Beth Shook
Sparrow Three, ceramic drawing – Beth Shook

At Practical Art in uptown Phoenix, it is an all year, non-stop creative happening, available and affordable to ANYONE who wants to buy something useful and unique from a stock of more than 3,000 functional works of art made by 100 local artisans. Glassware, ceramic, wood, fibers and recycled materials are integrated into wearable, usable, playable items or, “just about everything useful for your everyday life that is handmade in Arizona can be found at Practical Art”, so says their website. Open since 2008, the charming store smells delicious upon entry and has a laid back, quirky vibe. Practical Art participates in the Phoenix First Fridays Art Walk and as part of their monthly gallery exhibitions is currently displaying a beautiful series of ceramic bird drawings called ‘The Evidence of Hope’ by Beth Shook, framed in stained pieces of old wood furniture.

Owner and artist Lisa Olson was on hand to talk about the busy calendar at her shop. She herself is a professional photographer, born and raised in Tempe and is an Arizona State University alumni. Among the fantastic array of home and personal goods for sale, P. A. has workshops of many kinds, such as candle making on Community Craft Night. Keep an eye on the P.A. website for special pop-up classes like DJ-driven yoga or participate in one of the Make and Take classes every Saturday where your individual effort will follow you home like an elementary school art project your mom would be proud to display.

weekly Make and Take classes
Student painted pottery; weekly “Make and Take” classes

Olson uses her considerable artistic connections for altruistic purposes, as well. Fourth Friday Charity Pie Night is a festive and sweet event that benefits a different non-profit organization each month. Slices of delicious craft pies are $5 a piece or unlimited slices for $10. Proceeds from these bake sales assist a dozen local charities a year like New Leaf, which supports people on the journey to financial and housing independence or the MaxLove Project, which helps childhood cancer survivors avoid serious illness later in life by advancing the message of healthy, holistic living. Since 2011, this popular event has raised close to $40,000 just because it feels – and tastes – good!


Charity Pie Night; Full hearts and bellie
Charity Pie Night; Full hearts and bellies

There is always something new available. Artists interested in marketing or exhibiting their wares are asked to email Practical Art directly. P.A. always champions community engagement, encouraging folks to shop local and frequent small businesses. Layaway, registries and gift cards are available and the Yelp reviews are great for this one-of-a-kind shop. I purchased a bag full of fun Arizona-centric gifts not made in China I can’t wait to share with hosts on an upcoming international trip!

All of this and more is in store at Practical Art, 5070 N. Central Avenue, (602) 262-1414.  Open every day at 10 am or shop online anytime, as well.  Images courtesy of P.A. website.