DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
“Ground Cover,” a public art project by Arizona artist Ann Morton (pictured right) will be installed Friday, Dec. 6, and dedicated at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, at a vacant lot at First and McKinley streets in downtown Phoenix.
The project temporarily will beautify a vacant lot in downtown Phoenix and provide 300 handmade blankets for homeless individuals. Mayor Greg Stanton and District 7 Councilman Michael Nowakowski will speak at the Saturday morning dedication.
The project will be located and displayed for two days. Created by Phoenix artist Ann Morton with the help of blanket makers – affectionately called “blanketeers” – from 22 states and two Canadian provinces, the 300 finished blankets will be assembled into a 116-foot-by-50-foot “ground cover” featuring a colossal image of lush desert blooms. Each of the smaller blankets measures 40 inches by 70 inches. They are made with up to 28 squares, each 10 inches by 10 inches, which serve as “pixels” of the overall image (see the rendering below).
Crews of volunteers will work with Morton to assemble the monumental blanket at the vacant lot on Dec. 6. The blanket will remain on view until 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7. After the two-day installation, the large blanket will be disassembled into smaller ones and given to agencies that serve homeless people in the city.
The “Ground Cover” public art project was commissioned by the city of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture Public Art Program. It is supported in part by an “Our Town” grant from the National Endowment for the Arts as part of “Cultural Connections” series of temporary artworks sponsored by the city of Phoenix, the ASU Art Museum and Roosevelt Row CDC. The project is also a part of Mayor Stanton’s PHXRenews initiative to activate vacant lots and spaces in Phoenix in conjunction with Keep Phoenix Beautiful.
Images provided by City of Phoenix
Thanks to the efforts of Jill Johnson (Program Manager) and Doctor Diane Facinelli, students who participate in the course are steeped like tea bags in everything “downtown Phoenix” through a combination of tours and presentations by local historians, business people, city officials, arts community representatives, local community development wizards and urban sustainability advocates.
The goal is to break down any myths and misapprehensions young people who are new to downtown may have about their surroundings, and to give them access to the people on the ground who are transforming our urban core.
The course is divided into six areas, including Downtown Phoenix History; Entrepreneurship & Local Business; Governance, Politics and Activism; Places, Spaces and Adaptive Re-Use; Promoting Arts & Culture; and Sustainable and Vital Living.
Local experts in each area are brought in to meet with students and share their insights about how and why they do what they do and to show the impact they’re having. Students are not only encouraged to get involved, they are introduced to the very people and organizations that can get them started bringing their own passions and skills to bear on making the urban core vibrant.
“Incoming freshmen are sometimes disappointed to find themselves in downtown Phoenix versus the ASU campus in Tempe,” says Jill Johnson, the “connector” who makes the class viable and relevant. “We use ‘Community Encounters’ to dispel their fears, to show them what is happening right outside their student bubble, and to educate them about the wealth of opportunities they have available to them in downtown.”
The value of growing this connection between young ASU students and the downtown community is in reaching a potential new generation of residents who will want to live, work and play in downtown and create sustained vibrancy on our streets.
Jim McPherson, co-author with J. Seth Anderson and Suad Mahmuljin of Downtown Phoenix History, opens the course by sharing the historic context of the city’s evolution. “Students read our book before class,” said McPherson, “and then we take them on a combination bus and walking tour that enables them to see some of the areas featured in the book. We show them how historic places are contributing to the contemporary landscape of the city.”
“The purpose of the class is to provide students with variety of entry points for them to become active, engaged urban citizens,” said Johnson. “The students benefit from being exposed to the rich variety of experiences available to them in downtown, and the community benefits from the talent and energy the students can bring to making the best downtown possible. It’s as they say, a ‘win-win’ situation.”
Find out what this years’ students learned and how the class has impacted their perceptions of downtown at ENCOUNTER THIS! Community Encounters Showcase. At this free public event, groups of students who have worked together will show the community what they’ve learned and share how it has changed their perspective.
If You Go
When: Thursday, December 5, 7:00 pm
Where: A.E. England Building, Civic Space Park
Cost: FREE to public, but reservations are appreciated. Reserve your space now.
Contact: Jill.Johnson@asu.edu; 602-496-0557.
Detainees, military families, scholars, interrogators, and refugees offer perspectives of the controversial United States Naval Base at Guantánamo — also known as GTMO or Gitmo — through the final weekend of an exhibition at Burton Barr Central Library.
