Hello Tempe, Hello… Rain?


All night it rained. And rained. And rained. And just when I thought it might stop, it rained some more.

The thunder was magnificent, loud, and consistent, pounding the sky. It was as if the heavens decided it was time for some sort of nocturnal Taiko drumming exhibition. Each clap vibrated through the walls, set off car alarms in the lot outside my window, and kept a good night of sleep seemingly just a couple of inches from my grasp.

Since I arrived in Tempe in mid-August, it has been scorcher after scorcher. Tempe brings the kind of heat that makes simple tasks, like walking to the grocery store or going to the leasing office to sort out a maintenance request, a hellish ordeal (pun intended). To look down and see anything less than triple digits on my weather app is a cause for celebration.

So the rain, while glorious, while massive, while record-breaking, was sort of a confusing ordeal.

A cold and rainy Tempe?

It was just so weird. Throughout the morning, the drops continued to make their way down our walls and windows. The news filled up with images of flooded neighborhoods and highways. Governor Brewer declared “a state of emergency” as the valley continued to flood.

“Wow,” I thought to myself. “I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere that’s in a state of emergency.”

Schools were evacuated, classes (for the fortunate few) were canceled, and temporary shelters were set up. National and international news organizations began posting about the massive flooding.

For my first few weeks as a full-time Tempe resident, the weather often resembled a Corona commercial with the thermostat turned up. The world was one big tanning bed and it was a failed day if you didn’t spend some of your time in a pool. Thank God for air conditioning.

But now, with the city less than equipped to handle the storms, Tempe looked like an episode of Spongebob Squarepants.

Rainy days produce idyl time. So my roommates and I did the usual rainy day routine: soup, video games, and TV, mixed in with a fair bit of daydreaming.

Eventually, the rain faded and my buddies left for class.

Tired of spanish homework and re-runs of HBO Hard Knocks, I ventured out onto our porch.

Our view, usually of a nice park full of frisbees, cricket bats, and the jubilant shrieks of people at play, had turned into this:

Our New Lake

Our New Lake

The panorama shot makes it tougher to see, but basically we were now the owners of waterfront property. A massive body of water had formed thanks to the large quantity of rainfall, the odd shape of the park, and lack of drainage within it. It was a staggering site.

A couple of nights before, we’d tossed the frisbee around right in the middle of where all that water stood.

“If we were to do that right now,” I thought, “I’d need a snorkel.”

The park was barren and empty. Trees and light poles were partially submerged and their reflections shined in the water.

The sun peeked its head through the clouds and inspiration struck. It was time to capture the state of Tempe.

Scotty Bara (my roommate and fellow northern California native) and I hatched a plan. I spent the next hour (yes, an hour) inflating a raft and brainstorming. When Scotty came home, we worked out some of the details and headed down the steps.

With idiotic grins on our faces, a yellow raft, some props and a go-pro camera, this is what we came up with:





It was a fun time. While I have yet to walk on water, I can now say I’ve floated on rain. Scotty and I sat atop the monsoon for a solid 10-15 minutes, gathered our thoughts and worked on our tans (which clearly could use some work).

We eventually packed our stuff up and headed up to our place. A couple of minutes later, we posted our pictures (big shout @ASUConfessions) and were off to class.

Just another day in Tempe, I guess.

Join Us For a Talk With Visiting Artist Eduardo Sarabia at the ASU Art Museum


Eduardo Sarabia, “A Thin Line Between Love and Hate” (2005), installation detail at the ASU Art Museum Ceramics Research Center. Photo by Julio César Morales.

Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 2 p.m.

Join us at the ASU Art Museum for a talk by visiting artist Eduardo Sarabia, whose work is part of the exhibition Turn off the Sun: Selections from la Colección Jumex.

Born in Los Angeles in 1976, Eduardo Sarabia obtained a BFA from Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, and now lives and works in Los Angeles, Guadalajara and Berlin.

