Don’t miss the once-a-year opportunity to peer into the studios of working artists and wander through galleries during Artlink’s Art Detour 26 this weekend. Along with the top art venues of downtown Phoenix and countless pop-up exhibits, dozens of painters, sculptors, photographers, glassblowers, and other creative minds open the doors of their private space to curious visitors.
With the event map in hand, art lovers can explore more than 100 stops on a two-day self-guided tour, many within convenient walking distance of the free Art Detour shuttle route. Docents ride along on two London-style double-decker buses circulating continuously at 20-minute intervals between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, while four information hubs at Phoenix Art Museum, Oasis on Grand, CityScape, and the Arizona Center provide volunteers ready to answer questions.
The adventure begins this evening with a greater-than-usual array of First Friday opportunities, including an open rehearsal by the Phoenix Chorale at Trinity Cathedral. While you’re there, check out Olney Gallery’s Color Color Color! exhibition, featuring work by Kaori Takamura, Sarah Kriehn, and Christopher Jagmin.
Elsewhere, the weekend is filled with live music — along with a multitude of casual performances like Bones of Folk’s Danyul Kostin at Oasis on Grand and the Moonlight Howlers at The Lost Leaf, tonight’s ambitious Viva Phx festival brings 70 groups — including Sir Mix-A-Lot, The Neighbourhood, Black Carl, Tobie Milford, and Pinback — to 14 venues ranging from Crescent Ballroom to the Hotel San Carlos to the Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center. The next day, Phoenix Blues Society’s Blues Blast ’14 fills Saturday with tunes from Hans Olson, Leon J’s JukeJoint, the Mike Eldred Trio, and other Rhythm Room stars at Margaret T. Hance Park — show an Art Detour map for a ticket discount.
Once your ears are satiated, fill your eyes with images from Artlink board member Hugo Medina, curator of the Phoenix Phabulous History Mural showing at Walter Studios. “I think it’s important that artists keep creating, pulling forward, which I try to do with my own work as well,” he says. “Phoenix is a phenomenal destination…. We’ve just got to start getting the collectors to start coming out, and that’s the challenge.”
For the month of March, R. Pela Contemporary Art will display Banned at the Herberger, including part of a controversial canceled show originally scheduled last fall at the Herberger Theater Center Art Gallery. The exhibit includes work by Mike Ford, Ronnie Ray Mendez, and Lisa Albinger. “Mike Ford’s photographs, about his relationship with his mother who has Alzheimer’s disease, have such depth,” says curator Robrt Pela. “There’s sadness, and camp, and real emotion. I had to share them.”
He continues, “I think that the art that I’m showing…I want there to be craftsmanship and beauty, but there has to be another element too…some commentary, some politics, some pain. It can’t just be something that’s lovely to look at because that isn’t quite enough.”
Other popular, highly-regarded mainstays anchoring First Friday and Art Detour include Practical Art and monOrchid. Great Arizona Puppet Theater offers edgy, quirky, adults-only Puppet Slams both Friday and Saturday nights.
All weekend, kids can find plenty of fun with finger-paint murals, demonstrations, workshops, and other family-friendly activities at Kids’ Detour, various galleries and studios, and the Blues Blast. Retailers and restaurateurs also add to the experience with extended weekend hours and specials.
If you go:
- Artlink First Friday on March 7
- Viva Phx music festival on March 7
- Phoenix Blues Society’s Blues Blast ’14 on March 8
- Artlink’s Art Detour 26 on March 8-9
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
New Venue, The Pressroom, Opening In Downtown Phoenix Warehouse District on February 14th
The Pressroom will feature national music acts by Danny Zelisko Presents, shows by burlesque troupe Scandalesque, DJ’s, local music, visual and performing art events and private venue rentals.
The Pressroom, located in the heart of the downtown Phoenix Warehouse District at 441 W. Madison Street will be kicking off their opening night on February 14th with a show by the talented burlesque troupe, Scandalesque, followed by a DJ dance party. This will be a 21+ event and tickets are still available.
Built in the 1920′s, the 14,000 square foot, red brick building once housed the most modern printing press in Arizona of the time. With a full liquor license, indoor 1000+ person capacity and ample outdoor space, the venue will accommodate a variety of uses and events. It serves as a great example of adaptive reuse in the urban core, and the close proximity to public transportation and freeway access make The Pressroom easily accessible.
Though events have taken place at this location in the past, The Pressroom – started by partners Jason Charles and Narender Raju, plan to take it to the next level. The venue features full bar, professional audio and visual equipment and a full-service experience for those renting the space. Charles also owns Latest Craze Productions and Raju, RSVP Special Events.
Danny Zelisko Presents will be bringing national music acts to the stage and Scandalesque will be performing their mesmerizing shows on a regular basis. Local DJ’s, bands and talent will have a place on the calendar as well, and The Pressroom will be producing some of their own special events when the venue isn’t booked.
