Arts & Culture
It may look a little imposing from the outside, but the Irish Cultural Center and the adjoining McClelland Library offer an astonishing gamut of Irish events and educational opportunities for anyone who wants to know a little more about the rich history and culture of the Emerald Isle. At first glance, you may ask yourself “An Irish cultural center, in Arizona?,” but a surprising number of Irish immigrants and transplants have made their way to Arizona in the last 150 years, and this unique complex is an important cultural resource for anyone who wants to better understand their real or imagined Irish roots. Fashioned after authentic Irish buildings and built with some traditional materials, like the blue limestone that was brought to the site from County Galway, the Center transports visitors to another time and place.
Situated on the southeast corner of Hance Park and Central Ave, the Irish Cultural Center was created out of a unique public/private partnership among the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department; ADOT; a Sister City relationship with Ennis, Ireland; and the nonprofit Irish Cultural and Learning Foundation. The foundation raised the initial $100,000 to plan for the center, and the project received bond money to construct the initial elements of the site: An Gorta Mór Hunger Memorial (dedicated in 1999); An Halla Mór, aka The Great Hall (dedicated on St. Patrick’s Day in 2002); and the Irish 1850′s Cottage (dedicated in 2004).
The most recent addition to the complex, the McClelland Library, is a three story building resembling a traditional 12th century Norman castle, which was fully-funded by Norman McClelland of the Arizona-based, family-owned Shamrock Farms. “While the Center as whole embraces many aspects of Irish life and culture,” said Chas Moore, the head librarian for the McClelland (pictured right), “the library gives us an opportunity to showcase Ireland’s rich art and literary traditions, as well as provide genealogy resources for people interested in tracing their own Irish backgrounds.”
Now is a perfect time to visit both the Center and the McClelland library, as they launch a month and a half of special programming to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the publication of James Joyce’s The Dubliners.
Joyce wrote the groundbreaking collection of short stories in 1905 and spent nearly ten years struggling to get it published because of controversial elements in the stories. After Irish publishers repeatedly refused the collection, it was finally published in London in 1914. The celebration features events from September 24 through November 8.
Celebrate the 100-Year Anniversary of the Publication of The Dubliners
Wednesday, September 24, 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.: Lecture on “James Joyce’s The Dubliners: Still Engaging Readers and Writers 100 Years After Publication” presented by Irish-born poet Adrienne Leavy. $5 donation for nonmembers, free for members.
Saturday, October 11, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.: Book discussion of the first fourteen stories in The Dubliners. Free to everyone.
Wednesday, October 22, 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.: Screening of the independent film Dubliners in Arizona featuring local actors and settings. $5.00 for members, $7.50 for nonmembers.
Saturday, November 8, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.: Discussion of the final story in the collection, “The Dead” and a screening of the film directed by John Huston and starring his daughter, Angelica Huston.
If you haven’t yet crossed the threshold of the Irish Cultural Center and the McClelland Library, don’t hesitate. In addition to the wonderful buildings, the rich resources, and the regular events and celebrations held there, this hidden gem hosts an array of ongoing Irish language, dancing and music classes available to everyone.
If You Go:
What: Irish Cultural Center and McClelland Library
Where: 1106 N. Central Avenue
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.; Wednesday evening open till 8:00 p.m.
Featured image courtesy of Irish Cultural Center
About 150 people gathered at ASU School of Art‘s new Grant Street Studios last Tuesday, hosted by ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, for RadiatePHX – a monthly networking event for business, community, and city leaders produced by Downtown Phoenix Inc. and Downtown Phoenix Journal.
The focus for this month’s gathering was a celebration of both ASU’s new digs in the Warehouse District, and the overall impact of the arts in downtown.
As we all know by now, two major sports events, the NFL’s Pro Bowl and Super Bowl, will be coming to the Valley in late January and early February. Our favorite city will be flooded with media from around the country visiting Super Bowl Central right here in downtown.
As a community, we want to share the compelling stories that define our downtown spirit with visitors, whether they be from across the country or across the Valley.
So what exactly are the stories we will be telling?
The City of Phoenix and the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee are convening committees in preparation for the festivities, and the marketing and media committee is helping identify the many things to do while here in Phoenix.
So, we decided to ask the gathered crowd at RadiatePHX to help identify the art and culture stories that people care about the most. It was a simple, non-scientific poll, but it garnered interesting results.
To simplify the polling, we created six overarching categories: visual art, performing art, literary art, architecture and historic preservation, and public art. In addition, we provided a “write-in” category to capture anything that didn’t quite fit in the those categories. Everyone who attended received tickets to vote in the category of their choice. Participation was brisk and the results were telling.
