It may look a little imposing from the outside, but the Irish Cultural Center and the adjoining McClelland Library offer an astonishing gamut of Irish events and educational opportunities for anyone who wants to know a little more about the rich history and culture of the Emerald Isle. At first glance, you may ask yourself “An Irish cultural center, in Arizona?,” but a surprising number of Irish immigrants and transplants have made their way to Arizona in the last 150 years, and this unique complex is an important cultural resource for anyone who wants to better understand their real or imagined Irish roots. Fashioned after authentic Irish buildings and built with some traditional materials, like the blue limestone that was brought to the site from County Galway, the Center transports visitors to another time and place.
Situated on the southeast corner of Hance Park and Central Ave, the Irish Cultural Center was created out of a unique public/private partnership among the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department; ADOT; a Sister City relationship with Ennis, Ireland; and the nonprofit Irish Cultural and Learning Foundation. The foundation raised the initial $100,000 to plan for the center, and the project received bond money to construct the initial elements of the site: An Gorta Mór Hunger Memorial (dedicated in 1999); An Halla Mór, aka The Great Hall (dedicated on St. Patrick’s Day in 2002); and the Irish 1850′s Cottage (dedicated in 2004).
The most recent addition to the complex, the McClelland Library, is a three story building resembling a traditional 12th century Norman castle, which was fully-funded by Norman McClelland of the Arizona-based, family-owned Shamrock Farms. “While the Center as whole embraces many aspects of Irish life and culture,” said Chas Moore, the head librarian for the McClelland (pictured right), “the library gives us an opportunity to showcase Ireland’s rich art and literary traditions, as well as provide genealogy resources for people interested in tracing their own Irish backgrounds.”
Now is a perfect time to visit both the Center and the McClelland library, as they launch a month and a half of special programming to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the publication of James Joyce’s The Dubliners.
Joyce wrote the groundbreaking collection of short stories in 1905 and spent nearly ten years struggling to get it published because of controversial elements in the stories. After Irish publishers repeatedly refused the collection, it was finally published in London in 1914. The celebration features events from September 24 through November 8.
Celebrate the 100-Year Anniversary of the Publication of The Dubliners
Wednesday, September 24, 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.: Lecture on “James Joyce’s The Dubliners: Still Engaging Readers and Writers 100 Years After Publication” presented by Irish-born poet Adrienne Leavy. $5 donation for nonmembers, free for members.
Saturday, October 11, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.: Book discussion of the first fourteen stories in The Dubliners. Free to everyone.
Wednesday, October 22, 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.: Screening of the independent film Dubliners in Arizona featuring local actors and settings. $5.00 for members, $7.50 for nonmembers.
Saturday, November 8, 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.: Discussion of the final story in the collection, “The Dead” and a screening of the film directed by John Huston and starring his daughter, Angelica Huston.
If you haven’t yet crossed the threshold of the Irish Cultural Center and the McClelland Library, don’t hesitate. In addition to the wonderful buildings, the rich resources, and the regular events and celebrations held there, this hidden gem hosts an array of ongoing Irish language, dancing and music classes available to everyone.
If You Go:
What: Irish Cultural Center and McClelland Library
Where: 1106 N. Central Avenue
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.; Wednesday evening open till 8:00 p.m.
Featured image courtesy of Irish Cultural Center
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When Roosevelt Historic District homeowner Tony Tardino approached downtown artists Chele Hill and Andy Brown about painting custom murals on adjoining cinderblock walls, the independent artists didn’t hesitate for a moment. Not only did the rustic urban medium present an artistic challenge in both scope and perspective, but it brought with it an opportunity for the pair of painters to bond as they “slung paint” just feet from one another.
“Any opportunity to paint is a good time, but this was different,” says Hill, an emerging newcomer to the Phoenix arts community who has celebrated what she calls ‘corporate sobriety’ by fully immersing herself in the scene as an Articipant of ArtLink and Tri-Chair for the upcoming Grand Ave Festival.
“It was a really fun neighborhood project,” adds Brown, an established Phoenix artist who lives and works downtown and for years has been putting his signature mark on walls in the valley and around the nation. “My career has expanded beyond what I ever thought possible as far as doing mural work and it makes me proud that it all started here in Phoenix.”
