Category Archives: Nature

Muse on the move

A few of the nifty buttons in the collections that grows each time I hit a museum gift shop

A few nifty buttons from the collection that grows each time I hit a museum gift shop

After years of daily blogging in “Stage Mom” mode, I’ve decided it’s time to pack up and move to a new writing home — a bigger house, if you will, filled with all things theater but also something more.

Think musings on film, dance, music, visual arts and assorted creative adventures in museum and library lands. Plus more guest posts, photos and news of other projects.

Just a few days ago, I made the move to

Like physically packing up possessions and carting them off to a new home, moving from one bit of cyberspace to another rarely goes as planned.

My tech team consists of hubby James, who was game last year when I suggested that a website would make a lovely birthday gift, and a cat who naps through most of her duties.

Armed with only “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to WordPress,” James went to work. It’s a learn by doing enterprise, and so far he’s not only built my new cyberhome, but also flipped the switch on a new blog.

Like the last boxes to get unpacked after a move, new social media components have yet to be put in their proper place. But consider this your invitation to a housewarming party in progess.

You’ll find blogs and/or photos posted each day at

Maybe once the cat gets more involved, we’ll master the finer points of adding buttons for liking Art Musings on Facebook and following Art Musings on Twitter. Seems I’m better at buying buttons than installing them.

Thanks for visiting my new home. I’ll save a seat on the cybercouch for you.

— Lynn

Here a frack, there a frack

From left: Matt Damon (Steve Butler) and John Krasinski (Dustin Noble) in "Promised Land." Photo: Focus Features.

From left: Matt Damon (Steve Butler) and John Krasinski (Dustin Noble) in “Promised Land.” Photo: Focus Features.

Everywhere a frack, frack. That’s the alleged premise for “Promised Land,” a new Focus Features production directed by Gus Van Sant of “Good Will Hunting” fame. But the movie, set in a small Pennsylvania farming town where life revolves around a diner, bar and school gymnasium, is far more than mere fracking fable.

Promised Land” is a love story, though its characters are conflicted about what they love and how to protect it. Land. Career. Girl. Money. Family. Past, present, future. And self. The screenplay, written by Matt Damon and John Krasinski from a story by Dave Eggers, is a lovely exploration of what the title’s two words really mean.

Steve Butler (Matt Damon) heads from the big city to a rural community on a mission. He’s been sent by a natural gas giant to convince the locals to lease their land for energy development. Sue Thomason (Frances McDormand) is his partner is crime, assuring they stop first at the local groceries, guns, guitars and gas store for the flannel shirts that’ll help them fit in.

Butler knows well the lay of the land, as evidenced by his “heirloom” boots passed down from a farming grandfather. But he’s been spoiled, like land too harshly drilled, by the thrill of the chase. He’s schooled in the fine art of benefit selling, opening each conversation started on a doorstep with “Are you the owner of this land?” The heart of this film lies in its answer.

Butler’s life is complicated by all sorts of folks. Biology teacher Frank Yates (Hal Holbrook), who’s got some suprising credentials and his own brand of persuasion. Elementary school teacher Alice (Rosemarie DeWitt), whose massive property includes a humble garden for teaching kids to take care of things. Even a little girl (Lennon Wynn Kuznian) who rocks the lemonade stand vibe.

PL posterBut mostly Dustin Noble (John Krasinksi), who rides around in a green truck plastering the town with anti-fracking fare while touting the glories of environmentalism. Like Butler, he’s a slick fellow with a big smile. The film’s best scenes include Noble’s time in Alice’s classroom, where he uses the model of a farm, a large plastic bag, a classroom pet and a touch of fire to demonstrate the evils of fracking.

Also Noble’s sheepish speech during “open mic night” at Buddy’s Place, where the band insists he do vocals as they launch into Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” — a song whose title aptly describes the folly of folks on both sides of the fracking debate. Lyrics like “there’s a joke here somewhere and it’s on me” fit fabulously with the film’s unfolding.  The film’s score, by Danny Elfman, is elegant yet playful.

