Mother Dearest

Because I feel that, in the Heavens above,
The angels, whispering to one another,
Can find, among their burning terms of love,
None so devotional as that of “Mother”
-Edgar Allen Poe

May 8, 2016 is reserved especially to celebrate Mothers. At Practical Art, our Mothers– whether they are our biological Mothers, our Grandmothers, our Mothers-in-law, or our friends who are Mothers– have helped shape who we are. They mark our beginning. They mark the very best of ourselves. They mark who we choose to become.  We invite you to celebrate all of the Mothers in your life with one-of-a-kind gifts from Practical Art.

“I will look after you and I will look after anybody you say needs to be looked after, any way you say. I am here. I brought my whole self to you. I am your mother.”

―Maya Angelou, Mom & Me & Mom

Does your mother enjoy gardening? Browse our collection of planters, big and small, or peruse the bee habitats and hummingbird feeders that will encourage the helpful pollinators of her flowers.



“My mother… she is beautiful, softened at the edges and tempered with a spine of steel. I want to grow old and be like her.”

―Jodi Picoult

Does your mother have killer style? Search our vast collection of jewelry and find the perfect necklace or earrings to complement her inner fashionista. Or buy her a jewelry bowl to hold her growing collection.


“Mothers and their children are in a category all their own. There’s no bond so strong in the entire world. No love so instantaneous and forgiving.”

―Gail Tsukiyama, Dreaming Water

Does your mother adorn her walls with fine art? Add to her collection with a beautifully handcrafted encaustic masterpiece by Lara Plecas. The colorful inspired work with surprise and enchant her.


“Mothers, I believe, intoxicate us. We idolize them and take them for granted. We hate them and blame them and exalt them more thoroughly than anyone else in our lives. We sift through the evidence of their love, reassure ourselves of their affection and its biological genesis. We can steal and lie and leave and they will love us.”

―Megan Mayhew Bergman, Birds of a Lesser Paradise: Stories

Does your mother love to relax with a hot cup of tea? Snag her a-one-of-a-kind mug and a delicious blend of Wisdom Nectar Tea to brighten her morning routine.


“Motherhood is a choice you make everyday, to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you’re not sure what the right thing is…and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong.”

―Donna Ball, At Home on Ladybug Farm

Does your mother host amazing parties and entertain guests? Find the perfect serving bowls and platters that highlight her unique style and favorite dishes. Or make hosting even more enjoyable by purchasing one of our fabulous Lazy Susans.  


“Because even if the whole world was throwing rocks at you, if you had your mother at your back, you’d be okay. Some deep-rooted part of you would know you were loved. That you deserved to be loved.”

―Jojo Moyes, One Plus One

Does your mother love personal piece made by YOU? Come to Lara Plecas’s ice-dyeing workshop Saturday April 30th, and make your mother a personalized textile in colors and patterns of your own design! Find out more here.

Lara ice dying

Show your Mother how much you appreciate her by finding something as unique as she is. Whatever hobbies and interests she enjoys, we have a gift to suit. Practical Art is the perfect one stop shop for all of your Mother’s Day needs. We can’t wait to see you soon!



April Charity Pie Night benefiting The Phoenix Zoo!

Here at Practical Art, our mouths are watering as we gear up for next week’s Charity Pie Night. Yet it’s not just the thought of Vonceil’s Pies that has us excited. This month we are hosting Pie Night in support of the Phoenix Zoo– which means we get to spend the evening with some of their amazing critters. Last year we met Buttercup, the most adorable armadillo in Arizona. We can’t wait to see who we’ll get to meet next Friday!


Many people don’t know that the Phoenix Zoo is actually a 501c3, non-profit organization. In fact, it’s one of the largest not-for-profit zoos in the nation. They rely on the support of the community to fulfill their mission: to provide experiences that inspire people to care about the natural world. Earlier this week, we had the fantastic opportunity to chat with Bert Castro, President and CEO of the Phoenix Zoo. He gave us a bit of insight into this important community organization.


