DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
The Trunk Space is holding its 2nd Annual ”Nerd Shop & Swap” on Saturday March 30th. They are looking for interested collectors to set up and sell/trade their geeky hobby surplus.
Guidelines for sellers:
- This event is not intended for professional sellers, but hobbyists who are looking to clean out their closets.
- Hours will be 11am to 4pm, and sellers can start setting up at 10am.
- Welcome are: Comic books, toys, role playing games, movie memorabilia, crafts and craft supplies, action figures, books, cameras/photo supplies, vintage clothes, sports stuff, and much more–tell us what you have, we’ll let you know if it fits!
- Persons interested must first email Trunk Space first, putting NERD SWAP in the subject line, letting me know what they intend to sell. Our email address is: email@example.com
- We take no commission on sales.
- $10 to hold a space (Bring your own table), first come first reserve, inside spaces are limited.
- Once okayed, sellers can reserve a space by sending $10 via paypal to:firstname.lastname@example.org and put NERD SWAP in the description.
- Last day to hold a spot in March 23rd.
- This event will be free to shoppers.
For More info:
Facebook page for the Nerd Shop & Swap:
Flyer for the event:
Photos by Diana Welsch, courtesy of The Trunk Space
The Grand Avenue Arts and Small Business District is home to an eclectic, and very diverse, mix of the arts, small commercial enterprises, retail, industrial, affordable housing projects, social services, and historic residential.
Over the last several years, newcomers to the area have purchased the vintage commercial buildings along this diagonal strip into downtown to preserve the historic architecture or to create interesting adaptive re-use projects that are a combination of the new and the old. Hurt by the downturn, the Avenue is coming back to life with a variety of new small businesses, projects currently under renovation, streetscape planning, murals, and other arts and community related activities.
Have your own idea for a creative business or space? Check out the availability on Grand:
The Historic OS Stapley Hardware Store Buildings
The current owner is restoring these beautiful red brick buildings to their original 1920s appearance by removing interior plaster, exposing original painted signs, sandblasting interior trusses, and re-installing large storefront windows.
Location: 747 W. Grand Avenue
Space: up to 5-6,000 sq. ft. increments
Rate: Call for info
Contact: Kevin Lange, Cushman & Wakefield 602-253-7900
The Groove On Grand
In the heart of the Grand Avenue Arts and small Business District. These buildings have all been renovated for a variety of retail, art studio, and office type small businesses. It has nice outdoor seating area, a small outdoor stage, and good exposure and visibility along Lower Grand Avenue. The patio that has the beginnings of a lovely desert oasis. Owners will help build out kitchen for right, experienced bar/bistro tenant.
Henry’s Market Corner
Built in the 1920′s as a Piggly Wiggly market, the Market Corner has been purchased by a new owner who is preparing to renovate the exterior. The owner is looking for a restaurant or a neighborhood market, art studio, furniture store, or office tenant and is willing to negotiate on limited interior improvements for the right person.
Work spaces, one small theater space, art studios, small retail/office, co-working space, etc. are available in a variety of sizes and price ranges. All spaces are in vintage buildings in the Lower Grand Avenue Arts and Small Business District.
Location: 1023 Grand, 1022 Grand, 1301 Grand, and 711 N. 15th Avenue
Space: Varies, call for info
Rate: 55 cents – 75 cents a sq. ft.
Contact: Beatrice or Tony at 602-391-4016
Oasis on Grand (corner commercial space)
A prime corner of the Oasis on Grand complex at Grand, Roosevelt and 15th Avenue. Looking for community friendly tenants and open to tenants who want to co-exist with several shared uses such as bar/bistro, small retail/office, gallery, etc. Owner willing to help with TI for an experienced bistro/bar tenant.
Oasis on Grand (Live/Work)
Artist live/work space in a beautifully remodeled Mid-century Modern motel building, with interior parking and leisure area. Or can be used for small galleries.
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.
There are some advantages to your bike being your only source of transportation around Phoenix. One of them is no longer being subjected to the inevitable conversation on the bus or train where someone says that Phoenix isn’t a real city and has no character.
I get it. You came from somewhere else and it was so awesome you had to leave. Then you came to Phoenix expecting it to answer all of your problems and it turns out it’s just as messed up as everywhere else and, on top of that, it has spiky plants, absurdly hot weather and none of the flowers you could grow back in Michigan will grow here.
When I try to pinpoint what Phoenix’s character is, I often end up thinking about how our isolation and the possibility that the heat will kill you define our actions here. I also try to see this place like someone who hasn’t lived here for over 15 years and accepts it with open eyes.
I look at Grand Avenue.
Due to a little-known zoning restriction, the sweat of a lot of people, a slower process of development and a unique positioning in the geography of Phoenix, Lower Grand Avenue has managed to retain enough remnants of the early developments of this city to give us the sense that Phoenix does not have to mean generic strip malls and chain restaurants. It is one of the few places where we can look at what is still there and imagine the generations that were there before us. Phoenix is in fact not a blank slate to wipe clean and re-imagine how to rebuild for whichever developer’s benefit. It has a history—one that goes back much farther than even these poured concrete and masonry buildings.