Visual Art: 48
Architecture/Historic Preservation: 57
Literary Art: 9
Performing Art: 37
Public Art: 61
Public art, along with architecture and historic preservation, were the two categories that came out on top. Again, it was an entirely unscientific poll, but the “public” nature of both of those choices seems to indicate that people are increasingly aware of the value of public spaces in making our city remarkable. Beautiful public spaces to move through, along with a diverse range artistic and cultural events to choose from are clearly points of pride that we all agree deserve to be shared.
The write-in category received a handful of ideas. Some were related to the arts categories above, some were specific events, and some had a temporary or “pop-up” theme. Most of the write-in suggestions resonated with the overall bent toward activated public spaces.
What do you think of the results? If you weren’t able to attend our September RadiatePHX, what categories would you have chosen?
Comment below and join in the effort to build a list of “must experience” arts places and events that will show the world what matters to those of us who live, work and play in downtown.
And be sure to join us in October, and on the third Tuesday of every month, for RadiatePHX.
“The writer who never talks about eating, about appetite, hunger, food, about cooks and meals, arouses my suspicion,” writes Aldo Buzzi, “as though some vital element were missing in him.”
This delectable list of literary bites includes authors who would entirely allay Buzzi’s suspicions with their savory descriptions of tastes, textures, and every emotion connected with food. Whet your appetite with Ruth Reichl’s first novel plus fresh new works by Jael McHenry and Michelle Wildgen and venerable classics by M.F.K. Fisher, Elizabeth David, and Buzzi himself.
As a voracious reader, I have a tendency to zip through books; Life is Meals: A Food Lover’s Book of Days encourages me to slow down and read just a bit at a time, in tiny, much-anticipated doses. Author James Salter and his wife Kay — herself a journalist and playwright — offer glimpses into their happy marriage with snippets of humor, philosophy, history, reminiscence, scientific fact and verse (like the love poem from husband to wife beginning, “My darling, you will quickly see/This tiny box contains no Brie…”).
Featured recipes range from a dessert named in honor of Nellie Melba, who dazzled audiences at Covent Garden and New York’s Metropolitan Opera House, to Polpettone alla Toscana. Topics include Giuseppe Verdi, Watergate, yogurt, the Sicilian Vespers, soba, Tex-Mex food, Mme de Pompadour, raisins, Lucullus, hot dogs, Knights Templar, and Madame Bovary, wonderfully complemented throughout with delicate and lovely illustrations by Fabrice Moireau. Reading this book is like enjoying one small, ripe, succulent tomato directly from the vine each day.
Winner of a National Magazine Award and numerous James Beard awards, Jeffrey Steingarten serves as longtime food critic at Vogue and as a judge on The Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef. Steingarten’s collection The Man Who Ate Everything won the 1998 Julia Child Book Award as well as honors from the British Guild of Food Writers, and his work has also appeared in The New York Times and Slate Magazine. Named a Chevalier in the Order of Merit by the French Republic, he rewards the reader with twists of dry humor and a willingness to immerse himself in rigorous, painstaking research; delve into his memorable studies of ketchup (whatever your preferred spelling) and sourdough. Steingarten shares writing talents similar to those of the late great Roger Ebert in his deft facility with description and evocative turns of phrase.
British food writer Elizabeth David (1913-1992) piqued the interest of her countrymen in authentic, seasonal Mediterranean and French food with highly regarded cookbooks and articles in Harper’s Bazaar as well as other newspapers and magazines. Her practical yet deeply scholarly anthologies An Omelette and a Glass of Wine and Is There a Nutmeg in the House? blend historical fact with recipes and vigorous, tenacious opinions. David wasn’t shy about voicing judgments on everything from garlic presses (“utterly useless”) to the “idiotic term crispy” to the herb rosemary (“I can’t say I share the taste to any great extent”).
David’s contemporary, the iconic Mary Frances Kennedy (M.F.K.) Fisher, became one of the most influential American nonfiction writers, publishing autobiographical essays in The New Yorker and later collections such as Consider the Oyster, How to Cook a Wolf – about living and dining during wartime — The Gastronomical Me, Here Let Us Feast: A Book of Banquets, and With Bold Knife and Fork. Fisher led a long, adventurous life and wrote about every experience, from the perfect salad to mortal illness. Her dependably revealing and cosmopolitan treasuries are particularly appropriate for travel reading.
Aldo Buzzi (pronounced “Bootsie”) was an architect, a filmmaker who worked with the likes of Alberto Lattuada and Federico Fellini, and, late in life, an author. He died in 2009 at the age of 99. The Perfect Egg and Other Secrets (translated from the Italian by Guido Waldman) gathers Buzzi’s reminiscences and recipes alongside drawings by his dear friend Saul Steinberg, the New Yorker illustrator whose style encompassed caricature and cartoon with hints of Picasso.
