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
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
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.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
FAMILIES, ADULTS & CHILDREN OF ALL AGES: ASSEMBLE THE BUILDING BLOCKS OF CREATIVITY AT THE HEARD THIS SUMMER!
LEGO® bricks, the popular building toy that came to life in February in a major U.S. motion picture release, are the inspiration of a family-friendly, interactive exhibit that runs through September 28th at the Heard Museum in Phoenix.
BUILD! Toy Brick Art at the Heard, presented in the museum’s Lincoln Gallery, features local American Indian, Mexican-American and non-Indian artists transforming their artworks using the versatile toy bricks. Named by USA TODAY as one of the “10 Must-See Museum Exhibits This Summer, the exhibit also features two LEGO® brick creations by well-known brick artists Nathan Sawaya and Sean Kenney.
Native artists Steven Yazzie (Navajo) and Autumn Dawn Gomez (Comanche/Taos Pueblo/Navajo) and Mexican-American artist Lalo Cota are creating their first artworks with LEGO® bricks while local LEGO® brick artist Dave Shaddix has transformed Navajo artist Marlowe Katoney’s “Angry Birds” textile into a LEGO® brick mosaic. Also included are works by Cactus Brick, a Tempe-based LEGO® brick-building club.
Interactive activities — from June workshops to July “block parties” to an August building contest — combined with the exhibit’s already-assembled sculptures will bring to both children and adults a close-up demonstration of the bricks’ amazing capabilities of form, color and design.
As this is a special exhibit, the following adjusted admission rates will be charged to visitors May 24-Sept. 28. These rates include admission to BUILD! plus the rest of the museum: Adults $23, seniors $18.50, students with ID $12.50, children ages 6-12 $12.50, children ages 1-5 and American Indians $5, children younger than 1 and Heard Museum members free.
Those visiting the Heard this summer as part of the following programs and special entry days will still be required to pay a gate fee of $5 per person to visit BUILD!: Blue Star Families, Teacher Appreciation month, Target Summer Sundays, Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day, Culture Pass.
Those who purchase a Heard Museum Family Membership for only $75 will receive free admission to BUILD! all summer.
Even more opportunities to BUILD! will be held on these Saturdays this summer. More details will be listed at heard.org/build:
• Builder “Play” Days: Sept. 6, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. — Watch local LEGO® brick builders “play” with everything from robotics to your not-so-typical bricks.
• Target Free Summer Sundays: July 27, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free admission (except for $5 per person gate fee to see BUILD! Toy Brick Art at the Heard) and access to a “block” party where visitors can dig right in and create their own toy brick creation with LEGO®bricks! “Block” parties are supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Scottsdale League for the ArtsTM.
• Mike Doyle, author of Beautiful LEGO, speaks and signs copies of his book, Saturday, July 26, 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 pm. The recently published Beautiful LEGO is about how the author — who has designed famous logos including one used on the Pepsi-Cola can — creates art with tiny toy bricks. Doyle will sign copies of the book, which will be available for sale at the event. For more information, please call 602-252-8848 or visit heard.org/events. More information about Mike Doyle is at www.michaeldoyle.com.
• LEGO® Brick Architecture Competition: Aug. 2 — What do indigenous dwellings look like LEGO®-fied? See the crazy creations in person. We’ll have more details and information for those wishing to join in soon right here at heard.org/build.
Feature image: Navajo artist Steve Yazzie created this sculpture of a coyote using LEGO® bricks with the help of his young son. Photo by Caesar Chaves/Heard Museum.
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.
World Cup fever has been everywhere, with numerous restaurants, pubs, and theater in downtown Phoenix welcoming soccer fans as they gather to cheer on their favorite team. #dtphxworldcup #gooooooal
On to Round II
The planning process for the establishment of a second downtown Enhanced Municipal Services District in the Roosevelt Row/Evans Churchill area has started. A Working Group to oversee the study has been formed and includes the following members: Judy Bernas, Chuck Coughlin, Mark Davis, Jennifer Delgado, Tim Eigo, Greg Esser, Carla Logan, Terry Madekska, Jim McPherson, Patrick Panetta, Vermon Pierre, Alison Rainey, Kevin Rille, Kurt Schneider, Tim Sprague, and Scott Sumners. I want to personally thank Vermon and Greg with Roosevelt Row CDC and Kevin Rille with Evans Churchill Community Association for helping to “lay the groundwork” on this effort.
The Phoenix City Council unanimously approved continuing its collaboration with Downtown Phoenix, Inc. (DPI). The City joins Alliance Bank, Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Public Service, Lewis Roca Rothgerber, Phoenix Convention Bureau, Phoenix Suns, RED Development, and United Healthcare as year two investors. Other partners represented on the DPI Board are Downtown Voices Coalition, Local First Arizona, and Roosevelt Row CDC.
City Manager Ed Zuercher announced that Mark Hartman, the sustainability and green building manager for Vancouver, B.C., will join his leadership team as chief sustainability officer. Acting Parks & Recreation Director Jim Burke can now remove “Acting” from his business cards upon his appointment to director. And John Trujillo was appointed public works director upon the retirement of Neil Mann on July 15.
