DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
Second Inspired Soles, A stiletto shoe auction to benefit Artlink Phoenix
Back by popular demand among patrons and local artists – it’s the Second Inspired Soles stiletto art show and auction to benefit Artlink. If you’re one of the artists/designers who participated in this show last year, we hope you’ll do it again. If you’re new to this event, just know this was a blockbuster success that generated widespread news coverage and traffic at our gallery’s official grand opening. Artists loved it because it was a packed house, and they made some great new connections with clients.
It’s easy and fun to participate! Just like last year, we’ll provide the stilettos. You provide the inspiration!
What: Inspired Soles – a stiletto art show and auction to benefit Artlink. Throughout the month of April the gallery will showcase stilettos created by local artists, designers and celebrities!
Who: Custom-decorated stilettos are being procured from local designers, artists and celebrities. The show is being produced and promoted by BJC Public Relations and Torres Marquez Communications, two women-owned public relations agencies that really know how to draw a great First Friday crowd. They also share office space in the two levels located above the 6th Avenue Gallery.
When: The stilettos will be unveiled and auctioned on April 5, during First Friday in Downtown Phoenix. The stilettos will remain on display throughout the month of April. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Artlink Phoenix, a nonprofit organization dedicated to linking artists, business and the public to better understand, appreciate and promote the thriving arts community in Central Phoenix.
Where: The 6th Avenue Gallery is located on the southwest corner of Sixth Avenue and McKinley, one block south of Roosevelt. The gallery is in the basement level of the building.
A GUIDE FOR PARTICIPATING ARTISTS
Here is a step-by-step guide for your participation in the stiletto art show:
____ Order your stiletto shoe by calling BJC Public Relations at (602) 277-9530, x232. If your design requires more than one stiletto, please let us know how many, and we’ll do our best to provide what you need.
____ BJC Public Relations will deliver the shoe to you.
____ Design your stiletto. Enough said!
____ Complete the “Art and Artist Information Form” (ask BJC Public Relations to forward one to you)
____ Return your stiletto and the “Art and Artist Information Form” to:
BJC Public Relations
650 N. 6th Avenue
Phoenix, Arizona 85003
(602) 277-9530, x232
____ TIP #1: if you ship via FedEx – select the 3-day option – it’s cheaper and often arrives in a day
____ Email or call BJC Public Relations with the TRACKING number of your shipment. Our email is: email@example.com
____ Stiletto submissions are due Friday, March 29.
____ TIP #2 (EARLY BIRDS GET THE WORM). If you would like your stiletto art featured in our publicity efforts, we need to have your submission in our hands by March 15. So do yourself a favor, and create your work of art the minute you get inspiration. And be sure to get some home videos of YOU creating your work of art that we can share on our Facebook page.
Images provided by BJC Public Relations.
Last Saturday, Artlink’s Silver Gala brought together Detour supporters past and present in honor of Art Detour 25, March 2 and 3, Inspired Connections’ Chief Connector Rhonda Bannard remarks on the evolution of the arts in downtown Phoenix reminds us of this community’s strength and encourages further connection with business leaders to propel us to the next level of success.
In 1993, I jumped into the position of downtown [Phoenix Partnership's] marketing manager. My first assignment was to help the Suns and the city prepare for the NBA playoffs and a parade of what turned out to be 350,000 people downtown on a 115 degree day. It was quickly apparent that supporting the arts & cultural community was critically important to the revitalization efforts that were beginning to take shape.
My boss at the time – Margaret Mullen – was at the forefront of negotiating deals for artists in the Jackson Street studios. It may not be a happy memory for many artists, as the studios needed to be relocated for the Arena to be built. She shared with me that it was Mayor Terry Goddard who said we needed to figure out how the business community could keep the artists downtown and not have them scatter across the Valley. Consider how that set us up for where you are today.
Margaret said that it is often the artists who had the guts to go in early and see the revitalization opportunities waiting to happen.
I remember meeting artists Sevak Khalsa, Greg West, and Otto Rigan in the early years and how Jackson Street was one of the top places to visit on Art Detour. I remember hearing Beatrice Moore’s name often.
And I remember being told to help out Art Detour however the Downtown Phoenix Partnership could.
From arts to theater to the tiny Arizona Science Center with the Swensen’s Ice Cream shop next to it – those early days for arts and culture were not easy.
