Happy Thanksgiving from Practical Art

It is officially Thanksgiving! (How did that happen?)

We hope you have a safe and wonderful day celebrating all the things you are thankful for! Here at Practical Art, we are thankful for our amazing arts community, loyal customers, fantastic staff, and (if you don’t already fit into one of the previous categories) YOU!

Now, traditionally, the Friday after Thanksgiving is reserved for Big Box stores who promise incredible deals (coupled with overfilled parking-lots and ridiculously long lines– they don’t call it ‘black’ Friday for nothing). Here at Practical Art, however, we’ve never been big fans of the chaos, mayhem, and stress of Black Friday… but we do love celebrating the holiday season in our community. So, if you are looking for something to do this weekend other than standing in line at Best Buy or Walmart, come join us at one (or more) of the awesome local events listed below, or stop by the store any day this weekend from 10:00am-5:00pm. Help spread holiday cheer while you support local businesses around the Valley.

Friday, November 25: BLACK FRIDAY!

10am-7pm Practical Art’s Alternative Black Friday Celebration


Get in the festive spirit by making unique, handmade robot ornaments with our favorite Space Boy Robot (Jordan Thomas).
Click Here to RSVP!


10am-5pm Alternative Black Friday Market, CityScape, Phoenix

Spend the day perusing the wares of more than 30 Vintage and Local shops at the market, eat lunch at some of the best local Phoenix restaurants around, and cap it all off with a bit of ice-skating, just for fun!

Saturday, November 26: SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY


Whatever your plans, make sure you stop by your favorite local businesses to show your support and let them know how much you appreciate them! We will be open from 10-5 with lots of locally made wares & recommendations of other awesome shops for you to check out!

9am-1pm Gilbert Art Walk


With a forecast in the mid-70s, Saturday is the perfect day to head outside and stroll around the Gilbert Water Tower, checking out the vendors at both the Art Walk and Farmer’s Market!


10am-5pm Phoenix Flea, Heritage Square Park


Don’t miss the 4th annual Phoenix Flea! It’s sure to be the biggest market yet, with goods from more than 100 local artists and businesses!

Here at Practical Art, we can’t wait to see you out and about this weekend!



Charity Pie Night benefiting A New Leaf!

It’s finally feeling like fall- and there’s nothing better on a crisp fall evening, than a glorious piece of a Vonceil’s Pie! Well, nothing except multiple pieces and flavors of Vonceil’s pies, perhaps… Our baker extraordinaire, Karen Olson, is whipping up a series of mouth watering desserts for this month’s Charity Pie Night at Practical Art. Come by  Friday, November 17th, from 7:00-9:00pm to taste Karen’s delicious treats. All proceeds from this month’s pie night will benefit the local nonprofit, A New Leaf.


A New Leaf’s Mission is “Helping Families. Changing Lives. A New Leaf inspires and supports individuals and families in their journey to independence.” A New Leaf has more than 20 programs offering housing, counseling, child care, and social services to those in need. Through their extended network they are able to serve 200,000 meals annually, provide 150,000 nights of shelter annually, and host 12,000 counseling sessions annually. Their services culminated in providing 21,140 individuals with critical resources last year!

We had a chance to visit their La Mesita housing complex, a beautiful development boasting modern, furnished apartments that supports homeless and low income family populations from around Maricopa county. Walking into the beautiful after school center, we watched young students picking out books from the reading corner, designing and decorating craft bird houses, and interacting with the friendly staff. The obvious benefits to the students are coupled with the fact that this service, free to resident parents, greatly helps alleviate the financial burden of finding affordable childcare. It was one powerful example of A New Leaf’s services in action.

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To hear more about the extensive depth and breadth of A New Leaf’s programs, come to Practical Art next week! Meet some of the amazing staff, enjoy some delicious Vonceil’s Pie, and get a head start on your holiday shopping (10% of sales that night also go to the charity)! We can’t wait to see you there!


Charity Pie Night benefiting Max Love Project

PIE NIGHT IS BACK!!! Come by Practical Art Friday, September 23rd, and eat some delicious homemade pies from our favorite local baker, Karen Olson, of Vonciel’s Pies. Gluten free? Vegan? No problem! Karen whips up amazing pies for all diets! Relish in the fact that you’re not only eating delicious, locally made goods, but you are also supporting our featured non-profit, MaxLove Project.

Did you know that 95% of childhood cancer survivors will go on to face a serious chronic illness? MaxLove is working to alleviate the reality of this statistic. They are on a mission to improve the quality of life for childhood cancer survivors (aka SuperKids). The volunteer driven, grassroots organization offers programs and resources focused on ‘super actions’ that promote lifelong healthy survivorship and disease prevention. These programs include culinary medicine, social support, integrative medicine, research, and advocacy. It is a Whole Body, Whole Person approach to maintaining and supporting healthy lives.


MaxLove is teaming up to support the efforts of Dr. Adrienne Scheck. Dr. Scheck, working out of the Barrow Neurological Center at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, is behind the groundbreaking diet that’s helped MaxLove Project’s Chief Inspiration Officer, SuperMax, thrive against brain cancer. This ketogenic diet is a powerful and nontoxic therapeutic addition to conventional treatment. There is a lot of promise in this non-toxic approach, and our SuperMax provides a powerful case study for its efficacy. But there’s still a lot more science that needs to be done.

That’s where you come in. All of the money raised in this month’s Charity Pie night at Practical Art will help support Scheck Laboratory on behalf of MaxLove. For more information about how your dollars impact the lab, or how you can help even more, click here.


So come to Practical Art Friday, September 23rd, eat delicious pie and support MaxLove. A $5 donation gets you a slice of a Vonceil’s Pies creation! A $10 donation gets you as many in-house tastings as you’d like! All donations, and 10% of all sales that day, will be donated to MaxLove Project!

We can’t wait to see you there!  


August Ice Cream Social to benefit ACEL Leaders!

There is nothing more refreshing than delicious, homemade ice cream on a hot night. Come to Practical Art this Friday and refresh yourself with a treat from one of our favorite local spots, Sweet Republic. These ice cream aficionados are sponsoring this month’s Charity Night in support of ACEL (Asian Corporate and Entrepreneur Leaders)!

ACEL’s mission is “to be the proving ground for Greater Phoenix Asian American Professionals, forging leaders of tomorrow through professional development, cultural awareness, community service and mentorship.” This is not a simple networking group. ACEL focuses on building and improving communities by mentoring and connecting leaders (young and old) with community organizations and needs. We spoke to member Kim Hamby, who provided the following testimonial:
“The first time I heard about ACEL was from a friend and business associate. He knew I wanted to get more involved in my local community and suggested checking it out.  It sounds corny, but although I had done some volunteering in the past and am a Phoenix Native, ACEL was what made me feel like I was a part of a bigger community.

ACEL’s Mentorship program, Leadership Conference and other events are unique and have positively impacted hundreds of people.  Jason Wong, founder and Board chair has been a great mentor for me and continues to pave the way for future growth. Through ACEL I have learned about opportunities to get involved through Valley Leadership, FBI Citizens Academy and other amazing non-profits. 

I would encourage anyone of any background to get involved with ACEL. If you care about personal and professional development and want to grow within our community by accessing amazing mentors and local leaders, this organization is for you.”


Come by Practical Art this Friday from 7:00-9:00 to learn more about ACEL and eat some sweet treats from Sweet Republic. We can’t wait to see you there!


May Charity Pie Night benefiting New Life Society!

Practical Art loves getting to know non-profit organizations whose work strengthens our community. New Life Society is an organization that, to put it simply, saves lives. Desiree Gracia, Executive Director, gave us great insight into her organization, and Practical Art is honored to host New Life Society for our May Charity Pie Night. Join us Friday, May 27, 2016 from 7:00-9:00pm, and enjoy a tasty slice of Vonciel’s Pies while you learn how to get involved with New Life Society and help save lives!


At it’s core, New Life Society’s mission is to offer supportive services and financial support to recipients of organ donation.  “The New Life Society’s purpose is to provide pre- and post- transplant supportive services and to promote organ and tissue donor awareness education to all Arizona residents.”

Individuals in need of a new organ often struggle to make ends meet financially. Thus, New Life Society provides financial assistance to patients in need. Beyond financial support, New Life Society fosters support groups for organ recipients. Transplant recipients meet one-on-one, in small groups for dinner, and at large events to share their experience. They have created a continuum of support for individuals from the beginning phases of the organ donation spectrum to the end.

I was inspired as I learned about the incredible work of this non-profit agency. How had I not heard of them before? When I asked Desiree what her plans were for the future of the organization, she said that one of the biggest areas for growth was awareness. Educating the public about their presence and teaching people the differences between the myths of organ donation and the facts. “There are a lot of misconceptions about organ donation. A lot of individuals fear that if they are a donor, doctors and paramedics won’t do everything that they can to save their life. This is completely untrue.”

Desiree advises everyone to take the time to learn about organ donation, and make a decision for themselves whether or not to register as an organ donor. Once you are registered, talk to your family about your wishes, so that they know what to do on your behalf.

Desiree has personal experience with organ donation. Her little brother died tragically at the age of 14. Suddenly, her and her family were faced with the task of planning a memorial service, paying for a funeral, and dealing with the insurmountable grief that comes with losing a loved one unexpectedly. When the doctors and hospital staff asked if the family would be willing to donate her brother’s organ– they decided that it was what he would want them to do. Desiree began volunteering with donor agencies shortly after her experience, a decision that she says has helped her grieving process. She has never met the recipients of her brother’s organs, but every time she works with a donor recipient, she imagines they are carrying with them a little piece of her brother.


You can help Desiree and her team at New Life Society support and spread the facts about organ donation. Volunteer your time, donate to the cause, or host an educational session at your work or affiliated organizations. Together we can help New Life Save Lives.

Start your advocacy at Practical Art this Friday from 7:00-9:00pm. Meet Desiree and her team, eat delicious pie, and shop at your favorite local spot. We can’t wait to see you there!


A $5 donation gets you any slice of a Vonceil’s Pies creation. A $10 donation gets you as many in-house tastings as you’d like. 10% of all sales that day will also be donated to New Life Society!


February Charity Pie Night benefiting Arizona School for the Arts!

Arizona School for the Arts: Arts Education in Action

Every 4th Friday of the month, Practical Art hosts a Charity Pie Night. Pie night is your opportunity to eat the delicious, one-of-a-kind creations made by Karen Olson of Vonceil’s Pie, while learning about important non-profit agencies around Arizona! Next Friday, February 26, 2016, Practical Art is enthusiastically hosting this delicious event in honor of Arizona School for the Arts (ASA).

Arizona School for the Arts is a public charter school whose mission is to “inspire creative thinkers and leaders through providing an innovative concentration in college preparation informed by the performing arts.” ASA, offering grades 5-12, consistently ranks as one of the top academic schools in Arizona. If you are a numbers person, check out the following statistics:

  • 12th-National rank in Reading (Global Report Card 2011)
  • 22nd- National rank in Math (Global Report Card 2011)
  • 100% graduation rate
  • 96% of ASA graduates pursue four-year postsecondary education
  • Ranked 13th in the state of Arizona for combined SAT scores

We were both impressed and curious about how this school produces such amazing results, so we decided to check it out for ourselves. Last week, we took a tour of ASA, led by student ambassador, Kelly Dorney. A senior who has attended ASA since 6th grade, Ms. Dorney is a testament to the school’s mission in and of herself. Articulate, well-informed, and thoughtful, she graciously led us across the campus, answering all of our questions and offering her own insights into what makes the school one-of-a-kind.


After meeting Ms. Dorney, and development director, Marion Donaldson in the office, we cut across campus to see some of the student classrooms. Walking past the beautiful bandshell dominating the middle of the outside courtyard, we were serenaded by the sweet sound of a violin being played by orchestra performer, concertmaster, and ASA violin instructor, Dr. Sarah Schreffler. Instructors at ASA, in both the academic and arts sectors have significant experience in their fields and demonstrate passion in what they teach. Interestingly, vetting teachers often includes student input. Ms. Dorney explained that prospective teachers often present sample lessons to a group of current students, and student feedback plays a deciding factor in the hiring process. Over the course of our tour, we came to understand that student input, inclusion, creativity, and responsibility are common themes at ASA.

Entering the classroom buildings, we saw colorful bulletin boards throughout the hall. These boards bore encouraging words, announcements, and messages for students, from students. We traveled upstairs and toured the gorgeous dance studios, peered through windows at ongoing Physics and Social Studies lessons, listened in on French instruction, and interrupted the band teacher as he practiced in his classroom during a break from teaching. Ms. Dorney enlightened us as we went about the average day for a student. Core academic classes occur in the mornings, while performing arts happen after lunch. Students work in groups at tables, fostering collaboration. Classrooms are multi-use, and spaces utilized for history in the morning may be converted (sometimes with retractable walls) to orchestra rooms in the afternoon. In high school, students choose two arts to focus on– Ms. Dorney takes cello and piano.  


Perhaps one of the most fascinating classrooms that we walked into was a middle school piano class. Piano’s line the walls and cluster in the center of the room. Students play away, and yet the room is silent. They each wear headphones allowing them to focus on their own playing, with the capability to pair up and produce duets. The teacher also has headphones, and can tune into any student’s piano throughout the class. It is a unique opportunity for individualized instruction. To describe it in one word– awesome!

Students of all grades eat lunch at the same time, and Ms. Dorney regaled us with the story of how senior students came up and spoke to her encouragingly on her first day of 6th grade. No hazing, no bullying. “People don’t believe me when I tell them, but I have never seen bullying here,” she asserts. No bullying? How is this possible?

The Arts encourage creativity and individuality. In a school that fosters these traits, bullying has no place. Dorney reiterates that it is the creative community that allows for such acceptance. That, and school policies allowing for measures such as a gender neutral restroom.

As we completed our tour, I asked Ms. Dorney how the incorporation of the arts impacted her experience at ASA. Her answer, perfectly, focused on community. The incorporation of arts not only encourages community within the school, but also allows her to connect with the Phoenix arts community at large. The connection is one she plans to foster and continue in the future. Ms. Donaldson reiterated that many students from ASA come back to Phoenix and become community leaders and economic drivers encouraging positive change.

Here at Practical Art, we believe in the power of Art. Creative expression unites, inspires, empowers, and provokes. What we witnessed in the brief hour of our visit at ASA is a testament of the power of Art. The impressive students of ASA demonstrate everyday how Art, in various forms, critically engages individuals of all ages to develop and improve the community around them.


Visit us next Friday from 7:00-9:00pm, meet these amazing students, witness a few awe-inspiring student performances, eat pie (of course!), and support this amazing school. We can’t wait to see you there!

A Share of the Pie: Charity Pie Night!
Friday, February 26th, 2016 from 7pm-9pm

A $5 donation gets you a slice of a Vonceil’s Pies creation! A $10 donation gets you as many in-house tastings as you’d like! All donations, and 10% of all sales that day, will be donated to Rainbow Acres!


January Charity Pie Night benefiting Mountain Park Health Center!

Whether you are 6 or 60, your health is vital to maintaining your happiness and your way of life! That’s why Practical Art is excited to support Mountain Park Health Center at this month’s Charity Pie Night. Swing by tonight, from 7:00pm to 9:00, for a taste of delicious Vonceil’s Pie (vegan and gluten free options readily available) and donate to this important organization.

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Mountain Park Health Center is a non-profit healthcare community whose mission is to provide quality, affordable primary care to every one of their patients. The caring team of doctors, nurses, and practitioners offers health education, preventive screenings, and affordable medications to keep you proactive about your health. Mountain Park is dedicated to idea that everyone deserves excellent care at reasonable cost, and offers a wide array of financial options for every patient. With more than 30 years’ experience and 8 valley locations, Mountain Park Health Center is the one- stop medical center for your individual and family needs.

Learn more about the services of Mountain Park Health Center tonight at Practical Art. Dive into a piece of Mexican Chocolate, Lingonberry, or Jalapeno Pecan pie and revel in the fact that you are helping give back to the Arizona community with each bite!


A $5 donation gets you a slice of a Vonceil’s Pies creation! A $10 donation gets you as many in-house tastings as you’d like! All donations, and 10% of all sales that day, will be donated to Mountain Park Health Center!