Tags Articles tagged with "arts"


Dave Chappelle will perform at the new concert venue at Harrah's Ak-Chin Casino. Submitted photo

Who: Dave Chappelle
When: April 5 and 6, doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m.
Where: The Events Center at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino
Ages: Adult-only show
Info: TicketMaster.com

Dave Chappelle, two-time Grammy-winning stand-up comedian and actor, will take the stage at the Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino for two nights, April 5-6, at 8 p.m. Chappelle’s performances are part of Harrah’s Grand Opening Celebration, marking the completion of the resort’s multi-million-dollar expansion project.

Chappelle has performed more than 1,500 concerts in the past four years, selling out shows within minutes of the announcements. In 2017, Chappelle celebrated 30 years in comedy by releasing four highly anticipated stand-up specials on Netflix including The Age of Spin and Deep in the Heart of Texas. He received an Emmy Award for his debut episode on “Saturday Night Live.” He capped off the year by releasing the remaining two stand-up specials, Equanimity and The Bird Revelations.

In 2018, Chappelle received Pollstar’s Comedy Tour of The Year Award as well as a Grammy Award for the Best Comedy Album for his double feature, The Age of Spin and Deep in the Heart of Texas, delivered on vinyl. Equanimity and The Bird Revelations won the Grammy for best comedy album this year.

Chappelle was the mastermind behind the 2003 sketch comedy hit, The Chappelle Show – one of the highest-rated programs on Comedy Central. The show earned three Emmy nominations and went on to become the bestselling TV show in DVD history.

The Events Center at Harrah’s Ak-Chin seats 2,000. Tickets go on sale Friday at TicketMaster.com. There is a limit of four tickets per purchase.

Also note, no cellphones, cameras or recording devices will be allowed at this show. Upon arrival, all phones and smart watches will be secured in Yondr pouches that will be unlocked at the end of the show. Guests maintain possession of their phones throughout the night, and if needed, may access their phones at designated Yondr unlocking stations in the lobby. All guests are encouraged to print their tickets in advance to ensure a smooth entry process. Anyone caught with a cellphone in the venue will be immediately ejected.


Kristal Hoeh

What: “Inside the Creative Mind”
Where: Meeting Room – Maricopa Public Library
When: Feb. 9, 1-3:30 p.m.
How much: Free 

Have you ever wondered, “How in the world did the artist do that?” Maricopa Arts Council will offer real answers for individual art forms when its slate of free “Inside the Creative Mind” lectures returns Feb. 9. Each session offers insights and examples of work-in-progress plus finished pieces by two creators, each working in a separate art form.

Every stage of imagining something new, special and distinctive and then bringing that creation forward successfully requires developed skill and experience. While the mind-set of an artist can often seem mysterious, non-linear and a bit magical, artists are in fact very practical in conceptualizing new work. So this spring the popular lectures will explore the Engineering of the Arts.

Each session demonstrates the skill set and approaches needed for different types of artistic creations, the behind-the-scene process artists employ to answer the puzzle of what makes the magic work.

For February’s session, presenting artists are weaver Tiffany Yazzie, and painter Kristal Hoeh. Both have had works featured at the Arts Council’s previous galleries.

Yazzie, born and raised in Navajo Nation in Northern Arizona, learned her craft from her mother and grandmother. Navajo weaving traditions include several types of image (e.g. Eye Dazzler, or Tree of Life). Weavers must have discipline, as they do not sketch or plan the designs in advance. Each row is counted, and the symmetrical patterning involves exact reverse counting from the work’s middle to its end.

Hoeh grew up in both desert and tropical climates. Her undergraduate education concentrated in both art education and French; an internship in Europe made possible first-hand exposure to many famous works at art museums in major cities. In addition to her own creations, Hoeh teaches courses in charcoal, watercolor, art history and 2D design online for CAC.

“Inside the Creative Mind” continues in March with sculpture and orchestration.

Maricopa resident Tiffany Yazzie with one of her “eye dazzler” weavings. Photo by Mason Callejas

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Top 3 in the All-Arizona Slam were (from left) Jordan Bubin, Ms. Anthropy and Sherdes Leonna. Photos by Jim Headley

Winners of the Arizona Poetry Slam held at Maricopa City Hall Saturday were Jordan “Naughty Mouse” Bubin in first, Ms Anthropy second and Sherdes Leonna in third. Competitors included two from Maricopa – Jasper Smith and Tristen Marshall. Fourteen poets were selected from around the state to perform their original work of personal, observational and political wordsmithing.

Maricopa Music Circle performs its winter concert Dec. 8.


December is a musical month for Maricopa. Student performers and veteran musicians alike are tuning up for holiday programs.

Dec. 4

MHS bands will present their annual “Pass in Review” concert highlighting symphonic band, marching band, percussion and intermediate band. “Pass in Review” is at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center. Admission is free.

Dec. 8

Catch up with the MHS Marching Rams again at 7 p.m. when they perform in the Light Parade for Ak-Chin’s Masik Tas on Farrell Road.

