DPJ’s Suns Spot blog series features a fan’s perspective of Phoenix’s first major league sports franchise.
What a difference a year makes. As the Suns entered the 2013-14 campaign, the prognosticators were all in agreement that they would finish at or near the bottom of the Western Conference with one of the worst records in the league.
Well, we all know how that turned out. They were the feel good story of the season, posting the league’s largest increase in wins from the previous year, and playing the fast paced, exciting basketball that Suns fans had grown accustomed to during the Nash, Barkley and KJ years. With 48 wins, they missed the playoffs by a single game in the brutal West.
As we enter the new season, those same experts are again predicting the Suns won’t make the playoffs and most have them winning fewer games. The focus seems to be on what the Suns don’t have, what they aren’t. “They are too small.” “They don’t have enough experience or depth in the front court.” “They will miss Channing Fry’s three point shooting on offense and his length on defense.” “Everyone had career years last year and no way will they all match that same production this season.” “They have too many guards, they won’t be able keep them all happy.” Blah blah blah.
This focus on the negative has national media missing the point (pun intended). There are several reasons to really like this team, and even expect them to be better this year.
- The coaching staff and most of the players have now gone through a second training camp together, working more on fine tuning the offensive and defensive philosophies than on teaching and learning.
- The team was 23 -11 when both Bledsoe and Dragic started, which, if projected over a full season, would’ve meant 55 wins and the number 4 seed last season. Expect them to be healthier this season and be even more comfortable in their second season together. They added to this strength by signing Isaiah Thomas, making their backcourt arguably the best and definitely the deepest in the league.
- Markieff Morris was the heir apparent to Channing Fry even before he left as a free agent. With increased minutes as a starter he will no doubt increase his production this season.
- The small forward position, which many consider a weak spot for the Suns, is actually very deep with each player displaying different, high level skills. Two of the team’s most productive players this preseason have been Marcus Morris and Gerald Green. Green is one of the most exciting and talented offensive players in the league, and Marcus Morris has shown great improvement both offensively and defensively. PJ Tucker can shut down three positions defensively and remains the heart and soul of the team. The best of them all may ultimately be rookie TJ Warren, who has shown an uncanny ability to score and has impressed with his defense as well.
- Last season was basically Miles Plumlee’s rookie season and with Alex Len’s injuries last season limiting him in camp and throughout the season, it could be argued this still is his rookie year. Expect both to make big leaps this year.
- This team has shown no signs of being comfortable with their improved standing last season. They remain hungry to improve and to prove all the experts wrong. The team chemistry that was so important to their success remains intact. They truly do seem to like each other and play for all the right reasons.
- Finally, this team is going to be FUN to watch. They will be one of the most exciting teams in the league and will likely lead again in fast break points and possibly total points this season. The various lineups Coach Hornacek can put on the floor will cause nightmares for opposing coaches.
As a Suns fan, I can’t wait to watch this team play this season. I hope you will join me in focusing on everything there is to like about this talented group. Fasten your seat belts, this is going to be quite a ride!
If You Go
Event: Phoenix Suns Home Opener
Date: Wednesday, October 29
Time: 7 p.m.
Where: US Airways Center, 201 E. Jefferson St.
Opening Night Promotion: 15,000 fans in attendance will receive a free Suns home opener t-shirt, courtesy of Coca-Cola and Fry’s Food Stores. Prior to tipoff, fans can enjoy music, face painting and a slam dunk competition. Limited tickets are still available and can be purchased at Suns.com.
Downtown Phoenix is a great place to celebrate any occasion, and Riette Pretorius Bartlett, owner and senior events coordinator for Downtown Phoenix Venues, knows this perhaps better than anyone.
Since 2010, she and her team have helped their clients host memorable events, including weddings and corporate parties in some of downtown’s most memorable spaces. From restored warehouses to art galleries, these venues features unique historical and architectural elements that automatically infuse a sense of culture and style into any event.
