As an independent chronicler of all things downtown, DPJ takes a comprehensive approach to covering the urban living movement in Phoenix and, with this Conversation series, spotlighting the people who make it move.
“The important lesson is that we have to hold our principles dear.”
Tim Eigo is a longtime community advocate who moved to Phoenix and settled in the F.Q. Story neighborhood 17 years ago. Both of his daughters, ages 12 and 17, attend Arizona School for the Arts and over the years he has been deeply engaged at a community level in helping to create a stronger, more livable city. He currently serves as Chair of the Downtown Voices Coalition (DVC) and as a board member of Downtown Phoenix Inc. (DPI).
DVC grew out of a day-long facilitated discussion about the future of downtown that took place in May 2004 with a wide variety of stakeholders at the Icehouse. For ten years they have continued to meet and promote a vision of a downtown that embraces the arts, affordable housing, historic preservation and locally owned businesses. He refers to himself and his community advocate colleagues as “neighbors,” which characterizes his deep commitment to the DVC vision.
When asked to name the key changes have invigorated downtown, Eigo points directly to leadership, but he remains a little wary about whether we’ve actually made enough progress. “The thing that invigorates cities are leaders who get it, who understand what a city is, what urban dynamism is, and who are willing to work to make it happen,” he said. “And I don’t want to say that we’ve got it yet. I’m still not sure we’ve got it.”
“The thing that invigorates cities are leaders who get it, who understand what a city is, what urban dynamism is, and who are willing to work to make it happen.”
Yet, he admits there has been progress. “On my best days, when I see spaces and minds that get it, it makes a difference. When I am having a bad Phoenix day and I walk into the Burton Barr Library, or stand under Her Secret is Patience (the public art sculpture in Downtown Civic Space Park) I think that every now and then we do get it.”
What are the important lessons that have been learned over the years? “The important lesson is that we have to hold our principles dear,” he said. He points out that the impact of the recession has been fortunate, in a way, because it caused business and government leaders to be a lot more aligned with DVC values. “It’s easy to believe in small grain, local development and not just major projects when no developers have any money,” he says.
As the recession eases and developers have more money, however, he’s cautious about what will come. “I’m watching to see how much that commitment sticks. So far, I am not so confident,” he said. He pointed to the recent city-backed proposal to build the Pin at Heritage Square as an example of why he’s a bit skeptical of the progress in downtown. “It boggles the mind that the hardest question put to the group that brought it (the Pin) forward to the City Council was ‘can you have it built by the Super Bowl?’ As a neighbor, that’s an eye opener, that our elected leaders are at this low level of engagement on important items.”
On the other hand, he’s quick to recognize that another lesson we’ve learned is that engagement actually works. When citizens are engaged, good things can happen. As an example, he mentioned the development of light rail, which he and many others were involved in planning. “Light rail has transformed the valley.”
What are the most important steps we can take to continue developing a vibrant downtown from Eigo’s perspective? “For me, as a neighbor,” he said, “it comes down to transparency. Don’t lie to people. If there are opportunities to make positive change in the city, don’t tell us it’s a blank slate and all ideas are okay if they’re not. We’ve all participated in public charrettes that went on for six months and it turned out there was a plan in someone’s desk all along that they were going to adopt. We need to stop that sort of thing.”
The other step we need to take is bigger than just Phoenix, in Eigo’s view. “Nationwide there’s kind of a war on cities, on downtowns. Even in our own city council, we have a lot of suburban council people who don’t get downtown and don’t feel that they have to get it. They don’t even recognize downtown as an economic engine, which it is. And it’s not just Phoenix. This is happening across the country,” he continued. “And neighbors and urbanists need to band together and keep touting downtown.”
“I don’t think Arizona will be a significant stakeholder in any kind of national conversation if we don’t tout Phoenix and advance Phoenix. It is an enormous economic powerhouse.”
