Arts & Culture
Kyle Jordre’s artist’s statement opens with “When I paint, I get lost.” He may get lost in his paintings, but they have helped him find himself and his place in Downtown Phoenix. Just a few years ago, Jordre was a middle school teacher in Minnesota. Today, he’s a well-known local artist who was recently named the New Times “Best Artist Who Colors Outside the Lines.”
Before moving to Phoenix, a high school drafting class was the only formal art training that Jordre had ever taken. His background is in primary education, a career he pursued for nearly a decade, teaching fifth and sixth grade social studies in a middle school in Egan, MN, a Minneapolis suburb. Needing a shift in perspective, he took some time off and moved to San Diego, then headed to San Francisco after landing a job as a corporate trainer for a Silicon Valley high-tech firm. After a few years in this field, including a brief stint in North Carolina, Jordre remained restless.
It wasn’t until he was renovating his North Carolina home in 2005 that Jordre stumbled upon painting. Needing a piece of art to fill a blank wall in his home, he picked up a canvas from a craft store, filled two plastic condiment bottles with paint and started splattering away. His hands ached for weeks afterward. But, it was worth the temporary pain, as it launched his career as an artist. The original piece now hangs in his parents’ home.
Jordre moved to Phoenix in the spring of 2006. He had visited on several occasions, and enjoyed the culture of First Friday art walks. While looking for houses, on a whim, Jordre asked his real estate agent if there were any art studios on the market. The agent showed him a small vintage building on Grand Avenue. Jordre knew immediately that this former grocery store-turned-art gallery was the right space, and Jordre Studio was born.
Since then, Jordre has progressed from creating art with condiment bottles to other kitchen implements such as wooden spoons, spatulas and serving forks. One tool he has never used, however, is a paint brush. Jordre uses his unconventional implements as a way to get a lot of paint on a canvas quickly, as he says doesn’t have a lot of patience and wants to see his work come to life in front of him.
As a rule, Jordre doesn’t name his paintings, nor sign them to indicate orientation. He “wants people to look at the art and react for themselves.” Leaving paintings unnamed allows for people to be drawn in and find their own meaning. Jordre feels this encourages dialogue, and ultimately broadens the meaning of his work over time.
Jordre has no formal training or connection to the art world. Far from limiting him, however, he credits it with his early success. “Not going to art school was a benefit to me,” he says. He feels that his lack of formal training has freed him to experiment and left him open to new ideas and methods that he may not otherwise have attempted. He jokes, “If I went to art school, I’d probably be painting with a brush!”
One benefit of being new to the art scene was that Jordre had no had no clue about how difficult it is to sell art. “If I did,” Jordre comments, “I would never have started.” He estimates that it takes at least 1,000 people viewing a piece of art to find the right buyer. That’s a lot of eyeballs. To attract them, Jordre participates in First Friday art walks, holds several shows each year and uses the Web and social media to market his work.
Another unique aspect of Jordre’s art is its sustainability. He makes every effort to reuse and repurpose materials in his work. All the paint he uses comes from the “oops” section in local paint and hardware stores. He also reuses the paint cans, turning them into sculptures, furniture or room dividers. An upcoming show, opening November 14 at the Sunrise Mountain Library in Peoria, highlights his dedication to the environment by asking, “What color is green?” He is promoting it using cut-up pieces of some of his paintings.
A self-declared introvert, Jordre has nonetheless channeled the educator in him to reach out and interact with his community. He says that as an artist, you need to take part in the a community to survive. To this end, Jordre views his gallery space as a community resource for others. Not only does he open his gallery on First Fridays, but he also allows other artists to use it for openings and receptions.
Jordre also uses his studio space to hold small workshops and retreats for friends, other artists and other small groups. During these sessions, Jordre talks about his work, how he creates it and his “no rule” approach. He then turns the participants loose with stir sticks, grilling forks, squeegees, spatulas and power drills on large group-sized and smaller personal canvases. Jordre enjoys these sessions, as they combine his education and facilitation background with his passion for painting. He has had great feedback from participants as well. Even the most reticent people end up enjoying these events, channeling their inner artists.
