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!
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
CUSHMAN & WAKEFIELD OF ARIZONA NEGOTIATES TUFT & NEEDLE RELOCATION TO WAREHOUSE DISTRICT IN DOWNTOWN PHOENIX
Cushman & Wakefield of Arizona, Inc. negotiated a 5-year lease as Tuft & Needle relocates from Tempe to a 5,100-square foot facility at 605 E. Grant St.
Tuft & Needle designs and manufactures a line of mattress that is exclusively available online and ships right to the door of the customer. According to Entrepreneur magazine, Tuft & Needle’s mattresses are the top-rated product in Amazon’s furniture category. The company was co-founded by John-Thomas Marino and Daehee Park, who formerly worked together at a Silicon Valley software
“We really enjoyed working with Daehee and JT on this assignment,” Ryan Bartos said. “It is always fun to watch a startup begin to scale, and we’re happy to be a part of that growth. They’re doing great things and we can’t wait to see what’s next for Tuft & Needle.”
Bartos and Matt Coxhead of Cushman & Wakefield represented Tuft & Needle in the lease transaction. The landlord, Michael Levine, was self-represented.
“As a Phoenix-based startup, we’re excited to partner with people like Ryan Bartos, Matt Coxhead and Michael Levine who share a genuine passion and vision for local entrepreneurship.” Daehee said. “The Levine Machine is an amazing building with a lot of history and character where we’ll continue building the best mattress company in the world.”
Images courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield.
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
Join Downtown Phoenix business, community, and city leaders on October 21 for RadiatePHX, the free downtown networking event that invites you to “connect to the core” on the third Tuesday of each month.
Presented by Downtown Phoenix, Inc., Downtown Phoenix Journal, and Phoenix Community Alliance, RadiatePHX provides a forum to learn about downtown opportunities, issues, and solutions; receive key updates from guest speakers on what’s happening downtown; and discover how individuals and businesses can contribute to building the downtown we want.
This month’s RadiatePHX invites you to “get in the game” by getting involved in downtown. Coinciding with the cooler weather and the launch of the new Phoenix Suns season, brief announcements about new downtown-based health and fitness initiatives, FitPHX and Meet Me Downtown, will be shared.
The event is hosted by the Phoenix Suns and US Airways Center in the Verve Lounge, a spacious, comfortable venue with a bird’s eye view of the arena. Complimentary food and drink is provided by Levy Restaurants. Free parking in the US Airways garage is available.
Guest speakers are Phoenix District 5 City Councilman Daniel Valenzuela; Suns President Jason Rowley; and Ralph Marchetta, Senior Vice President, Ticket Operations & General Manager of Sports & Entertainment Services for US Airways Center.
What: RadiatePHX – a monthly networking event
When: Tuesday, October 21, 5 to 7 p.m.
Where: Verve Lounge at US Airways Center, 201 E. Jefferson St.
Cost: FREE, with complimentary bites and bar
Parking: Complimentary parking in US Airways Center garage (enter from 1st Street)
RSVP: Click here to RSVP
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
The Yard Gets its Groove on to Host Second Annual YardStock Music Festival
Mid-year music fest hosted in partnership with McDowell Mountain Music Festival
You don’t have to wait until March to take in McDowell Mountain Music Festival’s “Party for the People” because The Yard in Phoenix is offering music lovers an exclusive preview at its second annual YardStock Music Festival from 3:30 – 11 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 18.
The free festival, which is being hosted by The Yard’s Culinary Dropout and Little Cleo’s Seafood Legend in partnership with McDowell Mountain Music Festival and Deschutes Brewery, will feature one and a half-hour sets from some of the Valley’s best local artists.
The lineup is as follow:
- 3:30 – 5 p.m. Black Bottom Lighters
- 5 – 6:30 p.m. The Hourglass Cats
- 6:30 – 8 p.m. Bryan Hawkesworth & Sydney Collins
- 8 – 9:30 p.m. Gus Campbell
- 9:30 – 11 p.m. Carvin Jones
A portion of proceeds from each Deschutes beer sold during the event will be donated to McDowell Mountain Music Festival, the only 100 percent non-profit music festival in Arizona, and ultimately its designated charities including Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation and UMOM New Day Center.
Guests can enjoy the music while dining at Culinary Dropout or Little Cleo’s, and take part in backyard-style games including cornhole, ping-pong, and shuffleboard. The Yard encourages locals to pedal their way into YardStock and utilize one of the provided bike racks.
The Yard is located at 5632 N. Seventh St. in Phoenix. Visit www.foxrc.com or call 602-680-4040 for more details.
Images courtesy of Fox Restaurant Concepts.