our 13th anniversary early, take our own Roman holiday, see a boat parade in Venice, stay in the agriturismo of this couple whose podcast we listen to, wander the ruins of Pompeii, and maybe even visit the Florence that is not in Arizona.

13 has always been my lucky number.

Not that I’m superstitious.




Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

Read More

6 Airbnb Getaways in the Western US

Posted by on Mar 18, 2017 in Travel | 4 comments

life-crush-1-wildflowers

There is something so restoring about getting into nature, whether you’re taking a hike or just taking in the view.

If you’re feeling like you need a weekend away, here are some peaceful spots we’ve booked through Airbnb that are perfectly positioned for enjoying the great outdoors in Arizona, California, Colorado, and Nevada. All of them are close to hiking and most have kitchenettes.

I’ve included drive time to nearby cities and towns for reference.

Airbnb tucson

Airbnb 101

For those who have never used Airbnb, it’s a site that allows people to rent out spare rooms or guest apartments, so you end up with a really unique stay with a more personal touch. As you’ll see, we’ve used it to find and book places like a cottage in remote Southeastern Arizona, a trailer near Monterey, and a cabin room near the San Juan Mountains in Colorado.

You can get $40 off your first stay when you sign up at airbnb.com/c/sliebold2. (Full disclosure: using that link also sends some credit my way…so win-win!)
Pasadena-airbnb-1

California

1. Pasadena Glen Separate Cottage

The Setting: Lush, quiet neighborhood at the foot of the San Gabriel mountains that’s maybe technically part of Pasadena but feels like its own world.

  • Old Town Pasadena (or The Huntington) – 15 minutes
  • Downtown L.A. – 45 minutes
  • Phoenix – 5.5 hours

Pasadena-airbnb-3
The Room: The cottage is like a standalone studio apartment next to a larger house.

  • Very comfortable bed.
  • Included mini fridge, dishes, fruit, breakfast bars, electric kettle with Starbucks Via and a selection of teas.
  • Lovely garden/mini-yard area outside with a table.
  • Private 3/4 bathroom inside the apartment.
  • Separate entrance with keypad.

Pasadena-airbnb-2
Tips:

  • There’s a hiking trail at the end of the street.
  • You may get apples from one of their trees!
  • Sign a waiver if you plan to use the pool.
  • Two or three dogs also roam around the yard and will probably come to say hello. One of them is very large but very sweet.

How we ended up here: We stayed for a week while Phillip took a class at Fuller Seminary’s main campus in Pasadena.

goats-airbnb-ca
2. Trailer or Tipi Camping

The Setting: Travel trailers (and a tipi/teepee) surrounded by sprawling gardens and DIY-projects-in-progress, wandering chickens and a few cats, a goat pasture, and forest.

trailer-airbnb-ca-2
The Room: Boho vintage travel trailer with cozy sleeping area, dinette, and posssibly-working kitchen.

  • Microclimate tends to be cooler and cloudier than surrounding area.
  • Primative toilet in the woods (with privacy screen) and solar-heated shower.
  • Self-serve breakfast available from a pantry with oatmeal, granola, fruit, etc. and fresh eggs in the chicken coop.
  • Fire ring available for cooking or evening bonfires.

trailer-airbnb-ca-1
Tips:

  • Think camping without the set up! Of course, if you’re not into camping, this is not for you.
  • You may be able to use the host’s Monterey Bay Aquarium pass at a discount.
  • The chickens greet you in the morning – and provide breakfast!
  • There’s also a tipi option, subject to availability. (It was already occupied when we stayed there.)

How we ended up here: We were going to be in the area the same weekend as the Monterey Jazz Festival, so lodging options were limited and pricey. We were on a tight budget and decided to take a chance. And we’re glad we did! It was the quirkiest place we’ve stayed via Airbnb, but it was a lot of fun!

co-ridgway-bnb-2

Colorado

3. True Grit Mountain Retreat

The Setting: Cabin-like home with big picture windows looking out over gorgeous Colorado scenery and the San Juan Mountains.

  • Ridgway – 7 minutes
  • Ouray – 20 minutes
  • Denver – 5 hours
  • Albuquerque – 5.5 hours

co-ridgway-bnb-1
The Room: On the split-level second floor, there are 2 guest rooms available with bathroom and laundry in between. (There is a second guest bathroom downstairs.)

  • The Queen Room has a queen-size bed and Mexico-inspired decor.
  • The Spruce Room has twin beds and a private balcony.
  • Lovely breakfast in the dining room.
  • Hot tub outside.

co-ridgway
Tips:

  • It’s available during the summer only.
  • Get there before dark, if possible. Being out in the country means less light pollution – great for stargazing, challenging for finding house numbers.
  • Use of the kitchen downstairs is limited and may require an additional fee.
  • Nearby Ridgway is a one-stoplight-town that’s worth a stop. It’s home to the maker of the Grammy Awards and was the location for the 1969 western True Grit starring John Wayne. And a nice little roadside market!

How we ended up here: We needed a place to stay on the way home from a Denver road trip.

Tucson airbnb view

Arizona

4. Studio Cottage in Gated Community

The Setting: Quiet neighborhood street that winds through the Sonoran desert.

  • Downtown Tucson – 20 minutes
  • Phoenix – 2 hours

Tucson
The Room: Roomy southwestern casita with dining table and kitchenette, colorful ceramic tile, and a pink clawfoot tub.

  • Food and coffee aren’t included, but the kitchenette is stocked with the dishes and appliances (coffeemaker, microwave, toaster oven, fridge) to let you do it yourself – everything including a kitchen sink.
  • Pool/hot tub.
  • Parking and separate entrance through the garage.

Airbnb tucson
Tips:

How we ended up here: Basically, we’re always looking for excuses to go to Tucson and neat little places to stay there.
Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

5. SE AZ Hiking, Birding, and Quietude

The Setting: Remote casita near the Dragoon Mountains.

  • Willcox – 30 minutes
  • Tucson – 1.25 hours
  • Phoenix – 3 hours

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset
The Room: Separate little adobe house.

  • Well-stocked kitchen with sink, coffee, grinder, and milk in the minifridge.
  • Composting toilet and shower in a separate building.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset
Tips:

  • Breakfast may be available for an additional fee. (I think we paid $10/person. We had so much delicious food that even Phillip was stuffed.)
  • Property backs up to state land with hiking trails. You’ll want to get written directions (or a map) before you head out. We got mixed up and went the wrong way.
  • They provided a flashlight (for night visits to the outhouse, etc.), but you may want to bring a headlamp or other hands-free light if you have one.

