Horse Chestnuts

Bertha has passed on. The air conditioner known by that name, which, for 45 years, has cooled the building that now houses the Arizona Museum for Youth, has gone to Ventilation Valhalla. The installation of a new AC unit has necessitated the shutting down of the museum since late March, after the closing of the popular display "An Adventure With Wallace and Gromit."

Now, the country's first kids' museum with a fine arts focus is scheduled to reopen, newly cool, on Friday, August 21, with "Stable Environment: The Horse in Art." The exhibit continues through mid-January 1999.

As usual with AMFY, the show mixes its art, horse-oriented paintings and sculptures, with many other interactive displays. Included are a puppet theater where kids can produce their own shows, based on Native American equine lore, and a play area where kids can either pretend to groom horses or to be a horse. They can try mounting a saddle, play pin-the-tail-on-the-horse games, or toss a good old-fashioned game of horseshoes.

In addition, the space offers the usual batch of special classes and workshops related to the horsey theme throughout the run of the show. There are September classes in making Lipizzaner horse puppets and horse printmaking, October classes for making wearable horse boxes, November classes in making clay horse figures, punched-metal holiday ornaments and horseshoe holiday wreaths, and January classes in cave painting and watercolor horse painting. And at 2 p.m. Sunday, October 25, there will be a special performance by Navajo artist and storyteller Nanaba Aragon, titled "Horse Tales."

What, no production of Peter Shaffer's horse-blinding play Equus for kids 4 and up?

--M. V. Moorhead

"Stable Environment: The Horse in Art" opens at Arizona Museum for Youth on Friday, August 21, and continues through Friday, January 15, 1999. Hours: 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays, 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. Admission is $2, free for kids under 2. 35 North Robson in Mesa. 644-2467.