You may have noticed that increasingly downtown Phoenix galleries are opening their new exhibitions on Third Fridays. This Third Friday (tonight) brings a much-anticipated show at Modified Arts, featuring new work from 3CarPileUp, a downtown Phoenix artist collective since the 90′s, featuring originating members Randy Slack, David Dauncey, and James Angel. For 14 years, 3CarPileUp has presented the Annual Chaos Theory exhibition featuring over fifty local creatives.
As a part of the 3CarPileUp exhibition, local film and video artist Perry Allen (a periodic contributor to DPJ) will premiere his new animated work, “Town of Product.” In 2012, Allen was awarded an Artist Project Grant Distinguished Merit Award (that’s a serious mouthful!) from the Arizona Commission on the Arts to create this piece, which premieres tonight.
“Town of Product” is an animated installation using still image advertising from the 80s to create 24 hours of life in a suburban town, complete with people that move down streets, peek in windows, and shop; breezes that ruffle trees, in world that interacts. Perry Allen digitally animated the project to reflect this 24-hour cycle then sped it up to screen in 24 minutes.
“There was kind of an interesting documentary element to the project,” said Allen. “I put out a call to my network of friends and contacts looking for examples of print advertising and people started sending me all these magazines from the 80s. I didn’t start with a focus on that time period, that’s just what happened.” The ads that Allen used came from the leading mainstream, pop culture magazines of the time – such as Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, Vogue and Cosmopolitan, to name a few.
Every element of the town comes from the ads Allen discovered in the magazines: houses, trees, people, cars, and buildings. “There’s no storyline,” says Allen. “It’s more of a meditation on time and place, on our consumer culture and suburban lifestyle as it looked thirty years ago.”
To make it even more interesting, Allen was inspired by a conversation with Kimber Lanning to project the video onto the windows of Modified instead of an interior wall. In this way, the installation will be visible from both inside the gallery and to the people passing by on Roosevelt Street. Should be pretty cool!
The exhibition runs through June 7.
If You Go
Where: Modified Arts, 407 E. Roosevelt
When: Friday, May 16 through Friday, June 7
For more info: 602-462-5516 or Facebook
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
Collectors Invited to an Intimate Artist Meet & Greet Tour
Crista Cloutier to Host Tour of Three Downtown Phoenix Galleries
Artlink’s bi-monthly Third Friday Collectors Tour returns Friday, March 15, from 6-9 p.m. These exclusive guided tours visit select exhibitions/artist studios in downtown Phoenix, with light refreshments at each location. Guests enjoy a private viewing as well as the opportunity to meet the curators and artist(s) one-on-one and learn more about their processes and vision.
Galleries are invited to submit their shows to be included on the tour. The Guest Guides select the exhibitions featured.
Crista Cloutier, an international curator, appraiser, arts writer, and artist selected this month’s exhibitions. Her most recent projects include curating the Kiki Smith/Valerie Hammond exhibit “Streaming Spirits” currently making its world tour, and developing The Working Artist, an online master class for creating a successful art career.
“I was thrilled to be asked to curate the Third Friday Collectors Tour, but humbled when I began visiting the galleries and seeing the breadth of talent that Phoenix offers. Narrowing it to three venues was a difficult decision,” said Crista. “I am interested in conversations about what it means to be a working artist and in showing people what the other side of the art business looks like: the hard work, big decisions, and dedication that it entails…. I look forward to sharing this ‘glimpse behind the curtain’ with participants on the 15th.”
WHAT: Artlink’s Third Friday Collectors Tour
WHEN: Friday, March 15
TIME: 6 – 9 p.m.
WHERE: Round-trip tour from Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 N. Central Ave.
Barry Goldstein, Works on Paper
The Coe House Gallery
365 N. 4th Ave.
Curated by Hugo Medina
This exhibition is the first in the new Coe House Gallery, a 19th century building in the Historic Roosevelt District. Curated by local painter, Hugo Medina, Goldstein’s urban landscapes transcend the mundane day-to-day through rich colors and poetic imagery. Goldstein is an internationally known artist who was born and raised in Brooklyn, and has made Phoenix his creative home for the last decade.