How we ended up here: This is where we stayed for our 10 year anniversary after picking apples in Willcox.

Red Rocks, Nevada

Nevada

6. Las Vegas

The Setting: Neighborhood in the Las Vegas suburbs near the edge of where city streets give way to Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area.

  • Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area – 10 minutes
  • Las Vegas Strip – 30 minutes
  • L.A. – 4 hours
  • Phoenix – 5 hours

Las Vegas Airbnb
The Room: Apartment with a full bath and a few midcentury modern touches.

  • Keurig, coffee and tea pods, and snacks included, as well as minifridge, microwave, and dishes.
  • Separate entrance but very near the main house.

image
Tips:

  • We didn’t meet the hosts, but everything (including check-in) was taken care of with lots of thoughtful touches.
  • There’s a really cool guestbook/journal you can leave a note and/or memento in.
  • Check out our Las Vegas Off the Strip list for a list of non-casino things to see, including Red Rock Canyon picnic spots and easy hikes.

How we ended up here: Avoiding the craziness of The Strip while in Las Vegas for a wedding!


Have you used Airbnb? Where’s your favorite getaway?

Read More

February 2017 Photo: Purple Sage

Posted by on Mar 13, 2017 in Travel | 9 comments

When we drove to Tucson for the world premiere of the opera Riders of the Purple Sage, I was on the lookout for things to photograph that might complement the story, since I knew I wouldn’t be able to take photos of the actual performance. We stopped on the way to take some photos of desert landscapes and considered pulling over when we saw a few wandering cows.

Purple sage

Our first stop in Tucson proper was Mercado San Augustin for lunch at our new favorite, Seis Kitchen.

Phillip pointed out purple blooms in the planters outside, “I think this might actually be sage.”

A text to my Master Gardener Uncle confirmed it: Salvia clevlandii, chaparral sage.

Perfect.




Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

Read More

Bartlett Lake Marina

Posted by on Mar 9, 2017 in Travel | 0 comments

Bartlett Lake

Don’t believe the rumors. The road to Bartlett Lake Marina is definitely paved.

Bartlett Lake Road

I couldn’t help laughing when I learned that some guidebooks still list it as being rough and “unimproved,” like you’re blazing a trail through the wilderness. We had just made the drive – it’s an actual road, just like the highway we turned off to get there. You don’t need to machete your way through the undergrowth. You don’t even need 4-wheel drive.

Bartlett Lake

Reservoir

This perfectly good road takes you all the way to the marina parking lot, winding through beautiful desert hills until you finally spot blue water in the distance.

Bartlett Lake marina

Like many Arizona lakes, Bartlett is technically a reservoir, formed by damming part of the Verde River. Besides watersports, there’s hiking, camping, and wildflower viewing in the area, which is about an hour outside of Phoenix (half an hour from Cave Creek).

Bartlett Lake Marina Restaurant

The reservoir is part of Tonto National Forest, but the marina, general store, and restaurant are owned and operated by one entrepreneurial extended family.

Sarah Church at Bartlett Lake Marina

“We built every single thing you see,” Sarah Church, the self-proclaimed Matriarch of the Marina, told me, motioning from the restaurant patio to covered boat storage.
Bartlett Lake Marina
Phillip and I were part of a group invited to check out the new restaurant, The Last Stop, and take a ride on a rental boat. (Mr. Cheeseface stowed away too.)

Bartlett Lake Marina Restaurant

Restaurant

At lunch, we sampled cheeseburger sliders, grilled chicken sandwiches, pulled pork, regular and sweet potato fries, onion rings, and mac-and-cheese bites.

Bartlett Lake Marina Food

The clear favorites at our table were the pulled pork and the onion rings, followed by the sliders and fries.

Bartlett lake Beer

They offer a list of Arizona beers. Phillip liked the Scorpion Amber Ale by Lake Havasu-based Mudshark Brewery.

Bartlett Lake Marina Mousse

The winner, however, was dessert. Daily specials vary, but we got to try the mocha mousse, which was light and caramely and delicious. We’ve considered making the drive just for dessert (and a lake view, of course).

Bartlett lake Boat

Rentals

Afterwards, we all headed down a long pier and boarded a couple boats.

Bartlett lake Boat

Phillip and I joined the group on the 45-foot Party Yacht. It can carry up to 20 people, has seating on 2 decks, a bar, barbecue, speakers, and a water slide.

Bartlett lake Boat slide

Wouldn’t be fun to have a cookout in the middle of a lake?!

Bartlett Lake Marina Boat waterslide

The boat felt very sturdy and just rocked gently when the occasional waves rolled under it. We were there on a weekday, so everything was pretty quiet. It was neat to take in the view of the rocky hills that line the lake from the marina to the dam.

Party Yacht speakers

Besides the Party Yacht, you can rent pontoon boats, speed boats, or jet skis. There aren’t boat tours at Barlett Lake, unless you make your own.

Bartlett Lake Marina Boat

We enjoyed our time at Bartlett Lake and headed back down the (definitely paved) road contented.

Bartlett Lake

– More Bartlett Lake info –

  • The Last Stop Restaurant is open Friday through Sunday, 11am to 5pm or later.
  • Boat rentals: Party Yacht (full day) $1295. Pontoon Boat (half or full day) $295-425. Jet Ski (by the hour or day) $95-280.
  • Directions: Make sure you’re headed to Bartlett Lake Marina or Bartlett Lake Boat Club. Owner Bryan Church said GPS has lead some people to the wrong location and recommends calling if you need directions (602.316.3378).



Thank you to Bartlett Lake Marina for hosting us and RSVP & Associates for the invitation.

Read More

When You Need an Umbrella

Posted by on Mar 6, 2017 in Travel | 7 comments

On Phillip’s military chaplain shadowing day, we woke up in the sunniest city in America under a brilliant sky with a few pink clouds.

Yuma sunrise

Sometime between then and leaving to meet the Marine who would escort Phillip onto the MCAS Yuma base, it must’ve clouded over, and we stepped out of the lobby into an unexpected downpour.

For a second, I thought of getting the umbrella from our room, but I was worried about being late (and didn’t want to keep the U.S. Marines waiting) – plus, I figured I’d just be dropping Phillip off anyway.

Yuma rain

But I actually could’ve, because, not only did we arrive early, our point person didn’t leave to meet us until Phillip finally called him.

And I actually should’ve, because I found out I’d need to pick up a visitor pass for later, which meant this whole registration process and paperwork and a background check and traversing a muddy gravel parking lot in the rain several times to retrieve things from the car (license, insurance, tire pressure gauge, flag pin, library card…okay, some of those I made up…)

By the time I was all official and could go back to the hotel, I was thoroughly drenched and glad for the hairdryer I wouldn’t normally have a use for.

