Arts & Culture
Dorothy’s ruby red slippers. Indiana Jones’ hat. Harry Potter’s cloak. All conjure images of characters deeply ingrained in movie culture. These accessories not only define individual characters, they immediately transport us back to the fantasy movie worlds they inhabited: the Emerald City, the Temple of Doom, or Hogwarts.
When looking back on other movies, the clothing is less easily identifiable to a character, as might be the case with Heath Ledger’s character Ennis Del Mar and Jake Gyllenhaal’s Jack Twist, the cowboys in Brokeback Mountain. Upon first glance, the plaid and denim they wore are simply cowboy uniforms, but, as any good costume designer knows, it is that imperceptible skill—of finding the exact wash and cut of denim, the proper tailoring of the shirt—that makes an outfit look natural and not like a “costume,” that is the true craft behind costume design. The shirts provided a thread throughout the film, and came to embody the whole arc of the characters’ lives.
It is this creation of character, of individuals and their stories that defines a costume designer to Dr. Deborah Nadoolman Landis, curator of the Phoenix Art Museum’s Hollywood Costume exhibit, which opens on Wednesday, March 26th. “We’re storytellers,” she says of her fellow designers. While “we start with the words,” she says, giving credence to film writers, “we create the people in the movies.”
For anyone who questions the validity of an exhibit titled Hollywood Costume being shown in an art museum, Phoenix Art Museum Director Jim Ballinger believes that over the past several decades, “film has become one of the great art forms, and continues to be so,” thus linking the movies with the myriad of other art forms represented throughout the museum. Additionally, there is a “great tradition of ongoing fashion design” represented at the museum, deftly portrayed through shows by Curator of Fashion Design, Denita Sewell, making this exhibit right at home here at PAM.
In what Ballinger calls “one of the most important shows we’ve brought here,” over 100 costumes from movies spanning the history of film fill the exhibit. Hollywood Costume was on view last year at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. Its only other U.S. stop was at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art. Here at PAM, there are two notable additions to the show—the shimmering white dress worn by Jennifer Lawrence’s character Rosalyn Rosenfield in American Hustle, and Christian Bale’s Irving Rosenfield’s blue velvet suit. Neither outfit have been seen outside of the movie set.
To Landis, costume design has both a narrative and visual importance. While the obvious connotation of the word costume conjures flamboyant, outlandish getups, “the superficial,” as she refers to them, Landis says that “the best costumes are the ones you never notice.”
All movies require costumes, clothing to create the character. That is where the costume designer steps in. “The director is asking us to believe that everyone in the movie has a life before the movie begins. We [as viewers] are joining the people in the movie. Who are they? And that’s the question that every costume designer must ask,” according to Landis.
Landis, who was nominated for an Academy Award for 1988’s Coming to America, designed the costumes for Michael Jackson’s iconic music video for Thriller, and served as costume designer for Animal House and Raiders of the Lost Ark, among others.
Her costumes for Indiana Jones serve as a focal point within the exhibition. Director Steven Spielberg, film star Harrison Ford and Landis worked together in crafting the look that would become the trademark for scholarly adventure heroes. A digital screen above the costume dissects each element of Indiana Jones’ outfit, from the pockets on his shirt, to the leather used in his boots and jacket, to the detailing of the whip, and of course, his hat.
Other notable displays include a montage of Elizabethean couture, from outfits worn by actresses playing the venerable Queen to those worn in Shakespeare in Love. While the the exhibit spans eras, with costumes from The Wizard of Oz through the recent American Hustle, the majority of the clothing is from the past few decades. Standouts include outfits from Vertigo, The Birds, The Seven Year Itch, and Funny Girl, while more recent creations from The Big Lebowski, Oceans Eleven, Fight Club, and even Twilight all have their place.
While bejeweled gowns abound, the show equally represents men’s and women’s fashions, just as movies do not simply represent one gender’s perspective. Who would James Bond be without his signature tux, or The Dude be without his fuzzy gray robe? These looks are just as significant as Eliza Doolittle’s in My Fair Lady or Satine’s in Moulin Rouge.
Accompanying Hollywood Costume is a small exhibit of 12 gowns, called Hollywood Red Carpet. These are the dresses that one identifies with the actresses who play the movie characters. These dresses represent their glamorous versions of themselves, dolled up to attend the Academy Awards. Landis described that it is this differentiation that separates costume and fashion designers. After often looking unattractive or downplaying their looks in costume, on camera, the fashion the actresses choose to wear on the red carpet enhances their best self.
Landis believes that her exhibition “is not about the clothes. It’s an exhibition that has the wrong name.” While one will certainly leave Hollywood Costume having viewed more outfits than on an average shopping trip, she is right. It is both a celebration of and tribute to the movies, as with each dress, hat and jacket, the memories that item worn on the big screen comes rushing back. Seeing Rose’s (Kate Winslett’s) structured suit and large hat instantly bring back not only her first moment onscreen in Titanic, but the entire three-hour opus and the love affair between Jack and Rose.
The splendor of the clothing, the artistry of the design and the juxtaposition between fashion and cinema provide a fantastical tour through the history of movies.
Special Exhibition Hours:
The museum has extended its hours for Hollywood Costume. Timed tickets can be purchased in advance of your visit here.
March 26, 2014 through July 6, 2014
- Tuesday, Noon to 5 p.m.
- Wednesday, Noon to 8:30 p.m.
- Thursday, Noon to 5 p.m.
- Friday, 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
- Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- First Fridays, 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
CO-OP Phoenix produces first community Book Swap and launches five Free Little Libraries
With five clothing swaps under their belt, 700 swappers, and over 2500 lbs of items donated, Kelsey Wong and Karla Rasmusson, co-founders of CO-OP Phoenix have planned their next big community event, Book Swap PHX. On Saturday, March 22, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Civic Space Park will be filled with once-enjoyed and ready to be enjoyed again books of every genre. Not only will these once-loved books be swapped, but also heartwarming stories from one reader to another will be shared.
“It’s really rewarding to see Phoenix coming together. Locals are really craving new ways to connect and be a part of something,” said Kelsey Wong, executive director of CO-OP Phoenix. “Our events are different than your typical guest and entertainer, they are interactive. Every attendee gets to engage.”
CO-OP Phoenix isn’t stopping at the swap, they are launching five new Little Free Libraries downtown in partnership with Downtown Phoenix Partnership and the Little Free Library program. Starting at Civic Space Park, Heritage and Science Park, Downtown Info Center and Phoenix Public Market, the Book Swap will live on as donated books will be stored in the these libraries. In it’s most basic form, a Free Little Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book–or two–and bring back one to share.
“We love what CO-OP Phoenix is doing to bring fresh faces to the area and show locals that not only is downtown Phoenix community a cool place to be, but that we are a thriving city in the making,” states Sara Anderson, events manager for the Downtown Phoenix Partnership.
After a full day of community and book swapping, leftover items will be donated to Little Free Libraries.
“Little Free Library is excited to participate in the Book Swap because all items donated will continue to be shared and enjoyed to any reader,” says Samantha Jackson, founder of Little Free Library in Phoenix.
Tickets are free with a $5 suggested donation online or at the door. To pre-register for tickets, swappers can visit http://bookswapphx.splashthat.
Super Bowl XLIX will be played in Glendale on February 1, 2015, but Super Bowl Central will be right here in downtown Phoenix. In the week preceding the big game, downtown Phoenix will host major events and initiatives centered in 12 city blocks, including the NFL Experience, the NFL Media Center and more. The activities were announced this morning by Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee representatives and Phoenix city officials.
Everyone will be working together to pull out all the stops, showcasing downtown Phoenix’s urban center within the warmth of the desert. “We know how to collaborate, and we know how to do it better than anyone else,” said CEO of the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee Jay Parry of the relationship between the city and the NFL.
Vowing to be a great Super Bowl partner, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton spoke to the unique collaboration of a whole range of partners who are working together, including a city departments, Downtown Phoenix Inc., local businesses, restaurants, community groups and arts organizations.
“Super Bowl Central, along with the NFL Experience and NFL House, will turn Downtown Phoenix into the Super Bowl epicenter. It will provide both local and visiting fans an amazing opportunity to be part of this global event,” said Mayor Stanton.
The festivities will spread from CityScape to the Phoenix Convention Center, and Monroe Street to the US Airways Center, anchored by the iconic Super Bowl roman numeral numbers that will tower 30 feet high. Anticipating more than 1 million visitors, David Rousseau, Chairman, Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, says, “We are thrilled to be providing extensive and engaging events and activities that will showcase the energetic and vibrant culture of Arizona to fans, sponsors and media alike.”
- NFL Experience—Phoenix Convention Center. The world’s largest interactive football theme park will feature attractions that simulate the elements that are found in the NFL, including free autograph sessions, kids’ football clinics, entertainment attractions, football memorabilia, interactive football games and more.
- NFL Media Center—Phoenix Convention Center. Anticipate 5,000+ media members. More than 30 countries will be represented.
- NFL Headquarters—Hyatt Regency Phoenix. A major hub of activity and meetings for the NFL and its key partners.
