Cool off with culture in downtown Chandler

IMG_1807Arizonans don’t have to travel far to take advantage of cool, cultural offerings. Five air-conditioned locations in downtown Chandler offer respite from the heat and provide satisfaction for summertime cultural cravings — music, theater, art, film and literature.

At Chandler Center for the Arts, free summer concert performances start Friday Aug. 2 with the Bad Cactus Brass Band at 7 p.m. Other performances are jazz musician Dmitri Matheny on Aug. 16, a blend of flamenco and mariachi — “FlaMEXico!” on Aug. 23, and a music variety show for youth, “Plugged In” on Aug. 24. Tip: Since these shows are free and seating is first-come, first-served, you may want to get there when the doors open at 6:30 p.m. Allow extra time to check out the center’s gallery.

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Xico Arte y Cultura Galeria is an art gallery, shop and studio dedicated to traditional arts and crafts by Native American and Latino cultures. Find jewelry, paintings, multimedia art, folk arts and crafts at the shop, located on the west side of A.J. Chandler Park. Many of the items carry colorful Dia de los Muertos themes. Tip: Check this non-profit organization’s Facebook page for upcoming special exhibits and artist demonstrations. Open Wednesday through Saturday noon to 5 p.m.

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Stop by the versatile Vision Gallery and view special exhibits: “Decision Portraits by Susan Lenz” until July 26 or “Fine Art Photography by David Miller” beginning Aug. 2. About 300 regional artists’ works are on a rotating display. Don’t miss the popular “Art-O-Mat” — itself a mini art gallery, a showcase of mini art. It’s really a converted cigarette machine. Hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tip: Sign up for the gallery newsletter and you’ll get first news about special exhibitions and artists’ opening night receptions.

Cool off with a “hot” read from Chandler Public Library’s Friends of the Library summer book sale. Buy Library discard books at 4 for $1 through the month of July! And if you stop by on Tuesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. through Aug. 6, you can watch a showing of one of the flicks in the Get Reel Documentary Film Series hosted by the Library in partnership with Public Television’s Point of View series. Tip: Don’t forget your library card to check out a Cultural Pass for free local museum visits.

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Gangplank, downtown Chandler’s collaborative workspace, comes alive with arts, crafts and music as the indoor location of the Downtown Chandler Art Walk on third Fridays during the summer months. Desks and computers make way for displays of sculpture, photography, painting, ceramics and jewelry from 6 to 10 p.m. So if you don’t have plans yet for this Friday, July 19: Come and enjoy music by Chris Buzan and a glass of wine while you stroll through the exhibits at Gangplank, located at 260 S. Arizona Ave. Learn more about Gangplank and its Wednesday brownbag series talks, health initiatives, community classes, business workshops by visiting the website or signing up for the weekly newsletter. Tip: Park in the city parking garage directly across the street, on the east side of Arizona Avenue. (Entrance to the garage is on its east side — off of Washington Street. It’s No. 10 on this handy downtown Chandler parking map.)

Combine any of these “artsy” venue visits with dinner at one of downtown Chandler’s cool restaurants, and you have the makings of a masterpiece — a memorable night out on the town.

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Don’t miss Prescott’s Textiles & Textures Artisans Studio

Colorful sand cast leaves by artist Chris Ryback

Custom wood vases created by artists Roger and Jan Harlow

If you’re headed to Prescott for Fourth of July festivities, consider adding to your itinerary a visit to Textiles & Textures Artisans Studio.

Located at 217 North Cortez Street (the same street with all those cool antique shops), Textiles & Textures is steps away from the Courthouse Plaza in downtown Prescott. The shop which opened for business a few months ago, is run by sisters Debra Owen and Donna Stirnaman.

To put it mildly, this studio/shop is a showcase of unusual and unique art and crafts. To put it more accurately, Textiles & Textures is so colorful and crafty you’ll think the popular website, Etsy.com exploded from the Internet into a downtown Prescott storefront! Much of the media is textiles, paper, wood, stone and ceramics. I was really impressed by all the racks of upcycled children’s clothing. That’s what this gallery-studio-store-workshop is all about: upcycling, re-imagining just about anything. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, “upcycling,” think of it this way: Converting a used but colorful, print dress into a dust cloth is recycling; converting it into several sets of children’s pajamas is upcycling.