“Downtown Phoenix is ready for more entertainment options.” says Charles. “We’re excited to bring our passion and expertise to the community and look forward to providing a great experience.”
People can follow The Pressroom Facebook page for information on upcoming events.
Current Upcoming Events and Shows:
- Feb. 14, 21 & 28 – Scandalesque – http://scandalesque.com/fever/
- Feb. 22 – Renegade Rollergirls – http://renegaderollergirlsseasonpener.brownpapertickets.com/
- March 24 – The Decibel Magazine Tour Featuring Carcass – http://ticketf.ly/1lHOoPw
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
16 Athletes Compete for Cash, Pride and Prizes at Rush Club Nation Event on January 18th in Downtown Phoenix
Eight men and eight women between the ages of 18 and 38, will take part in a fitness competition on January 18th designed to test strength, agility and endurance. Professional athletes Camille Leblanc-Bazinet and Josh Bridges will also participate in an exhibition before the Final throw down.
Rush Club, founded in February 2013 by Stacey D. Snyder and Abenadi (AJ) Richards was born from a shared love of fitness and the desire to create a workout competition that was all inclusive and exciting for people to watch. The duo takes pride in creating an electric atmosphere for their fans, and likes to call the feeling of involvement experiencing “the rush.” Stacey is a NASM certified personal trainer and AJ (a combat veteran of the Iraq war) is the owner of RushRx CrossFit Mesa.
Since its inception, RUSH CLUB has grown to see 500+ spectators at their local competitions. They have hosted 56 athletes on the Rush Club stage and have awarded approximately $7,000 in cash prizes. The pair has plans for continued growth of the competition and brand in 2014. Unlike traditional sport competitions where athletes typically pay a fee to participate, Rush Club caters to the athletes with no fee. This is made possible through sponsors, vendors and spectator ticket sales.
“I believe we are creating the most exciting head to head competition to draw crowds of all ages.” says Richards. “Our goal is to promote health and fitness in the most exciting way possible!”
“When you help people meet their physical goals and see how much it helps them overcome their mental hurdles too, that’s pretty powerful stuff.” adds Snyder. “This is a sporting match for anyone and everyone.”
A portion of the Final Rush event proceeds will benefit the United Phoenix Firefighters.
When: Saturday, January 18th, Doors open to the public at 12:30 p.m. Preliminary matchups kick off at 1:30 p.m.
Where: The Pressroom, 441 W Madison St.
Cost: $25 & Up
For more information on Rush Club Nation and to purchase tickets, visit:
Last month DPJ visited a downtown building undergoing renovation for its new tenants in Warehousing ASU’s School of Art: Part One. The second part of this story explores the warehouse’s history from the perspective of its owner, developer Michael Levine.
Over the past century, many of the warehouses of Phoenix have been either demolished or disappointingly modernized. All too often, they acquire a regrettable aura of Brutalism reflecting the utilitarian design of structures like Symphony Hall and its surrounding skyscrapers.
But a handful of these venerable buildings are slowly regaining their ageless appearance, re-emerging as majestic, enduring dowagers anchoring the architecture of downtown, thanks to preservationist-developer Michael Levine. “I’m very protective of the properties,” he says. “I try to look at the long-term effect and where they’re going to be in a hundred years.”
As a handful of graduate studios from Arizona State University’s School of Art prepare for the Third Friday opening reception on January 17 at Levine’s 605 East Grant Street warehouse, the School’s director, Adriene Jenik, is full of enthusiasm. “Our gallery and critique space will present greater opportunities to engage with [the public],” she says. Later, as Jenik describes the adaptive construction, she adds with a laugh, “It’s like an artist’s wet dream.”
The School of Art’s move comes as a new dean prepares to lead ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts beginning July 1. Steven J. Tepper comes from positions at the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise, and Public Policy and Vanderbilt University, where his research and teaching focus on creativity in education and work as well as conflict over art and culture.
Graduate painting and drawing programs will move downtown with the Step Gallery, followed by sculpture, fibers, and intermedia, ultimately occupying 26,232 square feet including plenty of mouthwateringly spacious 250-square-foot individual studios. One large room, built in 1959, features a 15-ton A/C unit and seven studios with LED lighting and no ceilings, allowing vast expanses of natural sunshine through overhead windows.
“Spatially, it’s been really fascinating,” says landlord Levine. “Because the [warehouse] ceilings are so high and you have ten-foot-high [studio] walls, you feel like you’re three years old. For the artists…to stand back…they’ll have no claustrophobia — they’ll have all the light they’ll want.”
