In our April issue, writer Amy Saunders chronicled Dr. Toby Meltzer's transformation of Scottsdale into a worldwide destination for gender reassignment surgery. In February, Meltzer and his frequent collaborator Senza Pelo MedSpa owner Maria DeNicola won the Independent Equality Award from the Human Rights Council for their work on behalf of the transgender community. While Meltzer has focused on the surgical side of transitions, DeNicola has tended to the rest, providing permanent hair removal and other services for more than 33 years.
#1: “Threads: Gathering My Thoughts”: An Art Installation by Susan Lenz at Mesa Art Museum, April 15
South Carolina artist Susan Lenz found inspiration in grassroots yarn bombings – an art form in which objects such as trees or cars are covered in colorful crocheted and knitted patterns. Her exhibition “Threads” carries that inspiration to new heights – literally – with an installation of intricate, multi-colored threads and big yarn baskets that hang from the ceiling and envelope the room, creating a labrynth that proves all is not what it skeins. The exhibition opens April 15 in the SRP Gallery at Mesa Arts Center and runs through August 7. Free admission. Visit website for museum hours. mesaartscenter.com
John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men needs little introduction to many of us. The heartwarming yet emotionally devastating book was required reading at many schools, including my alma mater, Arcadia High School in Phoenix. Arizona Theatre Company brings the story to life through April 17 in a co-production with Milwaukee Repertory Theater. The play is aptly directed by Mark Clements.
When spring temperatures start hovering around 85 degrees, Valley residents dig through drawers and prowl through closets for their shorts, tank tops, sundresses and sandals from years gone by. You know the drill. You try them on, tug at the tight waistband, notice the ripped hemline and look in the mirror and say, “Why did I ever think this (fill in the blank) was a good idea?”
# 1: Phoenix Film Festival at Harkins Scottsdale 101, April 7-14
The Valley's biggest big-screen bash brings its annual bonanza of dramatic features, horror and sci-fi movies, animated offerings, documentaries and short films – many by Arizona auteurs – to Harkins Scottsdale. $85.08, festival pass; $27.90, four-film flex pass; $169.18 VIP pass. Visit phoenixfilmfestival.com for show times and dates.
On April 5, you’ll get a chance to “invest in Arizona” by giving to any of the 800 nonprofit organizations participating in Arizona Gives Day, hosted by Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits and Arizona Grantmakers Forum and presented by FirstBank. Since its founding in 2013, Arizona Gives Day has raised close to $4.5 million for Arizona nonprofits.
If news headlines are any indication, Hillary vs. Donald is the biggest prizefight in the nation’s eye right now. But for the geeky pop culture set there’s a more important, epic, life-altering battle that’s been ongoing for decades. Movie sagas have been made, fan bases divided and friendships lost. The question still remains: Which franchise is better, Star Wars or Star Trek?
If you’ve read the Diary of a Young Girl, written by Anne Frank while she and her family hid in an Amsterdam warehouse during the Holocaust, you know how profound her words were then and remain to this day. In 2005, British composer James Whitbourn set Frank’s poignant diary to music, and the 14-movement work will make its way to the Valley for two performances in April.
Once a children’s hobby, collecting baseball cards has become as much a National Pastime as the game itself. The first cards were created in the mid-19th century, with tobacco companies later including cards with their products to seduce buyers into purchasing enough smokes to complete the set. Kids got in on the action when cards started appearing in chewing gum packages around the time of the Great Depression.
#1: Eric Almanza exhibition at Unexpected Art Gallery, ETA April 1
Self-described “subversive Chicano figurative painter” Eric Almanza has a quote from Pablo Picasso on his website (ericalmanza.com) that declares, “Painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war.” It's an apt description of Almanza's intention whenever he lays brush to canvas, painting scenes that speak to social and political issues such as immigration, Chicano identity, the struggles and expressions of urban life, and the ongoing battle against minority oppression. (A prime example: Almanza's 2013 “Lo Que No Se Puede Ver” – “that which cannot be seen” – portrait series, done in reaction to Arizona's Senate Bill 1070.) Based in California, Almanza will bring his work to the Unexpected Art Gallery “by April 1st,” according to the Unexpected Art Gallery's Facebook page. Visit unexpectedartgallery.com or facebook.com/unexpectedspace for more information.
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