Also that night, Maricopa Music Circle will be joined by soloists from ONYX Dancers and Maricopa Chorus for the “Grand Winter Holiday Concert.” The concert will be at the University of Arizona’s Maricopa Agricultural Center at 7:30 p.m.

Bizet’s cathedral bells ring in the evening, followed by Berlin’s “White Christmas,” Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, “I’ll be home for Christmas,” “Hark! The herald angels sing,” “The Christmas Song,” “Jingle Bells” in ragtime and, of course, several movements from Handel’s monumental “Messiah.” The concert will close with a sing-along to the Hallelujah Chorus – so bring your music and be ready to join in.

Dec. 9

Central Arizona College’s Handbell Choir has made its concert in Maricopa a winter tradition. “Let Them Ring” starts at 4 p.m. in Building A, Room 101. The rich harmonies of handbells perform a lineup of beautiful music. Admission is free, but seating is limited, and tickets disappear quickly. EventsAtCAC.com

Dec. 14

Gin Blossoms headline a free concert at Ak-Chin Circle for Masik Tas. Gates open at 6 p.m. Vertical Horizon opens the show.



Maricopa Arts Council presents its fourth Artists Studio Crawl Nov. 17-18. See the map

One of MAC’s more popular events, the crawl is Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. It has served as an inspiration for the artists to share their most creative moments, the tools they use and works in progress.

The Studio Crawl is a drive-yourself, fun day to varying artists’ studios in Maricopa.

“We are surely a lucky town to have so many incredible talents who are opening their homes and studios to all of us and in doing so may possibly inspire others to take the creative leap,” said Susan Cameron, whose home studio is on the tour. “Enjoy the day with the family and see some amazing pieces of artwork.”

Featured artists:

·         Diane Hebert, glass bead and jewelry maker

·         Linda Taylor, gourd artist

·         Rocky Dunne, fused-glass artist

·         Herman Neuberger, artist and metal sculptor

·         Brad Kammeyer, oil painter

·         Sommer Mills, upcycled floral designer

·         Susan Cameron, pastels and acrylic painter

·         Tiffany Yazzie, weaver

MAC will distribute maps to the studios and information on the artists in flyers to be available at Honeycutt Coffee, the Chamber of Commerce and Maricopa Public Library.

This story appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.

Antonio Gonzales is Hook and Taryn Story is Peter Pan in the play to be presented by MHS Theatre Company Nov. 8-10.

One of the first curiosities Alexandra Stahl noticed on becoming the theater teacher at Maricopa High School this year is the affinity the MHS Theatre Company had with Peter Pan without producing the play.

Peter Pan or The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up
When: Nov. 8-9 at 7 p.m., Nov. 10 at 2 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Where: Maricopa High School Performing Arts Center, 45012 W. Honeycutt Ave.
How much: $5
Who: Taryn Story (Peter Pan), Genevieve Burno (Wendy), Antonio Gonzales (Hook), Simon Ty (John), Derek Blakely (Smee), Aidyn Curtis (Princess Tiger Lilly), Taya Johnson (Michael), Kjirsten Lemon (Mrs. Darling), Douglas Moulton (Mr. Darling), Brandon Korittky (Curly), Chief Great Big Little Panther (Nicholas Perez), Emma Schrader (Nana), Alexia Esquivel (Liza), Jae Luna (Slightly), Cannon Jones (Tootles), Julianna Goodrum (Nibs), Zephanie Coleman (Omnes), Hannah Panter (first twin), Alex Hurley (second twin), Kade Cruse (Gentleman Starkey), Tommy Dryden (Cecco), Miles Starks (Bill Jukes), Matthew Ferguson (Noodles), John Jackson (Cookson), Francis Trast (Skylights), Alex-Ann Velasco (Mullens), more than 50 others.

In past performances, company members have performed pieces from musical off-shoots of the J.M. Barrie story like Finding Neverland and Peter and the Starcatcher.

“They just seemed destined to do it,” Stahl said.

The troupe performs the play Nov. 8-10 as its fall production. It is not a musical but the play that originated in 1904.

Though it is her fifth year teaching (she was previously at Poston Butte High School in San Tan Valley), this is Stahl’s first with MHS Theatre Company. She worked to get familiar with the program and the students during spring semester.

“Casting was a real process. These kids are insanely talented,” Stahl said. “I’ve never been so proud of a cast.”

Senior Taryn Story plays the title character.

“I really like how it’s written,” she said. “It’s written for kids, but there’s a lot that adults can take out of it.”

Aidyn Curtis is Princess Tiger Lily. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Junior Genevieve Burno, who just finished a production of Cabaret with Maricopa Community Theatre, plays Wendy, the eldest daughter in the Darling household.

“It’s timeless,” she said. “So much can be taken from it.”

Theater tech teacher Kevin Piquette brought in ZFX Flying Effects to mount rigging and teach four of the cast members how to “fly” and the tech crew how to fly them. All had to sign letters of indemnity.

“Logistically, it’s a nightmare,” Piquette said of soaring students, “but I don’t think you can do Peter Pan without it.”

The cave of the Lost Boys is part of the complicated tech for Peter Pan.


Theater teacher Alexandra Stahl talks to the cast during rehearsals. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

This story appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.