If you prefer the flavor of fiction, try Jael McHenry’s The Kitchen Daughter. Much like Jonathan Lethem’s Motherless Brooklyn and Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, McHenry’s debut novel offers thoughtful insights into the perspectives of those with Asperger’s syndrome. Shy, sheltered, introverted Ginny Selvaggio is a gifted cook who finds herself able to speak with the dead through their recipes (many of which are well worth trying, including the flavorful and comforting ribollita). In her distinctive voice, Ginny provides glimpses into a mysteriously different world of perception as she struggles with her protective, domineering sister.
Dream Lake comes from the Friday Harbor series by Lisa Kleypas, set in the Pacific Northwest. With this novel Kleypas begins to actively explore the supernatural — in the shape of an amnesiac ghost — along with food-focused ambience. Innkeeper and chef Zoe Hoffman creates dishes with near-magical effects: “The kitchen seemed to breathe around them, stirring currents of toasted air that carried the bittersweet zest of lemon rind, the dank sweetness of scrubbed wooden cutting boards, the floating richness of cake, the crisp bite of cinnamon and the black tang of coffee.”
The intricate dance of birth order and relationships in Michelle Wildgen’s gorgeously addictive Bread and Butter made it a perfect choice for our earlier summer reading post on sibling rivalry, but the author’s juicy and creative dishes demand equal attention. Three brothers find their footing from childhood rivalry to adulthood and their management of competing restaurants. Charming, captivating and subtly quirky, Bread and Butter delivers romance and tension with vivid scents and sensations.
And Wildgen writes confidently and convincingly about the backstage world of fine dining and the complex balance between staff and customers — just try to resist her spot-on description of a chef’s pâté-centric reaction to certain clientele: “When a table was being nitpicky or snobbish, he’d roll out a hostile, elegant little still life centered on the unctuous rosy brown velvet square studded with green pistachios and dark garnet pigeon breast, accompanied by hand-ground mustard and silky sheets of pickled turnip. He’d had to stop eventually. Pigeon was a pricey form of psychological warfare, and Shelley complained that cooking pâté made her hair smell of blood.”
For ten years the James Beard Award-winning Ruth Reichl was Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet Magazine, previously serving as restaurant critic for The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. At last, long after successfully publishing the memoirs Tender at the Bone, Comfort Me With Apples, and Garlic and Sapphires, Reichl tackles fiction with Delicious!, the story of — appropriately enough — a budding food writer. Those who appreciate Reichl’s reviews and essays may enjoy the different nuances of her first-person novel.
- Check out the Phoenix Public Library and Maricopa County Library systems throughout the Valley
- Changing Hands carries new and used books, and friendly staff members can help you with special orders at two locations:
- 300 W. Camelback Rd., Phoenix, 85013 — 602-274-0067
- 6428 S. McClintock Dr., Tempe, 85283 — 480-730-0205
- David, Elizabeth (ed. Jill Norman). Is There a Nutmeg in the House? (2000)
and An Omelette and a Glass of Wine (1986)
- Fisher, M.F.K. Consider the Oyster (1941)
and The Gastronomical Me (1943)
and Here Let Us Feast: A Book of Banquets (1946)
and How to Cook a Wolf (1942)
and With Bold Knife and Fork (1969)
- Kleypas, Lisa. Dream Lake (2012)
- McHenry, Jael. The Kitchen Daughter (2011)
- Reichl, Ruth. Delicious!: A Novel (2014)
- Salter, James & Kay. Life Is Meals: A Food Lover’s Book of Days (2006)
- Steingarten, Jeffrey. The Man Who Ate Everything (1997)
- Wildgen, Michelle. Bread and Butter (2014)
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
ASU Art Museum receives $144k Museums for America grant from IMLS
The ASU Art Museum is the recipient of a $144,000 Museums for America grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), in support of the museum’s International Artist Residency Program at Combine Studios.
With this grant funding, the ASU Art Museum will commission three international artists to develop collaborative art projects with community-based partners to allow for direct engagement with diverse communities and encourage active participation in the creative process. As part of the museum’s International Artist Residency Program at Combine Studios, artists will be integrated into the community to work alongside social service agencies, community organizations, university departments, residents, artists and students to generate artistic ideas. Each artist in residence will connect to the community through exhibitions, publications, performances, events, lectures, discussions, new community engagement and collaborations. The flow and exchange of artistic ideas will create new audiences, engaged partners and supporters of the museum as a catalyst for change in the community.
“The ASU Art Museum, in all of its work, but particularly through its national and internationally supported residency program, exemplifies much of what the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts and the New American University are,” says Gordon Knox, the ASU Art Museum’s director (pictured right). “Our visiting artists engage in cross-departmental collaborations and socially embedded projects that have tangible impact on the region, empowering communities and advancing critical reappraisals of some of this generation’s most pressing challenges. Bringing some of the art world’s most innovative thinkers to the Valley and giving them the time and support to engage with the local community in the production of new artist-led investigations demonstrate how ASU is putting new ideas into action while advancing research and educating the next generation. The ASU Art Museum’s work, and support such as this grant, exemplifies and makes concrete core aspirations of ASU and the Herberger Institute.”