Tonight we celebrate the early pioneers who paved the way for the possibilities of today.
The first gallery owners, the early downtown artists, and those passionate volunteers with Artlink – many still active in the community today – all made it possible for tonight’s celebration.
I don’t have to tell you that it’s been a challenging road. And sometimes you can still hear the same challenges and complaints leveled in the effort to sell the value of the arts to a vibrant city center.
Yet I would submit you’ve proven the potential – whether it’s seen in the “must do” First Fridays, or the burgeoning Third Fridays and more intimate arts meet ups.
The business community and city are starting to speak your language. They just come at it from a different lens. They realize that they are competing for workforce talent – and the one common denominator of talent is to look to the creative.
So looking at 25 years and beyond for Artlink and the downtown arts community – what’s next?
1,500 chief executives noted “creativity” as the most important leadership skills needed for successful ventures in the future – according to an IBM’s survey through its Institute for Business Value. The findings noted that they understand the power of an innovative individual and the creative thinking and collaborative mentality they bring with them.
They’re even beginning to advocate for it in schools.
Well, as we know, Arizona is usually behind such trends, so here are some ideas that could help us move forward:
- Showcase the competitive edge businesses can realize with their workforce and within the community to attract talent by supporting the arts. This will not be easy given the realization that many business are still hanging on until the economy turns more upright.
- Refine your messaging.
- Remember to speak their language when you’re telling your story.
- Stop speaking to the choir and let your voice be heard outside of your community.
- See yourself as a bridge to connect the community. Help the business community see you as the creative tool in their toolbox.
The intrinsic benefits of arts are many – they sooth, provoke, connect us, connect cultures. It’s essential to the health and vitality of our community – it makes new business possible, tourism probable, attracts skilled and educated workers – especially if we begin to consider and harness the growing power of the younger generations. Let them know they can tap your talents when pitching for business.
- Go to them until they starting coming to you.
- Support business leaders who “get it” and help them become your ambassadors.
Business scholars are already recognizing that creativity is at the leading edge of innovation.
In Massachusetts a “creative economy director” is part of their statewide economic development strategy.
In D.C. a mayor’s summit is held on the creative economy to connect arts to community and help local businesses.
In one MBA program ranked first in entrepreneurship, students are required to take art classes. Same with those in another college’s engineering program. They believe that creativity allows for quantum leaps in knowledge.
Americans for the Arts said, “When we reduce support for the arts, we are not cutting frills. Rather we’re undercutting an industry that is a cornerstone of tourism, economic development and the revitalization of many downtowns. When we INCREASE support for the arts, we are generating tax revenues, jobs and a creativity-based economy.”
Great points, great message. One that now requires us to translate it to those who need to hear it.
Before you hit the sidewalks for the 25th anniversary Art Detour this weekend, we’re revisiting artist, writer, and advocate, Susan Copeland’s overview of the impact the arts have had in our downtown – originally published in the Nov/Dec 2011 edition of Downtown Phoenix Journal Magazine. Her article provides extra background for appreciating Artlink’s “Detour in Time” exhibit at the A.E. England gallery, open this weekend for First Friday, and Saturday and Sunday for Art Detour.
What is it about Downtown Phoenix that interests a college student, a developer, a cyclist, a chef, an artist or an engineer?
It’s the energy on the streets and the buzz in the cafes. It exists in every coffee-house conversation, every stroll down a newly shaded street, at any art opening, and in the first bite of sushi. It’s the young couple with the stroller, baby and fuzzy dog walking after dark. It’s the lunchtime food truck queues, the thunder of balls in the bowling alley, and the smell of fresh peaches at the market. Engaged people are creating new life in downtown Phoenix and the evidence can be seen, heard, felt and tasted.
This buzz is firmly rooted in the creative community that has worked for many years to bring downtown to life. It is evident in the history of the arts-led transformation of downtown, and how it has fueled revitalization and overcome the obstacles that challenge the continuation of this transformation.
Early Urban Arts Pioneers
The roots of this transformation can be traced through the history of Beatrice Moore and Tony Zahn, who came to Phoenix sight-unseen in 1986. They were drawn by the optimism behind the city’s name, the desert and the non-hip art scene. They created the very first Art Detour, an annual tour of artists’ studios with a small group of 20 art spaces. “It was a way for artists to show their own work independent from galleries. It was an educational event for the public,” Moore said.
“[Art Detour] was a way for artists to show their own work independent from galleries.”