As Pretorius Bartlett points out, “none of these spaces were built to be wedding or event venues, making them different and unique. They all have a separate purpose. One was a laundry, a literal ice house, a mart, they just happen to have the right amount of open space for private events . . . these building are all around 100 years old. It is such a treat for visitors and Phoenicians to see true history, and to host an event within a space like that.”
In managing these spaces, the team at Downtown Phoenix Venues aim to go above and beyond to make their clients’ dreams a reality – from helping them stay organized, to vendor recommendations, to helping to keep their timeline on course. “We really want our clients to walk away thrilled,” says Pretorius Bartlett.
Within the Downtown Phoenix core, you’ll find a wide variety of locations that will make any event a special one. As Pretorius Bartlett notes, “these spaces are a destination on their own, well worth the trip to see a bit of Arizona history.”
Below is the list of spaces that Downtown Phoenix Venues has to offer, along with a sampling of other unique special event locations within the downtown Phoenix area.
AVAILABLE THROUGH DOWNTOWN PHOENIX VENUES
Venue: The Icehouse
Location: 5th Avenue & Jackson
Vibe: “One word: raw. This historic space is absolutely unique and the years have left it close to its original look. The roofless cathedral room is like no other space in the valley, truly extraordinary.”
Venue: Bentley Projects
Location: 3rd St. & Grant
Vibe: “Raw, but polished, with the white walls, exposed red bricks, wooden bow truss ceilings and world class art on the walls. This space is the perfect balance between raw and polished to please both the young and old.”
Venue: Phoenix Merchandise Mart
Location: 1st St. & Jackson
Vibe: Former location of Phoenix Merchandise Mart in 1946: “Like being in a downtown Brooklyn building.”
Venue: Red Bricks on 7th Street
Location: 1st St. & Jackson
Vibe: “This intimate brick building has more of a woman’s touch with it hosting an in-house florist. They have beautiful exposed bricks with repurposed pallets, giving it a more delicate touch.”
Venue: Legend City
Location: 7th Ave. & Van Buren
Vibe: “Owned by 4 creative men (3 photographers and 1 painting artist,) this space has the clean white walls of Bentley and also the exposed brick. This intimate space is perfect for smaller events.”
ADDITIONAL VENUES IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX
Venue: The Duce
Location: Warehouse district – 525 S Central Ave. Corner of Lincoln & Central
Vibe: Restored 1928 warehouse featuring vintage soda fountain, bar, and airstream trailer. The feel: “authentic, vintage, retro, comfy and cool.”
Contact: Steve Rosenstein, Co-Owner. 480 650 9160 or email@example.com
Venue: Children’s Museum of Phoenix
Location: Downtown Phoenix – 7th Street & Van Buren.
Capacity: Up to 1,250 guests
Vibe: “A special events venue with historic elegance and contemporary cool. It’s not just for the children; it’s for the child in all of us.”
Contact: Alex Wurth, Special Events Manager. 602.648.2747 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Venue: Arizona Science Center
Location: 600 E Washington St. – 7th Street & Washington
Vibe: “Arizona Science Center is the perfect, modern science-y backdrop to your special day. Immerse and interact with loved ones in a futuristic setting unique to you!”
Contact: Emily Gagnon, Sales & Events Manager. 602-716-2021 or email@example.com
Venue: Phoenix Art Museum
Location: 1625 N. Central Ave. – Central & McDowell
Capacity: For receptions: up to 250 with dancing; For ceremonies: up to 150
Vibe: “The space is architecturally special. Cummings Great Hall has 27ft ceilings with large-scale contemporary art and a dramatic lobby for arrivals. The Dorrance Sculpture Garden is an enclosed urban oasis for ceremonies. Photo-ops abound. Year-round climate control of 72 degrees.”
Contact: Events Department. (602)307-2019 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Location: Roosevelt Row – between 2nd & 3rd street
Capacity: 250+, depending on season. 150 for seated reception.