Yuma hairdryer

I made sure to carry the umbrella with me the rest of the trip.

Of course, the sun came out that afternoon, and I didn’t need it again.

North end coffeehouse yuma




Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

 

Read More

Riders: A Novel Approach to Opera

Posted by on Mar 2, 2017 in Travel | 0 comments

Arizona landscape

It’s not every day that a new opera is born. Especially not one about cowboys. Sung in English. That opens in Tucson, Arizona.

However, this past weekend, Phillip and I got to see the world premiere of Arizona Opera’s Riders of the Purple Sage at Tucson Music Hall.

Riders of the Purple Sage program

While other U.S. cities have premiered new operas, I doubt any of them had as many audience members wearing Stetsons and bolo ties.

Riders of the Purple Sage. Photo by Tim Trumble. Morgan Smith as Lassiter.

The Story

Riders of the Purple Sage is about fighting for love, power, and, ultimately, survival in the harsh western landscape of the Utah-Arizona border in the 1870s.

There are gunslingers and churchmen, cowboys and rustlers, and more than one mysterious stranger.

Riders of the Purple Sage. Photo by Tim Trumble.

But it all revolves around Jane Withersteen, owner of a sprawling sage-covered cattle ranch in a Mormon community. Besides her home, land, and herds of cattle, she possesses a strong will. Her refusal to marry one of the church elders and continued friendship with “Gentiles” (non-Mormons) begins to threaten everything she loves and test her loyalties.

Riders of the Purple Sage at Tucson Music Hall.

The Adaptation

The opera is based on a 1912 bestseller by western novelist Zane Grey. I made it about three-quarters of the way through the audiobook before attending Saturday’s performance.

While the book has been made into a film several times, its adaptation to an opera is brand new, executed by composer Craig Bohmler and librettist Steven Mark Kohn. It’s actually the first time Arizona Opera has commissioned and debuted an opera.

Riders of the Purple Sage. Photo by Tim Trumble.

Of course, squeezing a 23-chapter book into a 3-hour opera requires a lot of paring down. Characters are omitted, subplots get simplified, revelations come more quickly. As a result, some developments that made sense in the slow build-up of the novel may seem to lack justification in the abbreviated retelling on stage.

It is, however, an opera. So improbable plot twists and dramatic discoveries might not be so out of place.

Arizona desert.

On the other hand, the opera goes further than the book in explaining motivations, finding commonalties between characters that seem to have little in common.

As Kohn said during the pre-show Q+A, “Even ‘bad guys’ have a belief in what they’re doing…There are no black-and-white villians. The interactions of people are nuanced.”

Arizona mountains

The Music

Bohmler’s composition opens with the French horns typical of Hollywood Westerns. From there, it’s meant to “go on a journey,” taking the audience along and sounding more like a film score.

Riders of the Purple Sage pre-show

When a woman asked during the Q+A whether the music would evoke the western landscape like Ferde Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite, the composer smiled and said we (the audience) would have to be the judge of that.

Phillip felt Riders was more like a musical than most operas. Bohmler has previously written both, and others have also noted this musical theater influence, which perhaps gives this opera an even more American feel.

Riders of the Purple Sage. Photo by Tim Trumble.

The Scenery

Arizona artist Ed Mell is known for his landscape paintings of the American West, especially angular interpretations of rocky desert scenes with billowing clouds overhead. This is his first time as a production’s scenic designer and his work adds incredible depth to the show.

It is projected onto 51.6 x 26.6-foot video wall made from 248 interlocking LED panels.

Riders of the Purple Sage. Photo by Tim Trumble.

Honestly, when I read that kind of technical stuff, my eyes tend to glaze over. So lemme just skip to the result, which was awesome.

Riders of the Purple Sage. Photo by Tim Trumble.

The backdrop looks like a gorgeous, giant Ed Mell painting. And, then, just like on a windy afternoon, the clouds begin to move. The light gradually shifts, illuminating different parts of distant cliffs and mesas – and perhaps subtly reflecting the emotions of the characters. The painting’s colors grow warmer and deeper as the sun sets with a crimson sky giving way to a deep blue twilight with the moon shining from behind a cloud, making its edges glow.

It reminded Phillip of a John Ford movie. It reminded me of sitting outside in the open desert.

Even though it basically worked like magic, it didn’t distract from the opera, serving only to enhance the setting and mood.

Riders of the Purple Sage. Photo by Tim Trumble.

The Conclusion

We thoroughly enjoyed watching Riders of the Purple Sage, and there’s something really exciting about seeing a show in its first run. You don’t have to be an opera aficionado or western enthusiast to get into the story and this beautiful production.

You still have a chance to see Riders in Phoenix this weekend. And it’s totally okay to show up wearing a bolo tie.
purple sage in tucson

– More info –

The Opera

  • Upcoming performances of Riders of the Purple Sage are March 3, 4, 5 at Phoenix Symphony Hall.
  • Friday and Saturday shows are at 7:30pm. Available tickets range $30-160.
  • The Sunday 2pm show is nearly sold out with remaining tickets $110-175. Afterwards is a Meet the Cast Q+A.
  • There’s a pre-show talk an hour before all performances.
  • Get a preview of the music on Soundcloud.

The Venue

The Artist

The Novel


Photos:
1. Arizona desert view on the way back from Tucson.
2. Program and ticket for Tucson Music Hall show.
3. Morgan Smith as Lassiter by Tim Trumble.
4. Karin Wolverton as Jane Withersteen by Tim Trumble.
5. Tucson Music Hall.
6. Amanda Opuszynski and Joshua Dennis as Bess and Bern Venters by Tim Trumble.
7 + 8. Arizona desert en route to/from Tucson.
9. Pre-show Q+A with composer Craig Bohmler and librettist Steven Mark Kohn.
10. View from the controlling laptop on the tech table in Tucson Music Hall by Tim Trumble.
11. Back side of the video wall and interlocking panels by Tim Trumble.
12. Photo by Tim Trumble.
13. Joshua Dennis as Bern Venters by Tim Trumble.
14. Purple chapparal sage in Tucson.


 

We were guests of Arizona Opera.

Read More

Travel Trade-Offs

Posted by on Feb 27, 2017 in Travel | 4 comments

There’s no such thing as an ideal trip – or even an ideal itinerary. It’s more like a series of bargains you make with yourself, hoping to get the best deal based on what you value.