– Beatrice Moore, GAMA
Moore and Zahn watched gentrification take place, often spurred by the unwitting ability of artists to make a place cool. Their first artist studio was in an old brick warehouse on the site where U.S. Airways Arena now stands. A new jail occupies the site of their second studio. Recognizing that a renter’s fate is determined by his landlord, they bought their first building.
“Artists need to get ownership,” Moore said. “Young artists are not planning for their future. New construction is often not affordable for studio space.”
Their purchase and renovation of historic buildings along Grand Avenue not only created affordable artist studios, but also helped to transform a formerly decrepit downtown stretch of boarded-up buildings into a revitalized corridor that draws thousands of people to art openings, studios, a growing number of bars and restaurants and the annual Grand Avenue Festival.
“It is a diverse and younger crowd, and has introduced a lot of new folks to the museum.”
– Jim Ballinger, Phoenix Art Museum
A Detour Takes Hold of Fridays
The success of the yearly Art Detour led another group of artists to start a monthly tour called Phoenix Arts After Hours. This gave birth to the nationally lauded First Friday, a self-guided tour of art spaces and galleries held on the first Friday of every month. It has become the core of the downtown arts scene.
The Phoenix Art Museum has participated in Artlink’s First Friday art walk on and off since its inception. “We’ve had a very positive connection with First Friday,” said museum director Jim Ballinger. “We’ve had anywhere from 800 to 2,000 people come through the museum on a First Friday evening. It is a diverse and younger crowd, and has introduced a lot of new folks to the museum.”
Would there be as many new restaurants, condos, galleries and hotels downtown without the presence of 10,000-plus people wandering around downtown on First Friday? The presence of the creative community has brought life, vitality and identity to downtown.
“The easiest way to find a community in Phoenix is to participate, get involved.”
– Cindy Dach, Roosevelt Row CDC
The Row Takes Shape
When Cindy Dach and Greg Esser moved here from Denver, they struggled to find a community. Eager to renovate and without any appealing living spaces available, they began an odyssey. Fifteen years, several buildings and many projects later they helped make Roosevelt Street a cornerstone of the downtown arts community. “The easiest way to find a community in Phoenix is to participate, get involved,” says Dach. That they have. They formed the successful eyelounge and 515 artists’ collectives, MADE Art Boutique, Kitchen Street Studio and the Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation (CDC).
Wayne Rainey, Kimber Lanning and Dach/Esser all bought buildings and created art spaces within six months of each other. The prices were low enough at the time to make the spaces affordable. Dach says that artists are natural problem solvers. “We looked at the closed up buildings and dark spaces and said, ‘Yeah, this sucks. How can we fix it?’”
“It’s the small things that form the connective tissue that makes the big things work.”
– Ed Lebow, Phoenix Public Art Director
It is this type of creativity, community involvement, forward thinking and innovation that many people believe will move Phoenix forward. Ed Lebow, Public Art Director for the City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, says, “It’s the small things that form the connective tissue that makes the big things work.”
Small ideas yielding big results are creating an organic identity for downtown today. The little farmers’ market that grew into a grocery store, coffee house, wine bar and community gathering space is another perfect example.
Chicago transplant Cindy Gentry fell in love with the historic Santa Fe Depot in the warehouse district near Jackson Street. Her goals were to create easy access to healthy food for low-income residents, help keep farmers on their land and create jobs. “Our focus was on low income people but we didn’t want to do it in a vacuum,” Gentry said. “We wanted to create a place where people from all backgrounds could come together.”
She was drawn to downtown because “the creative energy of the city lies here. A connection to the arts community was a logical choice.” Although the Santa Fe Depot market never happened, Gentry [as executive director of Community Food Connections] did create the Phoenix Public Market, a grocery store and a thriving farmers market, with a strong emphasis on organic produce and handmade crafts, that anchors Saturday mornings downtown. Says Gentry, “The creative energy that is here in Phoenix is looking for places to get out.”
“The creative energy that is here in Phoenix is looking for places to get out.”
– Cindy Gentry, Community Food Connections
That creative energy is apparent in the art-centric downtown development of developer and indie rocker Tim Sprague, of Habitat Metro. Two of his current projects are the adaptive reuse of an old hotel, the Oasis, to create affordable living and work spaces for artists, and, most recently, a remodeling of the Lexington hotel that centers around arts and culture.
