Arts & Culture
David Krietor has served as CEO of the newly-formed Downtown Phoenix, Inc. (“DPI”) since April 8, 2013. In that time, he has begun work with community stakeholders to develop the downtown we want. “Your Downtown” shares his thoughts and DPI’s progress with the downtown community and beyond. Read the other chats here.
The City of Phoenix has announced three important personnel moves. Congratulations to Alan Stephenson, Planning & Development Director; Christine Mackay, Community and Economic Development Director; and Karl Matzinger, Housing Director.
Construction has begun on Arizona State University’s Arizona Center for Law and Society, a six-story, $129 million building at Second and Taylor streets. The Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law will be situated there.
Epoch Properties, based in Winter Park, FL, received Phoenix City Council approval to develop 292 new apartments just east of downtown near Washington, 11th, and 12th streets. The two four-story apartment buildings will be called 11 Capital Place and 12 Capital Place.
History In the Making
The City of Phoenix received seven proposals for redevelopment of the Barrister Place Building and adjacent land parcels at Central and Jefferson Avenues. Built in 1915 as the Jefferson Hotel, the building is most famous for being featured in the opening sequence of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 thriller, “Psycho.” We do assume residential elements of the ultimate redevelopment will have showers!
On July 22, the Arizona Exposition and State Fair Board reversed its earlier decision to demolish the 1938 WPA Administration Building at the Arizona State Fairgrounds after significant public outcry, questions from state lawmakers, and a Temporary Restraining Order issued by a Maricopa County Superior Court judge. A working group of preservation professionals, community leaders, and City of Phoenix staff is preparing a plan to present to state lawmakers and fair officials to stabilize, renovate, and find a good use for the building.
Phoenix-based New City Church purchased the mid century modern building at 1300 N. Central Ave., from Drapac Group of Los Angeles. The building will include worship space for 550-600 people, a library, gallery, coffee bar, lounge, recording studio, and kids space.
Devour Phoenix, a city-wide coalition of independent restaurants associated with Local First Arizona, launched an eGift card redeemable at over 25 of its member restaurants, many in and around downtown Phoenix.
Burger Joint Chicago opened on the ground floor of the U.S. Bank Building at the corner of First Avenue and Adams Street. Monday through Thursday the restaurant will serve downtown employees and visitors from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; on Friday and Saturday they will stay open until 3 a.m. for the night-time crowd.
Yes, We Can
Demonstrating Phoenix’s “can-do” attitude is the eighth annual Canstruction Competition, an International community service event that has contributed more than 21 million pounds of food worldwide (350,000 pounds locally for St. Mary’s Food Bank). You can view 11 huge artful displays, including a 1,600-pound hippo comprised of 2,000 cans of green beans, spaghetti rings, and green chilies, at downtown’s Phoenix Convention Center til Aug. 1.
The Lost World
Phoenix DinoCon is the only convention in the nation that celebrates dinosaurs’ place in pop culture and it’s happening Aug. 2 at the Phoenix Center for the Arts.
A Slice of Pi
Another DPI-sponsored event, Peace Pi, is a transformational music festival coming to Margaret T. Hance Park on March 14 & 15, 2015. Don’t know what a transformational music festival is? Learn more by attending a free screening of the documentary, “Bloom – A Journey Through Transformational Festivals,” at the Herberger Theater Center’s KAX Stage on Aug. 3 at 3 p.m. RSVP to attend this special engagement by sending an email to Peace Pi founder Robert Farthing.
“FlowRider” officially opened July 10 at CityScape. The 38,000-gallon mobile wave simulator gives downtown visitors the chance to boogie board on an artificial wave made by pumping water over a tension-fabric structure. Other “Surfing on Central” activities feature a tiki bar, lounge chairs, and regularly scheduled events, such as beach blanket movie nights and Thursdays ladies’ night.