United States puzzle

Do you see more sights or spend more time at each one? Pack to be prepared for every situation or have less to carry? Visit familiar places or risk venturing somewhere new? Have the security of making reservations or the flexibility of winging it? Spend extra money to stay close to the main attraction (city center, theme park, historic site…) or spend extra time getting yourself there?

Chiricahua trail

How do you tackle your travel dilemmas?




Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

Read More

Happenings: Spring 2017 #tcjhappenings

Posted by on Feb 23, 2017 in Happenings List | 0 comments

Wildflowers at picket post trailhead

The Happenings List

Our curated list of upcoming festivals, workshops, shows, and other goings-on for makers and explorers – March through May 2017 (and beyond)! If you go to something from one of our Happenings Lists, please tell us all about it!

Read on for events in Italy, New Zealand, and the U.S.: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Asterisked (**) items link to related posts on Travelcraft Journal.

+Alaska

Alaska’s Reverse Dog Sled Race

Mar 18, 10am
Kincaid Park, Anchorage
Human-powered dog sled style race to benefit the UN Refugee Agency. Online donations accepted.

  • Register by March 1.

 

Phoenix Art Museum

+Arizona

Phoenix Art Museum

  • Now – Mar 12. Horacio Zabala: Mapping the Monochrome.
  • Now – Apr 9. INFOCUS: Juried Exhibition of Self-Published Photobooks.

**Opening night of the Kehinde Wiley exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum.

Spring Out to Lunch Concert Series

Now – Mar 23, Thursdays at 12:30pm
Wells Fargo Garden performance area at Mesa Arts Center

Free outdoor concerts at lunchtime. Pack a picnic or purchase food on-site.

Field to Feast Tour

Mar 1, 2, 4
8am
Visitor Information Center at Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park
(201 N. 4th Ave., Yuma)
Half-day farm tour. Hands-on harvesting instruction from a local grower followed by lunch made from the produce you picked. Includes transportation, some veggies to take home, and the field-fresh lunch. Tickets $50.
**Exploring Yuma and its agriculture.

Savor Yuma

Mar 2, 14, 30
5pm
Yuma Visitors Bureau admin office (180 W. 1st Street, Yuma)

Progressive dinner tour. Visit three different restaurants and enjoy a multi-course meal. Price includes meal, two adult beverages, and transportation. Tickets $55.

Old Tucson

Wild Wild West Steampunk Convention

Mar 3-5
Old Tucson

Steampunk convention with contests, panels and workshops, fashion show, vehicle exhibition, vendors, entertainment and rides, tea dueling, artists, authors, performers, and Cthulhu running for president. Tickets: 1-day $41, full event $55-125.

Performances at the Museum

Tempe History Museum
Free evening concerts at the Tempe History Museum, next to the Tempe Library.

  • Mar 3, 7pm. Charlie King (folk music, political satire).
  • Mar 11, 5pm. LOUD VI outdoor concert with (loud) bands Dead Hot Workshop, Japhy’s Descent, and Young’s Modulus; arts and crafts; and food trucks, including Burgers Amore.
  • Apr 7, 7pm. Driftwood Quintet (cross-genre chamber group).
  • Apr 22, 7pm. The Senators (electric folk).
  • May 6, 7pm. Decker (Sedona-based singer/songwriter).
  • May 19, 7pm. Sugar Thieves (blues roots).

Arizona Opera

Riders of the Purple Sage Opera

Mar 3, 4, 5
Phoenix Symphony Hall
Zane Grey’s novel transformed into Arizona Opera’s first-ever world premiere production. Tickets $25-155.
**Lunch Hour Opera.

McDowell Mountain Music Festival

Mar 3-5
Margaret T. Hance Park, Phoenix
Music festival featuring headliners Flume, The Shins, Chromeo, and Grouplove, as well as local artists like Bear Ghost, CooBee Coo and RUCA. 100% of the proceeds go to local nonprofits Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation and UMOM New Day Center. Tickets: 1-day $40-170, full event $80-510. Service charges: $15-25/ticket.

**Pizza Festival At Hance Park.

Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market

Mar 4-5
Heard Museum, Phoenix 
Market and juried show of the work of over 600 Native artists. General admission $20, deluxe 2-day pass $125.

Tres Rios Nature Festival

Mar 4-5
Base Meridian wildlife area (north of Phoenix International Raceway)
Outdoor festival showcasing wildlife, history and culture where the Gila, Salt and Agua Fria Rivers meet. Activities include guided bird watching tours, canoeing, archery, fishing, concerts and dance performances, beer garden, and recycling fashion show. Free.

Boyce thompson Arboretum

Boyce Thompson Arboretum Events

  • Mar 4. Gardening Workshop with Pinal Master Gardeners (“Out of Africa”): Learn to identify aloes and other plants around the Arboretum that have come from Africa on this “botanical safari.” Arbotetum admission required.
  • Mar 4. Thunder Gourd Craft Class: Turn a gourd into a percussion instrument that makes a thunder-like noise when shaken. Previous basic gourd art class recommended. To enroll, call 520.689.2723. Fee $67.50.
  • Mar 5 + Apr 8. Basic Gourd Art Class: Beginners learn gourd cleaning and preparation, design drawing, wood-burning and applying color. To enroll, call 520.689.2723. Fee $52.50.
  • Mar 10-26. Spring Plant Sale: Trees, shrubs, herbs, flowers, cacti and succulents for sale to raise money for the Arboretum.
  • Mar 12 + Apr 1. Paint + Wine Class with Carla Keaton: Paint a simplified scene from the Arboretum. Includes use of art supplies. Fee $45.
  • Apr 1. Gardening Workshop with Pinal Master Gardeners (“Going Vertical”): Tips and tricks for growing flowering vines in your desert garden. Arbotetum admission required.

**Australia Day event at the Arboretum.

Envelope journal

Southwest Maker Fest

Mar 11, 12pm
Downtown Mesa

Collaborative, one-day festival of makers seeking to achieve the vision of a connected community, empowered by creativity. Free.

**My travel journal workshop at SWMF.

CraftHack

2nd Mondays, 6pm
Gangplank Chandler
Free monthly meet-up of artists and crafters. Learn something new or bring your own project to work on!
Upcoming dates:

  • Mar 13.
  • Apr 10.
  • May 8.

IMG_3962

Art Detour 29

March 16-19, 2017
Downtown Phoenix

  • March 16, 5pm. Art D’Core Gala.
  • March 17, 6pm. Pre-Detour Third Friday.
  • March 18-19. Art Detour! Studio and art space tours.