“Humans have talent that we should recognize and celebrate,” Sprague said. “Performing arts, music, media, theatre – they are the spice of life. Art has the ability to bring people together to initiate discussion. It’s an automatic switch for turning on tolerance and bringing together diverse ideas.”
“The organic arts scene that developed brought focus to the downtown,” he said. “It provided the cushion and continuity for things to keep happening. It brought traffic and people downtown that would not have come. It made downtown relevant.”
This ability of the artistic community to create relevance and continuity was evident to George Kritikos and his wife Stacy, who left Chicago to buy and take over the Athenian Grill, a Greek restaurant on Central just south of Roosevelt. Kritikos believes that the arts community is good for the area. Historically, he watched how the arts helped in the transformation of downtown Chicago from a scary dark place. “(Mayor Richard) Daly cleaned up the streets. There was artwork, painted cows, landscaping, lighting. All of it together helped take away the scary aspect of the streets. Then coffee shops and restaurants starting popping up.”
“The organic arts scene that developed brought focus to the downtown. It provided the cushion and continuity for things to keep happening. It brought traffic and people downtown that would not have come. It made downtown relevant.”
– Tim Sprague, Habitat Metro
Filling the Gaps
The biggest stumbling block to this transformation in Phoenix may be the empty lots that divide all of the cool, hip things from each other. When you look down First and Third streets at night, south of Roosevelt, it is dark and scary. People are afraid to walk north from the Sheraton and Alta Lofts.
But the creative community is working on a solution for that too.
Many temporary uses for empty lots have been proposed, but shot down for fear of them becoming too popular and permanent – leading to a potential for public outcry when the temporary project has to make way for a permanent structure. Nevertheless, two artistic uses have recently been implemented.
On Roosevelt near Fourth Street, the Roosevelt Row CDC, has cleaned up, dust-proofed and put temporary lighting in an empty lot to create the First and Third Friday A.R.T.S. (Adaptive Reuse Temporary Spaces) Markets, giving small local vendors the opportunity to become part of the popular art walks. Small booths dot the lot twice each month selling everything from ice cream to hand-crafted wood items.
A few blocks southeast of the A.R.T.S. Market is Valley of the Sunflowers, another Roosevelt Row temporary adaptive reuse project, which broke ground in September, and will feature an entire block of sunflowers. It is the brainchild of Kenny Barrett, downtown resident and newly appointed project director for Roosevelt Row’s A.R.T.S. program. With grant funding from Intel and volunteer support from the community, the project will produce sunflower oil that the students at the adjacent BioScience High School will help harvest. They will then use the oil to run the biofuel car that they are creating.
As little as it is, the Valley of Sunflowers project may just be one of the most important projects in downtown Phoenix in the past 10 years. It has brought together young people, artists, engineers, developers and the city to create a project that is sustainable, creative and breaks the boundaries of what it is possible to accomplish in downtown Phoenix. Most importantly, it removes the barrier of fear and apathy toward addressing the problem of the empty lots.
It is easy to see why a college student, a developer, a cyclist, a chef, an artist and an engineer would be drawn to a place like Phoenix. The vibrancy and buzz that created places like Paris, Chicago and Portland are in their infancy here. Phoenix will not recreate or become any of those places. It is creating its own identity. It is growing organically because people want this sustainable lifestyle. More and more people are choosing an authentic experience: enjoying coffee and a crepe at JoBot; shopping for handmade one-of-a-kind items at MADE; finding organic locally grown produce at the Public Market; mingling with neighbors at Faces, Places and Spaces amidst the art at Bragg’s Pie Factory; or lingering over a late night imported beer at Carly’s. If none of these places and events are familiar, then you are missing out on the core of the new Phoenix.
The Phoenix Arts and Culture Commission is partnering with Artlink Inc. to provide expanded service during tonight’s First Friday Trolley Tour. This “pilot” route will take attendees to the Gallery @ City Hall and other galleries in the downtown Phoenix area (read the details in the press release below).
Artlink is distributing a new map that includes the new trolley route and the destinations that contribute to the First Friday visitor experience. Click the image below to enlarge or download it here. (The map is produced by DPJ)
FIRST FRIDAY TROLLEY ROUTE EXPANDS TO THE GALLERY @ CITY HALL
A new pilot trolley route to downtown Phoenix will bring First Friday attendees to the Gallery @ City Hall, 200 W. Washington St., as well as three other city center arts sites from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1.