Keepin’ It Green
A unique public/private partnership is saving dozens of mature trees and bringing additional shade and beauty to downtown. When a City of Phoenix-owned lot on Second Street between Taylor and Polk was tabbed as the future site of ASU’s Arizona Center for Law and Society, a place-holding parking lot was created. When the timetable for construction of the law school was accelerated, it left the future of the lot’s 116 trees in doubt. The Downtown Phoenix Partnership is collaborating with ASU, DPR Construction, and the City of Phoenix to save many of the trees and transition them to new homes in the downtown core.
- Community Town Hall & Construction Update, Phoenix Biomedical Campus, July 30
- PCA Schmooze & News Summer Networking, Renaissance Hotel, July 31
- First Friday Artwalk, downtown Phoenix, Aug. 1
- Phoenix DinoCon, Phoenix Center for the Arts, Aug. 2
- Phoenix Spokes People: Bike to the Ballpark, Hamburger Works, Aug. 8
- Arizona Diamondbacks MLB baseball, Chase Field, various dates in July/Aug
- Phoenix Mercury WNBA basketball, US Airways Center, various dates in July/Aug
- Summer in the City, downtown Phoenix, all summer long
Human beings rely on all kinds of tools to survive in our complex world and a good map is one of our most basic tools for understanding where we are and where we want to go. Maps help us get our bearings, step confidently into unfamiliar territory, and discover hidden byways and shortcuts through the larger landscape.
In an urban environment, a good map is a welcome mat inviting us into the unique neighborhoods that make up the specific landscape of that city. Public transportation and easy-to-use destination maps make perfect partners for pedestrians who want to experience the true spirit of a city.
Recognizing this, Valley Metro developed new destination maps, which were installed at light rail stations in late spring. Hillary Foose, Valley Metro’s Director of Marketing & Communication, spearheaded the initiative by partnering with the City of Phoenix, Artlink, Inc. and Local First Arizona to provide a unique level of local neighborhood-specific detail that would communicate the rich destination options just steps beyond each station.
She was looking for what urbanists refer to as the “fine grain” elements of the city to provide a richer sense of place for residents and visitors alike.
“We wanted destinations to be very local,” said Foose. “That’s what makes our system interesting; we can point people to the local gems that they can walk to from each station.”
The new maps are easy to read, and each station features a “you are here” circle showing the destinations within a five-minute walk of that station. And the plan is to update the maps twice a year. Very cool.
In addition to these station maps, Valley Metro has gone the extra mile to link residents and visitors to the many arts and culture destinations accessible from the system.
The Valley Metro Arts & Culture Destination Guide was published in March and features fifty destinations between Phoenix and Mesa.
Each page of the guide features a simple map highlighting each station stop and the major cultural attractions within easy walking distance. There are photos, venue descriptions and contact info that make it easy to use and more valuable than a compass for those who want to explore all of their arts and culture options.
Savvy visitors from around the Valley and beyond can use the station maps in combination with the Arts & Culture Destination Guide to explore, shop, eat, and experience what makes our corner of the world so special.
Next time you use the light rail, take a minute to download an Arts & Culture Destination Guide and scope out the station destination maps before you step off the platform and venture out into the hood. You’ll be amazed at the urban treasures you’ll discover in your own backyard.
Images courtesy of Valley Metro
The education and performance venue, named after Phoenix-born jazz drummer Lewis Nash, is owned and operated by the non-profit Jazz in Arizona, familiarly known as Jazz in AZ. Board vice president Jeff Libman became involved with the organization as soon as he learned about plans for The Nash.
“The places I lived before are Chicago and New York City and then here,” says Libman, “and this place needed a jazz club — and bad.” He points out the wide range of musical experiences available at The Nash. “If this is going to be the one jazz club in Phoenix, we want everybody to have something they can appreciate here.” Libman adds, “And then, of course, we want to reach the people who said, ‘Hey, I had no idea that I like jazz…but I like this, and I discovered it here.’”
The Nash offers concerts through the summer on Friday and Saturday nights on the Contemporary and Mainstream Jazz series, as well as the occasional special event. Says Libman, “We wanted to say, ‘we’re open to different interpretations of jazz,’ because this ‘what is jazz?’ conversation is still going on in very interesting ways.”
