Phoenix Festival of the Arts
Hugo Medina is a force to be reckoned with; he’s not just a talented muralist and the winner of the Public Art Award category in the newly announced Mayor’s Arts Awards, he’s someone who can rally a community and make things happen.
In this case, that “something” is an extraordinary public mural that will emerge over this weekend at the inaugural Phoenix Festival of the Arts. The mural will be extraordinary in both size and scope and it took a dynamo like Medina to make it all work.
Using Facebook, Medina put out a call to artists to participate in the project. “I wanted a diverse group of artists to get involved,” said Hugo. “Everything from accomplished muralists, to fine artists, students, graffiti artists, and novice painters.” Over 80 artists responded to his call.
Medina’s concept created a simple but elegant way to bring artists into contact with each other and the public. Each of the 80 artists will have a 4’ X 8’ wooden panel (donated to the festival by Home Depot) to make their own. In between each artist panel will be a blank panel where the community will be invited to participate. The two artists working on either side of the blank panel will collaborate on an idea for the community to realize.
This allows for each artist to make their own work, but also gives artists who may have never met previously the chance to work together. The only restriction on the work is that it not be negative and that it is in some way focused on Downtown Phoenix. By placing the blank community panels between the two artist panels, Medina is hoping that a natural flow will develop from one panel to the next.
The mural will be completed during the three-day festival and when done, will consist of 160 four-foot high panels, stretching for 1,280 feet. There will be several mural stations throughout the festival where the public can watch the artists work, or grab a brush and participate. Everyone is invited to lend a hand and make their mark, including kids.
Bring the whole family down to Hance Park this weekend to the Phoenix Festival of the Arts to make your mark on this unique public art project that is bringing artists and the public together to create something everyone can be proud of and enjoy.
“Come Monday morning, I’ll be working with the City of Phoenix to pack up the panels and move them to the corner of Central and Indian School,” said Medina. This is the new PHX Renews site at Indian School Road and Central Avenue; a large empty space that has been activated into temporary multi-use public space. “I’ll curate the placing of the panels around the park,” he continued. “Some will be placed along the fence to make them visible from the street, and others will be scattered along the paths within the fenced space.” The panels will remain at the site for the next three years.
If you go:
Event: Community Mural at Phoenix Festival of the Arts
When: Friday, Dec 7 through Sunday, Dec 9
Times: Friday 2 to 9 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
What’s required: Your creativity. Paint, brushes and wood panel canvasses will be provided.
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Mayor Greg Stanton will present the first-ever “Mayor’s Arts Awards” at the Phoenix Festival of the Arts this weekend.
Stanton launched the awards to highlight the cultural richness of Phoenix and recognize excellence from the visual and performing arts in the community. A panel of distinguished members from the arts and culture areas selected awardees in five categories based upon excellence and community impact.
Stanton will present the awards Saturday, Dec. 8 at 1 p.m. on the main stage at the Phoenix Festival of the Arts at Margaret T. Hance Park, 1202 N. 3rd St. in Phoenix.
“Arts and culture are vital to the social and economic well being of our city,” Stanton said. “They improve our quality of life, uplift our spirits and help attract and keep talented employees and innovative businesses in Phoenix. The Phoenix Festival of the Arts is an important opportunity for all of us to celebrate the breadth and depth of the arts and culture community in Phoenix.”
The winners of each category include:
Dance Organization Award
Scorpius Dance Theatre
Formed in 1999 by choreographer, Lisa Starry, Scorpius Dance Theatre is observing its 11th season in operation. The contemporary dance company has been a constant presence in the metropolitan Phoenix arts community since its inception, combining the motifs of humor, drama and both organic and technical movement to form a very distinct brand of dance theater.
Music Organization Award
Downtown Chamber Series
The Downtown Chamber Series brings chamber music to distinctive art spaces in downtown Phoenix, showcasing professional musicians and the works of local artists.
Public Art Award
Born in La Paz, Bolivia, Medina immigrated to New York as a child, where his interest in art was fostered by his architect father. While completing his undergraduate work in New York, Medina volunteered to teach classes at a summer program at the Kumayya Indian reservation in San Diego, Calif. His experience at the reservation is what led him to become an art teacher. Hugo’s desire to give back to the community and his love of children led him to a teaching career. Medina’s great appreciation and admiration of the southwest brought him to Phoenix, where he has been the mastermind behind some of the city’s best murals.
Rising Youth Theatre
Rising Youth Theatre is Phoenix theater company founded by ASU grads Xanthia Walker and Sarah Sullivan to create youth driven theatre that is riveting and relevant, challenging audiences to hear new stories, start conversations and participate in their communities. Recently, the diverse company of students has created plays based on immigrant youth.
Visual Artist Award
Grigsby, 94, came to Phoenix following World War II to teach art at Carver High School. He joined the faculty at Arizona State University in 1966 and served as a Trustee of Phoenix Art Museum. His public collections are on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Printmaking Workshop in New York City, the Library of Congress, the Cape Coast Museum in West Africa and Philadelphia’s Brandywine Workshop, as well as art centers and galleries in leading universities and public venues across the nation.