The film’s dialogue, sometimes best delivered by minor characters like store owner Rob (Titus Welliver), is smart, funny, well-paced and believable. “Promised Land” captures the heart and soul of farm folk like the Tripp, S.D. grandparents who once treated me to fresh eggs from backyard hens, bowling alley gossip, hometown parades and such. Issues like farm subsidies and wars over oil get a mere mention, proving this film is about people rather than propaganda.

“Promised Land” is filled with images of rolling hills, American flags, pick-up trucks and sturdy fences with peeling white paint. Even adorable animals from miniature horses to baby goats. Also songs authentic to lives intertwined with small town America. Details of rural life abound, but never clutter insights into characters whose dreams and motivations are complicated.

We might disagree on how to get there, but “Promised Land” makes clear our duty to place the well-being of future generations above our own.

— Lynn

Note: “Promised Land” is rated R for language. Characters do shots in a bar and use the F-word, but there’s no sex or violence (beyond one punch in the face). I’d have let my teens (all adults now) see it in a heartbeat. The film runs 1 hour, 46 minutes.

Coming up: An adoption tale

Art your vegetables


Entrance to Philip Haas “The Four Seasons” exhibit at Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix

"Summer" from "Four Seasons" by Philip Haas, exhibited at Desert Botanical Garden

“Summer” from “The Four Seasons” by Philip Haas, exhibited at Desert Botanical Garden

"Autumn" from Philip Haas' "Four Seasons," exhibited at Desert Botanical Garden

Detail of “Autumn” from Philip Haas’ “The Four Seasons,” exhibited at Desert Botanical Garden

Detail of "Winter" by Philip Haas, exhibited at Desert Botanical Garden

Detail of “Winter” by Philip Haas, exhibited at Desert Botanical Garden

"Spring" from "Four Seasons" by Philip Haas, exhibited at Desert Botanical Garden

“Spring” from “The Four Seasons” by Philip Haas, exhibited at Desert Botanical Garden

Detail of "Spring" by Philip Haas, exhibited at Desert Botanical Garden

Detail of “Spring” by Philip Haas, exhibited at Desert Botanical Garden

Detail of "Spring" by Philip Haas, exhibited at Desert Botanical Garden

Detail of “Spring” by Philip Haas, exhibited at Desert Botanical Garden

Philip Haas artist statement for "The Four Seasons"

Philip Haas artist statement for “The Four Seasons”

Click here to learn more about American artist, screenwriter and filmmaker Philip Haas. Click here for information on “The Four Seasons” exhibit and here to explore additional Desert Botanical Garden offerings.

— Lynn

Note: “The Four Seasons” exhibit at DBG is currently scheduled to run through April 28

Coming up: Art meets mania

Seize the art

Fulton Market before Hurricane Sandy caused flooding and ongoing loss of power

My youngest daughter Lizabeth introduced me to the South Street Seaport, including Fulton Market, during our first trip to Lower Manhattan together — where we attended new student and parent orientations for Pace University. The South Street Seaport Museum was closed to the public at the time, so I had to settle for admiring its charming exterior.

Lizabeth has since moved to Brooklyn, which makes seeing all my favorite spots in Manhattan (including the 9/11 Memorial and Anne Frank Center) more complicated — because I’ve fallen in love with plenty of Brooklyn destinations too.

Still, seeing the South Street Seaport Museum — which was renovated, expanded and reopened — was at the top of my sightseeing list while visiting NYC last month. I didn’t get to Lower Manhattan until my last day in the city. But I’d carefully planned my day to allow for exploring the seaside museum before hailing a cab for the airport.

I snapped this photo in June of 2011 before the museum got a makeover and reopened

I whipped out my camera once I had the museum in my sights, only to discover I’d left the memory card in a laptop all packed up and tucked away in the storage area of my favorite NYC hotel. I knew that hoofing it back to the hotel wouldn’t leave enough time for getting back to the museum, so I hit a local drug store and popped for a new memory card.

“You can’t return this once it’s open,” the clerk warned me. Seems other folks had tried after finding they couldn’t initialize one of those puppies so the camera could actually read and use it. I assumed I’d have no trouble, and set about the task of buying and installing it — all while seated on a vinyl covered bench right there by the drug store cashier.

