Phoenix families are invited to get out of the heat and enjoy a day of art and culture in downtown Phoenix.
The First Annual monOrchid Family Day event will take place Saturday, July 27, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The gallery is currently showing a summer group exhibition entitled “Thermal PHX,” which features a variety of art suitable for every age.
“At monOrchid we feel it is essential to provide the community with amazing art and events…to engage the community,” said Nicole Royse, monOrchid Associate Curator.
The scheduled festivities do just that, beginning with kids yoga, interactive arts & craft tables, plus live painting by artist Jayme Blue who is also featured in exhibition.
There will be live music by members of Tres Lunas and food donated by Carly’s, Pallets, Urban Cookies Bakeshop, and Brilliant Sky Bakery.
Local author Heather Tad will do a live reading of A Tale of a Tombstone, Arizona Tortoise, a book illustrated by her husband local art Tad Smith.
If you want to take home a souvenir to remember the day, Hip Veggies will be selling “A Pear to Remember” tote bag designed by local artist Rafael Navarro (see it here). The sales will benefit the residents of the Westward Ho.
If you go
What: First Annual monOrchid Family Day
Date: Saturday, July 27, 2013
Time: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Location: monOrchid, 214 E. Roosevelt St.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
A total of 43 Phoenix nonprofit arts and culture organizations received $786,346 in grant funding in fiscal year 2013-14 from the city of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture.
The funds can support the general operations of major, midsize, and small arts and culture organizations or specific arts projects related to festivals or arts education activities. The funding includes an additional $280,000, approved by the Mayor and City Council in July, which allowed the city to increase the amount awarded to these organizations. “In Phoenix, we recognize the importance of arts and culture to out economy and to our quality of life,” said Mayor Stanton. “Our City Council has made an investment in our community and our youth through the arts to build a more sustainable and economic future in our vibrant city.”
General operating support grant recipients include Actors Theatre of Phoenix, Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center, Arizona Opera, Arizona Science Center, Arizona Theatre Company, Ballet Arizona, Black Theatre Troupe, Inc., Children’s Museum of Phoenix, Desert Botanical Garden, Great Arizona Puppet Theater, Heard Museum, iTheatre Collaborative, Musical Instrument Museum, Orpheus Male Chorus of Phoenix, Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix Boys Choir Association, Phoenix Chorale, Phoenix Conservatory of Music, Phoenix Symphony Association, Phoenix Theatre, Rosie’s House: A Music Academy for Children, Rosson House Heritage Square Foundation & Guild, Scorpius Dance Theatre, Shemer Art Center & Museum Association, Society of Preservation of Barbershop Singing, Valley Youth Theatre, and Young Arts Arizona.
Festival and arts education grant recipients include African Association of Arizona, Arizona Jewish Historical Society, Arizona Matsuri, Artlink, Inc., Center Dance Ensemble, Cultural Coalition, India Association of Phoenix, Irish Society of Arizona, Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix, Jazz in Arizona, Inc., Phoenix Blues Society, Phoenix Center for the Arts, Phoenix Chamber Music Society, Phoenix Children’s Chorus, Phoenix Chinese Week, and Release the Fear.
All grants are dollar-for-dollar matching grants, requiring grantees to raise funds from corporations, foundations and/or individuals in the city of Phoenix. Organizations that received general operating support provide substantial outreach and education programs to the community. Arts education grant recipients partner with schools, school districts, after-school programs, or other community based organizations that serve youth, seniors, or special target populations. Festival projects advance, preserve, or celebrate cultural expressions of diverse populations, or present multiple performances dedicated to a specific art from, such as a theatre, dance, film, etc.
The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, established by the Phoenix City Council in 1985, works to foster a sense of cultural identity, celebrate diversity and ensure an outstanding quality of community life.
As much as you want to hibernate during the summertime, it’s not always possible, especially if you decide to get off your butt to go for a walk. Downtown Phoenix, with all it’s shaded streets, misted outdoor seating and (more) condensed living and doing, makes it more likely that you’ll be sweating on your way to somewhere.
Sixteen summers in Phoenix as a bicyclist, runner, walker, person-driving-a-car-without-air-conditioning and user of public transit has helped me develop a keen sense of managing the near six months of persistent sweating. I also just don’t like looking a mess wherever I end up.
While some people decide to use saunas, Phoenicians have the benefit of a dry sauna right outside the door (or sometimes just sitting close to a window). Luckily, living in this climate alters our bodies so that we actually sweat more (see #13 in the link) than people living in milder climates.
As icky as some people find it, sweating is actually hugely beneficial. Not only does it help keep us cool but it also helps blood flow and fights harmful bacteria on the skin. Think of it as your own self-contained insect repellant. All of this purging of toxins and destroying of bacteria might also be what gives us a healthier glow. Maybe this is the reason why everyone in Phoenix (except for the leathery ones) look ten years younger than they actually are.