MCAS Yuma Airshow

Mar 17-18
Marine Corps Air Station, Yuma

Airshow featuring both military and civilian demonstrations, including the Patriots Jet Team, the Misty Blues All Women Skydiving Team, and the Wall of Fire, which is planning to break a Guinness World Record. Free general admission, VIP Seating + Parking available.
**Staying and sightseeing near MCAS Yuma.

Phoenix Film Festival

Apr 6-13
Harkins Scottsdale/101 Theatre, Scottsdale

The biggest film festival in Arizona. 175 films plus filmmaking seminars and parties.

The Lantern Fest – Phoenix Spring

Apr 8, 2pm
Schnepf Farms, Queen Creek 
Write your hopes on a lantern to be released with thousands of others after dark. The afternoon will include live music, stage show, food, and face painters. Adult pass $25-55/person – includes admission, lantern, marker, lighter, and s’mores kit. Kid pass $7/person aged 4-12  – includes admission and small gift. Parking $10/vehicle.

image

Tunes & Tacos Festival

Apr 14-15
Yuma
Competition, carnival, concert, and tequila tastings.

  • Apr 14, 6pm. People’s Choice Salsa Queen Competition & Kickoff Party at Yuma Civic Center with art on display and dance performance. Free admission and salsa tasting.
  • Apr 15, 11am. Festival at Desert Sun Stadium. Over 50 local food vendors with carne asada, chicken, pork, and seafood tacos, empanadas, barbecue, fresh roasted corn, margaritas, and fresh squeezed lemonade for sale.

ARTbeat 10

Apr 22, 4pm
Historic Downtown Yuma
Award-winning juried fine arts festival with local and regional artists – celebrating its 10th anniversary this year!

sedona

Sedona Open Studios Tour

Apr 28-30
Sedona
Free self-guided tour of working artists’ studios in the Verde Valley.

**Open studio tour in Cave Creek.

Verde Valley Wine Festival

May 13-14
Clarkdale Town Park, Clarkdale
Northern Arizona festival with wine, beer, spirits, food, live music, and art. Tickets $35-185.

Phoenix Comicon

May 25-28
Phoenix Convention Center
Pop culture convention featuring actors, top comic book writers and artists, programming, and vendors. Full event passes $65 through April 30.

**Phoenix Comicon 2016.

Photo by McKinley Art Solutions

+California

All In: ArtSpan’s Studio Residency exhibit

Now – Mar 28
Hotel Triton, San Francisco

Joint exhibition by artists participating in ArtSpan’s Studio Residency program.

Martial Spirit: a celebration of martial arts

Now – Apr 29
Chinese Culture Center Visual Art Center, San Francisco
Exhibition by Justin Hoover of martial arts practices transformed into conceptual artworks. Free.

**Local Art Loves.

Craftcation

Apr 27-30
Ventura Beach Marriott, Ventura

Business + makers conference with creative business classes and hands-on craft + food workshops.

pond with water lilies

+Colorado

“Bluegrass Mass” Featuring Rapid Grass

Mar 18 + 19
First United Methodist Church, Boulder

The music of the Rapid Grass Bluegrass Band combined with a new kind of choral mass. Tickets $20.

  • Pre-Concert Talk by Bluegrass Historian Kevin Slick, 30 minutes before showtime.

Spring Plant Sale

May 12-13, 8am
Denver Botanic Garden (York Street)

Browse a selection of plants grown in the Gardens, as well as aquatic plants, edible plants (fruit, berries, veggies, herbs), houseplants, succulents, roses, annuals, summer bulbs, and water-smart varieties. Plant experts will be on hand to answer questions. Free admission to Plant Sale and Gardens.

**Denver Botanic Garden.
Star Wars Celebration - SWCA

+Florida

Art of Living: Paintings, Drawings, and Ceramics of Sean Sexton

Now – Mar 15
Seminole State College Fine Arts Gallery
Paintings, drawings, and ceramics inspired by artist and third-generation cattle-rancher Sean Sexton’s lifestyle and connection to the land.

Frida Kahlo at The Dali

Now – Apr 17
The Salvador Dali Museum, St. Petersburg
Exhibition of Frida Kahlo’s paintings, drawings, and personal photographs. Included with museum admisssion ($24).

  • Outdoor collection of flowers and plants like the ones in Kahlo’s garden at Casa Azul.
  • Mar 1, 10:30am. Coffee with a Curator: Frida Kahlo’s Legacy + Art History Gender Studies talk. Parking $10.

Poetry at The Dali

Apr 13 + May 11
The Salvador Dali Museum, St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg Poet Laureate, Helen Wallace joined by selected poets to present poems addressing the theme of Food and Sustenance. Following the presentation, there will be an audience Q&A.

Star Wars Celebration Orlando

Apr 13-16
Orange County Convention Center, Orlando
Star Wars fan convention with panels, art show, and cosplay contest. Single day passes $65-75.
**Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim 2015.

#BlogHer17

June 22-24
Hilton Bonnet Creek, Orlando

Annual conference for online content creators. Blogger/influencer passes $399.

image

+Indiana

Indiana State Park Craft and Nature Events

**Mounds State Park.

Museum of Fine Art, Boston http://www.mfa.org/news

+Massachusetts

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Exhibitions

  • Now – Apr 9. Massed Media: Works made by massing multiple components into a cohesive whole.
  • Now – Jun 18. Make Way for Ducklings: The art of author and illustrator Robert McCloskey, in honor of the 75th anniversary of his book Make Way for Ducklings.

Japanese Calligraphy with Michiko Imai

Mar 12 + 15
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
See an artist demonstration of Japanese calligraphy styles and techniques, then try it yourself! Create a small calligraphy work to take home with you.

Boston Pops

Symphony Hall, Boston

  • May 31 + Jun 1. John Williams’ Film Night: Boston Pops Laureate Conductor John Williams and Boston Pops Conductor Keith Lockhart conduct a concert of movie music. Tickets $36 – $122.
  • June 2 + 3. Cirque de la Symphonie: live orchestral music plays while aerial flyers, acrobats, dancers, and jugglers perform. Tickets $29 – $93.

**Star Wars music at Phoenix Symphony Hall.

UNLV

+Nevada

In Transition: Female Figurines from the Braunstein Collection

Now – Mar 30, 2017
Barrick Museum at UNLV, Las Vegas

Female figurines from the pre-Hispanic era cultures of Mesoamerica, South America, and Central America. Free ($5 suggested donation).
**Our visits to the Barrick Museum, Downtown Container Park, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, and other Las Vegas sights.

Red Rock Wildlife Art Workshop

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Las Vegas
Materials provided. Ages 13+. Registration is required – (702) 515-5367.

