Fine arts are a funny thing. They’re often the first on the chopping block where funding is concerned, yet the movie you just watched had orchestral music — and wouldn’t be nearly as great without it. Children begin their lives with crayons and finger paints, which is lovely, as long as they don’t color on walls.

Laura Olivieri

Kids play and pretend all day, but later it is better they have a college degree and not go into acting. We pay for years of classes for our cute ballerinas, musicians and gymnasts to have a rich childhood, without the expectation of a lifelong career.

It’s a human condition, arts. Music plays behind everything we do.

And here in Maricopa, the arts scene grows every year. Theater, music, dance and art are the founders of Maricopa Arts Council and arts in all their forms, by people who are your neighbors, support all that makes a city rich – in diversity and in content.

Artist Gary Zaimont, who retired to Maricopa in 2005, started his artistic endeavors in music — trumpet, in New York, 1950s-60s — and later taught junior high kids. He plays many instruments now, and arranges music for Maricopa Music Circle and Maricopa Chorus, as well as playing with the Province Ensemble.

His studio, the Rainbow House, is an amazing and messy place.

“All creativity is problem solving,” he said. “We say ‘creative’ as if there’s a difference between a plumber solving a problem and a poet solving a problem.

“I don’t like any of that nonsense because what that does is takes the arts and removes it from society. It puts it all over ‘there.’ It’s not over ‘there.’”

His storytelling is as fascinating as the art itself. He’s been working on an incredible self-portrait since 2018, mainly because no other subject would hold still that long. He describes painters and their styles to describe the process of creating a portrait that stands nearly twice as tall as he does.

And it’s not perfect.

“My ears don’t match because my ears don’t match,” he said. “The eyes don’t match, either, and the mouth is crooked, because my mouth is crooked.”

It looks like a painting of an ordinary person, on a magnificent scale.

Maricopa’s arts scene is blooming this spring. We are the kids who drew on the walls, who screeched on our violins and pretended all day. We practice in our living rooms, paint in our spare rooms and create in our garages. Our mouths are crooked, and our ears don’t match. We’re messy, ordinary and marvelous. Maricopa’s arts aren’t over there somewhere. They’re here. Come see them.

Abstract-art winners, Arizona Poetry Slam finals March 11

Maricopa Arts Council’s eighth annual All-Arizona Poetry Slam Championship, with $1,000 in prizes, is 5-9 p.m. on March 11 at Honeycutt Coffee, 44400 W. Honeycutt Road, Suite 109.

During a prelude ceremony, three winners of MAC’s 2023 Online Abstract Art Contest, as selected by an online poll, will be recognized and their work exhibited.

The 14 poetry slam finalists have advanced to the championship with victories in regional competitions at Flagstaff, Phoenix, Prescott, Sedona and Surprise, as well as Maricopa.

Two Maricopans –  Frankie Marchi and Joshua Wiss, who prevailed in last fall’s All-Maricopa Slam – are among finalists battling in the three-round, elimination finals. The top three will receive cash prizes.

Thomas Cooper, MAC’s slam master and a veteran performer who is a previous top-prize winner, will preside.

There is no admission charge for spectators, however seating is limited.

Laura Olivieri is a violist with Maricopa Music Circle, a published children’s book author, research technician in agriculture and has been a resident of Maricopa since 1998.


Maricopa March arts calendar

March 11: All-Arizona Poetry Slam Championship, 5-9 p.m., Honeycutt Coffee.

March 19: Province Chorus and Province Ensemble “Spring Toons.”

March 20-24: Maricopa High School Fine Arts Week.

March 31-April 1: Maricopa High School band in Winter Guard Arizona Championships at Millennium High School.