Every year Ballet Arizona gives audiences a family-friendly treat with Ballet Under the Stars, a series of free outdoor performances in Valley parks ending at Steele Indian School Park on Saturday, September 27 at 7PM.
“It’s an extraordinary gift to give Arizona,” says Ballet Arizona Artistic Director Ib Andersen, “that we’re doing this program for free. Nobody does what we do.”
The repertoire includes two classics by American ballet iconoclast George Balanchine, beginning with last season’s Walpurgisnacht from Charles Gounod’s opera Faust. Creating an otherworldly atmosphere, Walpurgisnacht refers to revelry celebrating the souls of the dead and a gathering of witches, although the ballet itself isn’t meant to depict a specific event, “except I would say the last movement,” adds Andersen, “when the women let their hair down and they go sort of bananas.”
Brazilian dancer Nayon Iovino, who’s been with Ballet Arizona since 2012, choreographed the evening’s second work for its performances this past May. “I do think that Nayon has talent,” says Andersen, “and this ballet that he did … is a good one.”
Iovino’s creation uses several pieces of music, ranging from an excerpt from Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons to more modern tunes. The dancers wear simple costumes of jeans and shirts, without pointe shoes.
Ballet Under the Stars concludes with the 1954 work Western Symphony, featuring well-loved music by American composer Hershy Kay on traditional folk-song themes including “Red River Valley,” “Good Night, Ladies,” and “The Girl I Left Behind Me.” Says Andersen, “It’s cowboys and cowgirls, you know?”
Enthusiastically received by audiences last spring at the Orpheum Theatre, Western Symphony uses the natural landscape as its entirely appropriate backdrop this weekend, showcasing nearly 40 performers. “It’s the biggest ballet we’ve ever done in terms of numbers,” explains Andersen. “We’ve had ballets where we had more people on stage, but not all of them dancing at the same time.”
Bring blankets or lawn chairs, friends, and family to enjoy Ballet Arizona’s invaluable gift to the Valley.
If you go:
- All remaining Ballet Under the Stars performances begin at 7PM
- Fri., Sep. 26 at Estrella Lakeside Amphitheater in Goodyear
- Sat., Sep. 27 at Steele Indian School Park in Phoenix — UPDATE: this performance has been cancelled due to a forecast of inclement weather.
- Ballet Arizona’s Open House is Sat., Oct. 5 from 12PM-4PM
- at 2835 E. Washington St., Phoenix
- tour the Ballet AZ studios, meet faculty, enter drawings for ticket giveaways, or try free classes in ballet, jazz and modern dance, yoga and Zumba
- Find all the details on Ballet AZ’s upcoming season, including:
- Swan Lake (Oct. 30-Nov. 2, 2014 with The Phoenix Symphony at Symphony Hall)
- Dancers’ Choice (Nov. 15, 2015 at Ballet AZ’s Dorrance Theatre)
- The Nutcracker Festival (Nov. 16, 2015 at Ballet AZ’s Dorrance Theatre)
- The Nutcracker (Dec. 12-28, 2014 with The Phoenix Symphony at Symphony Hall)
- Napoli (Feb. 12-15, 2015 with The Phoenix Symphony at Symphony Hall)
- Today’s Masters (Mar. 26-29, 2015 at the Orpheum Theatre)
- All Balanchine (Apr. 30-May 3, 2015 at Symphony Hall)
The Downtown Phoenix, Inc. (DPI) team received excellent feedback at our quarterly Board of Directors meeting earlier this week. In addition to a comprehensive overview of new development initiatives, we focused on events, membership, establishing our brand, and our work with Roosevelt Row and Evans Churchill to investigate the feasibility of creating a business improvement district. Our economic development partner, the Downtown Phoenix Community Development Corporation (CDC), has joined the Downtown Phoenix Partnership (DPP) in agreeing to a January 1, 2015 consolidation date. We continue to work with the Phoenix Community Alliance (PCA) on a similar arrangement.
Having our business, city, and community leadership at the same table focused on the future of downtown bodes well for the future.
Doing Our Best
USA Today named the Roosevelt Row Arts District one of the top ten best arts districts in the nation. Last year Roosevelt Row was spotlighted, again by USA Today, as one of the ten best neighborhoods that tourists haven’t found yet.
Bleacher Report named Phoenix the 13th best city (out of 25) to be a sports fan. Rankings were based on number of teams and events, success of teams in last five years, stadiums, fan passion, general fan experience, media, star power, and tradition and history.