Beatrice Moore has pretty much seen it all, partly because earlier developments for the now US Airways Center and Chase Field forced her and her partner to be moved to whichever location was just on the fringe of the developer’s zone. They looked to Grand Avenue with its unique, older buildings, lower prices and distance from possible development to be able to work and be creative in peace.
It seems that Grand has managed to remain this type of place. It integrates families, artists, new and old businesses, and social welfare programs. It seems quieter and slower there. There’s more time for cactus to grow and for people to think, thoughtfully, about what might be best for the community. Unlike other areas of the city that have seen immediate high rise development, speculation and the battle of large chains moving in to take advantage of high trafficked areas (monstrosity at 7th Ave and McDowell, I’m looking at you), Grand Avenue has been churning on, planning for ways to make it a lively area without simply focusing on it as a one-hit destination. This is an area where people can afford to live and breathe.
Stephanie Carrico, co-owner of the Trunk Space, sees Phoenix as a small town in a big city and maybe this is its unique key to potential success. In a community where people are aware of who has lived there for generations and what businesses helped build the area, it seems more likely that people will look out for each other’s interests. They’re less likely to allow developments that turn the location into a concept of the location without any remaining soul.
Grand Avenue, partly because of the care people have put into adapting and reusing buildings there, is a place that makes people stop and think. Not as many people want to contend with it as they might with more hip locations because, in order to do so, you are confronted by a place that is rooted in time and actually manages to say that this is Phoenix. Now are you going to tear it down and pretend it’s somewhere else, or are you going to figure out how to work with it?
What goes into designing the promotion materials for an event? How do you decide on an image that conveys the right message?
When it’s the 25th Anniversary of Art Detour, you look to your past and turn for inspiration to the local artists who’ve been the heart of the event for a quarter century.
The Gala and the Gal
During last year’s Detour, photographer Bryan Mok was documenting an event at the Crescent Ballroom hosted by local artist Hugo Medina. “Celebrating Beauty and Artists” featured live models sporting body painting creations by several artists.
As Mok stood with his camera poised, one of the models stopped near him just under a spotlight. She was wearing glitter on her body and her hair and the beautiful floral image by Dianne Nowicki that was painted on her back luminesced under the light.
In that moment, says Mok, “it all came together – the cool composition, the floral body painting on her back, the glowing light from her skin and hair – it was completely evocative of the event, embodying people and art.”
The resulting photo caught the eye of Artlink Phoenix board members as they were planning this weekend’s Silver Gala, a kick off event to celebrate Detour’s silver anniversary. The image embodied the festive, artful spirit of the gala.
Graphic designers were asked to use the photo as the inspiration for the gala invitation and poster, and voila! The resulting image pays homage to last year’s Art Detour, to Dianne Nowicki’s floral image, and to the fabulous photo that Mok captured.
Celebrating “The Artist”
For Art Detour’s main image, used for poster and postcards, Artlink put out a call to artists to submit work that would capture the essence of the event.
Fred Tieken’s brilliantly colored submission entitled “The Artist” was chosen. Not only was the image bright, colorful, and fun, the subject matter fit perfectly with the focus of Artlink.
As Nancy Hill, Artlink board member and Art Detour Chair said “Artlink exists to bring attention to local artists in downtown Phoenix and Art Detour is the signature event that brings the public into artist studios. Fred’s piece captures that focus perfectly.”
Tieken, a longtime Phoenix resident who had successful careers in music and graphic design before turning full time to art, talked about how the piece came to be. “I started with the idea of an artist painting a portrait of a lady, and the paint led me on. It was something that just developed before my eyes.”
Tieken is an enthusiastic supporter of the downtown Phoenix art scene who many people will know from his large-scale mural “Buzz” on the side of the Vermillion building on MacDowell, just east of Third Avenue. “I paint a lot from images I get from watching people on First Friday,” says Tieken. “I love the downtown art scene, I love the energy on the streets on First Friday, and I always come back excited and inspired.” He puts ideas for paintings up on a wall and says he has enough ideas on the wall currently to paint through next year.
So, the next time you happen past the poster or postcard for Detour or the Silver Gala, take a minute to reflect on the inspiration behind the images. And while you’re at it, put on your best finery to attend the Gala and make plans to spend the following weekend exploring everything the downtown Phoenix arts scene has to offer at Art Detour.
If You Go:
Event: Artlink Silver Gala
Date/Time: Saturday, February 23, 7 to 11 p.m.
Location: A.E. England Building, Civic Space Park.
Tickets: Buy tickets here
Event: Art Detour 25,
Dates/Times: Saturday and Sunday, March 2 and 3, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Locations: Over 90 locations throughout downtown Phoenix and beyond.