Vibe: “The monOrchid is well-known in the Downtown Phoenix Arts District as a modern industrial chic gallery which offers its visitors a one of a kind urban experience. With masonry walls and soaring natural wood bow trusses, the historic remodeled warehouse is a truly unique place which can accommodate any event ranging from large receptions with musical performances, to intimate sit-down dinners, weddings, receptions, business meetings, photo & film shoots, fashion shows, and fundraisers.”
Contact: Ashton Brown. 602.253.0339 or ashton@monOrchid.com
Here at DPJ, we’re all about sharing what we love. Beyond the stories that make us love downtown, we often come across things that catch our eye, tingle our senses or have us dancing in delight. “We Like…” turns a brief spotlight on the little treasures that make our day, with helpful links so you can share in the fun.
Like it or not, our urban world is “by design.” The urban landscape is filled with images conceived and created by people trying to catch our attention, communicate a message, and most of the time, sell us something. Much of it is so badly conceived and executed that it creates a noisy backdrop of “blah” that barely registers in our consciousness, except as an irritation. But people, I am here to sing the praises of an instance of real design brilliance that rises so far above the crowd that you simply must take an extra minute out of your day to stop, look and swoon.
What’s got me all a-twitter and goose-bumpy? It’s an example of top-notch, world-class, divinely realized graphic genius: the drop dead gorgeous poster art for this year’s Arizona Opera season of performances. Have you seen the images? Have you stopped for that extra minute to really appreciate their brilliance? If not, now’s your chance to sit back and revel in an example of creative synergy that combines marketing vision, clean design sensibilities, and truly artful illustration to create a nearly perfect series of images that directly communicate what this season is all about. (Click on the thumbnails to enlarge.)
I am not trained in design, but when something beautiful and meaningful smacks me between the eyes and provides that elusive spasm of delight, I just have to stand up and cheer! And then I have to find out, WHO DID THAT?
I’ve long been a fan of the genius marketing minds of the Arizona Opera. I first became aware of how far above average they were when they were working with the brilliant Jacques Barbey, whose work combined photographs and surreal settings into jaw-dropping images that beautifully conveyed the power and magic that opera aspires to. The season brochures with his imagery were hugely popular over several seasons and helped bring renewed energy to the organization.
Eventually, Ryan Taylor, Director of the Arizona Opera, and his staff decided it might be time to try a whole different tack. To break through the saturated visual marketing landscape, they wanted to see what could be accomplished with a bold, simple graphic style. The challenge would be to communicate the emotional heart of the stories in a new and compelling way.
The far-flung team behind the new look includes Laura Schairer, Marketing Director for the opera; Rodd Whitney, long-time AZ Opera designer, now based in Pennsylvania; and Emiliano Ponzi, an award-winning, Milan-based illustrator. Whitney had spotted Ponzi’s work in Communication Arts, an internationally prestigious design and illustration magazine. Whitney said, “It was amazing how he could capture the essence of stories so simply. You are immediately captivated and it makes you want to know more.”
Whitney reached out to Ponzi via email and communicated what Arizona Opera was looking for. With the time differences between Italy and Pennsylvania they never actually spoke, which makes the brilliance of the collaboration even more stunning. Whitney sent him synopses of the season’s operas and placed his faith in Ponzi’s estimable talent. In a few short weeks, Ponzi sent back “nice, tight sketches” that were very close to the finished pieces. Ponzi hit the nail on the head with simple, but extremely sophisticated illustrations that catch the eye and communicate the stories with color, wit, and poignancy that matches the depth of feeling inherent to the art form.
Schairer and Whitney have worked together for nearly 20 years and the level of trust that has been developed gives them a sturdy foundation for expressing their creativity. As Whitney puts it, “When you are left to do a good job is when you can do your best work.” Schairer’s confidence in Whitney, and Whitney’s confidence in Ponzi’s talent and skill gave everyone the permission to do their best work. And what amazing work it is.
