Home Editor's Picks See spark! Mesa’s Festival of Creativity at Mesa Arts Center

See spark! Mesa’s Festival of Creativity at Mesa Arts Center

The spark! Mesa’s Festival of Creativity offers hands-on activities for all ages at the Mesa Arts Center. (Courtesy of MAC)

The spark! Mesa’s Festival of Creativity has announced its lineup of immersive arts experiences for the 2017 event this weekend.

The free festival will be presented by and at the Mesa Arts Center over two days, tomorrow, March 17, and Saturday, March 18, from noon to 10 p.m., and offers interactive and collaborative arts experiences for people of all ages.

It will celebrate the imaginative spark in all of us, by showcasing Arizona artists and performers and inviting visitors to explore and enjoy live music, performances, hands-on experiences, live art-making, installations, demonstrations, a variety of foods, a beer and wine garden, and more.

“The spark! festival celebrates the creative spark that lives within all of us,” said Cindy Ornstein, executive director of Mesa Arts Center. “We’re particularly excited this year to be working with many wildly creative artists based here in the Valley who will be making original, large-scale visual and performing arts installations that invite you to do more than just observe; in many cases, you can go one step further and add your own creative touch to some of the work being created at the event.”


The Narrative Nest

By Cyndi Coon

Visitors will be invited to explore a treetop space installed in the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum’s Courtyard and explore storytelling, turned upside down, in The Narrative Nest. Outside the large-scale nests, participants are invited to share their stories written on leaves or drawn on pigeon grams. Collaborating artists include Cyndi Coon (curator), Brett Eichmann (3-D artist), Sarah Spencer (2-D artist), Natalie Andrews (lead actor), Miguel Cardona (graffiti artist) and Nick Rascona (graffiti artist).

We are all Musical

By Evan Tobias

Visitors will be invited to build and experiment with electric instruments, perform in a drum circle, create music with contemporary apps and controllers, sing and move in a musical garden for young children and families, interact musically with the MAC campus itself, and (in the evening) make hip-hop. Collaborators include Samuel Pena, Michael Ferraro, Melita Belgrave, Dean Bacalzo, Arizona State University Music Education and Therapy Division, The Consortium for Innovation and Transformation in Music Education (CITME), AZBeatLab, AZ Rhythm Connection, Arizona Society for General Music, Oh My Ears and Shining Soul. #WeAreAllMusical http://evantobias.net/weareallmusical-spark-2017/, http://arcg.is/2l9eJbv.

Homage to Yayoi Kusama

By Kyllan Maney

This large-scale installation and interactive elements create an homage to the work of acclaimed artist Yayoi Kusama, now 87 years old and a native and resident of Japan. Kusama’s work will be featured in a major retrospective exhibition touring three U.S. and two Canadian museums this year and next, including an exhibition at the Broad in L.A. opening in October. Maney’s installation was inspired by rooms and outdoor environments transformed by Kusama’s bright and playful patterns and polka dots. Kusama’s exciting Infinity Rooms, which are works that employ lighting inside mirrored rooms (very different than the Kusama works that inspired Maney’s installation) are prized interactive experiences at major U.S. arts institutions, and the Valley is lucky to have one in the collection of the Phoenix Museum of Art.

Community Clay Collage

By Jesse Armstrong and the Mesa Arts Center Ceramics Studio

spark! attendees can learn ceramic techniques from MAC’s ceramic teaching artists, and will be invited to make items such as flowers, prickly pear cactus pads, expressive faces and favorite dogs. Work created by both artists and participants will be composed onto a large sculpture which will evolve and grow throughout the two-day event. Guest artists include Jesse Armstrong, Larron Lerdall, Sandy Blain, Jenneva Kayser, Diane Watkins, Darshana Patel, Rob Kolhouse, and more.

Dress is Structure

By Polly O’Dette and the Mesa Arts Center Jewelry and Metals Studios

Statuesque metal dress forms created by Mesa Arts Center jewelry and metals studios will stand along MAC’s main thoroughfare, inviting festival attendees to step inside the pieces, take pictures with them and continue to contribute to them over the course of the two-day event.