I knew she’s only wave her fnger in my face if I tried to explain they might actually have a problem with defective merchandise rather than dimwitted customers, and I’d used up all my museum time fiddling with a tiny piece of flat plastic that refused to do my bidding. I figured seeing the museum trumped photographing it, and headed back towards the seaport.

It was the right decision, but came too late. I took a wrong turn somewhere, and discovered the museum was too far out of sight to beckon me in the right direction. I asked lots of people passing hurriedly in business suits if they’d point me towards it. But the museum wasn’t on their radar, or they felt too rushed for tourist time. When I finally dug out my cell phone to check my flight status, I was disappointed to learn it was actually scheduled to leave on time.

The best I could hope for was making it back my hotel in time to gather my things and head to the airport. The museum still sits at the top of my NYC “to do” list, especially now that it’s facing all sorts of flood-related challenges. The folk art collection I was so eager to see is fine, but artifacts about the role of the sea in New York City life fared poorly — and the museum faces new challenges like so many others dealing with post-Sandy existence.

The glimpse that first got me interested in the South Street Seaport Museum

I was heartbroken while reading Monday’s feature on the South Street Seaport Museum in The New York Times — especially imaging what the storm must have been like for museum folks who decided to stay as winds and water swept so much of what they love away. I’ve got a new appreciation for the role this museum plays in capturing the history of NYC’s ongoing waltz with water, and I’m grateful to everyone working to preserve it.

Next time I’m faced with the choice of experiencing or photographing art, I’ll make a different decision. Seize the art, I say. The camera can always wait for another day.

— Lynn

Note: The museum is temporarily closed to the public due to storm-related damage. If I’m fortunate enough to experience and photograph the museum during my next trip to NYC, I’ll be sure to share my snapshots. Please keep the arts and culture of this region in mind as you’re also helping families who need our support. Click here for info on South Street Seaport recovery efforts.

Coming up: Classic musical sets sail at ASU Gammage

Exploring Native American cultures

Detail from a Native American Heritage Month display at the South Mountain Community Library in Phoenix

I learned while attending last week’s Arizona Library Association conference at South Mountain Community Library that the Circle of Nations Club at SMCC will be celebrating “Native American Heritage Week” Nov. 13-15 — which inspired me to go in search of other opportunities to explore Native American arts and culture.

Turns out you can enjoy a “Veterans Day Gourd Dance” today through 4pm at the Pueblo Grande Museum and a “Native American Connections 40th Anniversary Celebration” from 10am-4pm on Tuesday, Nov. 20th at Indian Steele Park’s Memorial Hall. Both are located in Phoenix.

Scottsdale Community College Performing Arts presents a Native American Heritage Exhibition called “The Business of Contemporary Indigenous Art” through Dec. 6 — featuring a reception taking place from 5-7pm on Tuesday, Nov. 13.

SMCC celebrates Native American cultures this week

ASU’s Deer Valley Rock Art Center, which is home to the largest collection of Native American petroglyphs in the Valley, celebrates Native American Recognition Days with a “Native American Heritage Festival” Saturday, Nov. 17 from 10am-3pm. The festival features a screening of the film “Apache 8,” music by Gertie Lopez and the T.O. Boyz, modern Navajo cuisine by Chef Harrison Watchman, art demonstrations, guided hikes, and arts and crafts for children.

The Phoenix Art Museum presents a film titled “Smoke Signals,” which seeks to “demythologize the American Indian” at 1pm on Sunday, Nov. 18. The “Native Eyes Film Showcase” comes to The Loft Cinema in Tucson Saturday, Dec. 1 at 6pm. Arizona State Museum at UA in Tucson often presents exhibits and events celebrating Native American cultures.

The Heard Museum presents “Native Words, Native Warriors” — a traveling Smithsonian Institution exhibit focused on the role Native languages played in 20th century U.S. military efforts — through Sunday, March 3. It’s complemented by art and artifacts, plus an exhibit titled “Navajo Code Talkers: Photographs by Kenji Kawano.

Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts presents the “Native Trails” series including Native American music, dance, arts and culture 15 days from January to April 2013. They’ve designated Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013 as a special day for veterans. Their “OrigiNation” festival featuring native cultures of Arizona and India takes place April 7, 2013.

Books available at the South Mountain Community Library

Explore additional offerings through the Phoenix Indian Center and Central Arizona Museum Association — plus your local libraries, colleges and historical societies. Learn more about Native American cultures online through the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about Native Americans in the U.S. military, and here for information on a call for new works for the OKC Theatre Company 2013 “Native American New Plays Festival.”

Coming up: Pushing buttons & pulling strings

Exploring Jewish arts and culture

Detail of The Treasured Land by Michoel Muchnik, which is exhibited at the Jewish Children’s Museum in Brooklyn. Photo by Lynn Trimble.

Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center opened its Oct. 29-Nov. 15 “Jewish Book & Cultural Arts Fair” last night with Yafit Josephson’s “New Eyes” — which Josephson performs again tonight for a teens-only audience. They’ll continue the fair with an assortment of “culture, comedy and cuisine” in coming days. Think author events, girls night out, holiday boutique and more.

VOSJJ presents a women’s symposium titled “On The Cutting Edge: Today’s Jewish Women” Sunday, Nov. 4 and a “Peace Through Music” concert by folk singer, actor and activist Theodore Bikel Sunday, Nov. 11. “Monkey, Mischief & Breakfast” with Curious George takes place Tuesday, Dec. 25 — featuring crafts, a raffle, a movie, storytime and a banana pancakes breakfast.

The Sedona International Film Festival recently announced that “the best of Jewish cinema” is being presented during a five-day mini-festival taking place Nov. 3-7 at the Mary D. Fisher Theatre in Sedona. The inaugural “Sedona Jewish Film Festival” includes nine award-winning films representing the United States and four additional countries. Both narrative and documentary films are included.

Two films — “Jascha Heifetz: God’s Fiddler” and “Beautiful Music” — recount lives profoundly influenced by music. The Sedona Red Rock High School string quartet performs under the direction of Courtney Yates prior to one of the screenings. Other films address themes related to the Holocasut, ancient refugees, unlikely friendships, arranged marriage, late fatherhood and more.

The Cutler-Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center, located at the Arizona Jewish Historical Society in Phoenix, continues its free screenings of the three-part PBS film series called “The Jewish Americans: A Series by David Grubin” Tuesdays, Nov. 13 (part 2) and Dec. 11 (part 3), noting that “people of all faiths are welcome.”

The center opens an art exhibit titled “We Remember: The Holocaust Art of Robert Sutz” Tuesday, Nov. 13. Sutz makes life masks of Holocaust survivors, and paintings based on stories they’ve shared with him. An artist reception including light refreshments takes place Sunday, Nov. 11. The center also hosts monthly book discussions.

The Center for Jewish Studies in the ASU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences offers lectures, community symposiums and film screenings at various ASU and community venues. Upcoming topics include interviewing Holocaust survivors, Judaism and Islam, contemporary Jewish women and nature conservation/preservation.

ASU Jewish Studies presents the next film screening in its “Polish-Jewish Film Series” Monday, Nov. 19. “The Miracle of Purim” (“Cud Purimowy”) will be shown at Barrett, The Honors College — and followed by a discussion with ASU faculty specializing in Jewish studies.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum presents “What You Do Matters” Monday, Dec. 10 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. A patrons’ dinner reception precedes a program hosted by 12 News anchor and reporter Brahm Resnick.

Featured speaker Clemantine Wamariya, who studies literature at Yale University, is a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council and survivor of Rwandan genocide. Holocaust survivor and Valley resident Gerda Weissman Klein is a special guest for the evening.

Explore other Jewish arts and culture offerings by visiting websites for the Jewish History Museum, Jewish News of Greater Phoenix and Arizona’s many Jewish community centers.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about the Jewish Children’s Museum in Brooklyn, where you can enjoy “The Treasured Land” by artist Michoel Muchnik.