While Hill and Brown began the projects as independent artists with no formal connection aside from their mutual love for artistic expression, the two quickly learned their lives and their art were perfectly complementary. Both native Phoenicians (who, coincidentally, had no trouble reaching the top of their respective cinderblock canvases since both stand well over six feet tall), the two are freehand artists focused on reviving the downtown arts community one piece at a time.
“This mural project was even more special to me because I have photos of myself playing on this same street when I was little and my grandmother lived just around the corner,” says Hill. “I love having a hand in bringing this area to life!”
The finished products – Hill’s ethereal female visage and Brown’s ocean-like topography – are located at 7th Ave. and Roosevelt/Portland, and will be on the route for Phoenix’s September First Friday. Brown’s mural was created exclusively using aerosol paint; Hill’s design incorporates brushed and pumped acrylic.
“I am so very happy with both murals,” says Tardino, an active member of the Roosevelt Action Association who, as a renovator, cherishes making something ugly into something beautiful. “The murals turn a huge corner into a glorious and wonderful piece of art that enhances the whole neighborhood. I know it brings smiles to thousands of drivers each day.”
“It feels great to be a part of what’s happening downtown, and to see the ecosystem for artists improve and be a part of that,” says Brown. “The goal for me on this project was to provide something enjoyable for the community.”
To see more of Hill and Brown’s work, visit facebook.com/CHillOriginalArt or Soldierleisure.com (Instagram @sleisure), or stop by CHill Space Studio on Grand Ave. or Andy’s studio in the Historic Westminster Building at 2nd Ave. and Roosevelt.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
Intersections by Nuna Dow – One Night Only, First Friday, Sept 5th, 6-9pm
Please join us First Friday, September 5th for the very last show at 720 Gallery.
We are delighted to have Nuna Dow as our featured artist for our final evening.
Nuna’s work is vibrant: she creates mixed media canvasses through an intuitive layering of vivid colors and contrasting textures. Born in Baghdad of an Iraqi mother and Czech father and educated in England, Nuna spent many years in Europe and South America. Her works are reflective of a life lived among so many unique cultures.
Also that evening, 720 Gallery and Nuna Dow will host “Artists helping Artists,” a benefit for Bassim Al-Shaker, a fellow Arizona artist who lost several paintings when they were stolen from his studio in a recent robbery.
Nuna will donate 10% of her First Friday sales and Gallery 720 owner Nancy Hill will contribute all gallery profits made that evening to Artists Helping Artists.
Please stop by, meet Nuna Dow, see her amazing work and join us for our gallery closing event to help raise money for artist, Bassim Al-Shaker.
When: First Friday, September 5th
6-9pm at 720 Gallery
Where: 720 N. 4th Street
Parking available in lot behind building
Photographs of artwork by Nuna Dow courtesy of 720 Gallery.
Downtown is more than a grid system of streets and square miles. It is defined by something more. In this short series, new DPJ contributor, Colin Columna hones in on the five senses as his guide to explore what makes downtown Phoenix unique.
With our ears attuned to the nuanced sounds of downtown Phoenix, from the distinctive “ding ding” of an approaching light rail train, to the sounds of laughter from people on their bikes and a radio playing from the open window of a passing car, we begin. Our first stop on this downtown sensory tour is along Phoenix’s cultural highway, Central Avenue, at the intersection with Roosevelt Street. On the northwest corner stands the landmark Trinity Cathedral, spiritual home of the Episcopal congregation and secular home to the renowned Phoenix Chorale.
The Cathedral, completed in 1920, provides a graceful connection to Phoenix’s history, but visit during First Friday Art Walk and the space is filled with the sights and sounds of contemporary urban life. The Cathedral Center for the Arts provides the visual experience in the Olney Gallery and Phoenix Chorale’s Artistic Director Charles Bruffy conducts the surround sound of the Grammy Award winning ensemble during Open Rehearsals.
“I love our open rehearsals,” says Bruffy, “they allow us an opportunity to invite people who may be familiar with their own church choir but unfamiliar with what we do, to drop in and experience something new and hopefully surprising.”
At the center of downtown’s thriving Roosevelt art district, and easily accessible from Central and Roosevelt Metro Light Rail station, the free rehearsals add an element of accessibility to classical music while giving Phoenix Chorale serious “street cred.”
