American Beauty

This month, when First Friday coincides with Independence Day, eye lounge tempers blind patriotism with more personal interpretations of what America is all about. "Our American Life," opening Friday, July 4, offers artistic perspectives from Linda Lewis and Rebecca Blume, two eye lounge members, as well as guest artist Mike Slack.

Lewis examines religious freedom with her Embedded series, a collection of altered Bibles embellished with hair, calculator keys and dollar bills to touch upon timely American themes.

Based in Los Angeles, Slack has been making waves in the art world since the recent publication of his new book of Polaroids, OK OK OK. While the snapshots offer fleeting observations of his world, they also reveal his expert eye for composition. "I love the quality of the image and the quality of the color," Slack says of the results he gets from Polaroid 680 cameras.

Blume's series of photographs, segue, includes portraits of her boyfriend and her home. Her new focus on personal subject matter stems from her longtime fascination with family photographs. "There is something magical about looking at a photograph of someone else's life and thinking, I've been there. I know this feeling/place/age?" explains Blume. "I hope that others will look at my photographs and feel that same sense of being." - Michele Laudig

Rhythm Methods

A pounding good time

Transcending all sound barriers, STOMP's percussive performers track rhythm, song and dance around the globe. Pulse: A STOMP Odyssey finds the noise makers getting down with gumboot dancers, taiko drummers, djembe players, flamenco dancers and street performers in NYC, Africa, South America, Asia and Europe. The film fills the five-story screen at the Arizona Science Center, 600 East Washington, through November. Call 602-716-2000 or see for showtimes. - Jill Koch

Head Case

Lecture highlights vintage hats

WED 7/9
Millinery maven Ruth Ristow shows off her museum-quality vintage hat collection in a hat history discussion on Wednesday, July 9. "It's a mix between the history of hat fashion and how the hat fashions had to do with historical events," says Ristow, who began collecting hats while collecting vintage clothes. "The clothes just didn't look right without the hats," she says. Using around 70 hats dating from 1900 to 1970, Ristow dresses up models in vintage clothes, makeup and hair styles to illustrate how the hats were worn. She also encourages people to bring in their own hats to show and discuss. The free event starts at 7 p.m. at the Glendale Foothills Library, 19055 North 57th Avenue in Glendale. For details, call 623-930-3844. - Quetta Carpenter

Rising Phoenix

Exhibit illustrates Valley growth

We've come a long way, baby. Phoenix's transformation to a booming metropolis is colorfully documented in "Desert Cities," the newest exhibit at the Arizona Historical Society Museum, offering a steep learning curve for Valley newcomers and a fascinating refresher course for natives. Visitors to the 5,000-square-foot installation enter a "main street," circa 1946, and take a walk through local history with replicas of various local buildings. Interactive displays chronicle social and environmental issues, politics and cultural evolution, all within the context of Phoenix's phenomenal growth. For a city with a bright future, "Desert Cities" offers useful insight to the past.

The exhibit continues through April 2008 at the Arizona Historical Society Museum, 1300 North College Avenue, located in Papago Park in Tempe. Call 480-929-0292 for details.- Michele Laudig

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Quetta Carpenter
Jill Koch
Contact: Jill Koch
Michele Laudig
Contact: Michele Laudig