Established in 2011, the ASU Art Museum International Artist Residency Program brings accomplished professional artists from around the world to develop new work in partnership with the intellectual resources of Arizona State University and the diverse communities within Arizona. Through the program, artists develop work that investigates the pressing issues of our time in collaboration with scientists, technologists, social agencies and community organizations.
Images courtesy of ASU Art Museum
Downtown is more than a grid system of streets and square miles. It is experienced in the sights, sounds, feel and tastes that are unique to the place. In this short series, DPJ contributor, Colin Columna hones in on the five senses as his guide to explore what makes downtown Phoenix unique.
The Phoenix Public Art Program was launched in 1986 through a visionary ordinance that allocates one percent of the Phoenix Capital Improvement Program to enhancing the design of public buildings, infrastructure and spaces. The program has been uniquely successful because Phoenix is a relatively new city. Unlike older urban communities, Phoenix has available open space in which to plan and build its future and a citizenry with hands-on involvement in that growth. In the last 28 years, the program has created more than 180 art installation projects throughout the city in neighborhood parks, on bridges, along canals, on public streets, in recycling centers, at airports and in civic gathering places. By bringing together artists, residents, architects, engineers and landscape designers to integrate art into the infrastructure of our communities, the program adds to the dialogue of how we relate to our urban environment.
A good starting point for discovering public art in Phoenix is at The Gallery @ City Hall on Washington St. and Third Ave. Currently on view in the gallery is Art Under Foot: Handmade Floors at the PHX Sky Train. The exhibit highlights the dynamic collaboration between the four artists and the many skilled craftspeople involved in creating the commissioned terrazzo floors at the PHX Sky Train stations. Included in the exhibit are artists’ original drawings, computerized models, hands-on displays, and a short video describing the 40,000 hours of labor required to complete the project. The exhibit makes visible how the process works, how artists are involved from the beginning, and how the art is integral to the overall project.
“Public art,” states Ed Lebow, Phoenix Public Art Program Director, “and the Phoenix Public Art Program in particular, allows us the opportunity ask the impertinent question ‘What if?’ to the blank concrete stares of most urban settings. What if we imagine new ideas for the purpose of public spaces? How can we enhance the experience of traveling through these urban places? Is it possible that an installation can improve a community’s quality of life?”
The answers involve many steps, and many hands, from artist conception to art installation. “The nature of commissioned work is site specific,” Lebow explains. “A place designated for the art piece to be conceptually integrated, to be one of the components of the fully realized project.” Within those parameters, or restrictions, “intensive problem solving occurs. Each project is completed through a collaboration of thinkers.”
The placement of artworks in neighborhoods and public spaces, and as functional elements within those environments – walkways, gateways and bridges – challenges a cardinal rule of art engagement: Don’t touch. “The joy of art is very tactile,” counters Lebow. “Each work is created by the touch of artists: molded, painted, built. They are artworks, but first they are works created by hand. I don’t believe they are something removed or special, but a part of life,” he explains.
Trained as a potter in college, Lebow confesses he “fell off the wheel” to explore other endeavors, but his personal and physical relationship with created works is evident. As a potter applies glaze, he describes the Taylor Streetscape as layers of experience. “The sidewalks are expanded and embedded with artwork to encourage strolling. So touch may be the first sense engaged. Trees are a vital part of the design and set in wide basins, capturing and reflecting water during rainy seasons. Pedestrians hear the sound and feel the cool breeze through their branches. Or they smell the plants as they respond to changes in atmosphere.” In this way, the art lives in the community.
Since its inception, the program has garnered numerous awards for design excellence, including two Design for Transportation Awards from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Endowment for the and, several Valley Forward Association Environmental Excellence Awards. Most recently, the Americans for the Arts Public Art Network Year in Review named two Phoenix projects, Ground Cover and Desert Spring, among the nation’s top 37 public arts projects.
“As we build our city,” Lebow says, “public art allows us to create a balance of the aesthetic and the practical…and an environment to keep our senses engaged.”
The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture manages the city’s public art program, administers a grants program, supports arts learning, provides information and assistance to artists and cultural organizations, and oversees the city’s cultural planning efforts.
One way to start your own downtown Phoenix Public Art Tour is to visit The Gallery @ City Hall, or download a self-guided map to the public art located throughout downtown Phoenix.
If You Go
Where: The Gallery @City Hall, 200 West Washington Street (ground floor)
When: 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, Monday through Friday.
Cost: The Gallery is free and open to the public. In addition to the exhibition, self-guided public art maps are available in the gallery and online.