Why is a vibrant downtown so important? Two reasons, according to him. “I don’t think Arizona will be a significant stakeholder in any kind of national conversation if we don’t tout Phoenix and advance Phoenix. It is an enormous economic powerhouse.” The second reason a vibrant downtown is important is, as he puts it, “generational.” Looking to his own family, Eigo mentions that neither one of his daughters wants to stay in Phoenix after they are grown up. “They may change their mind,” he notes, “but when I try to marshal arguments for staying, I sometimes have a hard time. If we really want people to remain and contribute and not have a brain drain…we have to have reasons for them to stay.”
What challenges does Eigo see on the horizon? “The economy is getting better and we’re going to have to look inside to see that we have urbanist principles that we trust and are going to live by, from city hall right through community groups,” he said. “And we need to have a commitment to our historic structures.”
Eigo is excited to be a part of Downtown Phoenix, Inc. “DPI is a cool ‘laboratory of democracy’ kind of experiment. Getting these usually separate people (powerful corporate leaders and community-based leaders) in a room together….over time we begin to realize that we do overlap in some places. We discover that we have similar ideas about what makes a great city.” He knows that it doesn’t mean they will always agree on the strategy to achieve a great city, but recognizing the overlap is “very cool.” Still, Eigo appears to be cautiously optimistic.
“The potential (of DPI) is huge,” said Eigo. “If we could have similar principles that we share…to speak with a single voice about what makes a livable, sustainable city, that would be great.” Speaking of his own role on the board, he said, “I think what I, or any community member brings is honesty. They (corporate members) live in a complex world and they represent huge organizations – I don’t. We need to provide an honest wake up call: what flies, what doesn’t fly; what’s transparent and what’s opaque; what is truly sustainable and what is big box. If we’re not willing to look at things like CityScape and learn from them, then what’s the point? There’s plenty of cheerleading in this city already, that’s not our role.”
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.
A few weeks ago I visited with long-time Garfield Organization board members, Dana Johnson and Kim Moody, and had the chance to see the transformation of 11th Street in their neighborhood. Residents and community members can be extremely proud of the input they provided and the completed enhancements that now span 11th St. between Washington and Moreland streets, including: wider sidewalks with new accessible ramps to meet ADA specifications; 114 pedestrian-level street lights; 18 LED street light fixtures; shade trees to reduce radiant heat along the entire corridor; upgraded bus shelters with new seating, trash receptacles, and bicycle racks; specialty pavement with 10 historical elements related to the neighborhood around six bus stops and four seating areas; upgraded landscaping and irrigation system throughout the corridor; and new bike paths on 11th Street, running the entire length of the project. The endeavor was funded by a $2.4 million Federal Transit Administration Discretionary Grant with a local match of $600,000.
STRAIGHT FROM THE SOURCE
Downtown Phoenix Journal has introduced a “Conversation” series penned by Jill Bernstein and featuring Downtown Phoenix, Inc. board of directors and other downtown stakeholders. These interviews are an excellent way to introduce downtown Phoenix leadership to the community, and to learn their respective views on Phoenix. Here’s the interview line-up to date: Jeri Jones (United HealthGroup), Kimber Lanning (Local First Arizona), Mo Stein (HKS, Inc.), Ed Zuercher (City of Phoenix), Ed Zito (Alliance Bank) and Don Brandt (APS, pictured right). More to come, here on DPJ.
A CULTURALLY RICH MARCH
Let’s just say that early March was one for the record books for downtown Phoenix…with an amazing “VIVA PHX” music festival, First Fridays artwalk, and one-of-the-best-ever “Art Detours.” All on one weekend.
The Walter Studios Creative Art Center at 7th Avenue and Roosevelt held their grand opening and threw pies for a good cause. The Arizona Artist Collective which aims to connect businesses with artists has forged a new partnership.
On Saturday, March 15, the film “Cesar Chavez” was honored with an Audience Award in the Narrative Spotlight category at the 2014 South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, the annual music, film, and interactive conference in Austin, Texas. “Chavez” had its world premiere at Phoenix’s Orpheum Theatre on March 13. An estimated 1,400 people attended.
WELCOME SUPER BOWL XLIX
On Tuesday, March 18, the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee announced several major initiatives that will take over 12 city blocks in downtown Phoenix and together will serve as the hub of fan, sponsor, media, and NFL activities for Super Bowl XLIX. This is a new addition to Arizona’s line-up of Super Bowl activities since the state last hosted the Super Bowl in 2008, and one million visitors are expected to participate.
COMING DOWNTOWN IS A SMART MOVE
In Mayor Greg Stanton’s State of the City Address, he included several references to downtown Phoenix, most notably two revolving around education: (1) a renewed commitment to supporting elementary and secondary school partnerships in and around central Phoenix and (b) news that the nationally ranked University of Arizona Eller College of Management will move to the Phoenix Biomedical Campus at 7th Street & Van Buren. To read the mayor’s full remarks, click here.
Help us tell the downtown Phoenix story with your Instagram account. “Project: Downtown Phoenix Stories” captures the hidden gems and beauty of Phoenix that you discover. Each weekend a new hashtag will be released on the Downtown Phoenix Instagram account. Take a picture in the theme, use the designated hashtag and share with the world. Selected photos will be featured each Monday on DowntownPhoenix.com.
Several friends and associates we have worked with closely at City Hall are moving on in their professional careers: John Chan in Community & Economic Development (CED) is returning to the Phoenix Convention Center (PCC). Hank Marshall is taking John’s position in CED. Debbie Cotton is moving from the PCC to Information Technology. Brendan Mahoney, Senior Policy Advisor to the Mayor, is heading back to the private sector and his law practice. Wylie Bearup, Street Transportation Director, has announced his retirement. And new to City Hall is Gail Brown, Administrator in the Office of Arts & Culture.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
“INSPIRED SOLES” ART SHOW AND AUCTION
6th Avenue Gallery exhibition features stilettos like you’ve never seen them before
Back for the third year, 6th Avenue Gallery presents the 2014 “Inspired Soles” art show, auction and raffle benefiting Artlink Phoenix. Local artists, designers and celebrities have transformed dozens of stilettos into works of art for an exhibition that gives new meaning to the term “well heeled.” See for yourself when the show debuts on First Friday in April and continues through First Friday in May.
FIRST FRIDAY DEBUT
The “Inspired Soles” stiletto art show will be unveiled at the April event and silent auction presented by 6th Avenue Gallery. Planned festivities include a silent auction of select pieces (remaining shoes will be raffled at the May show), live music, refreshments, mingling with the artists, and the opportunity to buy stilettos that are truly unmatched. By unmatched, we mean these artistic creations are sold as single pieces, not pairs…although we can occasionally accommodate requests for a matching pair if the design is wearable. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Artlink Phoenix, a nonprofit organization dedicated to linking artists, businesses and the public to better understand, appreciate and promote a thriving arts community in central Phoenix.
Inspired Soles stiletto art show will be open for private events and by appointment through April and May.
If You Go
Event: Inspired Soles Art Show and Auction
Location: 6th Avenue Gallery, 650 N. 6th Avenue (basement level) in downtown Phoenix, 85003
Date: First Friday Debut, April 4, 2014
- 6-10 p.m., Public Showing
- 6-9:30 p.m., Silent Auction
The Grand Avenue Arts District is a neighborhood on the rise. Set along the lower section of Grand Avenue in downtown Phoenix, it is a place where arts and community converge.
Recent improvements resulting from the EPA’s Greening America’s Capitals grant have left Grand Avenue a more beautiful pedestrian and bike-friendly place. The district is home to a range of businesses, including art galleries and studios, offices, restaurants and bars. It is also a major hub of activity for Artlink’s First and Third Friday Art Walks.
Part of this activity and growth can be attributed to the efforts of property owners like Tom and Laurie Carmody. The couple have championed real estate and redevelopment projects in multiple districts throughout downtown Phoenix, including in Roosevelt Row, Grand Avenue and the Midtown District.
Currently, the Carmodys’ energy is focused on Grand Avenue, with a project called The Groove on Grand, located at 1028 NW Grand Ave., in the former location of The Paisley Violin.
No strangers to the neighborhood, they were part of the force behind the development of the Oasis on Grand, a vintage motor lodge transformed into an arts-focused residential community.
With The Groove, they hope to create a gathering place for people in the neighborhood and beyond. “We’re very engaged in the revitalization of the arts district on Grand, and we think that this can be a part of that— a place where the community could come together and meet, with food and wine, and where artists can participate,” says Laurie Carmody.
The layout of The Groove on Grand forms its own little neighborhood, with its main building facing the street, and a cluster of historic cottages situated around an expansive tree-shaded patio in the back.
The collection of brightly-colored cottages was once part of the World War II POW camps at Papago Park before they were salvaged and relocated by the Carmodys. In their new life, they house a variety of small businesses and studio spaces.
One of these is the Red House Pub, living up to its name with a small bar in a bright red cottage. The Red House serves beer and wine Tuesday through Saturdays, with different musicians and DJs every night.
Other residents of the Groove on Grand include Kustumz Hairshop; Grand Ol’ Optics, a vintage eyewear and eyeglass repair shop; The Citizen Royal, a women’s clothing and personal style boutique; Muse Gallery Boutique; artists’ studios and soon, a retail/wholesale coffee roaster. The historic 1930s main building houses an art gallery and designer chocolate shop, ib2 Chocolate.
On First and Third Fridays, The Groove hosts live music, food trucks and displays different featured artists throughout its buildings.
With the arts as the linchpin for Grand Avenue, The Groove is focused on supporting the artists who work and live in the neighborhood. “The more artists we have that are thriving, then the street thrives,” says Laurie.
“It’s a dynamic place. It has a lot of energy and people like to be involved in it, to be around it. And I think it’s creating a nice atmosphere to promote collaboration and communication between the neighbors and the street and the community.”
Ballet Arizona’s Masters of Movement should require seat belts for audience and dancers alike due to its sheer exhilaration. Each of the program’s three ballets reveals a completely different side of the troupe while reinforcing the company’s burgeoning reputation for excellence, athleticism, and technical accuracy.
At the Orpheum Theatre through Sunday, March 30, the show opens with the oldest work, Artistic Director Ib Andersen’s visually and aurally satisfying Indigo Rhapsody. Dressed in simple, clean shades of indigo edging toward black, the dancers deftly balance sensual fluidity against carefully timed rigidity in ensemble movements as well as a pas de deux featuring Jillian Barrell and the sleek, distinctive style of Astrit Zejnati. “It’s sort of a moody thing,” says Andersen. “The lighting is at times quite stark.”
“But the music is like that too…a lot of different moods or textures,” he adds, describing Sergei Rachmaninoff’s beloved Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. The work includes an introduction, theme, and 24 variations, the most familiar of which is the sumptuous variation 18, famous from the movie Somewhere in Time. “It embodies Rachmaninoff’s late style at its brilliant and witty best, it has one of the world’s irresistible melodies…I envy anyone hearing it for the first time,” wrote classical music annotator Michael Steinberg.
Andersen began creating Indigo Rhapsody in 2001. “It was actually 9/11…that was…the first day,” he recalls, explaining that the timing was sheer coincidence. “The week I choreographed it everything was of course filled with 9/11, so in some ways I think I was influenced by that…the mood. It was so severe, you know?”
The show’s atmosphere changes after the dark, flowing loveliness of Indigo Rhapsody. If you enjoyed Alejandro Cerrudo’s Off Screen when it was last performed by Ballet Arizona a few years ago, here’s the good news: this time around it’s even better, possibly due to the savvy casting. Count yourself particularly lucky at the evening performances, which feature seven talented dancers pulled from the troupe’s top ranks to form a tight ensemble.
Tzu-Chia Huang and Paola Hartley, who both excel in classical story ballets, have the opportunity to demonstrate their considerable skill and flexibility off pointe, along with the always-magnificent Kenna Draxton. Eric White and Junxiong Zhao execute a beautifully synchronized vaudevillian interlude, and there’s plenty of comic relief from Nayon Iovino and Myles Lavallee.
Costumes designed by Branimira Ivanova — a frequent collaborator with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago — evoke early 20th-century working-class garb, augmented with purple gloves and suspenders. The minimalist scenery consists of two immense pieces of black fabric, one backed with silver and alternately used as a sort of movie-screen backdrop, a billowing floor covering, and a means of hiding dancers from view or whisking them offstage.
With its period flavor and film music from There Will Be Blood, Syriana, Punch-Drunk Love, The Triplets of Belleville, The Village, and Pan’s Labyrinth, Cerrudo’s work is uniquely suited to the intimate, venerable setting of the Orpheum Theatre. Says Andersen, “Mostly I like his sense of humor, and…his movement is very sensual. You know, talent…” He pauses to laugh. “Being as old as I am, and having seen as much…you know when it’s good, and it’s not always something you can pinpoint…” Andersen continues, “It’s something with the choreography, how they relate to music, how they use the space…it’s all these things and then…how you react to it.”
The 33-year-old classically trained Cerrudo was born in Madrid and became Hubbard Street’s resident choreographer in 2009, winning awards and working with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Nederlands Dans Theater, and Pacific Northwest Ballet. Ballet Arizona first performed Off Screen in 2011, and last spring commissioned Second to Last, which appeared again during the company’s September Ballet Under the Stars outdoor performances.
Finally, those who love on-pointe “tutu” works will find their hearts’ desire in Symphonie Classique, Andersen’s homage to the roots of classical ballet. “I would say I’m inspired by the French school, meaning Paris Opéra Ballet,” he says, “their way of articulating and their musicality…also their schooling. In my opinion it’s the best school…it’s also the oldest school.”
Paris Opéra Ballet was established by King Louis XIV as the Académie Royale de Danse in 1661. “The Paris Opera came first,” Andersen explains. “Danish style actually comes from Paris Opera…and I would say Russian almost comes from the Danish — I mean, the famous choreographer in Russian ballet was a Frenchman, Petipa. It all comes from France — ballet technique comes from France.”
“When I grew up, and just 30 years ago, even 20 years ago, it used to be more distinct,” he adds. “Nowadays, of course, you see the same thing done everywhere. There’s not much distinction between what they do in Moscow and what they do in Phoenix, Arizona.” Andersen chuckles. “It’s like the rest of the world, you know? It’s smaller and smaller — we wear the same clothes, we eat the same food…. So I’m trying to go back a little bit.”
Symphonie Classique is filled with sparkling black velvet and silver tulle, the creations of Martin Pakledinaz, a Tony Award-winning costume designer known for his work on Broadway and in opera and ballet, especially with choreographer Mark Morris. Pakledinaz died of brain cancer in July 2012 shortly after fashioning Ballet Arizona’s costumes.
Andersen used the irresistible music of Sergei Prokofiev’s “Classical” Symphony, written by the young composer in 1917 but emulating Haydn and musically referring to the earlier Classical and Baroque periods. “It’s a very, very difficult ballet technically,” he continues, “because it’s fast, but also…it’s demanding…they need to do a lot of things in a short amount of time, and also it’s very precise.”
“I do think that the company’s evolving for the better,” says Andersen, who enjoys all the advantages of his troupe’s spacious new home on Washington Street. “Everything has changed — the sense of how it feels to work. We have room now to actually move and also to see…the dancers are so much more focused. It’s a very great improvement.”
If you go:
Event: Ballet Arizona’s Masters of Movement
Dates: Continues through Sunday matinee, March 30
Location: The historic Orpheum Theatre, 203 W. Adams
Tickets: Purchase tickets online