The first Peter Pan, in 1904, was Nina Boucicault.

Nina Boucicault (1904)
Maude Adams (1905)
Zena Dare (1914)
Jean Forbes-Robertson (1927)
Eva LeGallienne (1928)
Mary Martin (1954)
Sandy Duncan (1980)
Cathy Rigby (1990)

Genevieve Burno goes up as flying director Wesley Miller of ZFX Flying Effects provides guidance during rehearsals for “Peter Pan.”

Jasper Smith (at microphone) was named 2018 champion of the All-Maricopa Poetry Slam at Honeycutt Coffee.


What do Willy Wonka, anglerfish, Filipino Christmas and a sexy cup o’ Joe have in common?

They were all the subjects of poems at the Maricopa Arts Council’s (MAC) third All-Maricopa Poetry Slam at Honeycutt Coffee on Saturday. Eight poets performed in three rounds to an audience of roughly 40 listeners who clapped, snapped, cheered and laughed their way through the evening.

First place went to Jasper Smith and second to Tristan Marshall, who both advance to the All-Arizona Poetry Slam scheduled for Feb. 2 at a yet-to-be-determined location in Maricopa.

As a gorgeous southwest sunset bled over the horizon, Slam Master Bernard “The Klute” Schober and Bout Manager Jess Ballantyne ran through the rules of the competition with poets outside before the event. No props, nudity or musical accompaniment were allowed. Swearing was allowed, as were adult themes.

Ballantyne provided the evening’s first calibration poem, performed before the competition to help prepare judges. The event’s featured artist was Kristal Melody Hoeh, who drew a colorful desert landscape in chalk behind the performers.

“Poetry slams began in coffee houses,” said Judith Lang Zaimont, co-founder and co-director of MAC. “People need to see the human experience come forward through the individual viewpoints of creative people.”

Zaimont also gave special thanks to Honeycutt Coffee owner Warren Grier for donating the space for the evening’s event.

“I think the quality of poets tonight was national caliber,” Schober said after the event. “I’m really excited about the next All-Arizona Poetry Slam, because not only are we going see the talent that was here tonight ­­­— the top two — we’re also going to see poets from around the state, many who have competed in national poetry slams before.”

The judges and audience react to a poet’s performance. Photo by Jeff Kronenfeld
The performing poets at the third All-Maricopa Poetry Slam. Photo by Jeff Kronenfeld


Kaden Rogers started doing magic tricks when he was 4. Photo by Mason Callejas

Magic or movie magic, imagining or engineering, Kaden Cruz Rogers has a side business as an entertainer, even a stage name, and a fledgling career in filmmaking.

“I think the reason I like magic and filmmaking so much is because they both bring wonder.” — Kaden Rogers

He’s also a high school freshman who turned 15 in July.

As Kaden Cruz, he performs close-up magic shows for private, public and corporate gatherings. He received audition call-backs from “America’s Got Talent” and was a hair’s breadth from appearing on the show a season ago.

As Kaden Rogers, he is director in a young crew of moviemakers with a film about to screen at the inaugural Show Low International Film Festival. He is also president of the new film club at Maricopa High School. And he’s in band. And has been part of prize-winning Future City teams.

His mother calls him “crazy creative.”

“I think the reason I like magic and filmmaking so much is because they both bring wonder,” Kaden said. “They take people out of their everyday life and put them momentarily into some different reality.”

He and his family have lived in The Villages for 12 years. The family consists of parents, Charlie and Amy Rogers, who own a karate business, and two younger siblings, Gracie and Mason. Kaden’s education has come through Butterfield Elementary and Maricopa Wells Middle School.

“From a young child he loved to just take things apart and look at all the pieces inside,” Amy Rogers said. “He’s always had that engineering kind of mind. I guess we never expected it to take this film course. We really thought he’s just going down this engineer kind of path.”

“Everything that I like has to do with creating something and then showing it,” he said.

Photo by Mason Callejas

Kaden discovered his knack for creating magic after a trip to a magic shop at Disneyland when he was 4 years old. For the next four or five years, he asked for magic kits at every Christmas and birthday. The interest lapsed for a couple of years but reignited when he was 11.

“I think a 15-year-old wearing a cape and a hat doing all these hocus-pocus things is just cheesy.” — Kaden Rogers

He was on a birthday trip with his grandmother to Lake Tahoe when they stopped off in Las Vegas. They caught a magic show by Alex Ramon and bought his CD of magic tricks. For the rest of the trip, Kaden was locked into learning the new tricks and even uploaded a phone app that taught more tricks.

“And that’s all I was doing,” Kaden said. “Here’s this beautiful lake outside, and I’m inside the hotel watching magic tricks.”

Soon he was not just “doing tricks” but forming an act. He even performed for a non-family audience for the first time during that trip when his uncle, then an activities coordinator at a Lake Tahoe dude ranch, convinced him to do a magic show for the guests.

“I remember this guy in the audience,” Kaden said. “I did this rubber-band thing where the rubber band jumps on my fingers. He flipped out, like ‘Oh my gosh.’ That’s where my love of performing came, making people smile and putting them in that place of wonder.”

