Monday, February 20, 2012

Happy Birthday Arizona!

Bruce Aiken, artist and chair of BPAC with Redwing Nez, artist of the Centennial Wall Mural.
Happy Birthday, Arizona!

I've been talking for so long about all the things I love about you, Flagstaff, Arizona, but with all this general hubbub over your statehood, I'm seeing you with fresh eyes!  Let me just list a few more things that I noticed (again) this week...

The San Francisco Peaks just look so pretty wearing their storm clouds, then waking up with a cozy white comforter of snow on top of them.  Need I say more?!

If you haven't been by the Flagstaff Visitor's Center since this summer, you're missing out on the Flagstaff Centennial Mural that Redwing Nez finished this year.  (You can watch a great time-lapse video on the process here.)  The mural, commissioned by Flagstaff's Beautification and Public Art Commission (BPAC,) was part of the City's Centennial Celebration last Tuesday.  I got to meet with Redwing before the festivities, and talk about the mural process and his creative inspirations.  Redwing is a great storyteller, and we got to hear a lot anecdotes about his memories of Flagstaff as a youngster.  I came away with a great sense of how important the past is.

The Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra had a another great performance last Friday, with "Polish Inspirations," featuring the artist-in-residence, (and Flagstaff native) Jeffrey Swann on piano.  It was pretty amazing to watch his chubby, yet nimble fingers skip across the keyboard.  It's amazing the manual dexterity that musician-ship calls for.  By the way, classical music--and the symphony--are a big part of Flagstaff's culture.  FSO has been around for over 50 years, you know!

Craig Yarbrough has been inviting me to Grand Canyon Guitar Society performances for awhile now, but I've never made it before.  I finally decided that I was going to overcome my Saturday night laziness and get to the Coconino Center for the Arts.  Maximo Diego Pujol, Argentinian guitarist, played traditional guitar pieces and those of his own creation.  Regional guitar students played his pieces beforehand, combining percussive knocks and quick progressions to their tapestry of sounds.  They were charmingly impressed that their Maestro was in the audience, making the rest of usrealize his importance. It was wonderful.  What a secret jewel the guitar series is!

I'm not traveling much this year, and I won't get a chance to go to New York to see the Shrine of the Ages and Flagstaff Master Chorale perform at Carnegie Hall.  But just because I'm in Flagstaff, doesn't mean that I can't see and hear beauty.  It may not have the grandiose context of big performance halls, or cultural cities, but Flagstaff has a lot going for it.

I'm trying really hard to see the regular sights from a different perspective. It's easy to have fresh eyes (and ears) when you are in a new place.  But it's more precious when you realize that the beauty has been in front of you all along.  Thanks Flagstaff!


  1. Thanks for coming out, and helping to share our surprise jewels on your blog! Grand Canyon Guitar Society has been called "Flagstaff's best kept arts secret" in the past, though not for lack of effort in sharing this with Flagstaff's music fans. We're still dreaming of a bigger budget to allow us to properly advertise this series-the reason we're often under the media's radar is because we're a niche group with a small budget. Each event brings out new audience members, & eventually we'll be presenting a series that sells out with season passes (185 tickets in a town of 60,000 isn't terribly unrealistic). The next two events are stellar- Dale Kavanagh is a Canadian virtuoso who teaches in Austria, and Brasil Guitar Duo is likely to be the most exciting performance we've ever hosted... Come back anytime Elizabeth, & thanks for the kind words! :)

  2. Hi Craig,
    People that I talked to at intermission were saying that this was the best "deal" in town, and that they always come. Thanks for your hard work in making it happen!!

  3. Hooray Music! and, Hooray Flagstaff!!