Fun with art & festivals

Artwork by Marna Schindler

I’ve been taking my kids to the Tempe Festival of the Arts since they were about knee-high. It’s a a great place to people watch, enjoy treats like kettle corn and fry bread, and find unique wares for your own home or gift-giving occasions.

Tempe’s 2010 Fall Festival takes place 10am to dusk Fri, Dec 3, through Sun, Dec 5 — in the charming, pedestrian-friendly Mill Avenue District.

The festival features more than 400 artist booths in 18 different artistic categories — plus entertainment booths, street performers, live on-stage music and more.

Artwork by Paul Counts

A portion of festival proceeds will benefit local charities.

My children were shoulder-high by the time the Mesa Arts Center opened, and it’s a favorite haunt for enjoying diverse East Valley offerings.

Resident companies of the MAC include Ballet Etudes, East Valley Children’s Theater, Mesa Encore Theater, Metropolitan Youth Symphony, Sonoran Desert Chorale, Southwest Shakespeare Company, Symphony of the Southwest and Xico, Inc.

Artwork by Rin Colabucci

The Mesa Arts Center hosts a festival next weekend — featuring original works by more than 70 juried artists, live entertainment on three stages and art demonstrations (glassblowing, blacksmithing, etc.).

The Mesa Arts Festival also features a “kids’ fun zone” as well as “hands-on art activities” and local food vendors. Fry bread two weekends in a row. I like it.

Mesa Arts Festival activities begin at “2nd Friday” — a downtown Mesa event that next occurs Fri, Dec 10, from 6-10pm.

That explains all those nifty booths and activities I so often stumble on when attending Friday night performances by Southwest Shakespeare Company (their current production is “Twelfth Night“).

Artwork by Andrew Carson

The festival itself takes place Sat, Dec 11, and Sun, Dec 12, at Mesa Arts Center. Like the Tempe festival, it’s full of fun finds for shoppers seeking holiday or other gifts. My mantra? One for me, one for you…

Chandler Center for the Arts welcomes “Vision Gallery” to a new home in the Chandler City Hall building in downtown Chandler  — and the gallery will celebrate with a free public event titled “Art Rising: A Festival of Visual Art” Sat, Dec 4, from noon-4pm.

The event features original artwork and performance art such as storytelling, Chinese dance and magic. The “Tumbleweed Tree Lighting Ceremony” and lights parade follows at 4:30pm.

Artwork by Carolyn Dubuque

If original jewelry is your thing, or on the wish list of someone you love, you’ll want to head to the “Holiday Jewelry Trunk Show” at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art next weekend.

The show takes place Fri, Dec 10 (1-9pm) and Sat, Dec 11 (11am-9pm) in the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts lobby. All proceeds support programs at SMoCA and the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts (which welcomes Audra McDonald for “ARTrageous” Sat, Dec 4).

This time of year, I’m focused on fun and efficiency. One can have both. Especially when festivals like these make it possible to couple holiday shopping with visual and performance art.

Let the good times stroll…

— Lynn

Note: Artwork above is by various “featured artists,” past and present, of the Tempe Festival of the Arts

Coming up: Fun and fundraising with Valley arts organizations