Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Got a Budding Artist on Your Hands?

By Samuel Childress

Want to help your kiddos beat the heat this summer? Want to see them using their creativity and self-expression? How about giving them an opportunity to meet new people, gain self-confidence and learn new skills at Mesa Arts Center’s Summer Arts Camps! Beginning June 1 and continuing through July 27, trained teaching artists will guide camp participants in grades 1 through 7 in fun and engaging exercises and creative activities in dance, poetry, drama, arts classes and puppetry. So don’t let them be a couch potato or melt away in the summer sun; sign them up for Summer Arts Camp today!

Where?           Mesa Arts Center, One East Main Street, Mesa, AZ 85201

When?            Weekly, June 1 through July 27  

How much?   $180 per five-day week

Sign me up!   Registration and more information is available from the box   office online at or by phone at 480-644-6520. See you at MAC!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Millennials got art?

Millennials consume information in headlines, texts and tweets: all breadth and no depth . Elena Sheppard wrote recently in The New York Times, "We've been famously pegged as “the  me, me, me generation.” If you type “millennials are…” in Google, the auto fill is “lazy.” Artistically, we've been called “the lamest generation.”


On the other hand, arts evaluation writer Joe Patti proposes in his blog Butts in the Seats that arts and cultural experiences are pretty well suited to Millenials. “The experience is transient and can’t be possessed as a concrete object. It can provide a sense of community and opportunity for relationship building and can make a statement about the person to others.” In other words, the arts are right up the millennial alley of enlarging friend circles and building intelligent public images.


On another hand, Forbes Magazine contributor, Jason Nazar challenges that “Creativity, thoughtfulness and thinking skills are freed when you’re forced to read a full book cover to cover.” We could ascribe the same benefits to attending a Shakespeare play, a Poetry Slam or National Geographic Live! environmental education program. Or volunteering to help produce fantastic arts events like Spark! Mesa’s Festival of Creativity or the Dia de los Muertos Festival. Or enrolling in a class to learn a new skill such as blacksmithing, photography or dance. 

Creativity, thoughtfulness and thinking skills.

Mr. Nazar has a good point.  Perhaps it’s time to take on a challenge. Maybe it’s the day to say, “I have lived here all my life, this is the first time I have been to the Mesa Arts Center, but it’s not going to be my last. 

By LaDawn Lingard

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Irony of Hello Kitty and Artillery

When I first saw some of the artwork in Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum for ARTillery, it made me think of what the character Michel Scott of The Office said about guns; “What is the most exciting thing can happen on TV, in the movies or in real life? Somebody has a gun!” To me, that is (ironically) a true statement.  A gun can be used for good and for bad. So, in certain situations it is both exciting and nerve racking to see someone with a gun because you have no idea what could happen. I felt those same feelings when I saw this art. There is such a range of content in the work, from pictures of kids holding guns to a Hello Kitty AK-47.  It made me want to know what the artist was trying to say about guns and weapons, in general.

With recent events around the world, I find this exhibition somewhat similar to dark comedy. The works are beautiful, but there is also irony in that weapons can cause so much hurt and destruction and yet here they are portrayed in beautiful paintings, ceramic sculptures and more. Art truly is an expression of self and views on life and in these pictures some of the artist views speak loudly. One of the pieces that stood out to me the most was an image of an AK-47 that was pink and purple with the Hello Kitty Logo. It made me think about the different views people can have on the same object. To some people it may be funny; to other people it may be desirable because they love the Hello Kitty Logo. It could also be a gut check to see that sometimes the way we glamorize weapons can turn into a tragic interpretation by a younger and more impressionable generation.  

This exhibition is most definitely thought provoking. You get to see weapons from different artists’ points of view and think about your own perceptions of those same objects. This exhibition really made me want to sit down with some of the artists and talk to them to see if their art is a reflection of their view on society or if it is a reflection of events in their life past or present. In my opinion, none of the art strikes me as a political statement; it just appears to open eyes to different people’s perspectives on war, weapons and violence in media and how these things can affect our lives more than we think. I highly recommend this exhibition, so head on down to the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum and check it out!

By Samuel Childress

Monday, April 20, 2015

Chasing Rivers Before They Disappear

I love National Geographic! The photographers and videographers on their staff are amazing.  They always seem to capture the most stunning photos. So, when I was given the opportunity to attend the National Geographic Live presentation of Chasing Rivers at Mesa Arts Center I jumped all over that. Photography and videography have always been a hobby of mine, so I was eager to see if Pete McBride would talk about some photography techniques or how he got his job with National Geographic.  

I've always known that photography and videography is more than capturing that gorgeous shot, that photography is an opportunity to tell a story. That really didn't hit home until the Chasing Rivers show. After about 10 minutes into the show Pete really started to talk about his passion for the beautiful Colorado River. It was refreshing to hear his story of his love for the river and his passion to preserve our natural water supply. His love isn't just for the rivers in America; his love for the rivers is worldwide. During his show he talked about how he was able to travel to India and down the Ganges River. 

We've all grown up hearing stories about countries who are less fortunate than the United States, and I think that is one thing we take for granted; it is something we forget can happen here. It wasn't until I saw the pictures that Pete took that I realized that the Colorado River is losing gallons upon gallons of water every year. As many stories as you hear about the poor water quality in India, you don’t really comprehend how bad it is until you see pictures of the people that have to live in those conditions every day. 

At the end of his show Pete had everyone take out their phones and text a number. Each text message they received helps conserve thousands of gallons of water. That was exciting to be part of something like that and to have Pete challenge the audience to actively participate in the effort to conserve our world’s water supply. Everyone should experience a National Geographic Live show. It will definitely give you a different perspective.

By Samuel Childress

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Artist William Barnhart’s ‘Work of Art’ Building; Exhibition at MCAM on View Through August 16

Mesa based artist William Barnhart works from a ‘work of art’ building. His Studio comes complete with a rock climbing wall, sculpture garden, a fireman’s pole, and a VW Bus mounted 12’ off the floor that has been converted to a bedroom which is accessible by a glass catwalk. After the sub-contractors finished the concrete, block and fire sprinklers, Barnhart used recycled glass, steel and majority of other materials to finish the building with his personal artistic flair. His studio is the base of operations for the 
artwork he produces including sculpture, painting, mono-prints and of course architecture.cid:image003.gif@01D0783B.D3E5A2F0

In 2014 William went on a journey with his 1961 fully restored sailboat “Champion” to the Northwest United States. He ended up mooring the boat in the shadow of the Space Needle at a boat slip on Lake Union, Washington and lived there for 3 months while searching the area for artistic inspiration. The products of that epic journey are called “The Seattle Series” and are currently on display at the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum.

Multiple layers of bold color are first added to a canvas and then the figures are added in charcoal drawing style. Spare figures emerge from vibrant backgrounds and emotional life is always to be discovered in the special attention Barnhart gives to the hands of each person he paints. William Barnhart’s artwork can be enjoyed both from a distance as well as up close as the thick paint strokes give texture, drip paint adds random shaping and needle thin scratching on the surfaces reveals the multiple layers of colors underneath.   These vibrant kaleidoscopes are well worth a trip to Mesa Arts Center on any perfect Mesa spring day.

By LaDawn Lingard