In addition, Jordre has donated several pieces of his art to local fundraising efforts. Some highlights include a 2007 Free Arts of Arizona ‘Chair’-ty Fundraiser, the “Diner in the Stacks” 2007 fundraiser for the Phoenix Public Library Association at the at Burton Barr Library, a “belly cast” to benefit the Phoenix Birthing Project and a Twestival fundraiser earlier this fall benefiting St. Mary’s Foodbank. This fall, Jordre will participate in two charitable projects: The Mannequin is our Muse Design Competition at the newly opened Barney’s in Scottsdale benefiting the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, and the All Decks on Hand auction at After Hours Creative benefiting the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center.
Jordre’s dedication to his community has begun to pay off. Recently, the city of Peoria purchased one of his paintings (and a pair of boots he wore while creating it). The painting (#117) now hangs immediate inside the newly opened Sunrise Public Library, and is the centerpiece of the building. A short video of the painting’s creation is available for viewing here. Next year, some of his work will appear in the Glendale Public Library.
Jordre is glad that he is part of Grand Avenue. He enjoys the energy and vitality that is building along the street. He also enjoys the fact that people are able to do their own thing, whether it be painting, other forms of arts or the many crafts-related galleries and stores that are popping up. As for the future of the street, he would love to see it live up to its full potential and is looking forward to its continued evolution. He admits that such an evolution is dismaying to some — noting that emotions and business don’t always mix. Nevertheless, Jordre asserts that like art itself, a successful arts district can’t be static; it needs to adapt to changing times and demographics. The challenge is finding appropriate ways of doing so, namely through encouraging small businesses, artists and entrepreneurs who can connect with a community in a way that larger business cannot.
Jordre Studio is located at 1007 Grand Ave. To schedule a studio visit, or for further inquiry, contact Kyle by email or by calling 602.254.6303.
Twitter has been all, well, a-twitter about the new DIY-style horror flick Paranormal Activity, so I thought I would check it out. Originally released to the film festival circuit in 2007, now picked up by Paramount, Paranormal Activity purports to be the footage taken by a San Diego couple from their camcorder as they experience a series of supernatural events.
Through the lens of the couple’s camera, we see doors slam, a Ouija board become possessed and some creepy footprints magically appear in their bedroom. A well-meaning psychic tries to help the couple out, but is unable, then unwilling, to do so, leaving them to fend for themselves when the final attack of the demon is captured on tape. The extremely predictable ending is insulting to anyone with more complex emotions than a 13-year-old.
There is no clever editing or creative storytelling; instead, we just see the events as the director wants us to see them, painfully aware that the characters are dragging the camera around their house, even when it is highly implausible that they would be doing so.
Paranormal Activity also misses the mark on its sense of timing and suspense. It is so painfully obvious when the audience is supposed to feel impending doom or fear, and the “scary” events are trumpeted with a chorus fitting the entry of a monarch. The movie is “boo” scary, like an uncle surprising you by jumping out from behind a door, but it isn’t metaphysically, emotionally or psychically crazy. No one leaves the theater thinking that the events in the movie could happen to them; one just leaves with the same feeling of adrenaline depletion one gets after a short roller coaster ride.
I haven’t visited the new restaurant that occupies the former Fate, so I was excited to get the chance to do so during a Downtown Friday Night event. The remodeled, revamped Nine|05 is a stark contrast to the old restaurant that occupied the space. While I can appreciate the aesthetics of a building that is more house than restaurant, it is refreshing to see that Nine|05 now looks like it is complete, instead of the “sort of, not quite” look that characterized Fate.
The soba noodles were delicious — I am a big cashew fan, so I was excited to try the combination of cabbage, radish and cashews with classic soba. The seasoning was strong, but well tempered. The fried heirloom tomatoes were also delicious, with a savory aioli and basil that made them almost feel like the start of a sort of deconstructed Asian caprese.
The wine selection is decent — we had a bottle of the Brazin Old Vine Zin, a Lodi wine with a heavy dose of cherry.
The service was good, and the front patio is great for a casual hangout with friends. Nine|05 ranks right up there with Gallo Blanco as a great place to eat and drink, and wait for people to show up. The pricing is on the high side, though. Seared scallops or Hoisin Short Rib will put you back $26, but if you are looking to splurge just a bit and stay Downtown, try out Nine|05.
It’s hard to make a buck in this sour economy, so most of us just sit and complain about it on Twitter all day. Luckily, Haus Modern Living owner Lew Gallo thought of a clever way to bring the two concepts together — spending money at deserving local businesses and tweeting while doing it. He’s introducing TwitterHunt. The concept is pretty simple and fun, and it only requires that you want to spend some cash and have a Twitter account. Here’s the scoop.
