Wednesday, April 16, 2014

MAC in the Community

Mesa Arts Center (MAC) is many things; a performance venue, home to many theaters and galleries, an educational campus, a place to study visual and performing arts in state-of-the-art studios, an architectural landmark and more. Because of the multi-faceted nature of MAC, it has become a magnet for arts enthusiasts of all ages, and an influential hub in the City of Mesa and the Valley, overall.

What some people might not know about MAC is how committed the organization is to outreach and providing programs to serve the community, to enrich cultural understanding, provide personal engagement with the arts, and ultimately enhance the artistic foundation of the city.  MAC consistently partners with schools, community organizations, and artists to spark creative thinking, promote an understanding of diverse cultural viewpoints, and inspire artistic aspirations.

Last season, Mesa Arts Center captivated the imaginations of over 39,604 students throughout the valley in over 197 schools. This incredible reach and influence truly enhances the Mesa community. Performing Live for Students and National Geographic Live! Student Matinees, in particular, aim to engage children in art and science and make experiences fun and memorable. 

In Performing Live for Students, students experience a cultural and educational show. These one-hour performances are available throughout the year and are accompanied by teacher resources aligned with Arizona College and Career Readiness Standards. National Geographic Live! Student Matinees offer students entertaining and visually spectacular presentations by dynamic National Geographic explorers, scientists, filmmakers, and photographers. Other programs include Culture Connect, Creative Aging, Literacy through the Arts, Spoken Word, and several others.

The Mesa Arts Center’s outreach programs integrate artists and cultural experiences into the community in a deeply impactful way. Through these vibrant outreach programs, unique and high quality opportunities are available to people of all ages.

To learn more about the outreach programs visit

Monday, April 7, 2014

Boundless: The Book Transformed in Contemporary Art | April 4 – August 10, 2014

Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum just opened its latest exhibition; an intriguing collection of works that reimagine the customary shape and form of a book. Boundless: The Book Transformed in Contemporary Art showcases the work of fifteen artists who have created extraordinary three-dimensional sculptures out of the traditional form of a bound book.

At first glance, sculptures by artist Long-Bin Chen appear to be carved from stone.  With a closer look, you can see they are actually made entirely of paper. Chen explores concepts related to cultural identity in his pieces, which he creates from local printed material originating from the communities in which he resides; telephone books, magazines, and other “cultural debris” reclaimed from our information society. 
Artist Mike Stilkey has always been fascinated with painting and drawing, and he utilizes various (and sometimes uncommon) media as his canvas. This could include such things as vintage paper, record covers, book pages and most of all, the books themselves. His introspective and expressionist style creates a whimsical cast of characters present throughout his paintings.
Chen, Stilkey and all the various artists, each unique in their own way, come together in the Boundless exhibition to give books and paper medium new life. Visit this inventive and fascinating exhibition in the South Gallery in the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum. And for an even deeper experience, don’t miss the opportunity to meet the artists at the opening reception on Friday May 9th. The reception is free and open to the public, with musical entertainment and artists in attendance.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Art, Music, Pizza and a Side of Awesomeness

Tonight, Friday, Mar 28, Downtown Mesa stays up late to host special performances and activities in area restaurants and shops. Check out the live music and visual art hosted at Lost Dutchman Coffee Cafe, Edge Boutique, Just Couture, Lulubell Toy BodegaQueen's Pizzeria, and Nebula Vaping Lounge tonight, from 6-11PM!

Mesa Up @ Nite is a collaborative effort between the City of Mesa/Mesa Arts Center, Neighborhood Economic Development Corp. and Downtown Mesa Association, to activate the Main Street area of Downtown Mesa. Funding for this program is provided by the Arizona Commission on the Arts Art Tank Grant. 

For more information about this and other upcoming events in Downtown Mesa, visit

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Preview of Oncoming Fame: From Day Job to Dream Job

“Don’t quit your day job.” It’s a joking phrase often used as a jab, encouraging the listener not to pursue their passions and dreams. But the City of Mesa’s former risk manager Barry Hegrenes is not interested in that idea. He recently left his day job in pursuit of fresh risks to manage, in his new role as a touring performing artist.

Hegrenes, who goes by Dawgus Bear in his performing life, is a self-taught musician. He is a songwriter and guitarist, whose songs are inspired by the lives around him. And when he performs tomorrow night at Mesa Arts Center, the audience can expect to hear everything from Rock to Country, and Irish-influenced selections to Reggae.

“Music has been part of my life for a decade,” Bear said. “But I believe my original songs and messages speak to Baby Boomers who may be confused about their past and where they are going.” His show, Dawgus Bear POOF Tour (Preview Of Oncoming Fame), will be at the Mesa Art Center's Nesbitt-Elliott Playhouse, tomorrow night (March 28) at 8:15pm.

When asked about the motivation behind the career transition, Bear said, “At age 40, I just decided I was going to be a rock star. I called my best friend in Las Vegas and told him he needed to learn how to play bass guitar. He thought I was crazy. We were performing with a full band within 6 months.” We don’t think he’s looking back. And we are behind him 100%!

Would you have the courage to take the risk? More information about the one-night-only show is available, here.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Fierce Acts of Innovation: Interactive Projects at spark! Mesa's Festival of Creativity

It's a tiny leap from being a passive observer to being part of the art-making at this year's spark! Mesa's Festival of Creativity. Festival-goers will quickly go from observing to participating in these interactive projects that blend art and technology.

Visit the south lawn of Mesa Arts Center each day of spark! to see Wonder Dome. An interactive performance platform created by Dan Fine takes traditional storytelling and turns it into an explorative mixture of hand puppets, digital puppets, live actors, movies, video games, with responsive visuals, lights and sound. Within the immersive space of Leo the GEO-desic-Dome, audiences of all ages can be a part of the story.

Then stop by the Amyloid Project at the Wells Fargo Stage Area. For this, urbanSTEW took inspiration from research done by ASU Physics Professor Dr. Sara Vaiana. This research focuses on Intrinsically Disordered Proteins (IDPs) which help us better understand amyloid diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and diabetes. To bring awareness and understanding, the group constructed a large steel sculpture modeled after these proteins. The piece is an interactive sculpture by day, and on Friday and Saturday night at spark! After Dark this figure will turn into a multimedia performance including light projection, sound and original dance.

spark! After Dark will continue to bend your pre-determined ideas of light, sound and how we can interact with technology. As you walk through the campus at Mesa Arts Center, an interactive projection will be displayed upon the theater windows. These projections create the image of a crowd of people observing something that is unknown to the bystander, you. These projections will then respond to you in a number of ways. It’s You, as the project is titled, is by Karolina Sobecka, and it explores public behavior and social actions.

For more interactive lights and sounds, the Alliance Stage will be featuring DJ David Last with visuals by Glowing Pictures. Glowing Pictures is a company pioneering in visual performance who have collaborated with Kanye West, Paul Oakenfold and Outkast in their concert performances. A customized experience is created by an immersive, interactive, and responsive atmosphere full of lights. Three installations will take place to light up Mesa Arts Center; Dance Lighthouse, Geo Dome Projections and Digital Light Painting.

Fractured Future is an interactive VJ experience at spark! After Dark by Moheeb Zara. As you step into a console, you pilot a digital ship and create a visceral soundscape. Digital imagery and moving visuals that you control are viewed on a projection map.

All of these installations, along with many others at spark! will envelope you in a new, visually stunning world where digital art and culture come to life. Don’t miss all of the excitement and much more!