This cool street art project caught our eye and we definitely wanted to share it with you, so we reached out to the artist, Pete Petrisko, to get the scoop on what it all means.
Shiny Happy People Happening is a city-centered conceptual art street project, where anybody can “experience tomorrow’s art of downtown livin’… today” by spotting one (or more) of 93 silver and gold one-inch figures, semi-permanently attached to our urban landscape throughout downtown Phoenix. There is no specific list of locations, just this loose direction: “(From) Jackson to Roosevelt Streets, between the 7s (Ave/St).”
But for those who like spoilers: the fewest number are nearest the 7th Ave/Jackson corner, and the sculptural “population density” increases as you approach downtown center (which, for the sake of argument, let’s say is somewhere near Chase Tower) and/or when you near higher “pedestrian traffic” areas.
While everybody loves the street art you can see from a block away in downtown Phoenix, let’s not forget the joys of finding art that’s literally hidden in plain sight. Providing a more detailed map would kind of defeat that purpose. As far as where they could be sitting or standing, discovery is often found in the urban details.
Remember, one-inch folks will avoid actual benches and public walkways, because they don’t want to be accidentally crushed by a giant! However, just look around. Where on or near buildings, or other urban objects in our downtown-scape, might they be… hidden in plain sight?
There are no exact answers, but the best plan might include bringing a child with you. They are much better at spotting tiny shiny objects than your average adult, and this public art is family-friendly because the fun of “discovery in the details” has no age limit!
Shiny Happy Factoids
Total number of new sculptural residents downtown: 93
Time spent to install ‘em: Four hours
Cost of project: Under twenty bucks
With the above helpful hints and useless factoids in mind, you might be asking yourself, “Is this downtown adventure for me?” “Are pictures allowed?” or “Didn’t I read about something like this in Mary Norton’s The Borrowers?”
Perhaps you’re thinking, “Is this a memorial to artists migrating out of downtown as their actually-affordable-to-artists housing options dwindle?” or even “Does this have anything to do with culture becoming an ornament for gentrification, like in Jamming the Gentrification Machine: A Manifesto?”
Or, more likely you’re thinking, “Why are you telling me this? Did I ever even once claim to be a fan of conceptual art of any kind?”
These are all excellent questions. The short answer is “Quite possibly.”
And it’s the best possible answer when the spectacle of Shiny Happy People Happening awaits discovery!
Photos by Pete Petrisko.
As summer moves toward autumn, don’t miss a final opportunity to catch Actors Theatre’s very funny two-play repertory before it slips away. Presented at the Helen K Mason Performing Arts Center, The Cottage by Sandy Rustin continues through August 10, while The Book Club Play by Karen Zacarías ends its run August 17.
By scheduling performances throughout June, July, and August, Producing Artistic Director Matthew Wiener deliberately bucked a common misconception about Valley audiences. “There used to be this kind of prevailing wisdom that everyone left Phoenix in the summer…that’s why no one did anything,” says Wiener. “And that’s just not true. I mean, a lot of people take vacations and holidays but they don’t go away for 12 weeks.”
“Actors Theatre is trying to actively reinvent after leaving the Herberger, which was a shock to our system,” he continues, “and I think this summer program is one way that we’re trying to stay vital and relevant and exciting and important to the community.”
According to Wiener, the strength of the company’s performances lies in strong casting. “They’re just marvelous performers,” he says. “I was actually trying to cast both shows together…the characters seemed to line up…and so I started kind of making up my fantasy football.” Wiener laughs. “It was like fantasy casting, and I pretty much got my first choice — my first draft.”
He explains, “I was really looking for actors who are very flexible, who could manage the language — because the language of both plays is pretty challenging — and people who I thought would get along well for 10 weeks.” Weiner continues, “These are very long contracts for the actors…and it was important to me that we work with all local people.” He adds with a smile, “I think I just got really, really lucky.”
Both plays feature Maren Maclean, who’s performed for Phoenix Theatre, Southwest Shakespeare Company, and Verse Theatre Manhattan. Joseph Kremer, who starred in a potent Actors Theatre production of A Steady Rain last season, joins Angelica Howland — familiar from performances with Phoenix Theatre, Stray Cat Theatre, and Childsplay — and Tyler Eglen, an actor-educator with a diverse background in theater and science. Ian Christiansen of Southwest Shakespeare, Stray Cat, and Phoenix Theatre rounds out the cast with recent ASU graduate Alexis Green.
“I think they’re all lovely,” says Wiener, “and they all have different moments.” He points out, “Maren, who plays Ana [in The Book Club Play] — she really has to run the gamut of emotionality. And we actually worked on that, because…you want it to be emotionally truthful, but by the same token you don’t want it to get so deep and horrifying that you can never work yourself out of it.” Wiener smiles. “Because after all they have to live happily ever after — it’s a comedy.”
The Book Club Play delves into the dynamics of a long-running book club, with plenty of shocking revelations and laughably realistic interplay. “I think it’s fun when they talk about the ‘homoerotic undertones of Moby Dick,’ [and] making fun of Twilight,” says Wiener. He explains that the play began as a more satirical, hard-hitting piece until Zacarías — the experienced, award-winning author of The Bare-chested Man, Looking for Roberto Clemente, Mariela in the Desert, The Sins of Sor Juana, and an adaptation of How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents – reworked it.
“I think it’s a testament to the writing, and the fact that it’s been rewritten several times,” he says. “Karen is a very careful writer — the language is very specific. And I just have an amazing ‘A’ team up there.”
The Cottage, on the other hand, is pure farce written by actress Sandy Rustin, who created the Off-Broadway sketch comedy musical Rated P (for parenthood). “It has some of the style of Nöel Coward,” says Wiener. “It’s informed by that kind of English aristocracy or English wit.” He adds, “It’s not an earth-shattering piece of theater, but it’s pretty damn funny for an hour and a half.”
“Right now there’s a fair amount of dialogue in the theater industry about the lack of women’s plays being produced,” Wiener continues, “and it’s something odd going on that we’re so far away from parity. But Actors Theatre has traditionally done a lot of plays by women.” He says with a laugh, “Maybe there’s just something about the voices that I enjoy — I grew up in a house filled with women; I live in house filled with women.”
Actors Theatre also presents That’s Life: From Sinatra to Sondheim on August 10, featuring Kristen Drathman, Rusty Ferracane and Craig Bohmler performing standards from the Great American Songbook and Broadway, including tunes by Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, Stephen Sondheim, and more.
Look for a future DPJ story previewing Actors Theatre’s upcoming 2014-2015 season, which includes Theresa Rebeck’s Seminar, Sharr White’s Annapurna, Sarah Ruhl’s Stage Kiss, and Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking.
If you go:
- Troupe: Actors Theatre at www.actorstheatrephx.org or 602-253-6701
- General admission
- Venue: The Helen K Mason Performing Arts Center, 1333 E. Washington
(nearby free parking available)
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.