The 13-panel Guantánamo Public Memory Project exhibit, arranged on the library’s second floor, scratches the surface of a historical debate that continues to resonate with current issues of borders, indefinite and preventive detention, and foreign relations.
Established as a Caribbean base on indefinite lease in 1903 despite Cuban protests, and later made notorious as the purgatorial site of incarceration for thousands of Haitians and Cubans, GTMO is now infamous as an internment camp for war prisoners.
The exhibit explores Guantánamo’s history, the many roles of the base, and its potential closure through video testimonies, interactive discussions and activities, and complementary films at Phoenix Art Museum (Dirty Wars on Nov. 24 and Zero Dark Thirty on Dec. 8). Related topics include the progression of detention from the Japanese concentration camps in Arizona to refugees and enemy combatants at GTMO.
Initiated by Columbia University, the Guantánamo Public Memory Project continues to grow through collaboration and support from universities, organizations, and individuals, and solicits new narratives via its website and its traveling exhibit.
Although the second-floor exhibit runs through Sunday, November 24, the companion first-floor @Central Gallery photo exhibition Cuba: Through Each Others Eyes [sic] continues through December 1, displaying the work of five photographers from a 2002 Phoenix-Havana exchange.
- Guantánamo Public Memory Project at Phoenix Public Library’s Burton Barr Central Library
- Witness to Guantánamo website
- Recent news about the potential closure of GTMO
- The American Civil Liberties Union’s “Guantánamo by the Numbers” infographic
- A brief history of GTMO from Paul Kramer in The New Yorker
- Further reading recommended by Phoenix Public Library staff
A professional design team working on an updated vision for downtown Phoenix’s Hance Park will present their first concept design to the public this week.
After a lengthy RFQ process, the city of Phoenix contracted with a multi-disciplinary design team to conduct an exhaustive public process to gather input on what residents, neighbors and other stakeholders envision for a renovated Hance Park and then develop a conceptual Master Plan design.
The team, led by primary consultants Weddle Gilmore and !Melk, has incorporated the extensive public input into a design concept that it will unveil at public meetings on Nov. 20 and 21, 2013.
The first meeting is 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 20 at the Cutler Plotkin Jewish Heritage Center, 122 E. Culver St. in downtown Phoenix. The public also can view the designs at the regularly scheduled Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board monthly meeting at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 21, at the Phoenix City Council Chambers, 200 W. Jefferson St.
After decades away from Arizona, baritone and Grand Canyon University alumnus Mark Delavan returns to the Valley in the title role of Richard Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman (Der Fliegende Holländer). Arizona Opera’s production continues this weekend at Symphony Hall and closes next Sunday in Tucson.
Starting in 1966, Delavan spent 14 years growing up in Phoenix while his father Macon served as chairman of the music department at then-Grand Canyon College, which gained a stellar reputation under his leadership and that of Mark’s mother, fellow professor Marlene Delavan.
“My father and mother brought…the Westminster Choir College school of vocal teaching here,” says Delavan, “and we had some amazing choirs. And I had the unique privilege of being…raised on it.”
He remembers touring in Europe with one of those choirs at the age of 17. “My opera career probably directly correlated to my Choralaire experience, because we got five days a week of choral training, of vocal training, of assisted vocal pedagogy.” Delavan qualifies his description. “It wasn’t listed that way, but my father was giving voice lessons all the time. He’d stop and have the bass section go through one thing…a passage…and say, ‘Support that! Come on! Put the shout in the voice.’”
He chuckles. “It was my dad, you know? I didn’t know what I was getting — I had no idea. It was just Dad. And now that I’m in my 50s and I’m looking back on it…he was pretty gifted.” Delavan continues, “But you don’t know what you are at 17…nobody knows what they are at 17. So I…went on my merry way.”
Delavan played football at Scottsdale Community College — where he says he learned about “ego and team play” — and earned a degree in art with a music minor before singing in his first opera, Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief. “This is not his best work,” says the singer, “but I had a really cool aria in it, and it’s like the bug bit.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree in music at Oral Roberts University, Delavan worked in Arkansas and North Carolina before continuing on to the now-defunct Western Opera Theater tour and an Adler Fellowship at San Francisco Opera, also placing as a national finalist in the Metropolitan Opera auditions.