Movin’ Along Downtown
Downtown’s evolution as the most vibrant, interesting, and diverse community in the region was enhanced with the Phoenix City Council endorsement of the Downtown Transportation Plan. The plan will make downtown more walkable, bikeable, and transit and business friendly. A special thank you to the Phoenix Suns, Councilwoman Kate Gallego, Deputy City Manager Rick Naimark, and Ray Dovalina and Mark Melnychenko from the Street Transportation Department for their commitment to this effort. This is a really big deal that will positively change the face of downtown.
The City of Phoenix’s adaptive reuse program is highlighted in this recent Arizona Republic online slide show. Since the program’s establishment in 2008, over 100 buildings, many of them vintage and historic in and around downtown Phoenix, have been rejuvenated for new business uses. Thank you to DPI Board member Kimber Lanning for being such a strong advocate.
Downtown Phoenix is all about collaboration and creative energy and nowhere is that more evident than the new DTPHX Engagement Lab at Arizona Center. DPI’s new storefront space activation, located at 455 N. 3rd St., #1210 (north adjacent to Starbucks), is hard to miss with its bright colored chairs, craft paper, stencils, and Downtowners hard at work building the city they want. Open to the public Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., DTPHX Engagement Lab is a partnership between DPI and Arizona Center designed to connect a wide variety of city users – residents, employees, tourists, conventioneers, and students – to the downtown experience. From art and co-working to community building and idea-sharing, DTPHX Engagement Lab will be an important tool to help shape the Next Phoenix.
Arizona PBS, the 53-year-old public television station with more than 1 million viewers, will become part of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in early July. Eight, which includes three TV channels and azpbs.org, will be the largest media organization operated by a journalism school in the world. Also on the downtown Phoenix campus, groundbreaking for the Arizona Center for Law and Society is scheduled for July 7, with plans for completion in the summer of 2016. The first semester of classes in the new facility are scheduled for autumn 2016.
Congratulations to Roosevelt Row CDC for receiving one of 55 ArtPlace America grants in the amount of $90,000 to support a creative placemaking shipping container pilot project to help address the ongoing need for affordable housing for artists who want to live and work in downtown Phoenix. This is the second year in a row that Roosevelt Row has received a grant from ArtPlace.
TripAdvisor® honored the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Phoenix with a 2014 Certificate of Excellence award. The accolade, which extends to qualifying businesses worldwide, recognizes hospitality excellence in establishments that consistently receive outstanding TripAdvisor traveler reviews.
In 1988 the Phoenix Community Alliance helped to “birth” Artlink Inc., our downtown Phoenix non-profit group dedicated to linking artists, business, and the public to support a thriving arts community. At the June 30th Artlink annual meeting in front of a packed house at the Phoenix Art Museum, Mayor Greg Stanton, Museum Director Jim Ballinger, and I spoke about the importance of the arts in aiding downtown’s revitalization. Board members of Artlink, chaired by Catrina Kahler, outlined an aggressive and positive set of initiatives and events calendar to move Artlink and the arts forward.
The Maricopa Association of Governments is urging metro Phoenix residents to take their online survey on bikes, canals, and wayfinding. Click here to complete the survey. Deadline is July 31, 2014.
On June 18, the Phoenix City Council approved an ordinance to move to a demand model for managing our parking meters with a new maximum hourly rate of $4 and extended hours where meter turnover is desired. One week later, Council voted 8-1 to adopt a “complete streets” ordinance and unanimously approved the Downtown Phoenix Comprehensive Transportation Study.
Hooters in Arizona Center is undergoing a remodel and will reopen on July 28. The new Grand Avenue Pizza Company and ThirdSpace cafe, bar, and retail space opened on Grand Avenue. And just announced to open later this year in downtown’s Collier Center is Fired Pie offering customizable 11-inch pizzas assembly-line style.
In uptown Phoenix, congratulations to Venue Partners, Changing Hands bookstore, and Southern Rail restaurant for the opening of The Newton in the former Beefeaters restaurant at Camelback and 3rd Avenue. DPI Board member Cindy Dach has been a big part of this project. In midtown Phoenix, congratulations to Lisa Sette for the opening of Lisa Sette Gallery in a building designed by noted local architect, Al Beadle.
Super Bowl Gives Back
The Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee has announced its community campaign for Super Bowl XLIX in partnership with the National Football League (NFL) Foundation to distribute more than $2 million to Arizona nonprofits leading up to the February 1, 2015 game. With the launch of the “In the Community” web page, local nonprofits are encouraged to visit the site to learn about the Host Committee’s giving mission and focus areas. The legacy grants will focus on distributing dollars to local nonprofits that submit proposals with a key focus in education and youth health and wellness programs. The application will be available online until July 11, 2014.
PHX in the White House
Earlier this month at a White House summit of more than 80 local officials, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton was thanked by First Lady Michelle Obama for his leadership to end chronic veteran homelessness in Phoenix. The gathering was part of the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness, an initiative that encourages the same Housing First model used in Phoenix.
Upcoming July Events:
- Arizona Diamondbacks MLB baseball, Chase Field, various dates in July
- Phoenix Mercury WNBA basketball, US Airways Center, various dates in July
- Fridays in the Park, Civic Space Park, July 11
- Summer in the City, downtown Phoenix, all summer long