Coming up: The fine art of framing

Cactus meets cake pops

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I’m the proud mother of more than a dozen desert plants thanks to the plant sale held each year by the Center for Native and Urban Wildlife at Scottsdale Community College, which I hit with my son Christopher Thursday afternoon. The sale runs through Saturday, and features a nifty assortment of maternity plants, cactus, succulents, hanging plants and more.

Friendly student volunteers with a wealth of desert plant knowledge helped me make the best selections for my own front yard garden, and neighbors walking their dog as I came home with my new babies were eager to see what I’d bought. Let’s hope their puppies see the one cactus in the bunch before they run to frolick in the garden. It was too just cute to leave homeless.

If you head to SCC to check out CNUW’s offerings, take some time to admire their desert mural, and other artwork — including a desert animal quilt that’s hung above skulls the center uses during school tours that introduce students to desert habitats and wildlife. You’ll see several desert animals while you’re there, and find several unframed works of nature photography for sale.

Proceeds from the sale benefit CNUW education and outreach programs. If plants aren’t your thing, make your way to the bake sale tables I saw filled with bags of homemade kettle corn, charming cake pops on lollypop sticks, caramel apples and various treats with a Halloween twist.

The CNUW plant sale runs Friday 10am-1pm and Saturday 9am-2pm. Scottsdale Community College students are working with CNUW staff to assure our desert stays vibrant and healthy for generations, and it’s a genuine joy to support their dedicated work.

— Lynn

Note: Use entrance #4 at SCC and park at the east side of campus in lot H near the Artichoke Grill. Look for the sculpture pictured above and take the path that veers left towards the CNUW building to reach the plant/bake sale.

Coming up: Bite me

One artist’s path

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When our son Christopher (now in college) was just preschool-age, we used to love walking through the neighborhood gathering found objects like seed pods with interesting shapes. But artist Carolina V. Escobar has taken the fine art of exploring natural objects to a whole other level.

The garden’s Ottosen Gallery features a large display case filled with seed pods and such, all gathered by Escobar during trips taken around the country and abroad. A large lotus seed pod collected while biking in Bangkok is especially intriguing. Also two works completed before she started sculptures for the garden exhibition, and samples of materials used to make the works visitors now see while winding through various garden paths.

Excobar’s “Whispers of a New World” works are made mostly of wire, fabric and resin. Sometimes she sketches a piece first, but more often Escobar simply begins manipulating materials, open to ways her pieces might evolve during their creation. The fabrics she used for the works were gathered during trips to L.A., New York, Thailand and other places. Even from a discount fabric store in Phoenix called SAS. Seems synthetic fabrics sometimes have benefits over materials like silk when it comes to retaining their original color when wet.

In some cases, the fabric Escobar uses gives the appearance of snake skin or shiny pebbles. All are colorful — something Escobar says children are especially drawn to. While adults who tour the exhibit often work to find ways the sculptures represent other objects, eager to identify something from the everyday world that a piece of art resembles, Escobar notes that children are more inclined to accept the work on its own terms.

Several pieces in the “Whispers of a New World” exhibit are untitled, reflecting Escobar’s observation that labeling works tends to limit their openness to interpretation by the viewer. She’d prefer that people experience each work of sculpture without feeling it’s meant to convey one particular reference or meaning. The most representational work, called “Barrel Cactus,” is located just inside the garden’s entrance. Still, it’s got an unexpected twist.

As I walked with Escobar along the garden’s wildflower path, we came to a sculpture that’s about 20 feet tall. Most of the works are made in pieces, explains Escobar, so they’re easy to transport. The parts were delivered to Desert Botanical Garden on a Monday, and installation work took place through Thursday, when Escobar raced home to change before returning for an evening reception.

While passing the bee garden, Escobar shared that this is her first outdoor installation. Several of the metals she used, including copper and lead for the leaves of a piece titled “Saguaro,” have been galvenized so they’ll last 100 years or so. Escobar worked full-time for two and a half years on sculptures for the “Whispers of a New World” exhibit, and says it’s been about three years since she was invited to create works for the Desert Botanical Garden.