The Phoenix Arts and Culture Commission in partnership with Artlink Inc., an all-volunteer arts organization, will provide a new trolley route for First Friday from the Phoenix Art Museum at Central Avenue and McDowell Road, which will include the city of Phoenix Gallery @ City Hall, Release the Fear Gallery, the Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center (ALAC), @Central Gallery at the Burton Barr Library and a stop at Roosevelt Row.
The Gallery @ City Hall exhibit, in the Phoenix City Hall atrium, “Phoenix Icons: The Art of Our Historic Landmarks,” features photographs of more than 30 historic Phoenix landmarks by Patrick Madigan and Michael Lundgren. They include photos of once private homes that have been transformed into public venues and once revered schools reborn as new places to learn. An old department store now houses a restaurant and a former auto showroom re-emerges as the face of a vibrant downtown park. Visit phoenix.gov/arts for more information.
The Release the Fear Gallery, Grace Chapel at the historic First Baptist Church, 302 W. Monroe St., displays group paintings created by 20 to 30 youth as part of ongoing workshops. Visit releasethefear.org for more information.
ALAC, 147 E. Adams St., an advocate for Latino artists statewide, showcases Latino artists and builds networks with arts organizations, advocates and activists. This Friday, they will offer a blessing ceremony by a Navajo medicine man, accompanied by Navajo drums and songs. Also a live demonstration of edible Sonoran desert plants that can be harvested for medicinal purposes will be presented. Visit alacaz.org for more information.
@Central Gallery at Burton Barr Central Library, 1221 N. Central Ave., will hold an artist reception for T.M. Noël and a viewing of his “Everyone Could Use a Hero” exhibition. Hero images include Martin Luther King Jr., Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix and Malcolm X in charcoal, graphite and oil paint. Also a “Beneath the Ice: The Folk Art of Robert A. Schwartz” exhibit with more than 60 hand-crafted wooden decoys will be displayed on the second floor and a Poetry Night hosted by Divine will be offered in the Pulliam Auditorium. The library activities will conclude at 8 p.m. Visit phoenixpubliclibrary.org for more information.
Each of the locations is open to the public at no charge. The new route will enhance the monthly Artlink First Friday trolley service by providing access to an increased number of downtown Phoenix art venues. For more information about First Friday trolley routes, visit www.artlinkphoenix.com.
“There are artists in Las Vegas?” was the first thing I thought, without having a moment to realize how presumptuous I was being, as we turned the corner from Las Vegas Boulevard onto Charleston. My next thought was “Is that how people think of Phoenix?”
Up to this point, the most interesting sort-of cultural thing I knew and liked about Las Vegas was the Pinball Hall of Fame. I had spent many hours there and suffered the sore forearm muscles because of it. But here we were—driving through what looked like an area of galleries, studios and art spaces where just steps before were advertisements for nudes, weddings and, well, everything else.
I wondered how, in a world “slush bars”, miles of lukewarm buffet food, rampant gambling, and signs with instructions on how to operate a door, could there be a committed arts community? Regardless of all my prejudices, amidst all of this, it exists: a healthy and now corporate-sponsored First Friday event filling spaces and drawing crowds with future plans to bring in artists from outside the region. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh believes in it so much that he and a few others purchased the trademark for the event. Even still, I thought “how cute”.
Maybe this is how my artist friends in New York think when I tell them that no, really, there is this great artist community in Phoenix. We take care of each other and have purchased property, put on regular events, organized and raised money and draw crowds of thousands every month. Really, I swear, we’ve done all this. Maybe, while they smile their supportive smiles, in their minds they are patting me on the head and thinking “how cute”.
Maybe that is the same thing people in cities like Paris and London thought when artists in New York said “No, really, we have this great thing going on over here. The rent is cheap and we can put up a show anywhere we want.” Or maybe it’s what artists in New York later thought about how Los Angeles was developing a little bit of an art crush in a surfer town that would never be taken seriously.
Maybe the reality is the one I always tend to believe in: art and artists happen pretty much everywhere. Good art and artists can be found within that everywhere. It shouldn’t be a new idea that we can find all kinds of amazing artists living and working in obscure places. It’s not about the name of the city and its reputation. It’s about the work you do. So, when someone asks “There are artists in Phoenix?” you don’t have to answer them. You can just show them.