  • Mar 10. Geology of Red Rock: Explore Red Rock Overlook and have a lesson in landscape painting.

Glass Craft & Bead Expo

Mar 29 – Apr 2
South Point Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas
Classes, exhibits, glass cutting contest, and charity auction. The Gathering, conference of International Society of Glass Beadmakers (ISGB), will be held in conjunction with the Expo.

Biddin’ for Bottles

Apr 1, 6pm
DragonRidge Country Club, main ballroom, Henderson
Blind wine tasting and auction to benefit Leadership Henderson and Henderson Community Foundation.

Guggenheim : Unwritten Rules Cannot Be Broken: Tea Gatherings https://www.guggenheim.org/blogs/checklist/tea-and-peace-at-the-guggenheim

+New York

Unwritten Rules Cannot Be Broken: Tea Gatherings

Mar 1 + 8
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Participatory installation that invites visitors to converse and contemplate calligraphy over a cup of tea prepared and served by local tea brewers. Included with museum admission.

MoCCA Arts Festival

Apr 1-2
Metropolitan West, Manhattan
Independent comics, cartoon and animation festival, which is part of The Society of Illustrators’ mission to promote all genres of illustration through exhibitions and art education. Artists display their work, speak on their creative processes, and conduct workshops. There are also lectures and film screenings. Tickets $5/day.

Rochester International Film Festival

Apr 20-22
Dryden Theatre, Rochester
The world’s oldest continuously-held short film festival. Free (donations accepted).

Wildflower

+Ohio

Arc of Appalachia Wildflower Pilgrimage

April 13-15
Highlands Nature Sanctuary, Bainbridge, Ohio.
Hikes to wildflower displays and talks by naturalists. Tickets $135/person for the Pilgrimage; $185/person for Photography Workshop.

Liberty bell Philadelphia

+Pennsylvania

The Art Dept community programming

Philadelphia

  • Mar 3-31. Dese’rae L. Stage: Live Through This: Exhibition of portraits and true stories of suicide attempt survivors. Opening reception Mar 3, 6pm.
  • Mar 29, 6:30pm. Drawing Club: Open figure drawing session for all skill levels. A live model will do several poses. Purchase supplies on-site or bring your own. $15 fee includes beer and wine.

 

MF@40: A Walk Through the Archives

Mar 16, 6pm

Mattress Factory, Pittsburgh 

Celebrate 40 years of installation art with the Mattress Factory! An evening of guided tours of rarely-seen archival materials, such as artists’ sketches, curator’s notes, and installation models, as well as drinks, appetizers, and after-hours gallery access. Tickets $15.

paper-boat-nashville

+Tennessee

Annual Spring Tennessee Craft Fair

May 5-7
Nashville’s Parthenon in Centennial Park
Outdoor art event featuring work from 195 juried artists.

 

Charlottesville Omni

+Virginia

Virginia Festival of the Book

Mar 22-26
Various locations in Charlottesville/Albemarle County

A week of readings and discussions, book signings, film screenings, and performances.
**3 Sides of Charlottesville, Virginia.

Tom Tom Founders Festival

April 10-16
Downtown Charlottesville
Community-led festival with concerts, competitions, talks, workshops, local food, and public art.

 

INTERNATIONAL

Venice Biennale Architecture629 Views Set-up of the 15th International Architecture Exhibition at the Arsenale venue - Reporting From The Front

+Italy

La Tavola Marche Inn and Cooking School

Le Marche

Venice Biennale

May 13 – Nov 26
Giardini and Arsenale, Venice
“Viva Arte Viva” – International exhibition of visual art, theater, architecture, music, dance, and film. Full regular tickets €25.

  • Jun 23 – Jul 1. International Festival of Contemporary Dance.
  • Jul 25 – Aug 12. International Theatre Festival.
  • Aug 30 – Sep 9. Venice International Film Festival.
  • Sep 29 – Oct 8. International Festival of Contemporary Music.

Otaki Kite Festival http://kitefestival.org.nz/otaki_kite_festival_2016

+New Zealand

Newtown Festival Street Fair Day

Mar 5
Riddiford Street, Newtown

New Zealand’s largest free music festival and fair with 12 stages and over 400 vendor stalls.

Wellington Wine, Food and Craft Beer Festival

Mar 10-11
Waitangi Park, Wellington
Showcase of local restaurants, wineries, craft breweries and beverages, and live music. Session tickets $27.50-50.

Bringing Back the Forest: Walk and Talk 

Mar 12
ZEALANDIA Eco-Sanctuary, Karori
Parks Week walk and talk about the reforestation of the Wellington hills. Learn to identify the trees being planted and the challenges of the project. Park admission $18.50.

Otaki Kite Festival

Mar 25-26
Otaki Beach

Bring (or buy) your own kite to fly and watch Japanese Rokkaku fighting kite battles and stunt kite flying demonstrations on the beach, as well as live performances on stage. Free.

 




While I’ve done my best to be accurate, sometimes things change or weren’t listed correctly in the first place. Also, I choose events that seem fun, unique, and like something you’d be interested in, but your mileage may vary. I may not endorse everything connected with a particular event, organization, venue, etc. So consider this your starting point, double check the details, and then venture forth!

Images:

Read More

Local Art Loves

Posted by on Feb 20, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 8 comments

A couple weeks ago, I invited everyone to share art from where you live. Since then, we’ve seen #localartloves from the east coast to the west coast!

Photo by McKinley Art Solutions

San Francisco, CA

Matt McKinley of McKinley Art Solutions shared work from Justin Hoover’s ‘Martial Spirit’ exhibition, currently at the Chinese Culture Center in San Francisco.

Photo by Traci Cavanaugh York‏ @TraciYorkWriter
Traci Cavanaugh York‏ @TraciYorkWriter

New Hampshire

Traci York shared some of her nature photography from the chilly Northeast.

Local first arizona

Cottonwood, AZ

The northern office of Local First Arizona shared shirts hand printed by Christy Fisher, who makes clothing from reclaimed fabric, as well as jewelry from recycled glass and vintage silver.

IggyStarPup

Phoenix-area, AZ

Courtney Doom (a.k.a. IggyStarpup) in Phoenix shared some of her pop-culture inspired embroidery hoop art. Photo by Phillip Liebold
Phillip stopped to take a photo of this Tempe mural.

@olibalcells mural

I shared the work of several artists on Instagram including a mural by Oliverio Balcells and collaborative paintings by teenagers at Durango Detention Center.

