I’m told that blue roses will soon be available thanks to the marriage of genetic engineering and horticultural handywork. But you won’t find any among the roses honoring 400 frontier women at the “Territorial Women’s Memorial Rose Garden” located at Prescott’s Sharlot Hall Museum.
The museum was a must see each time I took my daughter Jennifer to summer camp with fellow members of the Phoenix Girls Chorus. She loved roaming through the frontier buildings, including an old schoolhouse, and trying on gift shop garb like cotton bonnets featuring dainty floral patterns. Once we even stumbled on a marvelous mix of women who were quilting for a cause.
We didn’t realize at the time that the Sharlot Hall Museum, named for the pioneering Arizona woman who founded it in 1928, was home to the Blue Rose Theater — which specializes in presenting historical plays. Their 2012 season includes five works, including one that “tells the compelling stories of women honored in the museum’s territorial rose garden.”
Another 2012 offering, featuring members of the museum’s student conservatory, deals with children living on the American frontier.
But I’m most intrigued by “Arizona Orphan Train,” a work that “tells of the conflict that flared in 1904 when New York nuns brought 40 Irish orphans to a remote Arizona mining camp to be placed with Catholic families.”
Blue Rose Theater is also presenting a “Byway of Arizona” music series next year — which includes ten concerts with Arizona musicians and storytellers. Think Peter McLaughlin of Tucson, Tony Norris of Flagstaff, Hans Olson of Phoenix and more. Also state historian Marshall Trimble and baladeer Dolan Elias. The series opens with the “Arizona Music History Show” from The OK Chorale, and closes with the music of Mexico performed by Tony Cocilivo.
Once a month during 2012 you can enjoy the theater’s “Centennial Chautauqua Series.” The fine folks of Merriam-Webster note that chautauquas are traveling shows and local assemblies combining education and entertainment. Seems they were especially popular during late 19th and early 20th century America.
The series kicks off in January with Jody Drake performing as “historian, poet, free thinker and museum founder Sharlot M. Hall.” Arizona first lady Jessie Benton Fremont will be performed by Pattie Conrad in February. Arizona environmentalist Aldo Leopold will be performed by T.J. McMichael in June. And Arizona artist Kate Cory will be performed by Sandy Moss in August. Other chautauquas will channel a judge, a governor, a miner, an author, a mountain man and an outlaw.
I’m especially keen on “Living History Workshops” planned for next year. Sounds like the Sharlot Hall Museum does a lovely job of helping folks understand what life must have been like for frontier women, which has me wishing we could all send our texting teens for a lesson or two.
Workshop topics range from the glamorous (parlor arts, gardening and cooking) to the sublime (spring cleaning, laundry and mending). Let’s hope those who attend can substitute Birkenstocks for bonnets, and walking shorts for long skirts layered with aprons.
The Sharlot Hall Museum hosts all sorts of fun events each year — and their 2012 calendar is posted online so you can find your favorites and save the dates. There’s a women’s history symposium, a series of “history adventures,” and an Indian art market. My personal favorites are the folk arts fair in June and the folk music festival in October.
Blue roses, by the way, are a mythological symbol for the unattainable.
Note: While you’re visiting Prescott, stop by other area museums too — including the Phippen Museum, featuring “Art of the Great American West,” and the Smoki Museum, featuring “American Indian Art and Culture.” Click here to visit the Prescott Area Arts & Humanities Council.
Coming up: Make mine a “Bloody Mary”