To live here, and other equally sweaty cities, it helps to have a refined craft of coping with the inevitability of sweat. Now is the time to tap into all those problem-solving skills that an artist might use to make a piece work. I like to make sure I employ all the proper materials and methods.
If you’ve decided to be a brave soul who sticks it out for the summer, here are some useful sweaty survival tips.
Fabric choices are crucial
Even though the National Weather Service and every other resource out there suggests how you should dress for excessively hot days, it still doesn’t always sink in. As in art-making, materials are important. Cottons and linens are really the only way to go (Supplex is a possibility, too, if you’re going to do anything active). Synthetic fabrics do little other than trap heat, trap sweat and trap stink.
Be your own swamp cooler
It was my first summer with a studio on the second floor of the non-air conditioned Icehouse when I was given some of the best advice of my life. Owner, Helen Hestenes, told me how she would douse all her clothes in water and sit in front of a fan while working there over the summer. I tried it and ended up feeling almost too chilly. It made it a little difficult to work on more delicate projects like drawings (dripping on paper not recommended unless you can bind it conceptually with the work) but it prevented me from leaving my studio half delirious. I use this tactic now every time I get on my bike to ride longer than a few miles. It’s easy: just take a shower with your clothes on.
Be mindful of your color choices
Keep in mind as you venture outside that no matter what you’re wearing, you will sweat in it so, consider the colors. Imagine yourself as a cool, reflective painting that blends well with water. Yellows and whites are awesome because you can’t see much difference between wet or dry. Certain other colors don’t fare so well. Light heather greys or a bright green seem to show sweat the most. You don’t want to be caught in that awkward moment getting out of a car or train and realize that it looks like you’re wearing a pair of sweat underwear. Black, navy and dark grey work great, as long as you don’t have to be in the sun. Just don’t blame me if you find your thighs catching fire while riding in the passenger seat of a car.
Bring a change of clothes
You don’t have to bring an entire change of clothes but it doesn’t hurt to have a fresh shirt to quickly change into in the bathroom of wherever you’ve ended up. (Which also brings me to the point of showing up extra early to “de-sweatify” yourself). This way, you don’t run the risk of sweaty clothes going sour. You could also just try throwing something on over what you walked or biked in but I personally prefer ridding myself of any sweaty remnants. Generally, it’s been acceptable for artists to look disheveled and nearly homeless but I personally prefer allowing my better side to shine when I’m not working.
Know all the places with the best shade and air conditioning
A lot of places in downtown are pretty old, and likely were built before central A/C was widely used in the 1950s (the modern version was actually invented in 1902.) Some have updated but some have either swamp coolers or an old a/c unit that is so inefficient, owners end up supplementing it without about 18 just as inefficient old fans. Some of my favorite stops include the new Cartel Coffee location on Washington and 1st Street, Moira Sushi (nice and dark in there), Café at the Downtown Phoenix Market (iced regular or carbonated water with lots of lemons to help the muscles recover), Nami (with the benefit of having a chilling Tsoynami) and any place with a water feature outside. We should also not underestimate the power of lawn sprinklers that can so refreshingly cool us down during a walk while you’re pondering the frigidness of the universe.
There’s really no way to avoid it–you’re going to get sweaty. Hopefully, this list of suggestions will get filed into the ranks of suggestions you just might remember that day when you’re on your way to a meet-up in the middle of the afternoon, on your bike, when it’s 110 degrees outside. These are just some of the ways I’ve managed to survive (there are many others that usually involve popsicles). The DPJ community could always benefit from more in your comments below. Now, in case I didn’t say so, drink more water and get out there.
Arizona musicians often find their groove at the Rhythm Room, and tonight promised a genre-defying roster of four local groups taking the next step into a larger performance arena.
Bad Cactus Brass Band headlined the evening with sassy, energetic New Orleans-style tunes kicking off the release of the group’s new album, #musicbombing. Bad Cactus was founded in 2009 by sousaphonist Benjie Messer, a composer, trombonist, and music educator.
Captain Squeegee, another of tonight’s ensembles, is a hard-to-categorize Comicon-loving brass-rich band led by singer Danny Torgersen, while Chris Peña Group describes its music as “a mixture of pulsing synths, punchy basslines and art-rock sections…somewhere between angst and ambition…to the tune of electro-funk sautéed with a dash of jazz-infused pop.”
The instrumentation changed dramatically when Simply Three took the stage with its partnership of three classically trained string players. Cellist Zack Clark, a friend of both Messer and Torgersen, joined double bassist Nicholas Villalobos and violinist Olivia Lemmelin; all three musicians earned their bachelor’s degrees in music performance at Arizona State University.