Sarabia is known for creating fake evidence for semi-fictional events, using performance, drawing, painting, ceramics, photographs and sculpture to document events and ideas. His Latino heritage is an influence in his work, with its cultural symbols appearing throughout. Recently, Sarabia has taken part in numerous international group shows including I Love New York, I-20 Gallery, New York, 2001; the 51st Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy, 2005; Musee des Beaux-Arts, Lille, France, 2006 and the Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2008. Recent solo exhibitions include Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica, Calif., 2002; Museo Raúl Anguiano, Guadalajara, Mexico, 2008; LA Louver, Los Angeles, 2008. Upcoming exhibitions include the Denver Contemporary Art Museum in 2013.

More information: http://asuevents.asu.edu/guest-artist-eduardo-sarabia

For holiday shopping (and discounts) visit the ASU Art Museum

Necklace and box by Phoenix artist Mimi Jardine. Ceramic tea pots by Tempe artist Tom Budzak. Photo by Sean Deckert.

Necklace and box by Phoenix artist Mimi Jardine. Ceramic tea pots by Tempe artist Tom Budzak. Photo by Sean Deckert.

“It’s the thought that counts,” goes the old saying. But it never hurts if the gift is nice, too.

This holiday season, the ASU Art Museum Store, in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, is the place in Tempe to find gifts that are thoughtful, beautiful and socially conscious.

When you shop at the museum store, you’re shopping local. According to Local First Arizona, of which the museum is a member, when shoppers choose to spend their money locally, 73 percent remains in the local economy, compared to just 43 percent from non-local stores.

And from Dec. 4 to Dec. 22, just in time for Christmas and Hanukkah, the museum store is offering 20 percent off all its merchandise. Museum members receive a whopping 30 percent discount.

Over the past year, the store has moved in a new direction, focusing on local artists and works by ASU alumni and faculty.

ASU School of Art alumna and faculty member Ann Morton is the creative force behind Street Gems, eco-friendly contemporary jewelry made from discarded items such as plastic bottles, bags and caution tape. This wearable art is made by homeless artisans affiliated with Lodestar Day Resource Center in Phoenix. The social initiative gives the jewelry makers the opportunity to learn a new skill and work as a team, helping them feel a sense of pride and connection to the community.

Jewelers Wendy Grace and Mimi Jardine are both Phoenicians, each with a distinctive style. Wendy Grace, who was trained as a sculptor, makes simple, elegant necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings using silver, gold and precious gems; her fans include celebrities like Meredith Vieira and Rachael Ray. And Mimi Jardine constructs one-of-a-kind necklaces that incorporate vintage beads, found objects and elements from her own jewelry collection, including baubles that belonged to her grandmother, each with its own hand-made box.

The store also carries ceramic pieces by highly acclaimed ASU School of Art faculty like Susan Beiner, Sam Chung and Kurt Weiser, as well as works from artists around the world, hand-made greeting cards, imaginative and challenging toys for children, Oaxacan wood carvings and other unusual items, all eligible for the holiday sale discount.

ASU Art Museum store hours are 11 a.m.-8 p.m.,Tuesday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Wednesday-Saturday. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Tempe This Week – Arizona Dragon Boat Festival

It’s always great to be in Tempe, but this week it’s especially great because there are so many outstanding events going on.  In addition to great live music taking place throughout the week, we have two fantastic festivals to look forward to over the weekend and both are free! The big one that’s been around for 34 years is the Tempe Festival of the Arts.  It brings more than 400 artists as well as musicians, street performers and children’s activities to Mill Avenue and provides a great opportunity to purchase beautiful, original art.

Lesser-known, but also fantastic, is the Arizona Dragon Boat Festival that will take place on Tempe Town Lake. Now in its ninth year, this colorful event celebrates Asian culture with two days of dragon boat races, vendors, food booths and performances by martial artists, musicians and dancers. The beautifully decorated dragon boats are manned by teams of up to 20 paddlers. One team member pounds a drum to keep the paddlers’ oars in sync; the drum represents the heart of the dragon. Close to 60 teams will participate, including our own ASU team.

