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!
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
While our changing leaves may not be as colorful as back east, Phoenix has one unique signifier of fall that comes back every year, right on time: PoeFest.
Every October, suspense fans from around the Valley gather to hear classic Edgar Allan Poe stories recited in decidedly dramatic fashion by local actors at the storied, and probably haunted, Hotel San Carlos. This year marks the sixth showing of the local event, which features dramatic recitations of classic Edgar Allan Poe stories such as “The Raven,” “The Red Mask of Death,” and the “Tell-Tale Heart.”
Perfect for Poe fans, literature nerds, and adventurous first dates, PoeFest is the creepy brainchild of the Arizona Curriculum Theater (ACT), an educational charity that works in Valley schools to help students learn in new ways with the help of performance. From literature and history, to more traditionally staid subjects like math and science, ACT brings new life to standard subjects and attempts to make education more fun.
James David Porter, the founder and executive director of ACT, said the idea for PoeFest came about thanks to some very disappointing experiences in run-of-the-mill haunted houses.
“I longed for something different in Halloween entertainment. And the idea for PoeFest was born out of that disappointment. I had always loved the works of Edgar Allan Poe, and I had always wanted to perform “The Tell-Tale Heart” on stage,” Porter said.
The first run in October 2009 debuted in a small art space in the Grand Avenue arts district, provided by friends of Porter’s. The first show featured two classic stories, one performed by Porter himself, and a quaint six people in the audience.
“We did four shows over two weekends for the run, and by closing night we were turning people away. The show became very popular very quickly.”
By the third year, the show had outgrown the small space, so Porter began the search for a new venue: specifically, a haunted venue. He soon came across the many stories behind Downtown Phoenix’s Hotel San Carlos.
“At that historic hotel you can walk with all kinds of ghosts from the past – taking up the same space once occupied by Marilyn Monroe, Mae West, Spencer Tracy, Jean Harlow, Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Gary Cooper, Humphrey Bogart, and Gene Autry,” said Porter.
“The history seeps from the walls … It sounded like a perfect place for PoeFest. So I called up the hotel, had a meeting with General Manager Angela Hentz, and she agreed to let us try out one weekend inside the Ghost Lounge. It was such a success that we moved into the Hotel for our entire run the following year.”
After six years, Porter says his nightly audiences are a mixture of diehard fans and newbies looking for a thrill.
“PoeFest is also a fundraiser for our company, and I think our audience really digs that they are not just getting some great Halloween theater, but they are also helping our literacy and arts programs in Arizona schools and libraries. Our audiences care deeply about keeping the arts in schools, and so it’s a win-win for them.”
Phoenix resident and first-time PoeFest attendee Danielle Stephens said she found the format unconventional, but completely enthralling.
“PoeFest was a refreshing look at our favorite stories written by Edgar Allan Poe. I loved it!”
Porter started ACT after his work with the Southwest Shakespeare Company and taking part in their education outreach program in area schools.
“We just thought, ‘Why stop at Shakespeare? Why not do Poe, Emily Dickinson, historical reenactments, interactive story-telling, teach math through music, science through dance?’ I read a report that said the arts had declined more than 40 percent in Arizona schools, and there was all of this emphasis on curriculum – and so it was natural to find a way to connect the arts and the curriculum together. Why not use the arts to teach the curriculum? Two birds with one stone, as they say.”
ACT has brought the arts to more than 100 Arizona schools and libraries from Bisbee to Flagstaff, and have matched private donors to 37 schools in underserved or underfunded areas, schools that could not ordinarily afford professional artists or who have lost their funding for arts programs.
“What better way to learn about the Salem witchcraft trials, for instance, than to take part in a historically-accurate reenactment of the examination of an accused Salem witch?”
Porter hopes to continue traveling to schools across the valley and developing their programs to better serve teachers in classrooms. By continuing PoeFest, they are able to reach out to a new audience, share the goals of ACT, and inspire community support for their efforts.
In PoeFest, however, Porter hopes to finally provide a cure for the common haunted house by creating an Edgar Allan Poe-themed haunted asylum, in which each room features a different story or poem.
“Poe wrote many of his stories and poems as first person narratives, so the transition to the stage was quite natural. His stories sound like the confessions of the kinds of madmen that haunt my own nightmares. I don’t think there could be a more perfect marriage between the stage and classic literature.”
If you go:
Where: The Ghost Lounge at the Hotel San Carlos, 202 N. Central, downtown Phoenix
When: October 17 & 18, 24 & 25, Oct 31* & Nov 1 at 8:00 – 9:30 p.m.
Tickets: (for each individual night) $25 – general admission; $20 – students, seniors and military; Festival passes (good for all dates) are available for $38. Buy online.
*Special performances of “The Raven” will be presented on Halloween Night, Oct. 31, 2014 every twenty minutes from 7:30pm-9:30pm at Rosson House Museum, 113 N 6th St Phoenix, AZ. No seating is available, standing room only. (“The Raven” explores adult themes. This show is not recommended for very young children. Parental discretion is advised. Children under 13 will not be admitted without an adult.)
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
ARIZONA CLAY ASSOCIATION PRESENTS 24th ANNUAL EMPTY BOWLS EVENT
Proceeds benefit Waste Not
WHAT: In honor of World Food Day on October 16, the Arizona Clay Association is presenting the 24th annual Empty Bowls event to raise money for Waste Not, an agency that feeds the Valley’s hungry men, women and children.
COST/HOW: For a minimum $12 donation, patrons select their own unique, handcrafted ceramic bowl from thousands of beautiful bowls made by friends and members of Arizona Clay Association from clay donated by Marjon Ceramics and Laguna Clay. The bowl is then filled with a lunch donated by Canyon Café. Patrons keep the commemorative bowl as a reminder that someone else’s bowl is always empty.
BOUTIQUE: A boutique will feature many one-of-a-kind pieces of ceramic art, for sale in addition to the regular $12 bowls.
WHEN/WHERE: Friday, October 17, at Arizona Center, 400 East Van Buren, 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
ABOUT WASTE NOT: Proceeds from the event benefit Waste Not, a non-profit organization that collects more than 2 million pounds of excess perishable food annually from restaurants, resorts, caterers and various food purveyors and delivers it to more than 100 recipient agency partners including shelters, senior programs, transition homes, day care centers and after school programs. Over the past twenty-three years, this Empty Bowls event has raised more than $500,000 for Waste Not. Arizona Clay, which has more than 200 ceramic artists as members, is the organizer of the Arizona Center event. Their members conduct year-round bowl-making sessions with students, friends and community groups in an effort to provide the 3,000 clay bowls needed for this event.
Images courtesy of Arizona Clay Association.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
PHOENIX – (October 6, 2014) – Civic Space Park’s coming out party as an emerging outdoor concert venue in Downtown Phoenix will have to wait for a less-threatening weather forecast.
Doors open at 6:00 p.m. for the 7:00 p.m. show, which features the Glaswegian indie act known for “wistful pop” and a dedicated fan base cultivated over nearly 20 years in music.
The DPI tickets include reserved seating in the venue’s middle balcony and access to a private bar.
ABOUT DOWNTOWN PHOENIX, INC.
Downtown Phoenix, Inc. is a unique partnership of business, community and city leaders charged with coordinating and advancing the revitalization of Downtown Phoenix. DPI coordinates the activities of the Downtown Phoenix Partnership and Phoenix Community Alliance while assuring that the Downtown business community has a synergistic relationship with its community partners and surrounding neighborhoo