Vacant lots fill 43% of the land in Phoenix. We’ve all seen them scattered up and down throughout downtown and we know the impact they can have.
On one such neglected site, however, an organic transformation has been slowly evolving over the last two years. PHX Renews, a program of Keep Phoenix Beautiful, has brought community members, nonprofits, and corporate partners together to transform a fallow 15-acre site on the northeast corner of E. Indian School Rd. and Central Ave. into a garden bursting with plant life. Once the site of the old Phoenix Indian School, the lot lies adjacent to, though not part of, Steele Indian School Park.
The mission of the PHX Renews program is to “find temporary uses for these lots that will beautify the city, while promoting sustainability and a sense of community.” With this simple mission, Tom Waldeck, the executive director of Keep Phoenix Beautiful and his staff, volunteers and supporters have created a beautifully diverse example of how to bring abundant, temporary life to these neglected spaces. The 15-acre lot is on lease from Baron Colliers Companies, with the agreement that anything and everything built on the site is temporary. When the time comes for it to be developed, everything can be moved. As Waldeck says, “When we do leave it will be like we were never here.”
The program was launched with two seed grants, including $100,000 from Wells Fargo, and $40,000 from the Steele Foundation. Currently the lot boasts a small farm run by the International Rescue Committee; 140 community garden plots; a temporary net neutral sustainable high tech house built in partnership with ASU; gardening demonstration areas run by various nonprofits; and a temporary dog park from PetSmart. The fence surrounding the site is adorned with temporary mural panels painted by local artists and community members. The temporary sustainable house has become the onsite office for Phoenix Renews and ASU will continue to use it for research connected to the onsite technology that was used in its construction. Hayden Flour Mill is using the site to grow a couple of acres of heat resistant white Sonoran wheat, which they supply to Chris Bianco. APS is working to create temporary black water solutions for the site, and various other groups present events and programs onsite.
The project continues to evolve. Most of the 15-acres is being utilized at this point and plans are in the works for various events, including an Earth Day Festival next April. There will be ongoing presentations, demonstrations and workshops to help people experience sustainable desert gardening, water conservation, composting, and other aspects of sustainable living. “Everything we do has to have an educational component,” said Waldeck. “We bring kids in for recycling, composting, etc.” Last March they hosted Bill and Chelsea Clinton for the Clinton Foundation’s 9th Annual Day of Action.
The program has been such a success that Keep Phoenix Beautiful has brought on a full-time project manager. Katie Poirer is a recent graduate of the sustainability program at ASU who got involved with PHX Renews originally as a volunteer. She works directly with community gardeners, helping with any problems and small maintenance issues, as well as working directly with organizations who are looking for ways to get involved.
The next time you’re in the area, stop in and walk around. You’re sure to see someone working on their garden plot, tilling a field, or leading a demonstration of some kind. Contact Katie and set a time to tour through the house. And keep in mind as you wander through the site that the whole miraculous blooming patch, up to and including the house, is temporary, and portable. When the time comes for construction on this lot, the whole shebang can be moved to thrive and bloom in another vacant corner of the city.
If you go:
What: PHX Renews, a temporarily activated, 15-acre sustainability experience
Where: Northeast corner of E. Indian School Rd. and Central Ave. (No public parking on site. Park in the Steele Indian School Park lot and walk out and around to the entrance on Central, or take light rail to the Indian School and Central Station and cross to the entrance on Central.)
When: Open seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. For more information or to set up a time to see the house, call 602-262-4820, or visit PHX Renews.
Admission: There is no cost to visit the site.
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An Afternoon Adventure in Midtown Living
The Midtown Museum District Neighborhood Association is proud to announce the Second Annual Midtown Urban Living Tour. Planned for November 1st from 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm, the Tour will feature some of Midtown’s finest residential buildings. Last year’s inaugural Tour attracted almost 600 visitors in a 4- hour period and was received with an overwhelmingly positive response. This year the Tour adds two new buildings and an additional hour of time to visit them.
The Midtown Urban Living Tour will showcase homes in seven celebrated Midtown communities. Tour goers will have the rare opportunity to explore selected homes in: Artisan Lofts on Central, Villa del Coronado, Regency House, Phoenix Towers, Tapestry on Central, One Lexington, Executive Towers and Chateau on Central.
In true urban fashion, we encourage tour goers to enjoy the convenience of riding the Light Rail for travel between communities. Pedal cabs and a trolley service will also be available and there will be bike racks at each property for cyclists. Before or after exploring Midtown living options, tour goers may stop for a bite at one of the many excellent restaurants found in Midtown, some of which will be offering special deals for tour goers showing evidence of ticket purchase.
As significant as it is in the development of Phoenix, Midtown gets less attention in the history books, perhaps because it represents an “in between” phase between the city’s original settlement and the tremendous outward growth that followed. Today, this sector of Downtown is home to a bustling business district, world-class museums and culture, fine restaurants, lush parks and a diverse mix of housing options. We invite you to see for yourself why Midtown is at the crossroads of “live, work and play” in Phoenix.
If you go:
When: Saturday, November 1, 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Where: Midtown Museum District
Parking: United Food and Commercial Workers Bldg., 2401 N Central Ave.
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!
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