The Arizona Opera has been ahead of the crowd in recognizing the power of artful marketing for many years. With this new look, they are once again setting a very high bar that challenges every other art organization in this city to step up their game. A very low bow to everyone involved!
When Jenny Poon and I originally outlined the strategic vision of the CO+HOOTS Foundation, we decided one of the the impact areas would be called “CO+CHANGE THE WORLD.” I knew in my heart that we would do it, I just wasn’t aware it would happen this quickly.
We started our conversations last December and not a year later, we were on a plane to Catania, Italy and sitting face-to-face with Elisa Toscano, our Italian counterpart— a strong visionary young woman who won’t take no for an answer.
Our presentation day was by far one of the proudest moments of my life as a Phoenician. I grew up in Phoenix, my backyard facing a mountain where we used to hike as kids while being wary of the snakes. Never in a million years did I ever think that one day I would be representing my city in international relationship building. There we sat with Phoenix Councilman Daniel Valenzuela, who had worked side by side with us and communicated on our behalf for weeks to acquire the necessary funding for us to go on the trip. (We received the necessary funding only a few weeks before the trip, so the planning went quickly and even required a trip to Tucson to get passports for some of our members.)
On the morning of the presentation, we were greeted by several dignitaries, including the President of the equivalent to their chamber of commerce, the President of Confstartup (their entrepreneur incubator), and of course our new BFF, Elisa. It was very formal. There was a ton of press and it was a much bigger deal than we had anticipated. We later learned that we were featured in the paper and on their television news programs.
At the presentation, we were each given the opportunity to talk about our businesses and I got to introduce and present with Jenny Poon. I have told many people this over the past 10 months of working with her, but I have never met a more strategic thinker than Jenny. She is one of the smartest business women I know. CO+HOOTS members Beth Cochran, founder of Wired PR Group, and Daniel Valencia of Levers also presented their companies. I was struck by the fact that while I work with them in the coworking space and collaborate with them on projects, it wasn’t until seeing them through other people’s eyes that I really understood how incredible that they are. I could tell that as we each presented, Councilman Valenzuela became increasingly proud that this was the representation that our city had to offer. That felt both validating and challenging at the same time. Via our conversations with the Italian entrepreneurs, we learned that the support we have from our local city government is unprecedented. They were in shock that we communicated with our Councilman via text message.
The President of the Commercico had some wonderful closing comments about how they want to follow what we are doing in Phoenix with pro bono service, B corps and a focus in coworking with a community. This is when I nearly burst into tears of joy. It was in that second that I recalled sitting at my kitchen table brainstorming with Jenny and throwing out the idea of creating global connections and expecting her to reel me back to reality, but instead she sketched out a little globe that said CO+CHANGE THE WORLD and we pinky-promised to make it happen. It’s surreal sitting in another country and having a very prominent businessman in the country say that they want to lead their city in the direction of a vision you put on paper. CO+CHANGE THE WORLD now didn’t seem like that lofty of a goal. In fact, with these kinds of innovators now in direct communication with each other, maybe it was too small?
That afternoon we took a tour of the new coworking space that they are launching. It is right on the Mediterranean sea. They seemed very eager to get our input on it. The enthusiasm and feeling of what “could be” was overpowering. We left with plans to connect, bring the Italians to Phoenix, and get them involved virtually with our community via our “SuccessLab” meetups and possible peer mentoring partnerships. We have plans to start that in early November with a possible CO+EXCHANGE to Phoenix in Spring 2015.
Catania is only one of the international cities planned for our CO+EXCHANGES program. In addition, we have plans for exchanges with Calgary, Canada and Hermosillo, Mexico within the year, as well as several US locations.
This week we bring our first visiting CO+EXCHANGER to Phoenix. Matthew Manos, a graphic designer and author from Los Angeles will cowork with us during Phoenix Pro Bono Week (Oct. 20-25).