 



 

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

Read More

Lunch Hour Opera

Posted by on Feb 16, 2017 in Travel | 2 comments

Arizona Opera has this cool concept of a monthly brown bag lunch recital. On the third Thursday of the month, you’re invited to pack a lunch and see a free concert in the atrium of Arizona Opera Center near McDowell and Central (basically across the street from the Phoenix Art Museum).

Arizona Opera

We decided to give it a try this month, and I picked up Phillip on his lunch hour.

The recital was a series of songs introduced and sung by Marion Roose Pullin Arizona Opera Studio soloists accompanied by piano. We saw Katrina Galka and Mariya Kaganskaya.

It was absolutely captivating. While there are no costumes or props, the simplicity of the setup allows you to focus on the music. Even at this recital, the soloists didn’t hold back, launching full throttle into the performance, pouring the emotion of each song out through their posture, expressions, and voices.

Arizona Opera

Things to know about Arizona Opera’s Brown Bag Recitals:

  • The soloists are extremely talented.
  • The place was packed and parking was gone. Cars were even parked along curbs, and we double-parked next to one of them. You may be able to sneak a spot at the Phoenix Art Museum. (No guarantees on availability or legality, though.)
  • There’s a light rail stop nearby at McDowell.
  • Being late is awkward. If people are rushing over during their lunch hour, there are bound to be late arrivals, and the parking lot entrance opens right in the front of the room. (Hi, everyone.) I believe there is another entrance on the street side of the building.
  • You’re encouraged to bring your lunch, but no one was eating.
  • Definitely worth going, if you have a flexible enough schedule to get there early or work in the Arts District/Downtown. (Phillip works in east Phoenix, and even that was cutting it too close.)

Arizona Opera

Phillip and I tested out the being late theory for you. (Yes, it is awkward.) (You’re welcome.) We crept to the back, scanning the room in vain for open seats. We were standing there listening to a song introduction, when a man appeared from a back room to offer to get us chairs, reemerged to set two up, then silently disappeared again, as if riding off into the sunset.

After a duet from Hansel and Gretel, the recital ended with “I Could Have Danced All Night from My Fair Lady. There was enthusiastic applause, and then the pianist and soloists remained in the atrium, as the audience spilled out into the parking lot.

Arizona Opera


The next Arizona Opera performance will be a world premiere adaptation of a Zane Grey novel! (A couple photos from the program are above.)

Riders of the Purple Sage Opera –

  • Feb 25, 26: Tucson Music Hall. Tickets $25-120.
  • Mar 3, 4, 5: Phoenix Symphony Hall. Tickets $25-155.
Read More

January 2017 Photo: Mansion View

Posted by on Feb 13, 2017 in Travel | 9 comments

You asked for it! My Photos of the Month are back!

This January’s photo is a view from the historic Picket Post Mansion, which overlooks Boyce Thompson Arboretum. It was open for a rare public tour this January, and we jumped at the chance to peek inside!

Picket Post mansion view, Superior, AZ

 

Runners up:

I also considered either a photo from the Women’s March or the travel ban protest, partly because they are part of this moment in time. However, even though both rallies were positive experiences, they were in response to things I feel are very wrong. Which may be why looking at them makes me feel a bit agitated, while the landscape of the Arboretum makes me feel peaceful.

Travel ban protest


 

PS Speaking of photos, you still have time to share the love by tweeting/instagramming pics of art* from your community with hashtag #localartloves

*Or an art space!




 

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

 

Read More

Phoenix Pizza Festival

Posted by on Feb 9, 2017 in Travel | 2 comments

What is “the most perfect food ever”?

Pizza.

Phx pizza fest

At least, that’s according to the (probably biased) organizers of the Phoenix Pizza Festival.

The annual event benefits Downtown Phoenix, Inc. This past fall, it was held at Margaret T. Hance Park in Downtown Phoenix, next to the Burton Barr Library.

Pizza festival

A $10 advance ticket got you in the gate, and then you could wander around sampling pizza for $2-4 a slice, listening to bands, and/or playing a few rounds of cornhole. There were at least a dozen pizza makers, plus beer, wine, lemonade, and gelato.

image

The pizza ranged from high quality, foodie-grade slices to what a friend of ours would affectionately call “emergency pizza.”

My favorites were from Dough Mama and Lacy + Wendy’s Catering.

Lacy and wendys pizza

In the spirit of the event, some people even dressed up. We chatted with DJ and (self-proclaimed) Pizza Expert Mastamonk, who was wearing a pepperoni-patterned pajama onesie, pizza socks, and a cap that said “send pizza.”

Pizza outfit

Later in the afternoon, toppings started to run out and certain items were off the menu – so plan on arriving on the early side for a better selection. On the other hand, vendors got increasingly generous about offering discounted pies or sneaking you extra slices just before they had to pack it up for the day.

image

It was a fun way to discover new Phoenix-area pizzas. So mark your calendar for the 2017 Pizza Festival, tentatively scheduled to be held in the same location (Hance Park) on November 21st.

And, if you happen to have a pizza onesie laying around the house, this would be the place to wear it.




We were guests of the Phoenix Pizza Festival.

 

Read More

Share your #LocalArtLoves!

Posted by on Feb 6, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 10 comments

What art do you love in your part of the world?

Between now and Valentine’s Day (February 14th), I’ll be sharing some of my local faves, and I hope you’ll do the same! Keep an eye out for art in galleries, coffee shops, libraries, and even outside.

Local Art Loves

Post photos of the local art you love and/or your own work with #LocalArtLoves.

Art is so important. Let’s celebrate what people are creating in our communities!

I’m looking forward to seeing art from your town, and I’ll share a sampling of your Local Art Loves here too.

 

PS If you blog about it, feel free to add a link when you comment here.




 

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

 

Read More

Garden Library Booth

Posted by on Jan 30, 2017 in Travel | 6 comments

I was back at the Mesa Urban Garden and took a photo for you guys of the little library/phone booth.

Phone booth library

Maybe you wouldn’t call it a phone booth. It’s the later version of a phone booth, the not-fully-enclosed kind I grew up seeing. And it seems like the books have been replaced with gardening resources, which is also good. But it’d be neat if books could be back in there too.

Mesa urban garden

 




Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

Read More

Art, Nuance, Resistance

Posted by on Jan 26, 2017 in Life, Travel | 4 comments

It’s Thursday, and I’ve been working on other things this week besides getting today’s post finished. I’m also fighting off a big headache. So let’s just wing it today, shall we?

Mural by mataruda

I’m really saddened by the news of the president signing an order to keep refugees out of the U.S.

I believe that, just as intercultural travel enriches an individual, a diversity of cultures ultimately enriches a country. And the fact that we are turning away so many people seeking refuge breaks my heart.