Bruffy explains the rehearsals allow for the audience to actively engage with the process. “Our singers have trained and perfected their gift and talent to sing from the heart. The casual atmosphere of open rehearsals allows us to not only sing but talk to our audience, answer questions, tell stories about the songs and tune their ears for the adventure of choral music. Our goal is make it possible for as many people to explore and enjoy the music and just as important to have fun.”
Choral music evolved from the earliest form of musical expression, telling stories through folk songs and devotional chants. Charles Bruffy plays a significant role in that evolution: appointed Artistic Director of the Phoenix Chorale in 1999, Artistic Director of the Kansas City Chorale since 1988, Chorus Director for the Kansas City Symphony Chorus since 2008 and an impressive list of other gigs around the country. His exhaustive schedule ensures that chorale music remain relevant and at the top of the charts.
Under his leadership the Phoenix Chorale and Kansas City Chorale have ten Grammy Award nominations and each garnered two Grammy Award wins. The latest Phoenix Chorale recording, Northern Lights, spent a lucky 13 weeks on the Billboard charts and of special significance to Bruffy, “We were named “Best Classical Vocal Album of the Year” on iTunes Best of 2012, how cool is that?”
Adding to the richness of the Chorale’s sound is the unique qualities of Trinity Cathedral. “Many of our concerts are performed in sacred spaces, like the Cathedral.” he says, “It may be that they are usually of older construction, of stone and hard acoustics that singers enjoy. But there is something very special that occurs when we perform in the sanctuary, a reverb is applied creating an added element to the performance, as if the voice is singing a duet.”
If location is everything, Bruffy believes he could not be luckier. “I love being in the ‘hood. Our city is so culturally rich and there are so many flavors and cuisines to sample downtown.
I can leave work, get to my apartment, go to one of my favorite places Cibo Urban Pizzeria for a meal and still make it to rehearsals on time.” After performances Bruffy is often spotted at a few of his other favorites, including St. Francis, Breadfruit and Hanny’s courtesy of the Light Rail.
The musical dynamo believes the trains add to downtown’s vitality, “When I see the light rail go by, listen to the tone of the bell, I hear the sound of a twenty-first century city.”
Asked to imagine a concert that captures the flavor of downtown Phoenix Bruffy quickly, and expertly, whipped up this selection and provided a few highlights:
“Phoenix” by Ola Gjeilo, the Chorale’s 2010 Composer in Residence.
“In the Beginning” by Aaron Copland. “This piece reminds me of the mythical bird, and our city’s namesake, the Phoenix, always able to surprise, evolve and reinvent itself.”
“Cloudburst” by Eric Whitacre
“Mountains” by Steven Chapman
“Anasazi Women” by Anne Kilstofte. “This piece is selected from our 2014/15 season, Desert Song concert. A musical celebration of the beautiful Southwest landscape in which we live.”
To sample more of the Phoenix Chorale visit their website: www.phoenixchorale.org or call 602-253-2224.
Photos courtesy of Phoenix Chorale
The following release was issued by the city of Phoenix Street Transportation Department.
EXTENDED PARKING METER HOURS COMING AUG. 18
Meters to operate from 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. daily
The city of Phoenix Street Transportation Department is notifying residents, commuters and business owners on changes to parking meter hours of operation, effective Aug. 18. The changes were adopted by the City Council in June.
Beginning Aug. 18, all parking meters will be enforced from 8 a.m. – 10 p.m., including weekends and holidays.
The new hours were enacted to increase the turnover of parking spaces in central Phoenix and downtown areas where meters are most often used.
As part of the council action, parking meter rates will also be changing in November of this year. Under a new demand-based pricing system coming in November, rates at credit card enabled meters can vary from 50 cents to $4 an hour, with higher meter rates reserved for high demand-parking during special events. Until demand-based pricing is implemented in November, meter rates will remain $1.50 per hour. For the public’s convenience, the city has purchased and installed 598 new single space credit card enabled meters. With this upgrade approximately 1,500 of the city’s parking meters, or 81 percent of citywide maters, will take credit cards.
More information on the proposed parking meter changes is available at the Street Transportation Department website, phoenix.gov/streets/parking-meters.