MARICOPA — Judith Zaimont and Nancy Smith are perhaps the biggest cheerleaders for the Maricopa arts scene. The two have made it their mission to ensure that area residents have plenty of opportunities to enjoy visual and performing arts without leaving Maricopa.

And with several new programs and events, both envision Maricopa growing its artist community.

“The Maricopa arts scene is rich and deep and of great quality,” said Zaimont, a music composer and symphony writer who has spent years advocating for the arts in the community. “Many of our artists and performers are professional level.”

As well as dozens of painters, sculptors and various visual artists, Maricopa is also home to a theater group, poets, orchestra and choir, and other performing arts groups.

Smith orchestrated the creation of the new group Maricopa Friends of the Arts, a nonprofit organization with a goal of helping to promote Maricopa arts and supply area artists with funding. The group was created last spring and recently began holding regular meetings.

It consists of area artists, residents and business owners.

“Maricopa Friends of the Arts was developed to celebrate the arts,” Smith said. “Everyone in the group recognizes the joy that art brings into our lives. The more people know about the great art programs in Maricopa, the more the arts will continue to grow in the city.”

Smith serves on the Maricopa City Council and is also the vice mayor and belongs to the city’s Cultural Affairs and Arts Committee.

“I love the arts,” she said. “When we created Friends of the Arts, the goal was to help provide grants for artists.”

So far, the group has raised about $8,000 and is considering a competitive application process in which artists request funding.

“We raised $4,000 through fundraising and had another $4,000 in matching funds donated by an anonymous donor,” Smith said. “We’re currently figuring out a way to disburse funds to artists.”

Fundraising is ongoing. The organization is currently selling tumblers to raise money.

But the group also helps to create opportunities for artists. It’s running a logo contest with a $250 prize and in October plans an art walk in which area artists will exhibit their work in the Maricopa Community Center for Exceptional Healthcare and the community.

“Exceptional Healthcare has decided to buy nine works of art to hang in their new hospital in Maricopa,” Smith said. “The artists choose the price they wish to sell their artwork for.”

From 4 to 5 p.m. on Oct. 12, staff with Exceptional Healthcare will visit the art walk and select nine works to purchase that fits its theme of “Desert and Bloom.”

From 5 to 7 p.m. the art walk will be open to the public.

“The artists will have the opportunity to sell a piece to Exceptional Healthcare and then to the public,” Smith said. “This has been the first time in a while that artists have had a chance to show off their work at a show. We’re excited for this new opportunity.”

Smith said Maricopa Friends of the Arts and the Maricopa Arts Council, which has a mission to promote area arts, often work together to see that various programs and events are highlighted.

Zaimont, co-director of MAC, founded it several years ago in an effort to promote the arts and bring programs to community residents.

“In Maricopa alone, we have a music circle, performing arts, dance academy and an orchestra as well as artisans,” she said.

Zaimont is not only a supporter of the arts, she’s also a performing artist. A composer with an extensive background, she has written more than 130 pieces of music, including six symphonies. She had a long career as a pianist and has taught music.

“The Maricopa Arts Council is dedicated to bringing quality shows and events to Maricopa,” Zaimont said.

Area artists and performers were hit hard by COVID-19, she said.

“Things are starting to recover,” she said. “Things went virtual for a while but now we have more events starting to open up again. We have a full calendar of upcoming events and some are free to attend.”

Among the upcoming events planned in Maricopa are:

  • Oct. 9, All-Arizona Poetry Slam rematch
  • Oct. 16, Maricopa Music Circle Autumn Musicale celebration concert, silent auction and reception at the Maricopa Community Center
  • Oct. 20-23, “Legally Blonde Musical,” performed by Maricopa Community Theater
  • Abstract art contest for Maricopa, hosted by MAC
  • Nov. 5-7, Copa Shorts Film Festival
  • November, Maricopa Community Theater and BlackBox production, “We’re all together now”
  • Nov. 27, Artisans marketplace at Leading Edge Academy
  • Dec. 11, “Nutcracker” performed by Desert Sun Performing Arts
  • Dec. 18, Grand Winter Holiday concert, performed by MMC chamber orchestra and Maricopa Chorus with guest taiko drum ensemble at Heritage Academy
  • Jan. 22, All Maricopa Poetry Slam at the library and cultural center
  • Feb. 12, Art for the Heart at Copper Sky Recreation Center
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Melissa St. Aude is the Arts & Entertainment editor at PinalCentral. She can be reached at mstaude@pinalcentral.com.

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