When we visited the shop during a recent Prescott visit, studio employees were busily designing new exhibits. Owners and staff were preparing for an event called “Tie One On Art Challenge,” an open call for art — a competition for artists and crafters to create works from men’s ties. Although the entry deadline has past, the competition submissions will be judged and exhibited July 2-28. A reception will feature the works Friday June 28 during the downtown Prescott Fourth Friday Art Walk. Check for more events and numerous photos on Textiles & Textures’ Facebook page.

The studio also offers a variety of classes and workshops, such as drawing and creating art journals. An upcoming workshop, beginning July 20, is Rag Papermaking by Annie Alexander. Participants will learn how to handcraft forms of paper to be used either as an art medium, or for a more functional purpose such as writing paper, cards or envelopes. Alexander’s paper art and original artist books also are available at the studio to purchase… or simply admire. Textiles & Textures’ shelves also boast creations by Chino Valley artists Roger and Jan Harlow. Find turned bowls, vases, tables, platters and more — executed from exotic wood pieces from throughout the world. Another noteworthy display includes large, colorful sand cast leaves by artist Chris Ryback.

Jewelry, apparel, painting, metal sculptures, art quilts, ceramics and paper art  — they’re all here. If you thought some of these crafts were “lost arts,” then consider them “found” at Textiles & Textures Artisans Studio. 

Bright spring and summer fashions in the Kids Corner at Textiles & Textures

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Corporate art gallery part of Eddie Basha’s legacy

Basha's Art Gallery front hall features works by Joe Beeler

It’s no secret that corporate offices throughout the country are filled with famous works of art. Paintings, sculpture, multimedia creations from nationally-known and regional artists occupy the walls, cases and pedestals of corporate galleries, lobbies and hallways. But it’s a little known fact that Arizona supermarket giant, Bashas’ Stores, has maintained a vast collection of American Cowboy and Native American art, basketry, jewelry and artifacts in its Chandler, Ariz. headquarters.

The Zelma Basha Salmeri Gallery of Western American and Native American Art houses over 3,000 pieces in a wide range of media: oil, watercolor, acrylics, charcoal and pastels on canvas and paper as well as three-dimensional works in bronze, wood, granite, marble. The Pima and Apache baskets, Zuni and Navajo jewelry and Hopi Kachinas not only just catch your eye, they invite your curiosity.

Bronze piece shows intricate details of animals

Bronze piece shows intricate details of animals

Zelma Basha Salmeri was an aunt of Basha’s Stores Chairman and CEO Eddie Basha Jr. (Eddie Basha died March 26.)  Zelma passed along her love of art to her nephew and encouraged his hobby as a collector. This collection began as a tribute to her. He began collecting these works in 1971, and continued to expand the gallery throughout his life.

Contemporary pieces include ink and watercolor paintings

Contemporary pieces include ink and watercolor paintings

Many of the artists can be identified with the organization of western artists, Cowboy Artists of America. Joe Beeler, James Reynolds, Howard Terpning and George Phippen are represented here as well as John Clymer, who is known for his western art and his famous magazine art used on numerous front covers of “Saturday Evening Post” magazine. Display cases created with hammered copper and glass protect fine examples of silver, turquoise and coral jewelry, Zuni fetishes and seed pots.

Yavapai, Navajo, Apache and Pima tribes represented in the basket room

Yavapai, Navajo, Apache and Pima tribes represented in the basket room

Bashas’ Art Gallery visitors should opt to take a few minutes to read the captions – to learn about the scene’s background and become acquainted with the artist. Then one can better appreciate how each work is the sum of much historical data collection, creative imagination and technical interpretation. These artists must have also carried a fierce determination, as if it’s a parallel to their subjects and the spirit of the American frontier.

There is no charge to visit the gallery, located in south Chandler, at 22402 S. Basha Road. Hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit the website.

Note: This AzGetawayTravel.com blog post originally was published April 21, 2011. I wanted to reprise an updated version now to honor the late Eddie Basha Jr. I believe this amazing corporate art gallery that Eddie opened to everyone not only exemplifies his passion for southwestern art, but also shows how much he cared for his community and Arizona. 

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