“I’d love to travel the exhibit,” says Escobar. It’s easy to picture her works not only in other garden or museum settings, but also inegrated with dance or theater works. She’s working now to develop a catalogue and other materials that’ll help spread the word. We’ll have several months to enjoy her work at the Desert Botanical Garden, which presents the “Whispers of a New World” through May 27, 2013.

My favorite pieces are those that seem to grow up from the ground like an organic structure in its original habitat, and those the garden has suspended in space. One of Escobar’s favorites is “Trinity,” which hangs inside a giant arch. As a gentle wind blew last Wednesday, we paused to watch two of its three pieces slowly spin. There’s also a work featuring an umbrella-shaped piece suspended so it can sway in the breeze.

One especially striking piece resembles the chambers of a human heart. Turns out Escobar has a nifty collection of anatomy books, and a larger body of work that includes sculptures of the pancreas and stomach. You’ll find her “Whispers of a New World” sculptures by walking along the Desert Discovery Loop Trail.

Escobar’s artistic path began while taking a community college watercolor class. When the instructor said, “You need to go to art school,” Escobar heeded the advice. “I didn’t go to school until I was thirty,” she shares. Escobar first attended Virginia Commonwealth University, which she notes now has the country’s leading sculpture program, and Yale — before heading to NYC in artist mode.

Today she’s a strong advocate for arts education, noting that art is a great stress-buster for kids living in an overscheduled, structured world. “Kids need something they can do with no boundaries,” reflects Escobar. Art creates a space for kids to do anything they want, a place where there’s no wrong answer.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to read about additional DBG offerings this season

Coming up: Thespian tales, Art meets suitcase?

In a New York minute

When a family planning holiday travels to NYC got in touch to ask for recommendations, I recalled hearing many years ago about contests that rewarded winners with just a single minute of time — and a shopping cart.

Most were held at toy, grocery or electronics stores. They granted folks a ridiculously small period of time to make their way through the store, snagging items they wanted from shelves. If they could grab it during the time alotted, it was theirs to keep.

Detail of Hope Gangloff work in NYC

I feel that way when visiting New York City, which offers infinitely more to see and do than it’s possible to experience with a single visit or even a lifetime lived there. I’m stuck somewhere between humbled and terrified at the prospect of tackling their question.

Considering thoughts I’d offer a family visiting Phoenix feels a fitting way to start. My first choice in any city is time spent walking. It’s the best way to stumble onto things you wouldn’t experience otherwise, and offers plenty of other benefits from lowering your costs to upping your fitness factor.

But walking only works when the weather cooperates, or you’re comfortable operating in “come what may” mode. Check the forecast before you go, and give some thought to how you’d like to get around if expected conditions actually come to pass.

Detail of Hope Gangloff work in NYC

Seeing NYC by taxi or tour bus has a whole other vibe than seeing it by subway or shoe leather. Think before you go about the best fit for your family, and do your homework together — gathering subway maps, information on taxi fares and such before you hit the road.

Sometimes tourists making their way to Manhattan forget that NYC has five boroughs, and that there’s plenty to explore in each of them. So far I’ve tackled only two of them, though never with the folks who specialize in biking your way through the boroughs.

My foray into Brooklyn started with a lovely trip to Taro’s Origami Studio in Park Slope, followed by a couple of right turns that led me to a bakery filled with friendly people happy to help me find my way to a few of Brooklyn’s better known attractions.

Detail of Hope Gangloff work in NYC

I first explored Brooklyn on foot, discovering only after I arrived at the Brooklyn Museum and Jewish Children’s Museum that they’re located right off the subway. You can see a lot just hopping on and off a line that runs from the heart of Manhattan to the Brooklyn Museum.

In a single sunny day I was also able to explore Grand Army Plaza at the entrance to Prospect Park (home to Prospect Park Zoo), the Brooklyn Central Library, Brooklyn Botanic Garden and all the lovely tree-lined streets in between. I’m hoping to explore Brooklyn Academy of Music during my next bounce through Brooklyn.

My most recent Manhattan walking adventures have included time spent in and around the National 9/11 Memorial, United Nations Visitors Centre and Times Square — but I’ve also enjoyed Central Park, Battery Park City, the section of Fifth Avenue dubbed “museum mile” (home museums that include the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum) and more.