He’s been building the act ever since and makes a point of making it fit his personality.

“When you think of a magic trick or a magician or anything magical, you think of a top hat and a rabbit and a guy in a cape dancing around on a stage,” Kaden said. “I think a 15-year-old wearing a cape and a hat doing all these hocus-pocus things is just cheesy. Any other teenager wouldn’t do that. They wouldn’t go up on a stage and act like that. So, I do it more to my age.”

Photo by Mason Callejas

Amy Rogers said a lot of the tricks he uses have come from antique magic books, tricks he has adapted with a new spin.

“When I read a magic book, I open it up to a random page, I find a random thing on the page and I start reading it. And then I learn that little technique,” Kaden said. “And then I throw away all of the things that they’re telling me to do, and I just learn the technique that I need to know. And then I build by own thing out of that.”

That is the case with the trick he auditioned with for “America’s Got Talent.”

After seeing a series of AGT magicians doing card tricks he already knew, including season 9 winner Mat Franco, Kaden began to think he could do the same. What he thought was an off-hand comment at dinner – “Why don’t we just sign up for the show” – turned into his mother signing him up to audition in Vegas.

That was at the beginning of his eighth-grade year at Maricopa Wells Middle School. With just a few weeks to come up with a big trick for television producers, he studied what had been done before. He worked out a routine that incorporated photos of all previous contestants and the judges on a deck of cards. The center of the trick is a missing piece that ends up somewhere unexpected. His goal, he said, wasn’t to get on the show but to be able to say he tried out.

Submitted photo

He practiced the trick relentlessly, performed for customers at a Wendy’s on the way to Vegas. He met the comic magician Piff the Magic Dragon, a previous AGT contestant, after being called out of the audience to participate in Piff’s show at the Rio. Afterward Piff took Kaden and Amy to his dressing room and told him to show him the trick.

“The whole thing was just like shock. I don’t remember half of it, I was so amped up on adrenalin.” — Kaden Rogers

“So, I did the trick for him,” Kaden said. “He said ‘Wow, that’s really cool.’ Told me some tips, like just be yourself. It was one of the highlights of the whole trip.”

To audition, the Rogers family was in line at 5 a.m. at the Rio. When they finally got inside, they found a giant holding room with random acts waiting “just like the TV show.” They waited about four hours before Kaden’s group number was called. With only one parent allowed going forward, Amy accompanied him to another holding room to wait another hour.

Then Kaden was ushered into a room where an AGT producer sat with a camera and camera operator behind them.

“He said, ‘Stand on the X, and you have 90 seconds and good luck.’” The producer showed little reaction during the course of Kaden’s trick.

“I finished the trick, and he just looked at me and said, ‘That was amazing. You just showed me the last 12 years of my life in a card trick.’ That, to me, was just really cool. He said, ‘Can you show it to my other producers?’”

After another hour in another holding room, and filling out more paperwork, he was asked to have his picture taken in case he was cast.

“And I said, ‘Wait, there’s a small chance you would cast me?’ The whole thing was just like shock. I don’t remember half of it, I was so amped up on adrenalin. This time there’s like five producers in a row. I did the trick for them, and they pretty much had the same reaction as the guy before: ‘Wow, this is really good. We are considering you.’”

Photo by Mason Callejas

Weeks and months went by. After the holidays, Amy Rogers was shopping when she received a call from casting producer Renee Massie. AGT wanted videos of Kaden performing and wanted him to develop bigger tricks for a large stage. He worked late to put together a documented video presentation to send in. That project kept him up until 3 a.m., and he had to get up at 5 a.m. to go to the regional Future City competition.

“I like the part of making it my own – the creative part that no one else knows about except for me.” — Kaden Rogers

Then AGT added Phoenix as a last-minute audition location. Massie called Amy at 10 a.m. the morning of those auditions and asked if Kaden could come in that afternoon to see more producers. Despite not having perfected his new tricks, he decided to give it a shot.

They were told to bypass the long line and go straight to the doors, where a man greeted them with “Are you Kaden Cruz?” Five minutes later they were standing in front of producers. Kaden said he nailed the first trick but “messed up a little bit” on the second. Though he didn’t think the producers noticed, it affected the confidence of his performance.

One of the producers told him she liked the act, but it was obvious he had been rushed in creating his tricks. She said there were five spots left and they were still “on the fence” about him. In the end, he was not selected.

“I was still really amazed that I auditioned twice in Vegas and then they called me back in Arizona,” Kaden said. “Even though I didn’t make it on the show the whole experience was crazy.”

He is considering trying out again. In the meantime, word of mouth has become Facebook bookings for schools, libraries and businesses.

“My goal isn’t to become a performer in Vegas and make millions of dollars,” he said. “My goal is to make people happy and to take people out of the world they’re sitting in.

“I like the part of making it my own – the creative part that no one else knows about except for me. All they see is this finished product, but they don’t know how many other tiny things go into it. I think that’s what I like, coming up with this crazy plan and hiding it. That’s also like directing. There’s a ton of stuff going on that you don’t see, and then you end up seeing just this flat screen. But there’s people with boom mics and lights and all this stuff happening in the background.”