Pipe Organ Cactus

By Michael Krzyzaniak

Pipe Organ Cactus is an interactive musical sculpture where the arms of the cactus sculpture are actual, working organ pipes that play music autonomously. The pipes also have sensors embedded within them so that the music played by the sculpture responds to the number and location of people in its vicinity.

The Bucket List Project

By Creative Catalysts

This installation, shaped by and for the community, will invite attendees to share their bucket list wishes for Mesa and beyond. Visitors will adorn colorfully painted galvanized steel buckets with their ambitions and dreams, and then the buckets will be hung from the Pergola on the north end of MAC’s campus. Lead artists include Chris Russell, Gretchen Bickert and Jennifer Gastelum.

Plein Air at Mesa Arts Center

Lead artist: Agustin Vargas

Artists will live-paint the activities, momentum and spirit of the spark! event on panels during the two days of the festival. The festival attendees are also welcome to contribute and add their own touch of creativity to the piece. Collaborating artists include Chia Ortegon, Ludmila Demich and Ewa Kobacka-Bugala.

[nueBOX] Performance Environment

[nueBOX] will showcase artists in the fields of composition, dance, animation, performance art, and sculpture, through interactive, collaborative, and experimental art works. www.nuebox.org/spark.


Jenny Gerena (choreographer), Chazmier Tyler (musician) and Rossitza Todorova (visual artist) were commissioned by [nueBOX] to create a new collaborative work that explores metaphors of transformation by unifying form, dance and sound. www.nuebox.org/roda-viva.

This is me, trying to remain vertical

By Julie Akerly and Matthew Mosher

This interactive audiovisual installation draws awareness to the natural reflexes that occur in the body while standing. www.jamovement.com/vertical.

Duality: neither (Here) nor >>>There

By Anthony Obr and Juan “Coel” Rodriguez

This project explores intentionality as it relates to both empathy and the negotiating, reflective state of self. The audience is invited to witness the performance but are also given the opportunity to create the performance space throughout the day.

Uncertainty Index

By Casey Farina and Jen Urso

Housing, census and weather data will be used to create two simulated moving landscapes. Jenniferursoart.com | caseyfarina.net | https://vimeo.com/110612111.

Move and Explore: Roda-Viva Workshop

Allyson Yoder will be designing interactive and engaging activities centralized around a pliable sculpture in the center of the [nueBOX] area designed by Rossitza Todorova. www.ajymovement.com.

To Sleep to Dream

By Earfilms

By using an advanced 3-D sound system and blindfolding their audience, Earfilms create immersive, audio-­only storytelling experiences, designed to empower and engage listeners’ imaginations without sight prompted visual imagery. Their film, “To Sleep to Dream” will be presented in the Piper Theater with two show times available each day of the festival. http://bit.ly/2jqFsli.


Headlining bands include The Swing Set (Phoenix, AZ) on Friday, and Guitarras Latins (Phoenix, AZ) on Saturday. Live music by local bands, including Devon Bridgewater and Nuance (swinging jazz), Los Waukis (sounds of the Andes) and more will fill the festival hours.


Visit The Store

The Store, Mesa Arts Center’s Artists’ Cooperative Gallery is open and will feature artist demonstrations throughout the festival.

Visit Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum

The Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum is open throughout the festival and features five galleries of contemporary art exhibitions. The museum always offers free admission.

Art Studios Samplers

Festival-goers will be able to try their hand at studio art classes with ($5-10) one-hour workshops led by Mesa Arts Center teaching artists. Workshops include: Flame worked Beads, Nature’s Design Drawing Demo, Watercolor, Scientific Glassblowing, Improv, Ink and Watercolor Botanical Drawing, Enameling on Metal, and Acrylics. Registration is available now.

Mesa Arts Center is located at 1 E. Main St. in downtown Mesa. There is no charge to attend spark! Mesa’s Festival of Creativity and parking is free. More information can be found at MesaArtsCenter.com.

Previous articleImagination beyond walls: Mesa organization designs custom bedrooms for ill children
Next article2 Cricket Wireless stores open in Mesa


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.