CCBG Architects and Kitchell [construction company] have been working at a rapid pace to accommodate ASU risk management concerns while maintaining historical integrity. “They overbuilt,” says Levine with some satisfaction as he surveys the gallery. “This is a building inside a building…so they don’t touch the existing building.” For example, in one area an interior glass wall simultaneously protects and reveals the beauty of restored brick. “Conceptually, for historic preservation, it’s the same outcome,” he says, adding with a laugh, “Everything has been like a really beautiful puzzle — I’m watching all the pieces nest together, but it’s not a 2-D puzzle…it’s like a weird 3-D puzzle.”
Levine, who fabricated a Batmobile and a steampunk balloon for his family in the warehouse, has found it somewhat painful to give up his own “dream” creative space to provide fire egress for the new ASU construction. ”It was like the worst seller’s remorse I’ve ever had, because this is the perfect studio,” he says with a sigh, still grinning. “Having two cranes is like having two employees…two employees I don’t have to talk to.” He’ll move Levine Machine into the oldest warehouse in Phoenix: the Seed & Feed building at 411 South Second Street, built in 1905 by Swedish immigrants.
His other renovation successes include The Duce (at 525 S. Central), Arizona Cotton (at 215 S. 13th St.), and Bentley Projects (at 215 E. Grant St.), along with the 2007 grand prize in the Arizona Governor’s Heritage Preservation Awards.
Levine attended art school himself, studying architecture and drafting. He moved to the Valley 23 years ago and established his AAARDVARk AARMAdILLO Corporation for design and construction. As he points out features of the warehouse, Levine’s boundless enthusiasm for industrial restoration is palpable.
“This site’s really interesting,” he says, pointing toward the southwest area of the property. “The back corner…goes back to 1895 as the Phoenix Cotton Oil Company.” Levine gestures toward Grant, indicating original windows and concrete openings. “This corner building was built [around] 1909…this was McCall Cotton.” As Phoenix grew, so did the warehouse.
In 1917, as the United States began to prepare for war, a young vice-president of Goodyear Tire named Paul Litchfield came to the Valley. “With the power of the U.S. government and Goodyear Tire he buys…everything,” says Levine. “He buys every cotton field down here, he buys all the cotton gins, and he buys the entire ecosystem. Then they came and they built this two-story building…and as far as I can tell this was the headquarters for Goodyear.”
The warehouse operated under the subsidiary Southwest Cotton Company, Levine says. “The construction methodology that they used was board form and they had slits in the wall for the belts to go through and all the pulleys,” he describes. “And all that stuff is still there — all the slots are there, all the bolts. If you look at the very top you can still see the ghost [sign painted on the brick], and it says ‘Pure and uniform in quality,’ and on the left near the door it says ‘The best is the cheapest.’” He smiles and adds, “I try to leave all that history, all those scars.”
Levine learned that Andrew Karlson, an undocumented Norwegian immigrant and the first certified welder in Arizona, worked on the Roosevelt Dam before purchasing the warehouse in 1943, according to his granddaughter Mikelene Karlson. In tribute to the longtime owner of Karlson Machine Works, Levine hung a black-and-white photo of Karlson and his wife Marie on one of the structure’s restored brick interior walls.
“I had a Robin Hood mentality about saving these buildings,” Levine says, explaining his history of reinvesting in downtown warehouse preservation. “I’ve been holding on to these things against my own economic interest….” He continues, “The theme that runs through everything I do is…site-specific, so it’s all about…deconstructing and peeling things back.”
“I’ll try to do the restoration based off of the history, to find out what the character is,” Levine adds. “When you’re dealing with industrials…they’re living documents — they’re living buildings.”
He says matter-of-factly, “The greenest building is an existing building, and the best historic preservation is neglect, and that’s really what saved this building. Demolition’s easy to see, but historic equity disappearing by a thousand small cuts will still kill you.”
- ASU’s School of Art grand opening and open studios in downtown Phoenix
- Friday, January 17, 2014, 7 p.m.-9 p.m. (more information at ASU.edu)
- 605 E. Grant Street
- Michael Levine and Levine Machine, including past and ongoing warehouse projects
Update: An earlier version of this article referred to Michael Levine as an art teacher in Peoria, which is incorrect.
As part of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts on ASU’s Tempe campus, the School has found its development somewhat hindered by geographic constraints.
“The School of Art is actually in 13 different buildings,” says Adriene Jenik, professor and director of the School. Student and faculty facilities have historically been scattered haphazardly, sometimes occupying leased off-campus venues.
“We have a space…called the Community Services Building, and it’s on Curry and Mill,” describes Jenik. “It’s an old children’s hospital, so we have two wings and the upstairs…they used to be patient rooms.” She continues, “We also have studios in…University Commons…between 7th and 6th [streets], kind of just tucked north of campus. And then we have other students…in what we call our Cornerstone Building, which is at the northeast corner of Rural and University, tucked back behind the comedy club. They’ve been all over the place.”