Our Bleacher Report ranking should go up a few notches as the Phoenix Mercury completed a three-game sweep of the Chicago Sky on Sunday to win the third WNBA championship in team history. They join the Arizona Rattlers who, a few weeks earlier, won their Arena Football League championship against the Cleveland Gladiators.
Earlier this month, government, business, and civic leaders hosted representatives from the Democratic National Committee in town to evaluate Phoenix as the site of the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Phoenix was the fifth and final stop for convention planners. Other cities being considered are Birmingham, AL; Columbus, OH; New York City; and Philadelphia, PA. According to Mayor Stanton, “I am confident that when the DNC leadership leaves here, they will leave with an understanding that, logistically, there is no better place than Phoenix.”
What’s Brewing Downtown
Downtown Phoenix welcomes a new brewery. On September 15, Mother Bunch Brewing opened in the 1926 J.B. Bayless Grocery building at Seventh Street and Garfield. Until it offers its own signature beers in a few weeks, Mother Bunch will make available a variety of Arizona beers through its 20 taps along with a “sophisticated, but not complicated” lunch and dinner menu.
Local First Arizona has released the fifth edition of its Phoenix Small Wonders map, a pocket-sized guide featuring nearly sixty local restaurants, pubs, galleries, boutiques, venues, and experiences located in central Phoenix. All of the businesses included in the guide are independently owned and operated.
The City of Phoenix received a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to evaluate the planning, environmental, and conceptual engineering to extend Metro light rail down Central Avenue from Jefferson to Baseline Road. According to Mayor Greg Stanton, “Getting light rail to South Mountain is one of my personal priorities. I want to bring the same flexible transit options to the area as others in the city experience with Metro.”
The City of Phoenix has selected Chicago-based Smithfield Properties to develop a mixed-used project on the northwest corner of Central Avenue and Van Buren, the current site of the Central Station transit facility. Smithfield proposes a 476-apartment, 390-foot building that would be one of the tallest buildings in Arizona. A parking garage also would be built as part of the new development. Metro light rail trains and Valley Metro buses still will run through the station.
New City Church will be moving into a 18,000 square foot building at 1300 North Central Avenue for more space and a central location near the Roosevelt Row Arts District. According to Pastor Brian Kruckenberg, “We love being on the ‘front porch’ of the city and are ecstatic about the growth and attention that the city’s center is getting.”
New apartments and condominiums have sprung up or are being planned in and around downtown Phoenix. That’s a positive trend. But stalwarts of downtown living are the residents of Phoenix’s historic districts who remained while others fled to the suburbs in the 50s or purchased, renovated, and brought back to life vintage homes since then. The Arizona Republic has begun to profile these neighborhoods in word and photo: Country Club Park, Del Norte Place, East Evergreen, Encanto Palmcroft, F.Q. Story, Fairview Place, La Hacienda, Margarita Place, North Encanto, North Garfield, Roosevelt, Windsor Square, Woodland, and Woodlea.
Our Creative Arts
The second RadiatePHX business and community networking event, sponsored by DPI and Downtown Phoenix Journal, was held at the ASU Step Gallery in the Warehouse District on Tuesday. The theme and conversation focused on the importance of the arts community, cultural engagement, and the work of our local creatives to help transform and improve our downtown. Guest speakers in front of a packed audience included Councilwoman Kate Gallego and Steven Tepper, the new Dean of the ASU Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts. We appreciated the strong participation of PCA members at this event.
Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in downtown Phoenix is opening the doors of its New Media Innovation Lab to the public, offering expert advice and support on entrepreneurial and technological endeavors.
Two members of the DPI Board of Directors were just highlighted in the press, partly due to their involvement with the arts: Ken Van Winkle, managing partner with Lewis, Roca, Rothgerber, most recently chaired Ballet Arizona’s successful campaign to create their new facility at 29th Street and Washington. Tim Eigo, editor of Arizona Attorney magazine, serves as steering committee chair of Downtown Voices Coalition and recent host of Space 55’s first PHIL Talk (Phoenix Has Ideas LIVE), a comical parody of TED Talks. In addition, Dr. Carol Poore, chair of PCA’s Arts, Culture, and Public Life Committee, wrote a compelling op-ed in the Arizona Republic about how science, technology, engineering, math, and the arts are all vital to attracting businesses and retaining skilled workers in cities and towns throughout our state.