Submitted photo

Kaden wasn’t exactly smitten with making videos from start. His first experience was a “silly” project in Kristin McMullin’s fifth-grade class when students had to improvise a play in front of the room and make a movie trailer on iMovie.

“I thought it was a lot of fun making it but didn’t realize what the actual outcome was,” he said.

“That is when I first saw his passion for film-making grow.” — Joe Szoltysik

In the blended learning program at MWMS called MUSD 20+1, teacher Joe Szoltysik gave Kaden and his classmates video assignments.

“What’s interesting about Kaden’s evolution into film is at the beginning of seventh grade he ‘hated making videos,’” Szoltysik said. “I distinctly remember a Language Arts assignment I assigned at the beginning of his seventh-grade year in which students made informational videos. Kaden and the Abel twins [Joseph and Thomas] worked together and produced a video that was not technically sound, and I was certainly critical of it. That is when Kaden revealed his disdain for making videos.”

The disdain did not survive long, as a later video project, The Fault, was among student projects screened at the inaugural Copa Shorts Film Fest.

“I hadn’t before that even thought about making movies at all,” Kaden said. “And we just made one in school. It didn’t compete in Copa Shorts, but they showed the movies that everyone made in the class at the film festival and when we went there, I realized, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s amazing. Keep doing this.’”

He analyzed the experience and worked out improvements in the whole process of making a successful movie. No one had real role assignments and ‘everyone was doing everything.’ He realized he did not like acting at all and wanted to just be behind the scenes and direct. For their next movie, Kaden was just the director.

“I remember him telling me ‘I think we can do a lot better next time,’ and that is when I first saw his passion for film-making grow,” Szoltysik said. “That passion grew throughout his eighth-grade year; his second film, The Inverted, was shot in various locations in Arizona, and won the student category of the 2018 Copa Shorts Film Fest. That’s when Kaden exploded onto the scene.”

Movie still from “Kindness Equals Calm”: (from left) front row – Joe Szoltysik, Aubrey Pick, Kaden Rogers and Rori Gosiak; back row – Thomas Abel, Zoie Zimpleman and Joseph Abel. (Submitted)

For the third time, Kaden and the Abel brothers collaborated on a film with classmates after the film class was able to acquire better equipment. The production of Kindness Equals Calm extended well after they finished eighth grade. The full-length film is a comedy about a group of young people on a weekend trip to Camp Shinebright. That cast includes Szoltysik and Butterfield teacher Liz Zimpleman.

“I believe these students are going to be doing some really cool things here in Maricopa, and for the rest of their lives.” — Reid Martin

“One word to describe Kaden as a young director would be ‘precise,’” Szoltysik said. “I’ve worked as an actor on Kaden’s latest feature film, and I will tell you, on set he is in charge; respectful of course, but in charge. He has the precision it takes to be a young director and make a name in a very difficult but lucrative field. Most of all, he has the work ethic it takes to be a director.  Kaden will spend hours a day working on his craft, but he is humble enough to understand that there is still much to learn.”

Kindness Equals Calm will appear multiple times in the Show Low Film Fest Oct. 11-14.

Kaden and the Abels came to MHS with the assumption there was a film club. They found that not only was there no club but there was no longer a class or program of study for video. “So, we’re like, ‘Looks like we’re going to have to make one ourselves,’” Kaden said.

He composed a lengthy email about the need for and opportunities that could arise from having a film club and sent it to all MHS staff. He received only one response, and that was from a staff member who said he couldn’t help. At that point, the boys were prepared to start a private club. But Administrative Assistant Danielle Byers spoke to Amy Rogers about the situation and was insistent on making the club happen.

Byers gave Amy a list of staff possibilities, and they decided Reid Martin was the guy. Martin, a RAM Academy teacher, emailed them back and said, ‘Let’s do it.’”

The club currently has 17 members, most of them freshmen who had been involved in the 20+1 filmmaking projects at MWMS and Desert Wind Middle School.

“I have been teaching and involved in HS culture for 17 years and never seen a club so focused, energetic and excited about what they are doing,” Martin said. “Primarily freshmen, I believe these students are going to be doing some really cool things here in Maricopa, and for the rest of their lives.”

Kaden and the Abels envisioned a club that could bring together skills and talents from all other campus programs – theater and theater tech, design, computer graphics, music, even culinary. To achieve that goal, they created an ad video based on “Guardians of the Galaxy” to be played in all home rooms in hopes of recruiting more potential filmmakers.

“When he first started talking about this, he was so excited to think about all the different interests he could draw into this club and really pull a little community together to make something big,” Amy Rogers said.

At the first meeting, seven friends elected Kaden president with Joseph Abel vice president and Thomas Abel secretary.

“Kaden is doing an amazing job leading the club, learning what that role means, and is excellent at directing some really cool experiences for his peers,” Martin said.

Whether Kaden Rogers or Kaden Cruz, he continues to evolve his magic and balance his other activities and schooling while educating himself on the business end of the film festival circuit and moviemaking.

“Through these filmmaking experiences, Kaden has not only developed a passion for the filmmaking process,” Szoltysik said. “From lighting, camera angles, and editing, it’s the process that he loves and wants to share with others.