Twelve local businesses will be participating in the event on November 12 (Haus, Oliver & Annie, Stinkweeds, Urban Cookies, Postino, Lisa G, Hula’s Modern Tiki, Gallo Blanco Café, Maizie’s, Frances, Red Hot Robot and Smeeks). This is how it works:
- At 4 p.m. all of the businesses participating in the TwitterHunt will be sending out their first tweet instructing all of their followers to go to one of three businesses to begin.
- When you arrive at the first business, you make a purchase and receive an envelope marked either A, B or C that contains a prize to be redeemed at another store in the hunt. DO NOT OPEN THE ENVELOPE OR THE PRIZE IS VOID!
- At 5 p.m. you will receive the next tweet that lets you know which store to go to based on your marked envelope.
- When you arrive at the next business, you hand the envelope to the cashier and they will open it and give you your prize.
- To stay in the hunt, you then make a purchase at that store and receive another envelope marked A, B or C that works the same way. Wait until 6 p.m. to find out which store to proceed to next and claim your prize. The tweets will be sent out every hour on the hour from 4 until 8 p.m. — that’s 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 p.m. TwitterHunt is over at 10 p.m.
For more information, become a fan of TwitterHunt on Facebook.
During the rise of various punk and hardcore bands in the ’80s and ’90s, the living room show was commonplace. There was no facility rental fee, no need to find a place to stay and usually free food and drink was involved.
Perhaps then it’s a bit funny that a 30-something folk singer — who coincidentally has deep roots in the punk scene of the Northwest — would attempt that very thing, but in a time when venues across the country are struggling along and music Downtown is supposedly “ovah,” it may just be a perfect fit. In one of the most ambitious, original and risky tours of the year, acoustic crooner Rocky Votolato will be playing in a living room in Downtown Phoenix. And, he’ll be playing one in Gilbert. And, many others all over America. He rolls into Phoenix on Tuesday, October 27.
It turns out that the tour is sort of a far-flung idea one of Votolato’s close friends, fellow Seattle musician David Bazan, had a while back.
“I just wanted to do some low-profile shows to play some songs from my new record that will be coming out early next year,” Votolato says. Since the record won’t be out till then, this is a good way for me to get comfortable playing the new songs and also get back in touch with the fans that really care about my music and what I’m doing. I haven’t been touring much for several years, and I really liked the idea of playing for very small audiences.”
Votolato took the idea and ran with it, enlisting a ticketing agency and soliciting help from people all over the country. Local concert promoter “Psyko” Steve Chilton, who has been booking Votolato in the Valley since 2001, was eager to help.
“It is a really neat concept,” Chilton says of the tour. “I am all about doing anything different and cool. His agent reached out to ask me to help spread the word that they were looking for a house in Phoenix. He wasn’t even asking me to host it, just let people know they were doing it. I just asked if I could host it — it was really simple.”
Though there’s no venue overhead and Votolato is sometimes playing multiple dates in a metro area, this isn’t a money maker for him.
“Compared to a regular club tour, I’m making a lot less money on these trips after expenses because of the limited number of tickets,” Votolato says. “But, I still wanted to do this to try and get back in touch with why I started playing music in the first place, and to give my fans a chance to have a more personal experience.”
Votolato tested out a few West Coast living rooms earlier this year. Now he’s moving further east, playing in Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Las Vegas before heading to the East Coast for two weeks in November.
“These shows create a really intimate environment that is ideal for playing acoustic songs,” Votolato says. “I’m not even using a PA, so it’s super organic.”
But, it’s a bit more involved than simply finding the first bidder to offer up his or her house. Votolato and his team arduously picked through photos of houses, streets and living rooms to find the best fit in each city. It turns out Chilton’s house in the Garfield district ended up working well, especially considering Votolato has performed a handful of times down the street at Modified Arts.
“There was no hesitation to let an old friend come over and play,” Chilton says.
As for Votolato, there are no regrets in undertaking a trek like this. He’ll be back touring traditional venues and bars next year, but this laid back experience has been joyous.
“I’m really grateful to each of the very gracious people volunteering their homes for the evening,” Votolato remarks. “My impression has been that all the hosts and all the fans that have come to these shows have had a great time so far.”
Rocky Votolato will be playing in Downtown Phoenix on Tuesday, October 27. For ticketing information, click here.