Delavan moved to New Jersey in 1990, and, by his own account “kind of crashed and burned” between 1992 and 1993. But thanks to the intervention of great Metropolitan Opera bass Jerome Hines, he says, “I started pulling myself together.”
The role of John the Baptist in Hines’s opera I Am the Way led to a year of work with New York City Opera and eventually Delavan’s Met Opera debut as Amonasro in Aida with an all-star cast of Luciano Pavarotti as Radames, Deborah Voigt as Aida, and Olga Borodina as Amneris. “It was a wrecking crew,” Delavan recalls with a smile. “It was like the ‘90s Chicago Bulls with Michael Jordan — if you get on the court you’d better pass, shoot, or get out of the way.”
“And…for all of my faults,” he continues emphatically, “when you put that kind of pressure on me, I will go with reckless abandon. And it worked out really well…I worked there for seven seasons in a row.” After performances throughout Europe at the Edinburgh Festival, the Bavarian State Opera, the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, and recently with Deutsche Oper Berlin, Delavan returned to the Met to critical acclaim as Gianciotto in Francesca da Rimini and Wotan in Wagner’s epic Ring cycle.
Delavan’s signature roles include villains like Otello’s Iago and Tosca’s Scarpia as well as the title characters in Rigoletto, Falstaff, and The Flying Dutchman, written in 1841 by a 28-year-old Richard Wagner as one of his first mature works. The composer based his libretto and music on the legend of a sea captain who swears to conquer a storm even if he must sail forever. Hearing his oath, the Devil condemns the captain to sail until Judgment Day unless he find a woman who will love him faithfully until death.
In his quest for redemption, the Dutchman is allowed to make landfall once every seven years to find and woo the bride who will break his curse, ultimately ending the perpetual existence of the immortal captain and his crew aboard their ghostly ship.
Wagner, who identified with his tortured hero, emulated Beethoven’s symphonies in The Flying Dutchman and used musical motifs so effectively memorable that scholars have compared them to advertising jingles — the famously popular “Spinning Chorus” and the Dutchman’s theme are two examples.
“It’s one of his earliest pieces, and he wrote it in the Italian style,” says Delavan. “You have set pieces, you have duets…you have repeated words.” He continues, “Now admittedly the Dutchman’s monologue is a piece of genius writing.” Delavan sings a bit of the motif, and compares it to a theme from Wagner’s later opera Götterdämmerung. “Both of them are very eerie.”
“And it’s very short,” the baritone adds with a chuckle. “The duration [of Dutchman] is just right under the pain threshold.” Wagner’s later operas are renowned for lengths greater than five hours, a challenging proposition for audiences and singers alike.
“But here’s what it has in common [with Wagner's other works],” Delavan says. “It has a mythological theme and…redemption. And one could make the argument that poor Richard [Wagner] desperately needed redemption of some kind, because he was one tortured soul.” He laughs. “I mean, it’s common knowledge.”
The singer overcame his own struggles with this opera when he learned it years ago. “The first role that I did after my father died in 1995 was my first Flying Dutchman,” Delavan says, “and I’ve got to tell you — I couldn’t remember ‘come to Jesus.’” He continues, “Memorizing this role was the equivalent of trying to memorize…all of Shakespeare’s pieces. It was impossible…I had no ability to retain anything.”
He recalls a particularly difficult section of text, which translates as “Could you possibly be moved by my suffering with this deep pity?”
“That line I think I memorized ten times until it finally stayed. So that line…I go by it — I kind of close my eyes and move on.”
The Flying Dutchman is sung in German, with English supertitles projected above the stage. Arizona Opera revisits the large-scale projection techniques used in last season’s Il Trovatore to augment the production’s scenery and otherworldly atmosphere. Brought out of the pit and arranged onstage behind a scrim, the orchestra shares the majority of the space with the chorus. The main cast performs in a small area downstage on the raised floor of the orchestra pit, near the audience.
Delavan cheerfully anticipates better reviews for these performances than one he recalls from his last appearance with Arizona Opera, as Escamillo in 1989’s Carmen. “I got the worst review of my entire career in The Arizona Republic, and I probably had it coming, truthfully,” he says with a self-deprecating laugh. “Painful.”
For this production, Delavan shares the stage with soprano Lori Phillips as Senta, the heroine who redeems him, and bass Raymond Aceto as her father Daland. Joseph Rescigno conducts, and Bernard Uzan is the director.
If you go: