Alternative art gallery .anti_space is moving from its Roosevelt Row ‘hood to a 7,000-square-foot warehouse off 7th Avenue and Buchanan Street.
Owner Scot McKenzie says the move is partially for more space, but mostly for more creative freedom. The kind of art he encourages — everything from electronic music to experimental and abstract art — is something that “most people in Phoenix don’t get.”
The electronic music he creates is representative of “other other side of life that you don’t get to see,” he says. “I want someone to see what I’ve seen in my head. It’s like something I see in that speaker. The space between one and zero. The analog. The space between the beat.”
McKenzie says that at first, the First Friday idea seemed to work as a way to showcase experimental art. But, when it quickly dissolved into “kettle corn, screaming kids and cops everywhere,” he knew he needed a new space. A bigger space.
“It was fun while it lasted,” McKenzie says of First Friday. “But, it wasn’t conducive to me being creative. If it’s a swap meet, I don’t want to do it.”
So, McKenzie found the warehouse, which was an old prop storage facility for an Arizona children’s theater company. He and a team of volunteering friends have just started the renovations, aiming to be open to the public by Art Detour 2010, but he acknowledges it will never be fully completed.
“It’ll never be done,” McKenzie says of the space. “It’ll always be a work in progress. It’s an always changing space.”
The nature of this space lends itself perfectly to the art McKenzie looks to create and hopes to house. In the past, .anti_space has shown work from the likes of Jason Hill and Luster Kaboom. In addition to continuing to show these and other works, he plans to have part of the warehouse be an area for restoration of old mod scooters, a hobby of his.
With this reimagined .anti_space McKenzie wants to show “anything that has beauty. It doesn’t seem to jive,” he says of the scooter aspect, but, “there’s nothing that’s not beautiful about that.”
The warehouse will have floor-to-ceiling gallery walls up to 14 feet tall and an anticipated five studios, but it also takes McKenzie back to his roots.
“It’s my biggest art piece,” McKenzie says of the space itself. “We’re going to try to make this one what we wanted the other one to be.”
For McKenzie, that means a return to the minimal. The warehouse is going to be a huge focal point for this space. He plans on lighting the bare beams, keeping the cold, cement feeling by painting the entrance walls to the gallery black and he even hopes to strip the outside façade down to its bare bricks. The fascination with warehouses began years ago when, at a younger age, he would explore the old warehouses in Phoenix.
“We used to break into warehouses because no one gave a shit about that stuff,” McKenzie says. “We were finding old junky spaces that people were letting us fix up.”
He later would use one of these spaces to create the first .anti_space, which was then located off of 9th Avenue and Madison Street. Let’s hope this move back to that original neighborhood is just the inspiration he needs.
The current .anti_space is currently located at 718 N. 4th St. in Evans Churchill — 602.256.ANTI. The new space, set to debut this spring, will be located at 715 W. Buchanan St. in the Warehouse District.
After a brief hiatus, the Insecure Critic column is back with the same poignant, insightful, selective insecurities as before, but with a new focus: examining the city in which he lives, the issues that he faces and the people and places he encounters.
When I got home from my recent trip to Ohio to visit family for the holidays, it struck me: Phoenix is home to me now. I know that may seem obvious since I have lived almost a third of my life here, but it hadn’t hit me until this trip that I was most at home in the desert. When I first moved to the Valley in 2000, transferring jobs with a former employer, I never saw the move as something permanent. I expected to stay here for a few years then move on. Something has kept me here, though.
If I boil it down to the basics, there are three things that keep me here: the special places that make Phoenix unique, the interesting blend of people you will find here and the paradoxical beauty of the desert.
While some people say that there isn’t anything to do in Phoenix, I find I have the opposite problem. When family comes to visit from out of town, we have trouble getting everything done in time. For example, the Heard Museum is unlike any museum I’ve ever been to, with its unique collection of Native American art. Every time I visit, all I can think is, “Why don’t I come here more often?” I also love the experience of taking someone into You Who Are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies at the Phoenix Art Museum for the first time. Sure, neither of those places is MoMA, but they offer things that are uniquely Phoenix.
Not to get all museum crazy, but the other thing that I absolutely love in Phoenix is the Desert Botanical Garden. It is fun, interesting, beautiful, romantic and inspiring. I also highly recommend the guided tours they offer — I’m personally not much of a guided tour kind of guy, but I went on one last time I was at the garden, and it was fascinating.
I just realized that I am starting to sound like one of those cheesy tourist guides that you find on the nightstand at the Airport Hilton, so I apologize, but there is a reason that the Convention and Visitors Bureau recommends these places: they really are world class, and they are right in Phoenix.
Anyway, my other favorite places in Phoenix are our unique, local restaurants. There is nowhere else that you can find Matt’s Big Breakfast or Postino. I’m not sure of another place that I could find a bar as chill as The Lost Leaf or service as ambivalent as that at Carly’s.
I love the people in Phoenix; sure, when you have a populace that consistently elects the craziest sheriff in the country time after time, you have to wonder about the general mental state of the people, but I appreciate the distinct Arizona culture. As someone with a libertarian political view that borders on anarchist, I like the sort of “live and let live” attitude that tends to prevail in Phoenix. I see it in the way people interact in social situations, the way people behave at work and the way laws are written. Yes, this means that in Arizona your pet project, whether it is bike paths, or publicly funded solar panels, is less likely to be showered with tax dollars, but it also means that people in general respect your ability to make your own decisions. I like that.
I have met some of the most thoughtful, intelligent, clever people I have ever known right here in Phoenix, and I am sure I am going to meet many more.
I remember the first time I was told this maxim about our desert by a priest at a church I attended long ago: The miracle of the desert is finding beauty where you would never expect to see it. It is so true. The most barren and desolate mountain has an uncanny majesty as it stands against the bands of color in the Phoenix sunset. There is inspiration in seeing the tiny blossoms of a desert plant surrounded by acres and acres of dry, dusty land. It is a reminder that the most beautiful and meaningful things often come to us in hardship and difficulty. The desert speaks to me.
Am I a diehard evangelist for Phoenix, or am I vowing to stay here until I die? Absolutely not. But, by the same token, I will never be one of those people who constantly bitches about Phoenix, about how awful the transit, weather, people, politics or education is here, and how they can’t wait to move to San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland or Seattle, as though someone were holding a gun to their head forcing them to stay here. If someone offered me a dream job in Boston or Chicago, of course I would move. But, I’m happy where I am now.
We hear it all the time: Phoenix has no density; Phoenix has no true Downtown core; Phoenix is the king of sprawl and not much more. I’m not writing to argue these points. But, looking back on the 2009, Downtown Phoenix got quite a bit more urbanized — probably more than one can reasonably expect in a year’s time.
You can’t help but be amazed that how successful the METRO light rail transition has been. The ridership numbers in year one completely blew away expectations. A rail culture, fueled by endless promotions, great blogs like RailLife.com and LightRailBlogger.com and a seemingly immediate impact at several intersections (most notably Central and Camelback) has me excited to see that Phoenix has indeed embraced mass transit. Sure, there are still kinks to be worked out, but all those who said it couldn’t work have been proven wrong. I’ve even run into several Downtown Phoenix residents over the past year who have sold their cars since the light rail launch. That’s progress.
Civic Space Park opened in 2009, along with the restoration of the historic A.E. England Building on its grounds. The heart of Downtown Phoenix has needed park space desperately, and this is a true urban park — solar power, gray water redistribution, funky artwork, retail spaces and scheduled entertainment. It helps that the focus on actually getting to the park has leaned toward transit or by foot or bike. The close proximity to ASU’s Downtown Phoenix campus has been a boon, and integration into the First and Third Friday scene was swift and successful. Now if we could only utilize that amphitheater space to its full potential…
We had heard about it for months, and when the Urban Grocery and Wine Bar finally opened its doors, it was a pivotal point in Downtown Phoenix’s history. We’ve yearned, begged and flat-out shouted our need for a grocer south of I-10, and it was beginning to feel as if it would never happen. Now, after a few months of experimentation, the Urban Grocery has a great balance of amazing local produce, food products and wine and beer; just the right amount of household necessities (all eco-friendly!); and a highly underrated kitchen that churns out some of Downtown’s best lunches. The regularly scheduled wine tastings don’t hurt, either.
And, who can debate that our taste buds had a nice 2009? Tons of great places opened: Nine05, Postino Central, Lola Coffee Uptown and Roosevelt, Hula’s Modern Tiki, Gallo Blanco Café, Local Breeze, PastaBAR, St. Francis and the Turf, as well as others, all opened in ’09 and became instant favorites.
With so much progress in a year (let alone during the big bad recession), it’s encouraging to see what’s happening in our city. Nothing happens overnight. Perhaps there won’t be much difference at this point in 2011. But, great people are doing great things close to us. Let’s encourage it. 2010 has great things in store.Banner photo by Jason Garcia
Hard to believe it’s already Third Friday. This month, DPJ is suggesting a slightly different agenda than months past. Usually, we offer a specific show at a featured location to check out along your art walk. But, seeing as it’s the holidays, let’s take a trip to see the lights and get into the spirit. Here’s our itinerary:
To start off the night, check out the second outpost of Lola Coffee at the Gold Spot building at 1001 N. 3rd Ave. The shop will celebrate its grand opening with music, art and of course, plenty of good java. Downtown Friday Night, the weekly networking and socializing crew, will be on hand from 7-10 p.m. Follow them on Twitter (@downtownfn) for all the info.