The Joe and Jan Show
R Pela Contemporary Art
335 W. McDowell Rd.
Curated by Robrt Pela
“The Joe and Jan Show” is a group exhibition of artwork in homage to Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Governor Jan Brewer. Featured artists include Eric Cox, Jeff Falk, Annie Lopez, Peter Bugg, Cuban painter Chary Castro and French comic artist Vincent LaRue. Curated by Robrt Pela.
215 E. Grant St.
Curated by John Reyes
Bentley Gallery is a uniquely beautiful space in the warehouse district of downtown Phoenix. Neo Chroma is a contemporary survey of the use of brilliant color in abstract painting.
The galleries/artist spaces will provide refreshments, and participants will have a private viewing of the work and the opportunity to meet the curators and artist(s) one-on-one and learn more about their processes and vision.
Tickets are $35 each, two for $60. Seating is limited. To reserve your space please go to Eventbrite.
About Artlink: Artlink, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to linking artists, business and the public to better understand, appreciate and promote a thriving arts community in Central Phoenix. Artlink promotes a variety of community-based art events happening throughout the year, including First Fridays, the country’s largest self-guided gallery tour, and also operates two downtown galleries at Heritage & Science Park and the A.E. England Building. Both gallery spaces are committed to showcasing the talents of new and emerging local artists. Ongoing community projects include, the promotion of the First Friday Art Walk and Third Friday Collectors Tour, annual Juried Exhibition, and the annual Artlink Art Detour. For more information, visit: artlinkphoenix.com. Artlink’s year-round activities are supported by Phoenix Art Museum, Dunn Transportation, Snell & Wilmer, Arizona Commission on the Arts, Phoenix Community Alliance, The Torosian Foundation, Downtown Voices Coalition, Grand Avenue Merchants Association, Roosevelt Row CDC, Phoenix Center for the Arts, Obliq Art, Urban Affair and Invexi Web Development.
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.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
There are just a few seats left! Reserve your spot on the Third Friday Collectors Tour on January 18!
Artlink’s Third Friday Collectors Tour returns on Friday, January 18, and includes three of downtown Phoenix’s most acclaimed galleries.
The participants will have a private viewing and the opportunity to meet the artist(s) and curators one-on-one, and learn more about their processes and vision.
The exclusive guided trolley tour will include:
- Bentley Gallery – “Mark Pomilio / Jeremy Thomas,” a delightful exploration of nature’s geometry, with Curator John Reyes and Mark Pomilio.
- monOrchid – Introducing new Curator Justin Germain with artist Linda Ingraham’s unique project “Off the Beaten Path: A Departure From The Norm,” and Matt Dougan’s personal retrospective “As the Crow Flies.”
- Willo North Gallery – “Youth: New Work by Bob Adams” with Bob explaining his inspiration to re-enter the world of solo gallery shows after two decades.
The tour will be hosted by Robrt Pela, Willo North curator and arts critic for Phoenix New Times, whose NPR “Morning Edition” radio essays are occasionally themselves the talk of the town. Pela will provide context on the contemporary art scene in downtown Phoenix and background on the artist spaces and galleries on the tour.
Event: Artlink’s Third Friday Collectors Tour
Date: Friday, January 18
Time: 6 to 9 p.m.
Where: Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 N. Central Ave. Phoenix. The trolley will depart promptly at 6 p.m.
Tickets: $35 per person, $50 per couple. Seating is limited. Light refreshments provided. To reserve your seats please visit http://collectorstourphoenix.eventbrite.com/.
About the Host:
Robrt Pela is known primarily as an arts critic for Phoenix New Times, where he has written a weekly columnthese past 22 years. His radio essays air each week on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” and he’s worked as a writer and editor for national and local magazines including Psychology Today, The Advocate, Phoenix Home and Garden, and Men’s Fitness. His last published book was Filthy, a biography of the film director John Waters.
As a curator, Pela presents a new exhibit each month at Willo North Gallery in Phoenix. Last year he curated shows by, among others, Annie Lopez, Jeff Falk, Jason Hill, Janet de Berge Lange, Paul Wilson, Carolyn Lavender, and Bob Adams. He and his spouse, Todd Grossman, divide their time among their homes in Phoenix, Arizona; Niles, Ohio; and Bargemon, France.