Jenik adds with a rueful smile, “A lot of the spaces are actually not proper studios at all — they’re just sort of a closet…areas that people took over. All these different crazy places…you know, you make do. I mean, artists — we’re good like that.”
“But…everybody knows that every artist needs a studio space of some kind,” she continues. “They have different…ways of working, but you make use of that studio space for different things. And…also the field changed, so now…basically everybody expects to have a studio when they come in — it’s a general requirement of any baseline MFA program.”
As the School of Art grew, so did its reputation, giving it a ranking among the top five public university art programs. “I think there’s been…conversations…for a long time…at the upper administrative levels,” says Jenik. “for the concept of…having some downtown presence for the arts.” Not long after the School’s faculty asked Jenik to work toward a more unified, cooperative space, she explains, “we were told that there was another need for a building that we were occupying [the Art Annex]…we would be relocated into another space.”
She says, “That was a concern for me because…I just didn’t want to be another mile and another building.” Working with Herberger Institute interim dean Michael Underhill — himself an architect-planner — Jenik seized the chance to expand into downtown Phoenix, increase the School’s appeal for prospective applicants, and benefit current students.
“Instead of just going ‘woe is us’ and having a pity party,” she continues, “I said, ‘Hey, is there a way that we can use the opportunity of getting kicked out of a building to think about the bigger issue of how we need to be consolidated?’” Jenik adds, “We really wanted to develop the school as a cultural hub for the region…and I felt charged…by the faculty…to move quickly.”
ASU’s solution was to rent warehouse space from Michael Levine, a developer renowned for his commitment to the preservation and restoration of historic industrial buildings and the downtown Phoenix art scene. Levine counts The Duce (at 525 S. Central), Arizona Cotton (at 215 S. 13th St.), and Bentley Projects (at 215 E. Grant St.) among his renovation successes, and he won the 2007 grand prize in the Arizona Governor’s Heritage Preservation Awards. He agreed to adapt a turn-of-the-century structure housing his own offices and studio space, Levine Machine, at 605 E. Grant Street, leasing 26,232 square feet to the School of Art.
The first phase moves ASU’s painting and drawing graduate programs and studios, together with a critique space and the Step Gallery. The second phase, due to be completed in May, adds the programs for fibers, sculpture, and intermedia. “What’s particularly unusual and interesting about that space as it will be configured,” says Herberger Institute communications and media staffer Deborah Sussman Susser, “is…MFA students in their studios making work, then being able to immediately display it in a gallery setting.”
Students will work in fifteen studios, each sized expansively at 250 square feet. Other areas are designated for a computer lab, project space, a wash-out sink, a flame cabinet, storage for chemicals, and “a little nest for…faculty,” says Jenik.
The move was spurred in part by ASU’s plans for the Art Annex, the historic building currently housing the Painting and Drawing programs on College Avenue in Tempe, but another impetus was the pending massive development taking over the southeast corner of Mill Avenue and University Drive. Both catalysts led to a compressed timeline: preparation for the warehouse move spans only 11 months from its inception last spring to its opening event on January 17. Concurrently, the Ceramics Research Center is moving north on Mill Ave. into the former Borders bookstore in downtown Tempe.
“It’s sort of nutty,” says School director Jenik with a smile, “but on the other hand it feels like it wouldn’t have happened if a whole bunch of things hadn’t fallen into place. Obviously the construction’s on the fast track, but…if the upper university administrators and leaders hadn’t already been thinking about this…if Michael [Underhill] hadn’t been interim…there were a lot of pieces that kind of fell together.” She continues enthusiastically, “This is really a quantum leap for us…it’s raw space, but it’s fantastic. We’re really thrilled.”
“A common practice in grad programs that’s really nice is that usually once a term or at least once a year they have an open studio…and donors, collectors, the public, other artists…can come through,” Jenik adds. “So maybe we’ll do that with Art Detour but also we might just have our own…we’ll tour the space.”
“One of the great things about having the open studio tours is then they can be part of First and Third Friday,” says Sussman Susser, “and there can be advantages for both…the whole arts community that’s thriving down there…and for the students.”
Undergraduate classes and some graduate studios will remain on ASU’s Tempe campus. “Other art programs…have done this same thing,” says Jenik, “outgrown their facilities and had a satellite facility specifically for grad students.” She continues, “There’s a history of it actually working out well…not just for the program but also fostering activity in the area…so that’s what we’re hoping for downtown Phoenix.”
Part two of this article will explore the warehouse’s venerable history and Michael Levine’s vision for historic preservation and adaptive reuse.
If you go
- ASU’s School of Art grand opening and open studios in downtown Phoenix
- Friday, January 17, 2014, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
- 605 E. Grant Street
All photos by K Becker.