Amanda LaCasse, one of the 106,800 college students who live in Phoenix – and more specifically downtown Phoenix – shared her opinion about growing up and now furthering her education here: “The gems I have grown to love are not hidden – they are plain and simple, out in the open. Anyone can find a spot to feel at home in downtown Phoenix if they spend enough time getting to know the area, and nobody should be afraid of it. It offers the same services as any other part of the city, but with a more authentic attitude and honest, personable interactions with people who love you for who you are.”
About 150 people gathered at ASU School of Art‘s new Grant Street Studios last Tuesday, hosted by ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, for RadiatePHX – a monthly networking event for business, community, and city leaders produced by Downtown Phoenix Inc. and Downtown Phoenix Journal.
The focus for this month’s gathering was a celebration of both ASU’s new digs in the Warehouse District, and the overall impact of the arts in downtown.
As we all know by now, two major sports events, the NFL’s Pro Bowl and Super Bowl, will be coming to the Valley in late January and early February. Our favorite city will be flooded with media from around the country visiting Super Bowl Central right here in downtown.
As a community, we want to share the compelling stories that define our downtown spirit with visitors, whether they be from across the country or across the Valley.
So what exactly are the stories we will be telling?
The City of Phoenix and the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee are convening committees in preparation for the festivities, and the marketing and media committee is helping identify the many things to do while here in Phoenix.
So, we decided to ask the gathered crowd at RadiatePHX to help identify the art and culture stories that people care about the most. It was a simple, non-scientific poll, but it garnered interesting results.
To simplify the polling, we created six overarching categories: visual art, performing art, literary art, architecture and historic preservation, and public art. In addition, we provided a “write-in” category to capture anything that didn’t quite fit in the those categories. Everyone who attended received tickets to vote in the category of their choice. Participation was brisk and the results were telling.
Visual Art: 48
Architecture/Historic Preservation: 57
Literary Art: 9
Performing Art: 37
Public Art: 61
Public art, along with architecture and historic preservation, were the two categories that came out on top. Again, it was an entirely unscientific poll, but the “public” nature of both of those choices seems to indicate that people are increasingly aware of the value of public spaces in making our city remarkable. Beautiful public spaces to move through, along with a diverse range artistic and cultural events to choose from are clearly points of pride that we all agree deserve to be shared.
The write-in category received a handful of ideas. Some were related to the arts categories above, some were specific events, and some had a temporary or “pop-up” theme. Most of the write-in suggestions resonated with the overall bent toward activated public spaces.
What do you think of the results? If you weren’t able to attend our September RadiatePHX, what categories would you have chosen?
Comment below and join in the effort to build a list of “must experience” arts places and events that will show the world what matters to those of us who live, work and play in downtown.
And be sure to join us in October, and on the third Tuesday of every month, for RadiatePHX.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
ASU Art Museum receives $144k Museums for America grant from IMLS
The ASU Art Museum is the recipient of a $144,000 Museums for America grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), in support of the museum’s International Artist Residency Program at Combine Studios.
With this grant funding, the ASU Art Museum will commission three international artists to develop collaborative art projects with community-based partners to allow for direct engagement with diverse communities and encourage active participation in the creative process. As part of the museum’s International Artist Residency Program at Combine Studios, artists will be integrated into the community to work alongside social service agencies, community organizations, university departments, residents, artists and students to generate artistic ideas. Each artist in residence will connect to the community through exhibitions, publications, performances, events, lectures, discussions, new community engagement and collaborations. The flow and exchange of artistic ideas will create new audiences, engaged partners and supporters of the museum as a catalyst for change in the community.
“The ASU Art Museum, in all of its work, but particularly through its national and internationally supported residency program, exemplifies much of what the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and the New American University are,” says Gordon Knox, the ASU Art Museum’s director (pictured right). “Our visiting artists engage in cross-departmental collaborations and socially embedded projects that have tangible impact on the region, empowering communities and advancing critical reappraisals of some of this generation’s most pressing challenges. Bringing some of the art world’s most innovative thinkers to the Valley and giving them the time and support to engage with the local community in the production of new artist-led investigations demonstrate how ASU is putting new ideas into action while advancing research and educating the next generation. The ASU Art Museum’s work, and support such as this grant, exemplifies and makes concrete core aspirations of ASU and the Herberger Institute.”