This weekend’s Phoenix Festival of the Arts runs from Dec. 7 to 9 at Hance Park and is the city’s first signature arts festival. The free event features three days of live entertainment, arts vendors, a hands-on community mural, food trucks, Kidz Korner and more. Celebrate artists and arts organizations from across Phoenix’s cultural landscape. Hosted by Phoenix Center for the Arts and sponsored by Lou and Evelyn Grubb, this free festival will become an annual tradition.
Image of Eugene Grigsby by Dee Dee Woods
Phoenix is known for many things, but poetry is not one of them. Which is odd, because Phoenix is a city that’s birthed its fair share of talented poets and quality poetry events over the years, including Jason Lalli, organizer and host of Infuse – Open Mic. I talked to Jason about his experience as a performance poet in Phoenix, as well as his current work as programming committee chair for the first annual Phoenix Festival of the Arts in December.
I have been writing and performing poetry seriously for about 6 years now. I dabbled on and off in the writing of poetry since I was 19. I am 29 now.
What ignited your passion for the kind of work that you do?
My passion was ignited when I realized after reading poems to friends and family that my words were making a difference. It was confirmed in a moment of what I call divine intervention when I was in a low point in my life on Christmas 2005. I was unwilling to share my negative energy with anyone. I was soaking in the bathtub at home when I heard a voice that was never verbally spoken and I felt a force lifting my head towards the ceiling. I’ll never forget those words, ‘You’ve been given a gift, now go and change the world.’ I became active within the performance community shortly after.
You describe yourself as an ‘awareness/performance poet.’ How do you define that?
I write about the truth I see in issues I feel are often over-looked or ignored because they come with a harsh reality. Like self-awareness, Self-love, substance abuse, sexual abuse, child abuse, domestic abuse, and bullying. So I suppose an awareness poet would be one that uses the creativity of their poems to bring awareness to its audience through the poems content. The scope of my poetry is not limited to awareness but many are also personal stories or simply a source of expression and therapy as poetry has helped in establishing a stronger development of myself.
Does that mean you use poetry as a form of political/community-oriented activism?
Yes, I believe both questions go hand in hand. The action of being out there and performing poems that promote awareness is advocating for its cause and speaks for itself. My primary goal through each performance is to hopefully resonate with at least one person in the audience, with hopes that my words invoke introspection of themselves, their thoughts, their actions, and the reactions they are causing with those around them.
So yes, you could say my cause is community-oriented. It is through the betterment of each individual that our community’s improve in quality, safety, and involvement. It’s most easily summed with a quote out of one of my poems on the back on my business card “It only takes one voice, one heart, and one passion create a positive existence in another’s life.” I go about advocating for a stronger more united community through these outlets: hosting Infuse – Open Mic, my poetic performances, the creation and planning of the Inaugural Phoenix Festival of the Arts, various donations of my time and art to fundraisers, as well as speaking at schools on substance abuse through an organization called, “notMYkid.”
How did Infuse – Open Mic come about?
Infuse was created in May of 2010. I used to host “Mill’s End Open Mic” and after Mills End Café went out of business we were looking for a new home. That home was found at the Phoenix Art Museum. We flourished with an average of 250 patrons and 30 artists throughout the 3 hour show. I started the event because I had begun hosting Mills End Open Mic which was previously Mills End Poetry Slam. I wanted to open it up to more than just slam poets. I wanted to create place where new-comers whether to the performing arts or to the city could come practice, develop, build friendships, network, and most of all feel welcomed.
How did Infuse end up at the center?
It was through my involvement with some other community-oriented activists that I was introduced to Joseph Benesh at the Phoenix Center for the Arts. Our relationship quickly became one of a close bond and similar visions, the Phoenix Festival of the Arts being one of those.
How did you get involved in the Phoenix Festival of the Arts?
There is a need for an arts festival in Phoenix, it’s 2012 and it’s never had one. I became entrenched with the festival as one of its creators. Joseph Benesh and I recognized this need. We teamed up together and were able to accept a generous sponsorship from dear friends of mine Lou and Evelyn Grubb. They had been to Infuse at the art museum and believe in what difference I am making and trying to make in our community. Unfortunately, Lou Grubb has since passed beyond this life and we are determined to make him proud for believing in us.
Also, there have been several others who I have had the honor to work beside for the last couple years in attempts to make this festival happen. It was through our relentless persistence and hard work of searching out new avenues that we are excited to see it finally become a reality. I consider myself beyond blessed to be surrounded with such positive uplifting people with a passion for humanity and making a difference.
You recently held open auditions for performers for the Festival. Did you see a lot of promising talent? What do you look for in a performer for an event of this scope?
The turn-out for the auditions was small but much was learned for years to come. But we’ve also received lots of applications and lots of great talent that applied. Every artist was graded on a scale of 1 to 5 based upon the following categories: Preparedness/Professionalism, Stage Presence, Creativity, Performance/Execution, and Originality.
It sounds like the performances are meant to be family-friendly. Are there any plans to do more adult, envelope-pushing performances in the evening or is it the festival’s intent to keep all its programming accessible to the widest possible audience?