Simply Three formed in October 2010, when Clark and Villalobos found a kindred spirit in Lemmelin. “She was loud, and…energetic, and she was exactly what we were looking for,” says Clark. The trio recorded soundtracks for the independent films Brahmin Bulls and Within, and frequently performs school concerts around the Valley.
Although he didn’t come from a musical background, Clark began playing the cello at 10 and fell head over heels in love with the instrument. “In ninth grade…we played ‘Nimrod’ by [Edward] Elgar, one of the Enigma Variations,” he recalls. “Professor Timothy Russell was the conductor, and I remember…he explained that Elgar wrote this for his wife. He told us about his love for his wife, and…to try to feel that love while we played.”
Clark laughs lightly. “That was life-altering. I cried the next time we played it — I felt Elgar’s love.” He continues, “It was this sublime spiritual experience, and that’s when music…really touched me.”
Villalobos and Clark grew up together in the Phoenix Symphony Guild Youth Orchestra, and later decided to form their own ensemble and perform their favorite music. Clark remembers thinking, “Why should there be boundaries?”
Since the inclusion of a double bass pushed beyond the limits of a typical string quartet instrumentation, the duo added a violin and created their own arrangements, starting with “Yesterday” and other Beatles favorites and continuing with standard wedding repertoire.
Today, their signature tunes run the gamut from Gautier to One Republic, Clark’s favorite band. “Our best stuff is different, that we save for the live shows,” says the cellist. “We do ‘Rolling in the Deep’ by Adele and ‘Clocks’ and ‘Fix You’ — kind of like a mash-up of those two songs by Coldplay.”
“We [also] do…’Orange Blossom Special’ and ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia,’” he adds, “because Olivia is really good at fiddling.” Other repertoire includes Metallica’s “Battery” and a Michael Jackson mash-up of “Earth Song” and “Human Nature,” as well as a soundtrack blend he describes as “Lord of the Wars” — The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars.
The ensemble also plays Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us” mixed with Justin Timberlake’s new song “Mirrors.” “One of our goals is to stay really, really current and put out one new video a week on YouTube,” explains Clark.
Improvisation is important, too. “Nick can throw down some sweet grooves on his bass,” he continues, “and we just kind of learn the progression and then…just jam… It’s a really fun point in the concert…that’s when the magic happens.”
As Simply Three builds its fan base through appealing arrangements and raises money through a Kickstarter project, the group continues its outreach with the goal of a fall school tour through Utah and Idaho along with more recordings. December brings the hope of a Christmas album and performances as featured artists on December 8 for Westwood High School’s holiday shows, as well as a free concert.
The trio has an enthusiastic mentor in ASU’s new tuba professor, Deanna Swoboda, as well as management from Dow Artists and a possible sponsorship by Eastman Strings. “We just enjoy playing the music we love for audiences and kids,” says Clark, “showing them that you can play whatever you want.”
All photos courtesy of Simply Three.
- Simply Three with Bad Cactus Brass Band, Captain Squeegee, and Chris Peña Group at the Rhythm Room on July 10
- Bad Cactus Brass Band interview with Blaise Lantana on 91.5 KJZZ (from 2011)
- Simply Three performs in two Christmas shows on December 8 at Westwood High School
Theater-goers looking for fresh repertoire sated their hunger earlier this month with a daring, historically-based production justifiably billed as “sexy-pants.” Phoenix Theatre pushed beyond its standard line-up of expertly-staged Broadway musicals to offer Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, giving audiences a sample of the provocative works planned for the troupe’s new black box venue in the coming season.
In the fledgling years of the United States of America, the hot-tempered and fiercely patriotic Andrew Jackson rose from obscurity to become the seventh President, following John Quincy Adams and preceding Martin Van Buren. Along the way, Jackson’s controversial path included defeating the British as a general in the War of 1812, serving as first governor of Florida, fighting accusations of an adulterous relationship with his own wife, establishing the Democratic Party, defending his contentious policies leading to the forced relocation of Native Americans, and representing Tennessee in Congress.
Impressively, he was also beloved by the American public, winning the popular vote. Jackson was elected by a tremendous margin in 1828, but his victory in the Presidential race was overshadowed by the death of his beloved wife Rachel.
Jackson’s action-packed life story is fascinating, but is it the stuff of theater? Phoenix Theatre took a well-justified, successful gamble with its run of Bloody Bloody AJ performances, which ended June 23. “This isn’t an encyclopedic account of Jackson’s life,” said director Ron May. “You’re not getting a stage version of a Wikipedia page. There are a handful of blatant anachronisms cozied up right next to historical fact,” he continued. “But for the most part what happened, what he did, is dead-on.”