Established in 2011, the ASU Art Museum International Artist Residency Program brings accomplished professional artists from around the world to develop new work in partnership with the intellectual resources of Arizona State University and the diverse communities within Arizona. Through the program, artists develop work that investigates the pressing issues of our time in collaboration with scientists, technologists, social agencies and community organizations.
Images courtesy of ASU Art Museum
Downtown is more than a grid system of streets and square miles. It is experienced in the sights, sounds, feel and tastes that are unique to the place. In this short series, DPJ contributor, Colin Columna hones in on the five senses as his guide to explore what makes downtown Phoenix unique.
The Phoenix Public Art Program was launched in 1986 through a visionary ordinance that allocates one percent of the Phoenix Capital Improvement Program to enhancing the design of public buildings, infrastructure and spaces. The program has been uniquely successful because Phoenix is a relatively new city. Unlike older urban communities, Phoenix has available open space in which to plan and build its future and a citizenry with hands-on involvement in that growth. In the last 28 years, the program has created more than 180 art installation projects throughout the city in neighborhood parks, on bridges, along canals, on public streets, in recycling centers, at airports and in civic gathering places. By bringing together artists, residents, architects, engineers and landscape designers to integrate art into the infrastructure of our communities, the program adds to the dialogue of how we relate to our urban environment.
A good starting point for discovering public art in Phoenix is at The Gallery @ City Hall on Washington St. and Third Ave. Currently on view in the gallery is Art Under Foot: Handmade Floors at the PHX Sky Train. The exhibit highlights the dynamic collaboration between the four artists and the many skilled craftspeople involved in creating the commissioned terrazzo floors at the PHX Sky Train stations. Included in the exhibit are artists’ original drawings, computerized models, hands-on displays, and a short video describing the 40,000 hours of labor required to complete the project. The exhibit makes visible how the process works, how artists are involved from the beginning, and how the art is integral to the overall project.
“Public art,” states Ed Lebow, Phoenix Public Art Program Director, “and the Phoenix Public Art Program in particular, allows us the opportunity ask the impertinent question ‘What if?’ to the blank concrete stares of most urban settings. What if we imagine new ideas for the purpose of public spaces? How can we enhance the experience of traveling through these urban places? Is it possible that an installation can improve a community’s quality of life?”
The answers involve many steps, and many hands, from artist conception to art installation. “The nature of commissioned work is site specific,” Lebow explains. “A place designated for the art piece to be conceptually integrated, to be one of the components of the fully realized project.” Within those parameters, or restrictions, “intensive problem solving occurs. Each project is completed through a collaboration of thinkers.”
The placement of artworks in neighborhoods and public spaces, and as functional elements within those environments – walkways, gateways and bridges – challenges a cardinal rule of art engagement: Don’t touch. “The joy of art is very tactile,” counters Lebow. “Each work is created by the touch of artists: molded, painted, built. They are artworks, but first they are works created by hand. I don’t believe they are something removed or special, but a part of life,” he explains.
Trained as a potter in college, Lebow confesses he “fell off the wheel” to explore other endeavors, but his personal and physical relationship with created works is evident. As a potter applies glaze, he describes the Taylor Streetscape as layers of experience. “The sidewalks are expanded and embedded with artwork to encourage strolling. So touch may be the first sense engaged. Trees are a vital part of the design and set in wide basins, capturing and reflecting water during rainy seasons. Pedestrians hear the sound and feel the cool breeze through their branches. Or they smell the plants as they respond to changes in atmosphere.” In this way, the art lives in the community.
Since its inception, the program has garnered numerous awards for design excellence, including two Design for Transportation Awards from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Endowment for the and, several Valley Forward Association Environmental Excellence Awards. Most recently, the Americans for the Arts Public Art Network Year in Review named two Phoenix projects, Ground Cover and Desert Spring, among the nation’s top 37 public arts projects.
“As we build our city,” Lebow says, “public art allows us to create a balance of the aesthetic and the practical…and an environment to keep our senses engaged.”
The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture manages the city’s public art program, administers a grants program, supports arts learning, provides information and assistance to artists and cultural organizations, and oversees the city’s cultural planning efforts.
One way to start your own downtown Phoenix Public Art Tour is to visit The Gallery @ City Hall, or download a self-guided map to the public art located throughout downtown Phoenix.
If You Go
Where: The Gallery @City Hall, 200 West Washington Street (ground floor)
When: 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, Monday through Friday.
Cost: The Gallery is free and open to the public. In addition to the exhibition, self-guided public art maps are available in the gallery and online.