Detail of Hope Gangloff work in NYC

During future visits, I’m eager to explore Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island — and several destinations in Queens, including the Museum of the Moving Image, Socrates Sculpture Park and an outdoor graffti art exhibit space called 5Pointz.

Families exploring Rockefeller Center can enjoy a giant LEGO® store complete with “master builder bar” where fans of all ages can learn to build models. Those who favor outdoor adventures will find plenty of options through City of New York Parks and Recreation, which provides info on city playgrounds, art located in parks and such. They’ve also got a website dedicated to kids fare.

It’s hard to go wrong in NYC if you pick a spot you’re especially eager to see and simply head out exploring from there, assuming you’re exercising caution about your surroundings like you would in any big city filled with tourists. It’s best to start with a plan, but keep an open mind when seredipity strikes.

Many museums and performing arts venues have special offerings for children, teens and families — and most have online calendars you can check before traveling. I’m always happiest with the information I get directly from destinations I’m considering, rather than relying on secondary sources.

Detail of Hope Gangloff work in NYC

The Broadway League has a nifty website filled with show and ticket information for those eager to experience Broadway theater. Current show with tween/teen appeal include “Mary Poppins,” “Newsies,” “Peter and the Starcatcher,” “Spider-Man,” “The Lion King” and “Wicked.”

Lizabeth and I enjoyed two shows above all others during recent NYC theater outings — “War Horse” (being performed at Lincoln Center through Jan. 6) and “Once.” The musicals “Annie,” “Cinderella” and “Matilda” open in 2013, giving families additional choices. Off Broadway productions are plentiful too.

For any city you visit with children, consider available options in parks, libraries, museums, historical societies, performing arts venues and festivals. Check state and city websites for calendars that show what’s happening during your stay, and spend time before you travel on the logistics that’ll make seeing the most places on your wish list possible.

There’s no way you’ll be able to fit everything into your shopping cart, but you’ll have a blast running up and down the aisles grabbing all the goodies it can hold.

— Lynn

Note: Featured artwork by Hope Gangloff was produced by CITYArts in collaboration with youth from Murray and Bergtraum High School. You can enjoy the complete mural at the Starbucks near Beekman St. and Park Row in Lower Manhattan, which is where I took these snapshots last October.

Coming up: Artist goes underground, Once upon a fabric swatch, Art meets education

Dance meets dinosaur?

MOMIX performance of Botanica. Photo by Max Pucciariello.

Seems there’s more to “Botanica,” a work premiered in NYC during 2009 by dance company MOMIX, than the name implies. Set to music that ranges from birdsongs to Vivaldi, “Botanica” takes viewers on a journey through four seasons. Expect flowers, trees, leaves and other organic elements. But dinosaurs, insects and all sorts of animals too.

A bit of Botanica photographed by Max Pucciariello

You’d expect nothing less, I suppose, from a company whose work has been featured in ads for Hanes underwear and Target stores. MOMIX is headed by Moses Pendleton, one of four artists who founded a dance company called Pilobolus in 1971 while attending Dartmouth College. Nowadays, Pilobolus has a repertoire of more than 100 works.

Pendleton started MOMIX in 1980. The company has performed previously at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts and the Desert Botanical Gardens (the latter was presented in partnership with Ballet Arizona), and is returning to Phoenix for another mounting of “Botanica” Feb. 22 & 23, 2013 at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Phoenix. The multi-media work features dancer-illusionists performing with giant puppets, props and such.

More whimsical fare from Botanica by MOMIX. Photo by Don Perdue.

Pilobolus, which is named for “phototropic fungus that thrives in farmyards,” also returns to the Valley this season — performing Oct. 21 & 22 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. The performance features both classic and recent works, including “Particle Zoo,” “The Transformation,” “Duet” and “Rushes.” Also one of its newest works, a 2011 piece titled “Korokoro.”

Both Pilobolus and MOMIX make marvelous bookends for a holiday season filled with favorites from “Snow Queen” to “The Nutcracker.”

— Lynn

Coming up: One artist’s path, Family feud