If you’ve been to the Phoenix Zoo lately, you were likely impressed with the beauty of their expansive grounds, the thoughtful layout of their animal homes and habitats, and the sheer number and scope of the creatures they care for. Housing more than 1,400 animals, including 30 species that are endangered or threatened, the Phoenix Zoo is an important center for nature conservation.

If you’ve walked along the paths, you may also have noticed their recycling efforts. Mr. Castro explained to us that energy efficiency and sustainability are important to the Phoenix Zoo’s mission. Recycling and composting campaigns are one way in which they promote a ‘greener’ Phoenix. However, they are also leading the way in sustainable efforts as they build and expand their site. The new Phoenix Zoo Administration building was awarded LEED Gold status by the U.S. Green Building Council, scoring highly for optimal energy performance and onsite renewable energy (it’s solar powered!). As lovers of all things recycled (or up-cycled as we like to say), repurposed, reused, and sustainable, we were impressed!

A sustainable, energy efficient campus isn’t the only way the Phoenix Zoo positively impacts our community. They are also an important gathering space. The Zoo hosts special events, camps, and educational opportunities that support the sharing of ideas and resources.  You can join them April 17th for their annual Dia Del Nino, celebrating children, animals, and hispanic culture. Or head to the Zoo April 23rd for Earth Day and participate in hands-on activities that support reducing your carbon footprint. Keep your eyes peeled for walks and runs in honor of other local nonprofits– according to Mr. Castro, the Zoo hosts more than 35 charitable walks throughout the year! For details about events, and to see what’s upcoming, visit the Zoo’s online calendar.

As Phoenix natives, we have watched the Zoo expand and grow from our visits as kids to our visits with kids, and we wanted to know what we could look forward to in the future. Mr. Castro couldn’t give official details, but he did say that future plans for the Phoenix Zoo include intensive and immersive visitor experiences in which you feel you are with the animals….and a new indoor restaurant! We can’t wait!

Want to get more involved with the Phoenix Zoo? There are many ways you can support this local landmark. Help the animals and conservation efforts by making a donation. Volunteer at one of their awesome events. Or buy a membership and become part of the Phoenix Zoo family (we highly recommend it!). To get started off right, head to Practical Art next Friday, April 22 from 7:00-9:00p.m.  

As a community organization with a heart for all things local, Practical Art is extremely excited to partner with the Phoenix Zoo for Charity Pie Night. Come by. Eat delicious pie. Meet amazing animals. Buy local artwork. And donate to this Phoenix treasure.


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!

December Charity Pie Night benefiting Rainbow Acres!


This Friday, join Practical Art for the best night of the month– Charity Pie Night! In this season of giving, we are honored to host Pie Night on behalf of the local nonprofit, Rainbow Acres.  Enjoy the delicious taste of a Vonceil’s Pie and support this unique local agency!


As a child and student, Rev. Ralph Showers struggled with learning disabilities, including dyslexia. He dreamed of a place where adults with disabilities could pursue their dreams and find purpose and meaning.  After becoming an accomplished American Baptist pastor, Showers pursued and attained this dream with the establishment of Rainbow Acres in 1974. In 1996, Rev. Gary Wagner accepted the role of President and CEO of Rainbow Acres, taking care to build on the philosophies and vision set forth by Rev. Showers.  As a result of their visionary leadership and their supportive team of caregivers and employees, today Rainbow Acres is a state of the art facility serving 130 adults with disabilities.

Rainbow Acres serves adult residents, called Ranchers, from the ages of 18 to 80. These individuals have a wide variety of cognitive and developmental disabilities including (but not limited to) Cerebral Palsy, Down syndrome,  Fragile X, and Autism. These Ranchers live, work, and socialize in the supportive community of Rainbow Acres– a place they enthusiastically call home. As Rainbow Acres aptly proclaims, “IT’S ALL ABOUT THE RANCHERS: providing opportunities for personal growth, offering them freedom of choice, empowering all to achieve personal goals, having friends who accept one another unconditionally (often for the first time in their lives), and discovering purpose in life.” The team at Rainbow, including the Ranchers themselves, work to build a one-of-a-kind home in which individuals are empowered to pursue their dreams.