These are just two of many events taking place this week. View a complete listing of Tempe events, or call 480-894-8158 for more information.


What’s Happening in Tempe this Week – Bill T. Jones-Arnie Zane Dance Company

Tempe will be hopping this week with the start of another exciting Cactus League Spring Training season. There’s also plenty of post-game music, theater and comedy to enjoy in Tempe. The amazing Bill T. Jones-Arnie Dance Company will perform Body against Body at the ASU Galvin Playhouse. The performance revives and reconsiders the duets and solos that launched Jones and Zane on the international dance scene of the early 80s. Bill T. Jones won the Tony Awards for Best Choreography for Spring Awakening in 2009 and for Fella! in 2010. This is the last week to see WICKED at ASU Gammage and Childsplay’s Rock the Presidents at the Tempe Center for the Arts. View a complete listing of Tempe events, or call 480-894-8158 for more information.

What’s Happening in Tempe This Week – The Last Days of Judas Iscariot

It’s the final week to see Stray Cat Theatre’s production of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. Those of you who love the edgier side of theater won’t want to miss this hypothetical story of the court case and fate of Judas Escariot. The setting is a courtroom in Purgatory where lawyers take testimonies from a host of famous witnesses through the ages, including Mother Teresa, Caiaphas, Saint Monica, and Sigmund Freud. The devil also makes an apperance, played to satanic perfection by Damon Dering, better known as the Artistic Director of Nearly Naked Theatre. For more about the play, read this excellent review by theatre critic Kerry Lengel.

View a complete listing of Tempe events, or call 480-894-8158 for more information.

11th Annual Self-Guided Ceramic Studio Tour

If you’re looking for something a little different to do this weekend, take the 11th Annual Self-Guided Ceramic Studio Tour, February 25-26.  The tour showcases the work of dozens of professional ceramic artists in Tempe, Phoenix, Mesa and Scottsdale. It’s a great opportunity to view working and living spaces of participating artists. Many of the artists will demonstrate different aspects of creating in clay, including wheel-throwing, hand-building and glazing techniques. The tour is free, but be sure to take your check book and plastic because many of the artists will have pieces of their work for sale. When I’ve done this tour, I’ve always found a must have piece to take with me.

Start your tour in Tempe at the ASU Ceramic Research Center where you can see the fabulous permanent collection and the current exhibition, Soaring Voices: Recent Ceramics by Women from Japan. You can also view work by some of the tour’s participating artists at the Night Gallery at Tempe Marketplace. Tour maps will be available at the Ceramic Research Center and Night Gallery.

For more information on the other events and activities in Tempe this weekend, visit http://www.tempetourism.com/events/Calendar/. [Read more…]

What’s Happening in Tempe – WICKED

Tempe showcases theatre this week with three big productions. WICKED continues at ASU Gammage, but don’t wait to purchase your tickets; a little birdy told me that WICKED  is  close to selling out. For an edgier theatrical experience, there’s Stray Cat Theatre’s production of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, set in a time-bending, darkly comic world between heaven and hell. Childsplay takes a timely look at 223 years of the American presidency in Rock the Presidents. It’s a rollicking, multi-media-filled musical revue covering the American presidency from Washington to Obama, brought to life through all-new rock, pop and folk music.

Here’s a sample of Tempe’s packed arts, culture and entertainment calendar this week. From music to theatre to arts exhibitions and events, there’s plenty to do.



What’s Happening in Tempe this Week – WICKED Returns to ASU

WICKED is back by popular demand at ASU Gammage, February 15-March 11. The musical takes place before Dorothy from Kansas arrives in Oz.  It’s told from the perspective of the witches of the Land of Oz: Elphaba, the misunderstood girl with emerald-green skin, and Glinda, the beautiful, ambitious and popular blonde. The story follows the friendship that evolves between the two as they grow to become the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good.

