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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Dinosaur fan convention returns to Phoenix August 2: Pop culture event features creator of “Jurassic Park” T.rex, panels, demos and dinosaur-themed exhibitors
From behind-the-scenes stories of Jurassic Park, to nostalgic jabs at The Land Before Time, Arizona’s original dinosaur fan convention Phoenix DinoCon devours movie and TV dinosaurs from 3 p.m. – 9 p.m. on Saturday, August 2 at the Phoenix Center for the Arts.
Nationally unique within the fan event landscape in subject and scope, this 2nd annual dinosaur and kaiju party is suitable for ages 12 and above, but geared toward adults with an everlasting love for dinos. Phoenix DinoCon gives fans a chance to interact with pop culture experts, learn reptilian crafts, purchase locally-produced dinosaur art and even vote a legendary pop culture icon into the Bookmans and Phoenix DinoCon Hall of Distinguished Dinosaurs.
The convention’s extensive Jurassic Park and Jurassic World related programming provides a first-hand account of the original movie’s T.rex – from concept to life-sized, working model – by Sedona resident, sculptor and special effects artist Michael Trcic in the Phoenix DinoCon Tyrannosaurus Theater.
In addition to panels focused on Godzilla and Pacific Rim, Phoenix Dinocon explores appearances of dinosaurs in steampunk and tabletop games. Geologist Melanie Dolberg pits Hollywood dinosaurs against their scientific counterparts and FilmBar‘s Andrea Beesley heads a dinosaur-themed spin-off of her annual Phoenix Comicon signature event, the first-ever Phoenix Ultimate Geek Smackdown: Turbo Dinosaur Edition.
New this year to Phoenix DinoCon is the Diplodocus Demo Den, where fans gain hands-on drawing and crafting experiences like a special make-and-take opportunity: DIY mini-notebooks featuring the hunks of the “Jurassic Park” franchise, depicted in Tiger Beat likenesses.
A Velociraptor Vendor Hall roars through the day with dinosaur-inspired local artists, crafters and business owners. Returning this year are Jon Garza and Damien Hernandez, who make dream dinosaur scenarios a reality on location with pencil and watercolor (think Ron Swansonasaurus or your pet Chihuahuas as dueling sauropods.)
Admission is $5 at phxdinocon.brownpapertickets.com or at the door on August 2 upon availability. After-party tickets to a screening of the ’90s B movie Adventures in Dinosaur City are available for $9 at thefilmbarphx.com/event/619291-adventures-in-dinosaur-city-phoenix.
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.
Escape the sticky days of July with adventures in the intriguing world of science — find self-healing concrete, sort through America’s largest export (trash), and discover the plump, ambling, nearly indestructible waterbear.
Our insatiable curiosity about how things work finds answers in Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-Made World, thanks to the enthralling storytelling of Mark Miodownik, Professor of Materials and Society at University College London. Miodownik, who says he “believes passionately that to engineer is human,” delves into the composition of chocolate, glass, paper, and elastic, visiting a diamond planet along the way.
Oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee investigates the terrifying history of a killer in The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, reaching back to a tumor description written on Egyptian papyrus around 1600 B.C. and following the trail through President Nixon’s National Cancer Act of 1971, on into the present day.
Close to home, two laboratory directors at Phoenix’s Barrow Neurological Institute combine magic with neuroscience. Respected researchers Stephen Macknik and Susan Martinez-Conde belong to the Academy of Magical Arts, the UK’s Magic Circle, the Society of American Magicians, and the International Brotherhood of Magicians. Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals About Our Everyday Deceptions makes the connection between magical illusions and cognitive behavior from marketing to education.
Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash comes from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Edward Humes, who’s written about topics ranging from assassination to Wal-Mart to religion to Chardonnay. Humes tackles America’s waste by illuminating a vast culture of disposable goods in which we each produce 7.1 pounds of garbage each day — 102 tons in a lifetime. He also strikes a note of optimism by exploring eco-conscious initiatives involving earthworms, compost, and art.
When it comes to color, NYU marketing and psychology professor Adam Alter thinks pink…Drunk Tank Pink. Alter looks at behavior-influencing cues like weather patterns, the sound of someone’s name, and paint color, all of which can change our decisions in surprising ways.
Contemporary artist and photographer Rachel Sussman focuses on continuously living organisms 2000 years old and older in her first book, The Oldest Living Things in the World, with essays by New York Times science columnist Carl Zimmer and curator Hans Ulrich Obrist to complement her 124 images. A meditative combination of art and science, Sussman’s book travels around the globe to find the beauty of ancient moss, deep-sea coral beds, the honey mushroom of Utah, and 400,000-year-old Siberian actinobacteria.
Journalist and writer Caspar Henderson finds equally fascinating non-human life-forms in The Book of Barely Imagined Beings, with its 27 gloriously fantastic portraits. Henderson combines science, history, legend and philosophy in his depictions of strange and wondrous creatures like the appealing and astonishingly resilient tardigrade (also known as the waterbear), a microscopic metazoan which can survive unprotected in the vacuum of space. Lose yourself in the author’s astoundingly detailed companion blog of notes for the book.
Back in the realm of humanity, Dava Sobel is a former New York Times science reporter and long-time contributor to Audubon and The New Yorker. Sobel flexes her storytelling muscles in Galileo’s Daughter, a refreshingly intimate and personal glimpse of the love and affection between the groundbreaking scientist and his oldest daughter. Drawn from the letters of the cloistered Sister Maria Celeste to her father, Sobel’s narrative reveals the nun’s nurturing support as Galileo struggled with accusations of heresy, his personal faith, and political battles in the papal court.
Share your own science-related book suggestions in the comments, and watch for our next list of summer reading ideas.
Thanks to librarian René Tanner.
- Find a dazzling array of books in the Phoenix Public Library and Maricopa County Library systems
- Changing Hands (300 W. Camelback Rd.) carries new and used books, and friendly staff members can help you with special orders
- Visit the Maricopa County Reads Summer Reading Program website and register yourself — or your whole family — to earn prizes and a free book
- Alter, Adam. Drunk Tank Pink: And Other Unexpected Forces That Shape How We Think, Feel, and Behave (2013)
- Henderson, Caspar. The Book of Barely Imagined Beings: A 21st Century Bestiary (2013)
- Humes, Edward. Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash (2012)
- Macknik, Stephen & Susan Martinez-Conde. Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals About Our Everyday Deceptions (2010)
- Miodownik, Mark. Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials That Shape Our Man-made World (2014)
- Mukherjee, Siddhartha. The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer (2010)
- Sobel, Dava. Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith and Love (1999)
- Sussman, Rachel. The Oldest Living Things in the World (2014)
Interested in finding a tardigrade of your own? Click here for directions.
Still to come: Delicious tales and stories of love gone wrong