This story appears in the October issue of InMaricopa.

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Arizona Commission on the Arts has awarded a repeat Community Investment Grant to Maricopa Arts Council (MAC), increasing the original grant amount to $3,500.

These awards are determined competitively on a state-wide basis. MAC’s leaders believe the award ratifies the organization’s vision. MAC’s co-directors are choreographer Ceylan Gentilella, painter Susan Cameron, actor David Vargas, fashion designer Angelina Martin and composer Judith Zaimont.

After the season-long All-Arts Expo of 2016-17, MAC decided to continue some of the events highlighted. Those include studio crawls, silent reading parties, art lectures, the Student Choreography Showcase and poetry slams.

In the long term, this increased second award from the state to MAC permanently expands Maricopa’s profile and ratifies the city’s cultural life as a key component of its character and distinct point of pride.

Recently, Commission Organizational Grants and Services Manager Kristen Pierce Kent informed MAC of the original review panels very positive comments, including the following:
• What they are doing is valuable, impactful.
• Very collaborative in their efforts.
• Could serve as a model for small communities.

MAC is also the only Pinal County organization to have been nominated for a Governor’s Arts Award. Founded in 2013, it is a nonprofit corporation.

Maricopa dancers Hannah Struckmann, Crystabel Sanchez, Giselle Sanchez an Katie Sherrod perform Erin Hildick's choreography of "Fix You." Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopan Eddie Perry, 19, won the Maricopa Arts Council’s second Choreography Showcase Saturday.

Edde Perry accepts his award from MAC’s Susan Cameron and DSPA’s Ceylan Gentilella.

The competition at the Maricopa High School Performing Arts Center was voted on by the audience. The event, sponsored by DSPA Gems and performed by Onyx dancers, was book-ended by the Desert Sun Performing Arts dance recital. Perry graduated from MHS in 2017. Other competing choreographers were the team of Grace Becking, Destinee Chavis and Myka Borunda, whose “Weight in Gold” finished second, Erin Hildick, whose “Fix You” finished third, Samantha Perry, Jalen Reyes, Lexie Vargas and Katie Sherrod. Themes ranged from suicide to partying. All of the choreographers also danced in each other’s numbers. Other Onyx performers were Tatum Roeske, Crystabel Sanchez, Giselle Sanchez and Hannah Struckmann.

Loren Aragon of Maricopa has been making a name for himself in Arizona's fashion scene. Submitted photo

Maricopa-based clothing designer Loren Aragon, CEO of ACONAV, may soon be connected to the Walt Disney Company.

After he won the title of 2018 Couture Designer of the Year at Phoenix Fashion Week, the Imagineers from Walt Disney World sought out Aragon with the task of contributing a one-of-a-kind, timeless piece, to be a part of a new exhibition at the Epcot World Showcase in Orlando, Florida. Coming this summer to the American Heritage Gallery at The American Adventure is a new exhibit called “Creating Tradition: Innovation and Change in American Indian Art.” The duration of the exhibit is expected to be three to five years.


Disney was impressed with Aragon’s works in fashion design, with the use of his cultural heritage to create his unique body of work. The son of a seamstress and trained as a mechanical engineer, Aragon is Native American of the Acoma Pueblo.

“In my career as an engineer I applied numerous times to be an Imagineer with the Disney Corp.,” Aragon said. “Now they are after me, and suddenly this decision to follow my dream as an artist, more so a fashion designer, is such an invigorating feeling.”

The Epcot exhibit is made possible with the collaboration among Disney, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture (MIAC) in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington, D.C.

“Opportunities have certainly brought great exposure to my brand, and this was surprisingly unexpected,” Aragon said.

As ACONAV developed and grew as a brand, Aragon was able to transition to a full-time fashion designer and artist. ACONAV fashions have walked the stages of Phoenix Fashion Week, Native Fashion in the City in Denver, Colorado, and Plitz’s NYC Fashion Week. ACONAV has also been adorned by indigenous actresses Tinsel Korey and Grace Dove at red carpet events.

“I am thrilled to be working with the MIAC out of Santa Fe on this venture with Disney,” Aragon said. “This is a first time that I will use an old Acoma Pueblo pot selected from the vaults of the MIAC to be the inspiration behind the final design.”

The display at the exhibition will feature the ACONAV creation alongside the selected pot beside other artists selected for the exhibition. Native communities from seven geographic regions across the United States are included in the exhibit. Their art represents the richness, depth and diversity of Native cultures past and present. The showcase will also include interactive elements that will share the creative process and story behind the artists.

“This is another great step to the overall goal of properly and respectfully representing a part of indigenous culture with the world,” Aragon said. “I am truly thankful to all the parties involved.”

The makers of "The Inverted" from Maricopa Wells Middle School won the middle school category at the Copa Shorts Film Festival.

Copa Shorts Film Fest wrapped two days of short-film screenings Sunday with a wrap party and awards. Students from Maricopa Wells Middle School won the middle school category with “The Inverted,” directed by Kaden Rogers. They were the only winners present to accept their certificate.

The Audience Choice award went to the college film “The Chocolate Soldier,” directed by Jackson Smith. The Best of Fest, decided by judges, was the very brief military documentary “Lion in a Box,” directed by Melanie Brown.

Best Native American film: “Waabooz,” directed by Molly Katagiri

Best animated film: “Totem,” directed by Alex Cannon

Best drama: “Split Ticket,” directed by Alfred Thomas Catalfo

Best documentary: “From the Shadows,” directed by Jacques de Vox

Best comedy: “Girl Meets Roach,” directed by Christopher Zatta

Best foreign film: “Freezer,” directed by Dimitris Nakos

Best after-hours film: “It’s Just a Gun,” directed by Brian Robau

Best horror film: “Mannequin,” directed by Dante Aubain and Danny Summonte

Best screenplay: “Privacy Please,” by Sheri Davenport

Works by Michael Sullivan, Jo Merrymon and Lori McDonald and many other artists will be on display and for sale at Maricopa Arts Festival, formerly known as Art on the Veranda.

One of Maricopa’s premier art expositions is taking on a new name and face this month.

Dec. 9 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., The Duke at Rancho El Dorado will be home to 30 of the area’s most gifted artisans and craftsmen for the Maricopa Arts Festival.

Formerly called Art on the Veranda, the festival has been one of Maricopa’s largest and most comprehensive gatherings of local artists. It will take on a slightly different form this year, festival director Kaui Wilson said.

The previous Art on the Veranda organizers took with them their nonprofit status as well as the name, Wilson said. So, this year she is using her own personal business – Kaui Wilson LLC—to facilitate event planning.

Aside from the name change, the addition of the crafts corner and adult drink specials, it’s pretty much the same as before, she said.

Maricopa Arts Festival will again include a variety of artists and media, including oil painters, glass blowers, metalsmiths, jewelry makers, and textile and fiber artists. However, there will be a stronger emphasis placed on the younger crowd.

“It’s about enrichment,” Wilson said. “It’s [also] about supporting our local artists and youth.”

Kaui Wilson is organizing this year’s Maricopa Arts Festival. Photo by Mason Callejas

Wilson said this year’s festival will include a craft corner for kids hosted by high school students to encourage artistic expression in younger people.

The festival will rely on Boy Scouts and possibly Maricopa High School’s JROTC cadets to assist with some of the heavy lifting and logistics at the event.

One of the previous organization’s figureheads moved away, sending the exposition into a bit of a rejuvenation mode. Wilson said in the wake of the transition, nobody was willing to take the wheel. Having experience organizing arts events, Wilson decided to give it a shot.

“Out of 12 people, I was the only one who thought ‘I can’t let it die,’” Wilson said. “This is the only major art thing we have here, so I decided I would bear the burden there.”

Wilson’s own Art and Sip events have taken off around Maricopa, offering aspiring artists a chance to learn the ins and outs of painting while also socializing at local venues like the 347 Grill and True Grit Tavern.

Also on Dec. 9, after the arts festival closes, Maricopa Arts Council will host a symphony, chorus and dance recital at the Maricopa Agricultural Center at 7 p.m.


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Cheryl Johnston of Maricopa shows off one of the Bug-A-Boo baby blankets she made. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Maricopa Community Church hosted its annual Fall Fling Arts and Crafts event Saturday. Vendors offered holiday hand-made gift-giving ideas and nonprofit organizations like the Salvation Army and Blue Star Mothers took the opportunity to explain their services.

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Members of the Arts Task Force discuss ideas for a city Arts Committee. Photo by Mason Callejas

The city of Maricopa’s Arts Task Force met Wednesday to discuss plans for the formation of an official committee for preserving and promoting the arts in Maricopa.

Seven members of the task force met in the Cotton Room at City Hall to approve a final draft of their official Art Display application and to discuss the needs and goals of an Arts Committee, should one be formed.

Basic ideas were tossed around about an official mission statement, marketing plans and the hosting of public events. However, a more intrinsic and long-term concept was shared by several of the members – the integration of art into the city’s planning and development process.

Maricopa City Council’s liaison to the Arts Task Force, Peggy Chapados, suggested not only should art be deliberately integrated into construction, but that room should be made at most city properties to allow for art installations themselves.

“There should be art incorporated into [properties], and on and around them as well,” Chapados said as she added the idea to a large enumerated list of ideas posted on the wall.

City Hall is one such structure which already embraces this concept. The building itself is designed to reflect the city’s heritage and values, Chapados added. And gallery space has been reserved for area artists who can not only display their work, but sell it as well.

The city’s image was another topic of discussion.

“What do you think of when you imagine Maricopa,” Chapados asked of the group.

Icons like the Zephyr railcar and the horse statues on the southeast corner of Smith-Enke and John Wayne Parkway were mentioned. However, the overwhelming response was somewhat limited, leading some to suggest the creation of new icons such as marquees or unique identifying markers at each of the city’s four main inroads.

Paul Shirk, president of the Maricopa Historical Society and member of the Arts Task Force, said he hopes wherever the Zephyr is moved it will be largely visible to visitors.

The Zephyr’s current location near the Maricopa Amtrak station is great, Shirk said, but unfortunately the State Route 347 overpass will soon obstruct its view to travelers entering the city from the east, not to mention that the land it currently sits on is owned by the county.

By the end of the meeting, the task force members were well on their way to outlining goals and establishing the foundation of a future “Arts Committee,” though much is still left to discuss.

The group agreed to meet again, Aug 9, at 6 p.m. in the same location, to continue outlining their plans.

Fushicho Daiko drum ensemble will perform for World Music Showcase on Saturday. Submitted photo

If You Go
What: Maricopa Arts Council’s World Music Showcase
Where: Copper Sky Community Green
When: Nov. 18, 6-7:30 p.m.
How much: Free
Note: Bring your own light refreshments and a blanket for the lawn.

Maricopa ARTS Council (MAC) will present a World Music Showcase outside at Copper Sky on Nov.  18, featuring music and dance from two vital and diverse non-European cultures.

This free special event is the main November offering in MAC’s 3-season expo “Got Arts, Maricopa?,” dedicated to celebrating local talents and to introducing the city to types of arts never before experienced in Maricopa.

The showcase features the taiko drum ensemble Fushicho Daiko and the Ak-Chin Indian Community’s Ak Chin Band and Ak-Chin Ba’ Ban Keihina Traditional Dancers. The cultures and traditions behind each of these ensembles were formed ages ago, and their performances carry meanings far beyond mere entertainment into the spiritual realm.

Taiko is the Japanese word for “great drum.” This ancient musical art form originated centuries ago as a means of communication to signal distant villages of advancing enemies or natural disasters. Fushicho Daiko Phoenix Drummers is Arizona’s premier professional taiko group performing both traditional and original Taiko songs in costume with power, energy, skill and joy.

The musicians of the Ak Chin Band and the Ak-Chin Ba’ Ban Keihina Traditional Dancers are sought after for demonstration and festival performances because their traditional dress and beautiful hand-woven baskets form a compelling example of tribal culture and traditions come to life.

This article appears in the November issue of InMaricopa.

Tonya Thacker danced to "Piece by Piece" as the grand finale of the Performing Arts Gala. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Musicians with Maricopa Music Circle, singers with the Maricopa Chorus and dancers from Desert Sun Performing Arts presented the inaugural Performing Arts Gala Oct. 22 at the Maricopa High School Performing Arts Center.

Pam Sutton's "Colors of Africa" is among the art on display at Maricopa Public Library. An opening reception is Friday. Submitted photo

Maricopa Arts Council (MAC) is a prime mover in a full week’s slate of arts events directly following Labor Day. All the events tie into the “Got Arts, Maricopa?” expo and have free admission.

Tuesday is the opening reception for the third edition of the Maricopa Artists’ Gallery at City Hall, 5:45-8 p.m. There will be refreshments and a chance to meet the artists.

Featured artists are Anita McLeod Turner, Bonnie Del Turco, Cindy Chance, Herman Neuberger, Jade Rodriguez, Jennifer Hawkins, Karyn Arkell, Katrina Call, Kaui Wilson, Keith Biggs, Larah Webb, Linda Esposito, Megan Perry and Pam Sutton.

This gallery was adjudicated by representatives of MAC and MCE.

Wednesday is the opening reception for the September “Art in the City” one-person gallery at Maricopa Center for Entrepreneurship, starting at 6 p.m. The featured artist for September is award-winning photographer Jack Jackson. His works have been selected and shown in past editions of MAC Spotlight Showcase at area cafés, at the annual crafts show Art on the Veranda since its inception, and is currently on display also at Honeycutt Coffee.

Friday is the opening reception for the inaugural gallery at Maricopa Public Library from 5 to 7 p.m.  Featured artists are Gary Zaimont, Jennifer Hawkins, Kaui Wilson, Linda Esposito, Megan Perry and Pam Sutton.

This gallery was adjudicated by representatives of MAC and MCE.

During the evening, starting at 6 p.m. is the first Poetry Open Mic at the library. This event for high school-age on up is open to any Maricopa poet or poetry lover who would like to read his/her own poems or other beloved poems before an audience. (Planned participants include Slam Master The Klute, and National Slam board member John Quiñonez, who are returning to Maricopa after presenting Poetry Slam 101 in August.)

Saturday is thefundraiser for Maricopa Music Circle chamber orchestra at UltraStar’s Elements Event Center from 5:30 to 7:15 p.m. Meet the orchestra, hear excerpts from its upcoming DVD, have light refreshments, and bid on items from its wide-ranging Silent Auction – including original artwork, signed music manuscript, box of French wines, hand-made jewelry and handbags and quilt, $100. coupon for Phoenix Symphony tickets, CDs, coupons for high-end local services and lots more.

The innovative, diverse, three-season all-arts expo “Got ARTS, Maricopa?” is the major 2016-2017 project of MAC. All art forms are represented: music, dance, theatre, poetry, film and the many varieties of visual arts. The artistry of Maricopa’s own artists and art organizations will be featured at every event, plus MAC’s determination to present types of arts experiences brand-new to Maricopa.