I remember one day in the early 90s my parents heard about a movie floating around the Rust Belt called Roger and Me. We were a true blue (or red, I guess) Reagan household, yet there was something about this simple guy harassing the executives at GM that our family found satisfying, and even vindicating.
My dad had worked in the auto industry, and, like me, he had a complicated relationship with big business. He wore an anti-UAW button when the factory he worked at tried to unionize, but he was also willing to expose the evils caused by the greed of the corporatists at the top of the ladder — eventually leading to his early retirement. For as long as I can remember, I have looked critically at systems of authority — including economic systems.
Rand and Me
Ayn Rand’s works have been the prime literary influences on my life, yet I look at what has happened in the alleged free market system that we have in America now, and I know it would have my beloved Objectivist turning in her grave. Rand was the defender of unfettered creativity and innovation, not an advocate for the federal rescue of financial charlatans who create nothing yet rush to the teat of the state when their castles crumble into their sand foundations.
Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story is a biting polemic that bounces back and forth between storytelling and bloviating, but it forces the viewer to take an honest look at the system that we have come to call capitalism. Moore points out that the way the free market is supposed to work, local merchants (think butcher, baker, candlestick maker) offer their goods and services, allowing the public to vote with their dollars to choose the best businessperson.
This is a system that can work swimmingly, and people like me of an anarcho-capitalist bent advocate for such a system. The real problem, though, is when transactions like derivatives on financial markets somehow become tied to the term “capitalism.” There is a strong distinction between an innovator who comes up with a new way of refrigerating produce or a new way of generating electricity and someone whose only addition to society (if you could call it that) is the ability to create a financial instrument so complicated that no lawyer or regulator could ever figure out exactly what it is.
No thanks, I’ll keep living here
As expected in a Moore film, there were a couple of tear-jerking moments. The moment in which I wanted to stand up and cheer in the theater was when a group of community activists in Florida staged a sort of sit-in at a foreclosed home, peacefully moving the family’s possessions back inside and remaining on the lawn en masse until the authorities left the property, allowing the family to stay. This kind of direct action against a filthy system is precisely what we need. If more people refused to collaborate with the fraud of the banks, the banks would have to change the way they do things.
Moore highlights two heroes in this respect: Marcy Kaptur, a Congresswoman from Ohio who openly advocated on the floor of the House that people refuse to leave their homes when they were foreclosed on. Similarly, Wayne County Sheriff Warren Evans is shown placing a moratorium on foreclosure sales in his jurisdiction.
Who’s running things?
I appreciate Moore’s highlighting of the Citibank memo that described the new system of government in America as a “plutonomy” led by a management elite. I, too, have become disgusted with what constitutes the wealthy class these days. Most of the top 1% of income earners are not creators, not people who started an innovative business in their garage, but instead a bunch of overpriced, bloated managers who just hung on longer than everyone else to become a C-something in a company. They add nothing of value; instead they just hope that inertia will keep them and their multi-million-dollar paychecks safe.
And, speaking of the brilliant people in our society, Moore points out that our nation’s universities, who once cranked out the best mathematicians in the world, are now producing math whizzes who, hampered with six-figure student loan debt, go to work on Wall Street, where instead of producing the next advances in science, physics or engineering, they create complicated financial products that actually make the country worse off.
What hedge fund would Jesus invest in?
I grew up in a community where capitalism, patriotism and Christianity were so closely intertwined as to become indistinguishable from one another. I have grown up and thought a lot about what it really means to be a Christian, if that is what one chooses to call oneself. Today, Christians tend to place Jesus on a white horse fighting for the free market, when in fact he said that the rich are going to have the most trouble entering the Kingdom of Heaven. He told people to give others the clothes off their own back if someone asks. These divine admonitions don’t sound anything like the near-religious fervor with which Christians discuss the wonder of the profit motive in the free market.
Flummoxed by this contradiction, Moore interviews a number of Catholic priests and a bishop who agree that Christianity isn’t compatible with the system known as capitalism. Sure, you could find just as many televangelists who would disagree with their conclusions, but it is refreshing to hear people who claim to be on the side of Jess actually talking like he did for once.
Was there grandstanding? Absolutely. Did Moore bend the truth a bit? Of course. Do I like his solution (democratic socialism)? Not at all. But, did he force me to think about the consequences of living in a system that explicitly depends on taking advantage of others? You bet your Flint, Michigan ass.