He continues, “There does need to be some kind of boundary…we have a mission. This was supposed to be a jazz oasis in the desert…so one of the questions I ask about something that’s on the border is ‘Is this jazz-inspired? Does it have improvisation? Does it have swing? Are some of the musicians…jazz musicians who sometimes do other things, and this is their different side project?’” Libman smiles. “I think we get into trouble as an organization if we get too snooty or too particular about what [jazz] is.”
At Arizona State University Libman teaches jazz guitar and Jazz Lab, directs the Jazz Repertory Band, and coaches combos. He’ll complete his PhD this fall while maintaining an active performance schedule, playing on his own and in a contemporary jazz group called Running From Bears and regularly hosting jam sessions at The Nash.
The venue includes three back rooms for break-out sessions and workshops, as well as a recording booth. A tiny lobby leads into the open seating and stage area, where a curtain serves as the simple backdrop. The Nash’s gallery-lit walls carry themed art installations rotating every few months, and the sounds of downtown are faintly audible.
In its default table-seating configuration, The Nash holds 75, although without tables it can hold an audience of 120, allowing some groups to play without amplification. “If your jazz club gets too big it starts to feel like a concert hall; it’s not as intimate any more. So there’s a sweet spot of size,” says Libman. Without an elevated stage, the piano can be easily moved and the audience enjoys close proximity to the performers. “One of the reasons is sometimes we have a big band in here,” Libman adds, “and sometimes we have a big big band in here, and there’s somebody in the audience sitting here” — he pulls forward a chair in the front row– “and there’s a baritone sax player sitting here” — he gestures a few feet away. “So this allows us the flexibility.”
“If you want this visceral thing about being there and feeling connected with it more than perfect sight-lines, then this is the kind of room for you,” says Libman. “And I like that. There are trade-offs with everything.”
The Nash offers year-round private and group lessons, jam sessions every Saturday, and a wealth of affordable educational opportunities including workshops for all skill levels and instruments. Recent multi-week workshops featured “Singing Standards” — learning repertoire from the Great American Songbook — and “Playing on Changes,” a four-week introduction to improvising over chord changes.
Saxophonist Adam Roberts teaches “Electronics for Horn Players” on August 2 and the notation software workshop “Finale for Jazz Musicians” on August 9. Not every participant needs to be a performer; Libman himself led an “exposure” session on music history, appreciation, and listening.
The Nash’s 200 performances each year include the Catch a Rising Star series, which presents talented young artists and sometimes helps launch careers. First Fridays mean special free shows. “To be on the street is very powerful,” says Libman, “because this is a burgeoning arts district — we have 1500 people come in and out of the door on a First Friday.”
Libman particularly appreciates The Nash’s attraction for young listeners. “[It’s] one of the few places that I can think of where people who are under 21 years old are like, ‘We’re gonna go to jazz shows regularly.’”
The venue often welcomes all ages, but also holds a BYOB certificate, which allows patrons to bring a limited amount of alcohol for a small corkage fee, an arrangement which may change next year. “But we won’t do anything that makes it so you can’t be under 21 and come here on a regular bases,” Libman assures me. “There are some compromises we’re unwilling to make.”
“We feel like this whole artistic energy in Phoenix is starting to coalesce and grow,” he says, “and we just want to get in and be a part of that.”
If you go:
Visit: The Nash
Address: 110 E. Roosevelt St.
For more: thenash.org – 602-795-0464
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ACTORS THEATRE’S NO SWEAT (FOR YOU) SUMMER SEASON CONTINUES WITH FINAL 5 EVENTS: 2 PLAYS AND 3 CABARET CONCERTS
All tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at www.actorstheatrephx.org.
Upcoming performances include:
A NIGHT WITH NOEL: Saturday, July 26, 10pm. Hosted by Ian Christiansen. Sir Noël Peirce Coward was an English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer known for his wit, flamboyance,and what Time magazine called “a sense of personal style, a combination of cheek and chic, pose and poise.” Actors Theatre’s production of The Cottage is influenced by the style of this great artist.
THAT’S LIFE: FROM SINATRA TO SONDHEIM: Sunday, July 27, 7pm, Sunday, August 10, 7pm. Kristen Drathman, Rusty Ferracane, and Craig Bohmlerpresent an evening of song celebrating standards from the Great American Songbook and classics from the Broadway Stage. With music from Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Julie Styne, Marvin Hamlish, Kander & Ebb, and Stephen Sondheim.
TWO SHOTS: Wednesday, July 30, 7pm. Written and performed by Ben Tyler and David Barker. Two Men, Two Plays, One Evening: The Sperm of Ten Men, written and performed by Tyler, who in 1991 agreed to be a sperm donor for his brother and sister-in-law. Dodging Bullets, written and performed by Barker about an incident in 2004 in an upscale Boston suburb when a brain surgeon tried to kill Barker and his sister.
BLACK AND 25 IN AMERICA: Wednesday, August 6, 7pm. Written and performed by Jeremy Gillett, the play explores the issues of race, class, gender and identity through the life stories of characters Big Man, Joshua Thomas Northington III, Darron and Marcy. Gillett gives his audience insight on what it means to be a young, Black adult in America. Through a series of vignettes, the play reveals how each character feels invisible and without voice.
ADAM AND FRIENDS: Wednesday, August 13, 7pm. Adam Smith and Special Guests. After a year in the recording studio, Adam Smith returns to the stage with this very special performance; a preview of his new, up and coming CD titled So Simple Now and songs from his current album Around the Bend with a few favorite cover songs. Adam will be joined on stage by special guest performers sharing a taste of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and James Taylor of 30 years ago – with a today sound.
For more information, visit www.actorstheatrephx.org.
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Dinosaur fan convention returns to Phoenix August 2: Pop culture event features creator of “Jurassic Park” T.rex, panels, demos and dinosaur-themed exhibitors
From behind-the-scenes stories of Jurassic Park, to nostalgic jabs at The Land Before Time, Arizona’s original dinosaur fan convention Phoenix DinoCon devours movie and TV dinosaurs from 3 p.m. – 9 p.m. on Saturday, August 2 at the Phoenix Center for the Arts.
Nationally unique within the fan event landscape in subject and scope, this 2nd annual dinosaur and kaiju party is suitable for ages 12 and above, but geared toward adults with an everlasting love for dinos. Phoenix DinoCon gives fans a chance to interact with pop culture experts, learn reptilian crafts, purchase locally-produced dinosaur art and even vote a legendary pop culture icon into the Bookmans and Phoenix DinoCon Hall of Distinguished Dinosaurs.
The convention’s extensive Jurassic Park and Jurassic World related programming provides a first-hand account of the original movie’s T.rex – from concept to life-sized, working model – by Sedona resident, sculptor and special effects artist Michael Trcic in the Phoenix DinoCon Tyrannosaurus Theater.
In addition to panels focused on Godzilla and Pacific Rim, Phoenix Dinocon explores appearances of dinosaurs in steampunk and tabletop games. Geologist Melanie Dolberg pits Hollywood dinosaurs against their scientific counterparts and FilmBar‘s Andrea Beesley heads a dinosaur-themed spin-off of her annual Phoenix Comicon signature event, the first-ever Phoenix Ultimate Geek Smackdown: Turbo Dinosaur Edition.
New this year to Phoenix DinoCon is the Diplodocus Demo Den, where fans gain hands-on drawing and crafting experiences like a special make-and-take opportunity: DIY mini-notebooks featuring the hunks of the “Jurassic Park” franchise, depicted in Tiger Beat likenesses.
A Velociraptor Vendor Hall roars through the day with dinosaur-inspired local artists, crafters and business owners. Returning this year are Jon Garza and Damien Hernandez, who make dream dinosaur scenarios a reality on location with pencil and watercolor (think Ron Swansonasaurus or your pet Chihuahuas as dueling sauropods.)
Admission is $5 at phxdinocon.brownpapertickets.com or at the door on August 2 upon availability. After-party tickets to a screening of the ’90s B movie Adventures in Dinosaur City are available for $9 at thefilmbarphx.com/event/619291-adventures-in-dinosaur-city-phoenix.