- NFL House—CityScape. A high-end, drop-in facility for business partners and Super Bowl VIPs that will operate from Thursday through Sunday of Super Bowl week.
- Outdoor Fan Campus—Spanning 12 city blocks throughout downtown Phoenix, from 3rd Street to Central Avenue and Jefferson Street to Monroe Street.
Activities throughout the Outdoor Fan Campus:
- Two entertainment stages featuring performances from local bands during the day to national recording artists at night.
- Beer and wine gardens
- Cultural and outdoor activities unique to Arizona
- Football themed activities
- Home of NBC and NFL Network studios
- Showcase Arizona community groups and schools
“Today’s announcement is a testament to the incredible work our downtown community has done to broaden and deepen our urban culture,” said David Krietor, CEO of Downtown Phoenix Inc. “Whether it’s the arts, music or sports, downtown Phoenix is fast becoming our region’s gathering place. I am 100% confident the NFL and the Host Committee will be pleased by the vitality and diversity they will experience in downtown Phoenix.”
Watch the Host Committee’s video depicting Super Bowl Central, and get a sneak peak of downtown as a backdrop to the week-long festivities.
Photography by Stephen G. Dreiseszun/Viewpoint Photographers
DPJ writers Hillary Brody and Jill Bernstein contributed to this story.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
This is an exclusive opportunity to visit Phoenix’s only historic theatre and to learn more about FOTOT, its mission and new initiatives. Refreshments will be served.
RSVP to Pat.Deloney@Phoenix.gov or 602-534-5601 by noon on March 19.
David Krietor has served as CEO of the newly-formed Downtown Phoenix, Inc. (“DPI”) since April 8, 2013. In that time, he has begun work with community stakeholders to develop the downtown we want. “Your Downtown” shares his thoughts and DPI’s progress with the downtown community and beyond. Read the other chats here.
I’m salivating: Late night pizza delivery is coming to downtown Phoenix with Grand Avenue Pizza. I’m tapping my toes: The Nash, Phoenix’s jazz club on Roosevelt Row, was recently named one of the 160 greatest jazz venues in the world. I’m riding high: Free bike rental service will soon be available for ASU students downtown.
And with what follows, I’m in sharing mode:
Mayor Stanton Celebrates Downtown
Mayor Greg Stanton highlighted downtown’s gains and challenges in his “Celebrate Downtown” address presented at Artlink’s Art d’Core Gala on March 1 at Crescent Ballroom. To a packed (and slightly rained upon) house, the mayor marked the collaborative contributions of businesses, entrepreneurs, artists, and his own agenda to rebuild neighborhood identity, culture, and business.
Downtown Stands Up Against SB1062
Numerous local business and civic organizations (including Downtown Phoenix, Inc.), Mayor Stanton, Phoenix City Council, Arizona’s two U.S. Senators, U.S. Representatives Pastor and Sinema (representing central Phoenix), and each state legislator representing central Phoenix took a united and firm stand in opposition to Arizona Senate Bill 1062 (exercise of religion; state action). All requested Governor Jan Brewer veto the divisive, discriminatory, and ineffectual bill, which she did on February 26. Other downtown groups opposed to SB1062 included the Arizona Association for Economic Development, Arizona Bioindustry Association, Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee, Arizona Technology Council, Downtown Phoenix Partnership, Downtown Voices Coalition, Evans Churchill Community Association, Greater Phoenix Black Chamber of Commerce, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Greater Phoenix Economic Council, Greater Phoenix Leadership, League of Arizona Cities and Towns, Local First Arizona, Phoenix Community Alliance, and Visit Phoenix.
Numerous downtown advocates attended two open houses in late February to review the Phoenix Comprehensive Downtown Transportation Study. Downtown Phoenix, Inc. submitted a letter to study organizers outlining DPI’s priority areas regarding transportation issues downtown. As an initiative of the Maricopa Association of Government’s Central Phoenix Transportation Framework Study, the Phoenix Comprehensive Downtown Transportation Study was launched to investigate and analyze potential roadway, transit, bicycle, pedestrian, and parking improvements in the downtown area. Study goals are to move people, build more livable streets, and enhance economic opportunities.
The Suns Make a Playoff Run
There is something special happening at US Airways Center. The Phoenix Suns, who everyone believed were headed into a rebuilding year, are fighting for a spot in the NBA playoffs. Click here for ticket information for remaining home games.
The Downtown Phoenix Podcast launched as a unique collaboration among downtown activists, stakeholders, news organizations, and neighborhood groups. The podcast’s host and managing editor, Edward Jensen, asked me to serve as the first guest (aka “the guinea pig”) to talk about Downtown Phoenix, Inc., past, present, and future.