This initial trip was generously sponsored by APS, AT&T, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of AZ who believe in our vision to CO+CHANGE THE WORLD and are all great supporters of bringing innovation to the Phoenix market to build community. Our goal is to conduct 12-15 CO+EXCHANGES in 2014-15, creating a global network of innovators all connected to our home city of Phoenix.
Dear Downtown Phoenix,
What a difference a decade can make! It has been incredibly gratifying to see the work of so many people that has resulted in today’s vibrant downtown. I have worked at Phoenix Art Museum at the northeast corner of Central Avenue and McDowell Road for the past forty years, and my wife Linda and I are residents of the Willo historic neighborhood so we’ve had an additional ringside seat to watch it all happen. We at the museum will continue to invest in helping further the success of our arts community and neighborhoods. When I look back on the growth that Phoenix Art Museum has experienced since I started here in my twenties – in physically expanding from the original 72,000 square feet to the 285,000 square feet it is today, as well as expanding our collection, our budget, and our reputation both nationally and internationally – it is tremendously satisfying.
There have been many milestones during my years at the museum. For me the most critical may have been with the City of Phoenix Bond Election in 1988. That was the launching point for the museum’s growth, and transformative to the entire arts community of Phoenix. I’m proud to have played a key role in that election and to have served as Treasurer for two City of Phoenix Bond Programs. Funds from the bond allowed Phoenix Art Museum to create and expand the Steele Gallery, Cummings Great Hall, JP Morgan Chase Lobby, Harnett Gallery and Whiteman Hall and to prepare for our first “blockbuster” exhibition, Splendors of Ancient Egypt in 1998, that attracted sellout crowds. We followed with other hit exhibitions including Monet at Giverny in 1999 and Secret World of The Forbidden City: Splendors from China’s Imperial Palace in 2001.
Five years later, after a $41.2 million campaign that included another cultural bond program, the museum completed our 18-year facilities master plan by opening the Greenbaum Lobby, Dorrance Sculpture Garden and the Marshall, Hendler, Anderman, Marcus, Marley, Brown, Norton and Men’s Art Council galleries in the Katz Wing for Modern Art. Shortly thereafter we opened Rembrandt and the Golden Age of Dutch Art: Treasures from the Rijksmusen, Amsterdam. At that time our acclaimed model program with The University of Arizona’s Center for Creative Photography was unveiled.
As you may have heard, in April 2014 I announced my intention to retire from my position as The Sybil Harrington Director after forty years of working at Phoenix Art Museum. Combined with the fact that I turned 65 this year and Linda and I have our eighth grandchild on the way, I decided it was the right time. As a result, the museum’s board of trustees has initiated a search process to find my replacement that I hope will take the reins of Phoenix Art Museum for the next generation. I plan to remain in my current role as long as necessary to ensure a deliberate, seamless succession process and a smooth transition.
Our staff and trustee leadership has always firmly believed in the museum’s mission: bringing great art from all over the world to the people of Arizona to enrich their lives and communities. Our board believes that Phoenix Art Museum should be a leader in the community and that philosophy has allowed me latitude, for which I am most grateful. I have had the privilege of working with many dedicated volunteers, great trustees and incredible staff members who have always worked together for the good of the museum. Many of those people have taught me a lot. With Linda’s support and that of our family we have enjoyed knowing and working with so many people.
I am most proud of how Phoenix Art Museum has served the community beyond our walls including the arts community and neighborhoods of downtown Phoenix. I am particularly grateful for the support I have received from museum members, the community, and many colleagues, and I look forward to watching as the museum continues adding to the cultural quality, enjoyment, and way of life in Arizona.
Phoenix Art Museum is moving forward with a great exhibition schedule planned through 2016, a quality staff, enthusiastic support organizations, and a strong Board of Trustees. It is crucial the museum keep its momentum strong to remain one of the top amenities of downtown Phoenix and specifically the arts community of our wonderful city.
With sincere thanks,
James K. Ballinger,
The Sybil Harrington Director
Images courtesy of Phoenix Art Museum