READ IT: “Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.” When it comes to Valley lifestyle guru Cheryl Najafi and her Missouri-bred “mama,” poet Robert Browning’s tribute to mothers might be edited to say, “Motherhood: All good food begins and ends there.” Najafi’s new cookbook, Mother Daughter Dishes: Reinventing Loved Classics ($19.76, CherylStyle Publishing), celebrates the mother-daughter bond with updated (and healthier) versions of Najafi’s down-home childhood favorites, from her granny’s buttermilk biscuits to Najafi’s beloved coconut cream pie.
ARTIST OF THE MONTH: “Everyone can relate to my paintings, because we all were kids,” Michael Maczuga says.
The Cleveland, Ohio transplant began painting scenes in the life of children back in 2000, after attending art workshops in Scottsdale, where his family had moved when he was a young boy. But though Maczuga’s childhood was spent in a desert metropolis, his paintings portray Midwestern, Rockwellian environments with an impressionist touch: a little girl walking through fall foliage, or a boy enchanted by something he found in a garden, rendered in soft strokes with an ethereal, almost watery-looking aesthetic.
SEE IT: When it comes to presidential defeats, Arizona lays claim to one of the most historic: Republican Barry Goldwater’s 1964 slaying at the hands of Lyndon B. Johnson. Revisit Goldwater’s campaign and get a candid look at his personal life in Mr. Conservative: Goldwater on Goldwater, the acclaimed 2006 documentary told through the eyes of Goldwater’s granddaughter CC. Featuring interviews with former “Goldwater Girl” Hillary Clinton, John McCain and Sandra Day O’Connor, the documentary demonstrates how Goldwater electrified the Grand Old Party and established his legacy as one of the Beltway’s most powerful legislators. The film screens for free at 6 p.m. November 2, at Harkins Shea 14 Theatre, 7354 E. Shea Blvd, Scottsdale, 480-948-6555.
That’s why folks like Food Network chef Marcela Valladolid and Silvana Salcido Esparza from Barrio Cafe collect Valley artist Gennaro Garcia’s handmade plates. The ceramicist paints thick black brushstrokes outlining his hands – cupped as if serving a meal – on beautiful, bare white dishes.
READ IT: There’s an old saying that all poetry is about one of three things: sex, death or poetry. Valley scribe Shawnte Orion bucks that stereotype with his new book of poetry, The Existentialist Cookbook (NYQBooks), in which his muses range from television show Project Runway to vintage Japanese films to tie-dye. Orion, whose work has appeared in publications including New York Quarterly and the Georgetown Review, hosts monthly poetry readings around the Valley, and will be participating in a reading at 10 a.m. on Saturday, October 4, at Phoenix Public Market, 721 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. Visit batteredhive.blogspot.com for more information.
ARTIST OF THE MONTH: From small packets of methamphetamine to miles of mountains in southern Arizona, photographic artist David Taylor reads between the lines – the border lines – to capture the complex minutiae that form the bigger picture of undocumented immigration and deportation.
READ IT: Gone are the days when children’s books taught the importance of keeping a tidy room; nowadays, kids are taught the importance of keeping a tidy planet. Conrad Storad penned his latest children’s book, Gator, Gator, Second Grader (Five Star Publications) to promote discussion on how classroom pets and other animals should be treated. When second graders Benny and Jacob bring a baby alligator to their classroom in a cardboard box, their teacher Mrs. Nichols sets them straight on what constitutes a proper classroom pet, which leads them on an extemporaneous escapade as they learn about everything from alligators to gerbils.