This is best answered by our main goal of the festival; to unite our community by cross-pollinating markets through a variety of arts from vendors, organizations and performance artists. The festival is a family-friendly free event. Our night programming has some incredible caliber performances of bands/artists that have adult followings. There can be great entertainment without having to be controversial and profane. It is a professional artist’s job to gear their performance towards the audience, so we are asking for that discretion. However, there will be shows, for example a poetry slam in the center’s theater, where a disclaimer can be posted for those who enter that will allow for more “envelope-pushing” performances.
This is a festival of all the arts that will include diverse cultural showcasing from visual, performing and literary arts. Several artists throughout history have spoken on such controversial and heavily debated topics tastefully and we intend on having tasteful programming. We would never want to discourage creativity but there is a time and place for controversial pieces, I believe most would agree that a family-friendly arts festival is not that time or place.
Do you have any plans to bring Infuse into the festival, or to do some kind of open mic/open stage to get the audience involved?
We are still programming but yes Infuse will have a festival edition. There will also be a poetry slam where anyone can compete for a cash prize.
Are all the shows free, or will some have individual ticket prices?
Admission to the festival and its entertainment will be 100% free. We will have two stages running throughout the course of the three-day festival, with the main stage located in the Margaret T. Hance Park, and the second stage in the theater located inside the Phoenix Center for the Arts.
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The Phoenix Festival of the Arts, the City’s first signature arts festival, will take place in the heart of downtown Phoenix at Hance Park December 7-9, 2012.
Hosted by Phoenix Center for the Arts and sponsored by Lou and Evelyn Grubb, this free festival will become an annual tradition in the Valley of the Sun.
“Our goal is to unify the Phoenix arts community and to show how accessible the arts really are,” said Joseph Benesh, director of Phoenix Center for the Arts. “The arts aren’t just a weekend activity. Phoenix has a huge cultural landscape, where people can find things to do any day of week – and we want everyone to know that.”
The Center, operated by Phoenix Center Arts Association (a 501c3 nonprofit), is a historic facility dedicated to making the arts truly unique, affordable, and enjoyable since 1975.
“Unifying the Arts” The festival will unite the arts and arts organizations through a cross-pollination of artistic markets in a way Phoenix has never done before. Just as First Friday’s have become a destination for citizens throughout the valley due to cooperation from galleries, retail, food, and performance venues, the festival will similarly serve to stimulate economic growth within the community. Furthering this model, the festival will act as an added tourism attraction in the winter.
Event highlights include nearly 90 hours of live arts entertainment on THREE stages! Plus dozens of arts vendors, food trucks, a beer & wine garden, a children’s play area, flash performances and more!
Phoenix Arts Guidebook: This take-home guide to all things arts-related in Phoenix will feature information on the participating arts organizations, with coupons to help you enjoy the arts in the months to come. A minimum of 5,000 will be handed out at the festival…for free!
Community Participation: Mayor Greg Stanton is the honorary chair and will participate in the ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, December 7.
The inaugural Phoenix Festival of the Arts is made possible through the contribution of Lou & Evelyn Grubb, and sponsored by APS, Hensley Beverage Company and SM Moving Systems.
Members of the arts community around the Valley are invited to participate, including:
• Arts vendors who produce locally made original art.
• Valley arts organizations large and small!
• Performing arts groups (ex: poetry, choirs, dance, hip-hop, symphony, folk, etc.)
All applications can be found on phoenixfestivalofthearts.org. Applications must be submitted by Friday, September 28, 2012.
Event Facts at a Glance
The Inaugural Phoenix Festival of the Arts
December 7-9, 2012
Friday, December 7 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Saturday, December 8 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Sunday, December 9 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(Art exhibitors will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. all three days)
Limited street parking available. Avoid the hassle and take METRO Light Rail to the McDowell/Central Ave or Roosevelt/Central Ave. Bike racks are also available.
Phoenix Center for the Arts, operated by Phoenix Center Arts Association (a 501c3 nonprofit). Our mission is to provide the community with opportunities to participate in the visual and performing arts through creative and affordable quality programming.
Made possible through the contribution of Lou & Evelyn Grubb, and sponsored by APS, Hensley Beverage Company and SM Moving Systems.
Nearly 90 hours of live arts entertainment on THREE stages. Plus dozens of arts vendors, food trucks, a beer & wine garden, a children’s play area, flash performances and more!
Phoenix Arts Guidebook:
This take-home guide to all things arts-related in Phoenix will feature information on the participating arts organizations, with coupons to help you enjoy the arts in the months to come. A minimum of 5,000 will be handed out at the festival…for free!
About Phoenix Center for the Arts Phoenix Center for the Arts is a historic building located in downtown Phoenix well suited to provide art, music, and performing art classes and programs. This facility, known to most as the Phoenix Center for the Arts or The Center, is now managed by the Phoenix Center Arts Association, a nonprofit organization. Our mission is to provide the community with the opportunities to participate in the visual and performing arts through creative and affordable quality programming. The association now offers online registration for classes year round. Summer classes include the Summer Extravaganza, and arts program for youth 6-14. For more information, visit phoenixcenterforthearts.org.