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On November 16, from 6-9 p.m., Artlink is launching a new series of Third Friday Collectors Tours. These exclusive guided trolley tours will take participants “behind the scenes” of the most exciting exhibitions and artist studios in downtown Phoenix. Knowledgeable Artlink guides will share their insights on the contemporary art scene in downtown Phoenix and provide background on the artist spaces and galleries the participants will visit on the tour.
The tour begins with a welcome reception at the Artlink table outside of the Phoenix Art Museum. Tour participants can park in the museum parking lot before boarding the trolley for their private hosted tour. This first tour will include viewing the work and meeting the artists at:
• Willo North Gallery, featuring “Fauna/Fauna” with work by Christy Puetz and Carolyn Lavender;
• Michael Marlowe Studio at Jackson Street Studios, and
• Modified Arts, featuring Sue Chenoweth’s “Real and Applied.”
The galleries/artist spaces will provide light refreshments, and tour participants will enjoy a private viewing of the work and the opportunity to meet the curators and artist(s) in an intimate setting to learn more about their processes and vision.
Tickets are $35 and seating is limited. To reserve your space for Artlink’s Third Friday Tour, please go to Eventbrite at http://artlinkphoenix.com/third-friday-collectors-tours-begin-november-16/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, number of seats, contact information and best time to reach you.
Currently, on any given First or Third Friday, you can venture into downtown Phoenix and find yourself a nice enough art exhibit, with a crowd of visitors. This wasn’t always the case. I remember rough times as a founding member of Eye Lounge when we were happy to see at least 25 people come through the door.
Now it’s over 10 years later and Phoenix has developed a steady stream of of people eager to see what’s happening. This is surely a sign of Phoenix’s cultural growth, but what is next? How does the downtown art scene evolve into something more significant? As an artist, I’ve always believed that we owe the our audience a challenge. We must create work that takes risks and makes our audience ask “what is this about?”
I moved to Phoenix in 1996 after having grown up around institutions like the Philadelphia Art Museum, the Carnegie Museum of Art and even the rich, cultural density of the small city of Reading, PA. I expected art and substance to be here, just waiting for me to access it. I quickly found that, like so many things in this city, you really have to dig into its layers and sometimes you have to work to create it.
The Phoenix art scene is at a pivotal point. At first, it was sufficient to put up a show—any show—and hope that people would come see it. Now there’s a sense that something more needs to happen to shift into the next gear. Do we continue to evolve and take our place among other culturally significant cities or risk idling into oblivion and diminishing all the hard work that’s gone into getting us to this point? The question is not is there an art exhibit anymore, the question must be what is it about?
In some ways, this transition has begun to happen. Independent curators such as Lara Taubman (now Wisniewski), Gina Cavallo Collins, Ted Decker and Modified directors Kim Larkin and Jeff Chabot have, in the past and present, designed shows centered around complex themes—presenting work that wasn’t guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser but which takes advantage of the captive audience and open venues to dive into headier subjects, such as immigration, the vacancy of space in Phoenix, the video game as art piece or the language and images of war taking many forms. In the area of performance art, The Phoenix Fringe Festival has taken on this challenge—giving a platform for odd, ephemeral and performance-based work. The success of the festival is based on our local art and performance community’s willingness to try something different and gamble on the results.
Although taking risks and exploring new forms of presentation, materials and venues doesn’t automatically generate substance, the process of thinking in this direction has the potential to create works that have more social and personal relevance. Failures are possible, but within them are the possibility to discover something new. Putting a thoughtfully selected group of artists together to address a common concept gives the audience a theme and common ground for engaging with the work; much like reading a collection of essays on sea exploration or watching Shark Week on TV— they get to see different angles of a singular idea.
All of the ingredients are here. We have a vibrant, proactive group of creative individuals that believe in community and support each other thoroughly. These individuals are intelligent, thoughtful, enterprising people who have managed to galvanize an area and develop an audience. Microcosms of artist groups have developed within this larger whole that express different perspectives and commonalities. These commonalities could be explored to generate exhibitions, performances, events, happenings, or interventions that would highlight the most compelling aspects of the artists at work in this city.
Phoenix should continue to expand on the groundwork that has been laid. Imagine Phoenix as a city known not just for the mobs of people clogging Roosevelt, offering free hugs and flyers, but for something deeper, more complex, strange, ridiculous, edgy or thoughtful. Let’s see and become artists who are pushing boundaries, creating work that compels audiences to ask themselves questions about what they’re seeing. Let us allow our audiences to be immersed in work that will make them think. Curiosity, confusion, wonder, anger, happiness, sadness. Taking Phoenix to the next cultural level is possible if we stop to think what this is all about.
Some news items don’t need translation. That’s why DPJ launched the From the Wire series, so we could serve the destinations here by posting information and announcements – in their own words.
Have anything to donate? Art, furniture, appliances, etc. are welcome. Drop items off on Friday afternoon, May 18th from Noon – 5pm at the parking lot in the rear of the After Hours Building.
Artlink, creator of the wildly popular First Friday’s in downtown Phoenix and Art Detour, one of the longest-running arts events in Arizona, will be the benefactor of a warehouse clearance sale.
The sale will be held on Saturday, May 19th, from 7AM to 12 NOON in the parking lot of the After Hours Building, at 116 W. McDowell Road. The After Hours Building is in the heart of downtown Phoenix, 1 block west of the Phoenix Art Museum and the Central/McDowell Light Rail Stop.
Merchandise comes from a variety of manufacturers and most are never-used overstocks and samples. Items in the sale include gift-wrap, stationery goods, pet products, scrap-booking supplies, t-shirts, greeting cards, holiday decor plus art, furniture, appliances and more. Many prices are discounted nearly 90% from normal retail, with many items marked at just 25 cents.
According to Mike Oleskow, President of Artlink and organizer of the sale, “This is a great opportunity for people to get incredible deals and support the Phoenix Arts community. Proceeds help keep services like the First Friday shuttles running each month. While free for First Friday participants who love using it to explore art and to get around Downtown, the shuttles are Artlink’s biggest expense each month.”
Artlink Phoenix is one of the oldest, all volunteer run, 501-C-3 arts organizations in downtown Phoenix. Its mission is to maintain and enhance regular events, including the monthly First Fridays art walk, the annual Art Detour self-guided tour, an annual Juried Exhibition and an art-related fundraiser.
For more information on Artlink, please visit artlinkphoenix.com.
Hundreds of fabulous bicyclists took to the streets to support bike culture at Pedal Craft PHX last Friday night.
Bikes lined the streets, amazing racks were curated by Sidewalk Phoenix and local designers produced spectacular posters, which were purchased by the armful.
Of course our fashion spotters were on the lookout and were more than pleased to see the T-shirts designed by Jon Ashcroft looking especially chic.
Congratulations to the organizers for producing a terrific inaugural event. Look for more Pedal Craft festivities this Fall and in the meantime, check out the images captured by DPJ photographer, and Downtown resident, Jack London.
What is art in Phoenix? A short piece compiled from my trip around Downtown Phoenix for Art Detour weekend. Thank you to all the artists, patrons, volunteers, and proprietors who took the time to speak with me.
(shot & cut by perry allen for dpj)