I grew up braving dry summers, wishing for snow on Christmas and cheering when it rained. That’s right—I’m an Arizona native—but tackling the drastic weather is not what I think of when reminiscing about my childhood in the Grand Canyon State.

One major theme in my memories is art. I see it as a dynamic cultural staple of Arizona. As the daughter of an artist, my parents surrounded me with various artistic opportunities. We spent so many nights enjoying the symphony, exploring the art galleries in downtown Scottsdale or seeing a play at a local theater. Where many people travel to Arizona to escape frigid winters, I remember Arizona as the home where my interest in the arts began, especially since there are so many places to find it.

Here are locations that top my list of favorite memories centered around the arts:

Phoenix Art Museum – A date night with my dad almost always included a visit to the Phoenix Art Museum. I never tired of hearing my dad explain the tiny details of the artwork that were invisible to my inexperienced eye. My favorite exhibit was the Thorne Room Miniatures. I would stare into each display and imagine I was small enough to fit in the tiny, beautiful rooms.

Ballet Arizona – My sister was the dancer in the family and a student at Ballet Arizona. Each year my family would cheer her on as she performed in various ballet productions. My favorite was seeing her dance in the holiday classic, The Nutcracker. Each year we watched her dance alongside spectacular ballet dancers of all levels to the soundtrack performed by the Phoenix Symphony.

Mesa Arts Center – I grew up playing the violin from first grade through high school (Don’t be impressed, my talent did not reflect my longevity). I was still over the moon when my mom surprised me with tickets to Itzhak Perlman. Not only was Perlman’s performance incredible, but I loved strolling around the architecture and museum before the performance began.

Orpheum Theatre – Built in 1929 for vaudeville acts, the opulent Orpheum Theatre always mesmerizes me. As a young girl, I enjoyed taking in the impressive artwork as I sat in my plush velvet seat. I grasped my dad’s hand, though, as I thought about the creepy stories my sister shared with me about the ghosts that haunted this historical venue. Gammage- framed.jpg

ASU Gammage – The first performance I saw at ASU Gammage featured a famous tap dancer by the name of Gregory Hines. I don’t remember much of the show, as I was probably six years old, but I remember feeling on top of the world in my balcony seat overlooking the high arches. Since then, I have seen dozens of Broadway shows at ASU Gammage and always look forward to hearing about the new shows arriving in the upcoming year.

I’ve just skimmed the surface on my favorite places to find art in Arizona, and there are countless opportunities hiding around every corner. If I learned anything from my family memories in Arizona, it’s that art is everywhere. You just have to know where to look.

Art_in_az bio- framed.jpgClare Hahne is an Arizona native and graduate of Arizona State University. Growing up with eight siblings, the Arizona desert was her playground where she created lifelong memories with her family.