Since opening in 2003, WICKED has won 35 major awards, including a Grammy and three Tony® Awards. The New York Times named WICKED the defining musical of the decade and Entertainment Weekly called it “the best musical of the decade.”   I saw WICKED when it was at ASU Gammage in 2009 and it exceeded my expectations 100 fold. I loved everything about it from the lush production to the beautiful music to its moving, but never maudlin message. In 2009 it broke box office records at ASU Gammage and sold out in record time. So, don’t wait to get your tickets or you might miss out.

The arts and entertainment scene in Tempe is wicked good in every way in the week ahead. Check out this line-up, get off your couch and enjoy some of what’s happening in Tempe this week.



Tempe Celebrates Arizona’s Centennial

az centential

I was recently in Pennsylvania and was reminded by a historical marker that it was the second of the original thirteen Colonies and became a state in 1787. This little nugget of information started me thinking about Arizona’s Centennial. At a sprightly 100 years old, Arizona may just be a kid in state years, (Pennsylvania was already 125 years old when Arizona became a state on February 14, 1912) but we’ve had a 100 amazing years packed full of history-makers and history-making events.

Tempe, which celebrated its Centennial in 1971, has certainly put its unique imprint on Arizona’s history. A bunch of events and activities highlighting Tempe’s many contributions to Arizona’s often colorful, but never boring first 100 years, will take place throughout the year.

On February 14, starting at 9:12, Tempe’s oldest restaurant and major historical landmark Monti’s La Casa Vieja, will treat the first 100 people in line to their legendary steaks at 1912 prices. For an unbelievable .75 cents plus tax, lucky early birds will enjoy a full dinner complete with  two sides and Monti’s famous Roman bread. A true Tempe treasure, Monti’s was built in 1873 as the home of Charles Trumbell Hayden who was one of Tempe’s founding fathers and whose son, Carl served in the U.S. Senate for 42 years.

Arizona Centennial Celebration: Arizona Landscapes at the Tempe Center for the Arts: an exhibit of beautiful Arizona landscapes. Imagery includes our diverse natural wonders of deserts, canyons, forests, mountains, lakes and valleys. and built environments such as historic adobes, modern skyscrapers, highways, subdivisions, farms and golf courses.

The Tempe Public Library will host a series of Centennial programs for kids and families on Saturdays during February:
– World Wildlife Zoo & Aquarium Desert Animal Show, February 18
– Mariachi music presented by Mariachi Corazon de Phoenix, February 25
– Watercolor craft presented by the South West Society of Botanical Artists, February 25

The Tempe Historical Museum will present several events that delve into Tempe’s contributions to Arizona’s history, including:
– The Pictures Tell the Story: Continuity and Change in Tempe is a photo exhibit on tells of the ordinary people, events and trends that have shaped Tempe over the last 100 years.
– Tales from Double Butte – some of Tempe’s most prominent residents might be gone, but not forgotten when they will be remembered during this fascinating tour of  Double Butte Cemetery, March 4.
– Centennial Saturday Performance at the Museum – Animals and a Wind Ensemble, March 10. The Tempe History Museum and Classical Revolution PHX presents the Siroccan Winds in a musical event for children and their families.
– Tempe Historical Society Lunch Talks: Tempe since Arizona’s Statehood – this monthly lecture series focuses on the development and transformation of the city of Tempe. Bring your lunch and enjoy these exciting upcoming speakers: Mary Ann Kwilosz, Tempe Historical Society, March 14; Harry Mitchell, former mayor of Tempe, April 11.
– Performances at the Museum: A Centennial Composition Competition – to honor Arizona’s centennial, Classical Revolution PHX presents a composition competition premiering five new pieces of music inspired by Arizona and written by composers from Arizona. On May 5, hear these world-premiere works and enjoy a fun and entertaining presentation to celebrate Arizona’s 100 years.

Tempe Tardeada: a celebration of Tempe’s Hispanic community’s history and contributions. Held on October 9, this event will feature music and dance presenting a timeline from traditional performance such as Mariachis, charros, orchestras, and folklorico dancers to the current music trends of salsa and zumba dance. There will also be community booths and of course lots of delicious food. [Read more…]