Tempe art

What is it the Statue of Liberty says? “Give me…your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”? I don’t recall it ending with “LOL! j/k” but I dunno. Maybe I’m misremembering.

studio-tour-14

When my sister-in-law asked on Facebook yesterday where everyone was finding hope, all I could think of was art.

I’ve been mulling this over for awhile now. Maybe since the election results came in and I couldn’t stop thinking of Goya and of Picasso. Maybe before that.

Even now – especially now – art is vital. Stories are vital.

The best art is nuanced, has layers of meaning, expresses truth.

clarion-alley-1

When I think about how we got to this point in the U.S., I believe it has a lot to do with black-and-white thinking, with ignoring nuance. Saying “this is 100% evil” or “this is 100% perfect” and refusing to recognize the layers of a situation or the mix of good and bad that lives in all of us.

clarion-alley-4

Creating something that comes from your heart, that expresses a piece of your experience, that puts authenticity over agenda, is a form of resistance against oversimplification and prejudice.

Kehinde Wiley art

So let’s make things and speak truth and recognize people making art in our communities, because every person that makes/writes something that is true of themselves is also helping to paint a wider, truer picture of humanity.




Artwork in the photos:

1. Colibrí mural by Mata Ruda

2. Tempe Library art exhibition by John Randall Nelson

3. Studio and work of Judy Bruce

4 + 5. Murals in Clarion Alley

6. “Colonel Platoff on His Charger” by Kehinde Wiley

Read More

Citrus Season in the Southwest

Posted by on Jan 23, 2017 in Craft, Travel | 14 comments

Citrus at tucson market

It’s citrus season here in Phoenix! Farmers’ markets and roadside stands are overflowing with oranges, grapefruit, and lemons (so is my Instagram feed).

When we were in Tucson just before Christmas, there were baskets of beautifully bright oranges, tangerines, and kumquats at the Thursday Farmers’ Market at Mercado San Augustin.

Citrus park in Riverside, CA

California Citrus Historic State Park in Riverside, which we’ve enjoyed visiting when we’re in Southern California, currently has extended hours for the season and special events like a harvest tasting on February 26.

The Pasadena Farmers’ Market lists lemons, navel oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, and tangelos as being in season right now. (When I was there this summer, it was piles of peaches and pecks of peppers.)

Pasadena farmers market

On the theme of citrus…

What’s in season where you are?




Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

Read More

Hang in There! 9 Unique Wind Chime and Mobile Ideas

Posted by on Jan 19, 2017 in Craft | 4 comments

Mobiles and wind chimes can brighten up your garden, patio, or a bare corner of your living room. And you probably have the stuff to make one right now!

Here are some unexpected objects you can use to make your own.

Colorful mobile http://www.emilyneuburger.com/2009/07/color-mobile.html

1. Wooden Discs

Emily Neuburger’s Simple Color Mobile could work inside or outside. I like the simplicity of the rainbow-colored circles, but you could also add a wooden initial or other shape.

(Side note: You know the wood-stuff-for-painting aisle in the craft store? I always have to browse through it, and, even though I don’t usually do wood craft projects, I always kind of want to buy everything in there.)

Jungalow Boho mobile

2. Souvenirs

Justina Blakeney made this Boho Mobile from an old lamp shade frame and small decorative items her in-laws brought back from India. If you have a lot of little knick knacks from trips taking up shelf space, this would be another way to display them. Like an oversized charm bracelet.

Paint Swatch Mobile By Natalme

3. Paint Swatches

Love this minimal Paint Swatch Mobile from Natalme! You can mix up the colors like she did or use a gradient of shades for an ombre or rainbow effect, which would look especially rad spinning around.

Embroidery hoop mobile by natalme

4. Embroidery Hoops

Another Natalme inspiration: turn embroidery hoops into a place to hold photos (or holiday cards or kids’ artwork)!

Ceramic bell

5. Clay and Copper Pipes

Decorative ceramic bells made from Sculpey by A Beautiful Mess. Apparently, these are purely decorative, since they don’t actually ring. I’m wondering whether you could change that with some metal inside the clay. Or what if you hung more than one copper pipe from each bell, making every bell into kind of a mini-wind-chime?

Sea Glass DIY Wind Chimes
6. Sea Glass

Crafts Unleashed has a turorial for displaying your beach-combing finds as sea glass wind chimes!

Key Mobile

7. House Keys

You can also make a wind chime from old keys, like this one from Inner Child Fun.

FYI I found this on a list by The Garden Glove (with about a dozen more DIY ideas).
Bottle Cap mobile

8. Bottle Caps

Trina Lyn (of Trina Is Artsy Fartsy) shared this tutorial of how to make a bottle cap wind chime, as frequently seen – but not always explained – on Pinterest.

Junk Windchime by Trina Lyn

9. Random Junk

Trina also combined a variety of found objects, including a smashed vintage beer can, into The Junk Windchime. It brings together a lot of the materials in the other projects above, like bottle caps, glass, beads, and a key.

What materials would you use for a mobile creation? Chime in!

IMG_8930

For Your Inspiration

A few more shareworthy (and shoppable) mobiles and wind chimes:




Photos via their respective sites.

Read More

Photos of 2016

Posted by on Jan 16, 2017 in Life, Travel | 10 comments

Best nine 2016

Near the end of 2015, I posted the collage of Instagram photos the Best Nine app considered my best nine. (I think they’re just the most liked.)

Looking at the collage, it didn’t feel very representative of my year, though.

So, with encouragement from Traci and others, I decided to choose one of my Instagram photos every month that felt significant or like it just fit, and then compare it to my Best Nine at the end of the year.

The photos at the top are my “best nine”, and here are the ones I chose for each month…

2016 photo collage

They don’t really overlap, except for that weather-beaten tree. I remember almost choosing some of the same ones the app did – some months had a couple photos that seemed like a good fit for that month.

I’m still on the fence about whether I want to do this again, but it is really cool to look back and see snapshots of the past year this way.


Locations of Best Nine photos (l-r, from top):

  1. Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Superior, AZ
  2. Seven Magic Mountains, near Las Vegas, NV
  3. Our Airbnb rental [referral discount] in Tucson, AZ 
  4. Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, NV
  5. Kehinde Wiley exhibition at Phoenix Art Museum, AZ
  6. Nothing, AZ
  7. Downtown Las Vegas, NV
  8. Barrick Museum at UNLV, NV
  9. Phoenix Chile Pepper Festival, Phoenix, AZ

 

My monthly photos from 2016: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December.

Microblog Mondays: Write in your own space

Read More