Once you’ve warmed up at Lola, head north on 3rd Avenue into Willo to see the neighborhood’s most decked out house near Coronado Road. Trust us, you can see this thing from blocks away. It radiates color… things move in the yard… it’s pretty serious. While you’re in the ‘hood, check out the (palm) tree-lined streets of Willo. A lot of houses in the area have impressive light displays. Also another good light-seeing area: in Roosevelt between Roosevelt Street and I-10, and 3rd and 7th avenues.
Leaving Willo, head back down Central Avenue. Once back near Roosevelt Row, finish off your holiday shopping at Made, 922 N. 5th St. Made has lots of locally made trinkets, great artwork, fun clothing and cool stuff for the home. Can’t figure out what to get DPJ for the holidays? Our office sure could use that felt squirrel for the wall.
Shopping’s done, and the holiday stress melts away. The bungalows heading south along 5th Street have some lights to check out, then hook a right at Garfield and head a block west to Nine|05, where you can have a nightcap amidst the icy cool lights surrounding the outdoor bar. Nine|05 always has funky tunes pumping on the patio, and the offered libations will warm you up on the cool evening.
Happy sight-seeing on the last Third Friday of the year. Remember, we like that felt squirrel for our office wall.
Previous week’s games
12/05/09 SUNS 115, Kings 107
12/06/09 Lakers 108, SUNS 88
12/08/09 Mavericks 102, SUNS 101
This week’s games
12/11/09 SUNS vs Magic, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
12/12/09 SUNS @ Nuggets, 7 p.m., My45
12/15/09 SUNS vs Spurs, 7 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona
Here at the Suns Spot we like to focus on the good. Keep a positive vibe, if you will. So, with that said, we’re going to go ahead and brush over last week’s games and focus on one of the great Suns events coming up.
Next Tuesday, December 15, the Phoenix Suns will be hosting their second annual @Phoenix Suns Tweet-Up, presented by Arizona Grand Resort (@ArizonaGrand) as they face the heavily hated San Antonio Spurs at US Airways Center. The event is put together for the many Suns fans that follow the team on Twitter, and the evening will be filled with many special, exclusive activities for Tweet-Up attendees.
So, what’s a Tweet-Up? Jeramie McPeek, the Suns’ webmaster, fills us in.
“A ‘tweet-up’ is just a social gathering of people on Twitter,” McPeek says. “There are all different types of tweet-ups happening around the country, but our tweet-ups are held on a Suns game night, and give our followers a chance to attend a game at a discounted ticket price, and sit with fellow tweeps. We also try to come up with some unique perks for these events, because we want our followers to feel special. They are serious, hardcore, passionate Suns fans who are tweeting about us on a daily basis, so we want them to really have a fun experience.”
But, what if you don’t use Twitter, or you do, but just don’t follow the Suns? McPeek thinks any Suns fan should be a follower.
“Through our primary account, @PhoenixSuns, we tweet breaking news, behind-the-scenes stories, pictures or videos from practices and events, quotes from the locker room and courtside observations from games,” McPeek says. “We also provide a lot of information about fan events or promotions, and are regularly giving away tickets or merchandise to our Twitter followers. And, of course, we’re also interacting with our fans.”
At the Tweet-Up, tweeps will be granted early access inside US Airways Center (@SunsCrib) to watch Suns players warm up before the game. Fans will also be able to purchase discounted concessions during the pregame “Twitter Tailgate,” as well as receive a free Suns Tweet-Up shirt, only available to those fans that purchase tickets to the event, and have group seating with their fellow Twitter users.
During the game fans will be able to have their tweets shown on the big screen inside the arena as well as on the live game broadcast on FSN Arizona (@FoxSportsAZ). Anyone who currently follows the Suns on Twitter might be thinking, So what, the Suns post tweets during every home game? While that is true, fans that send in their tweets during the Tweet-Up will have a chance to win prizes for best Twitpic (picture via tweet), and who doesn’t love winning prizes?
Want some tips on how to win prizes for best Twitpic? Go all out. Wear some face paint. Do your face up half orange and half purple. Wigs are a nice touch as well. We’re playing the freakin’ Spurs, so it shouldn’t be hard for you to get up for this game and show everyone that you’re ORNG. Get a stuffed animal coyote, tie a rope around it’s neck and drag it around the Purple Palace. I’m pretty sure if you do any of those things and Twitpic them, your chances at winning a prize will be greatly increased.
The fun doesn’t stop at the end of 48 minutes, though. After the game, Suns tweeps attending the event will be invited to an exclusive question-and-answer session with All-Star forward Amar’e Stoudemire (@Amareisreal).
Tweet-Up ticket packages are available in the lower level for $64 — fans can save over $60, according to McPeek — and the upper level for $32 and can be purchased at Suns.com by using the password “tweeps.”
The Suns are also planning Facebook and PlanetOrange.net nights for later in the season.
Suns fans attending the Tweet-Up are highly encouraged to attend US Airways Center via the METRO light rail through the Ride Rail Event program, which allows fans attending a game to use their game ticket as light rail fare four hours prior to tip-off through the end of the transit day.