May has made his name in the Valley theater scene both as an actor in shows like Nearly Naked Theatre’s Fuddy Meers – including ovation-winning scenes with a sock puppet — and as Stray Cat Theatre’s founding Artistic Director, offering works like The Dianalogues, columbinus, and Learn to be Latina. May has also directed for Actors Theatre and Black Theatre Troupe.
Bloody Bloody AJ is an emo rock play with music (as opposed to a full-bore musical), peppering action, quirky narrators, and impassioned monologues with “angry young men singing about how unfair life is, and angsting and angsting and angsting” — the very definition of the genre, according to May.
He’s always drawn to the works of Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman, who also wrote Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant and Heddatron for their theater troupe Les Freres Corbusier in New York. ‘They have a wicked sense of humor, an enormous awareness of pop culture, and an off-the-wall sense of theatricality,” declared May.
“[Bloody Bloody AJ]…does for history what ‘The Daily Show,’ for me, did for daily news — made it accessible, interesting, relevant, and a hell of a lot of fun,” said May. “America at the time was a young nation — kind of prepubescent, still trying to find its footing.” He continued, “Andrew Jackson ultimately becomes its mouthpiece — the best front man you could possibly have for an ‘emo nation.’” May added, “The show is like an insane mash-up of ‘Schoolhouse Rock,’ ‘South Park,’ and a Fall Out Boy concert.”
Actor Joe Kremer described the play as “like a parallel universe. It’s in the history, but it’s all these modernizations of language…. He [Jackson] says stuff like ‘This sucks!’” (some of the most PG-rated dialogue in the show, which carried provocative “mature audience only” warnings).
At the same time, the piece revealed glimpses of Jackson’s personal and ideological vulnerabilities, bolstered by the pleasantly enjoyable shock of Caleb Reese’s clear, melodic voice in the title role, which pointed to his nine-year run with busy local cover band The Instant Classics.
Joe Kremer played multiple parts in Bloody Bloody AJ, including Jackson’s political rival Henry Clay and the Native American statesman Black Fox, who negotiated many of Jackson’s treaties.
“Henry Clay’s just kind of funny, and just like an old, grumpy politician…I would call it ‘My dad in a bad mood on a Sunday morning,’” he said, laughing. “Black Fox is a lot more stoic, and…at the end of the show, very serious.” Kremer concluded, “Black Fox is more me, where Henry Clay is more of a portrayal of a character — let’s put it that way.”
As for using Kremer in the role, May said, “The show was written so that non-Native actors could play the Indians, but…[the] biggie is making sure we represent the Indians in the show in a way that isn’t offensive, doesn’t simmer in stereotype.”
Regarding the production as a whole, Kremer said, “It’s tight jeans, big boots…. When you wear it [the costume]…it’s this eyeliner feeling.” He continued, “I think that’s the big difference — I mean, you could do a show about Andrew Jackson and the 1800s…just based on what’s there…but how fun would it be?”
Kremer said, “I have a 16-year-old daughter…there is no way I could get her to sit…and watch a documentary about Andrew Jackson. It just wouldn’t happen.” He chuckled wryly. “But I could get her to sit in the show and…actually be interested in who he is and what he did and…‘Wait a minute – what did he do? Indians? Why would you do that to people?’”
He started his acting career in Nearly Naked Theatre’s 2002 production of Equus, starring with May in Fuddy Meers and Take Me Out and working under his direction in The Laramie Project and other shows. The actor’s credits include Noises Off, Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Much Ado About Nothing, [sic], and, most recently, Phoenix Theatre’s run of Our Town.
It was a bit of a jump turning from Thornton Wilder to Andrew Jackson, admitted Kremer. “How different is it? Uh, wow… I don’t know how to describe it without some drug reference,” he said with a grin, “because…it’s kind of going from this realm of seriousness…to just this constant thing of laughter…so it’s a very different vibe.”
“Going from drama to comedy…it hits a tightrope, because you come into it still in that dramatic role. It’s difficult, but it’s doable,” continued Kremer. “One of the things we did with Our Town…we took away a little bit of the reverence,” he said. “So once the reverence is gone, going between those two is pretty easy, because they’re [both] shows, they’re just a little different, and you have to just pay attention to what’s in the text, and that’ll guide you into good places.”
Watch for May’s upcoming productions at Stray Cat Theatre and other venues around the Valley. In October, you’ll have a chance to see Joe Kremer as a conflicted Chicago police officer in the dark, gritty comedy A Steady Rain by Keith Huff, produced by Actors Theatre.
- More about the historical Andrew Jackson from the University of Virginia’s Miller Center
- Phoenix Theatre’s upcoming 2013-2014 season
- Stray Cat Theatre
- Actors Theatre