Support the efforts of Rainbow Acres and eat delightful pie, this Friday night from 7:00pm-9:00pm at Practical Art. The proceeds of the night will be donated to Rainbow Acres in honor of Lorimer Olson (1934-2015), a crucial supporter and board member of Rainbow Acres, and the best grandpa in the world!


A Share of the Pie: Charity Pie Night!
Friday, December 18th, 2015 from 7pm-9pm
Featured charity: Rainbow Acres!

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!

November Charity Pie Night benefiting the Madison Education Foundation!

Tomorrow is the third Friday of the month, and this month it is guaranteed to be a little sweeter. Celebrate Thanksgiving early by coming to Practical Art from 7:00-9:00pm for this month’s Charity Pie Night! Purchase a slice of delicious pie, and revel in the fact that all proceeds support the inspiring work of the Madison Education Foundation.


Our featured Charity works diligently to bring arts education back into the classroom.  As most of you probably know, arts programs have been losing funding in schools across the nation. Drama programs, music classes, and fine art classes are often the first to feel squeezed by budget cuts and the increasing emphasis to support reading, math, and science. Reading, math, and science are incredibly important—but we happen to believe that the arts are too. Which is why we love the Madison Education Foundation.

The Madison Education Foundation is “committed to enriching the quality of education of every child who attends Madison public school.” How do they accomplish this? By providing innovative hands-on programs in the arts. The foundation supports music programs like world percussion, hands on art masterpiece classes, and field trips to the Phoenix Art museum and Musical Instrument Museum. They also work hand in hand with teachers to incorporate arts learning into the required curriculum necessary for student success.   As Mrs. D, a Language Arts Teacher at Madison No. 1 stated, “Art Masterpiece presentations enhance and expand the learning for both language arts and social studies. Reading standards for information texts ask students to ‘compare and contrast works of text with other media’… using the same language to discuss a photograph or painting that we use to discuss a historical document or essay.” (Learn More Here)

The Madison Education Foundation provides students with exposure and access to arts, while maintaining focus on overall student success. Their mission is close to the heart of Practical Art. So come on down tomorrow night, enjoy the tantalizing flavors of a Vonceil’s Pie (baked by our very own pie master, Karen Olson), and support this wonderful cause.

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, PLUS 10% of all sales that day, will be donated to Madison Education Foundation!

We can’t wait to see you there!


October Charity Pie Night benefiting Rising Youth Theatre!


Here at Practical Art, we strongly believe in the transformative and community–building power of art. Hence, we strive to bring art into the everyday. Luckily, we are not alone in this mission. Organizations, such as Rising Youth Theatre work hard to bring incredible artistic experiences to the youth and the community— which is why we are excited to feature them this Friday from 7:00pm – 9:00pm during the most scrumptious night of the month, Charity Pie Night!


In an article from Edutopia, Fran Smith quotes a report by the Rand Corporation stating, “the intrinsic pleasures and stimulation of the art experience do more than sweeten an individual’s life — according to the report, they ‘can connect people more deeply to the world and open them to new ways of seeing,’ creating the foundation to forge social bonds and community cohesion.” (Read the full article here)

This quote demonstrates the core of Rising Youth Theatre’s mission statement: to create youth driven theatre that is riveting and relevant, challenging audiences to hear new stories, start conversations and participate in their communities. Through participation on stage, behind the scenes, or in the audience, children, teens, and adults are exposed to innovative ways of thinking and asking questions about the world around us. The result is thoughtful, engaged citizens.

Karen Olson of Vonceil’s Pies will bring her own artistic creations to share, as we celebrate the work of this wonderful organization. Share in a slice, or try a sampling of each unique and delicious flavor as you discuss why the arts are so important to you. We can’t wait to see you there!

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PA Pie Social-67

A Share of the Pie: Charity Pie Night!
Friday, October 23rd, 2015 from 7pm-9pm
Featured charity: Rising Youth Theatre!

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 Rising Youth Theatre!