Phoenix Public Market
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.
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Phoestivus will be returning once again for two fun Wednesday evenings of holiday cheer on December 5th and 12th from 4:00 pm to 8:30 pm at 14 E. Pierce St. in Downtown Phoenix. Attendees will have the opportunity to purchase unique hand-crafted gifts from 70+ local vendors. The event will also feature the World’s Largest Phoestivus Pole, Feats of Strength, Airing of Grievances, holiday entertainment and much more. Last year’s Phoestivus event saw over 2000 attendees! Bring your friends and family to enjoy dinner from the food trucks and drinks at our Phoestivus beer garden, sponsored by Phoenix’s own Phoenix Ale Brewery.
Ken Clark, Phoestivus Market Founder says: “We have always believed that this time of the year calls for an open air festival, which supports local business and that everybody can enjoy. We are honored to have a seasonal brew from Phoenix Ale Brewery named after our event. Eat your heart out, Adolph Coors!”
Proceeds will benefit the Phoenix Public Market, a program of Community Food Connections, a 501c3 non-profit organization. “Community Food Connections sees this as a great opportunity to solidify the important role that we play in the community, as a meeting place, a place to shop for healthy foods and a place to generate new business for downtown. We are happy to play a part in Phoestivus for the third year in a row”, said Dan Klocke, Community Food Connections board member.
Event sponsors include: 180 Degree Automotive , CenPho.com , Core Crossfit , The Crescent Ballroom , Downtown Phoenix Partnership , Downtown Voices Coalition , FM Solutions , Local First Arizona ,Phoenix New Times , Oasis on Grand , REALTOR Ken Clark and Yelp.
About Get Your PHX: Get Your PHX was started in Jan 2009 by long-time Phoenix activist and realtor, Ken Clark. With the help of a well-connected steering committee, Get Your PHX monthly gatherings have grown to become a regular event, averaging close to 100 community leaders, business owners and friends of Central Phoenix. The goal of Get Your PHX is to show up, en masse, to support those who pioneer new restaurants, stores, bars and event spaces to provide them a boost as they put their sweat, tears and wealth on the line to make life great downtown. http://www.GetYourPHX.com
About Community Food Connections: Community Food Connections (CFC) exists to support small businesses and local farmers while simultaneously creating community around healthy food. As a program of Community Food Connections, a 501c3 non-profit organization, the Phoenix Public Market consists of the Open-Air Markets on Wednesday nights (4-8 pm) and Saturday mornings (8 am to 1 pm), and Food Truck Fridays (11 am to 1:30 pm). The Market’s goals are to: Increase access to fresh, healthy food in an underserved area, help micro-businesses get started and build their capacity, create jobs and family self-sufficiency, help farmers stay on the land and to create a vibrant gathering place in the heart of our community. http://foodconnect.org
Six finalists have been chosen to present their innovative ideas tonight at the Arizona Science Center for Beckettʼs Tableʼs first annual Feed Your Dreams Dinner. The search for the next big idea in food and science will culminate in an evening featuring presentations by each of the contest finalists and a five course dinner with wine pairings.
The offerings from Chef Justin Beckett and the executive team, which includes two world-class sommeliers, will demonstrate the award winning restaurantʼs own talent for crafting delicious and innovative dishes.
Chef Beckettʼs desire to “pay it forward” and contribute to success of local entrepreneurs with a passion for food and science provided the inspiration for the event.
Says Beckett, “The idea and the heart of the contest is to give back to the community on a local level.” Contestants were asked to submit their dream idea to win a chance at a portion of a total prize package of $27,000 in cash and business assistance.
Dinner attendees will vote live at the event to select one winner who will be announced along with the winners of the Grand Prize and Peopleʼs Choice awards. A limited number of tickets are available to purchase for $145 until 5pm at feedyourdreamsaz.com.
So whose big ideas made it to the finals?
Charles Lee, Chandler – mberry
Lee wants to expand his existing business to market and distribute the miracle berry (Synsepalum dulcificum) to make healthy living fun and delicious.
Jason Raducha, Phoenix – Noble Bread
Raduchaʼs idea is to develop mobile micro bakery producing artisan bread. A custom wood- fired bread oven built from 5,000 pounds of fire brick and refractory cement and mounted to a dual axle trailer can literally bring fresh baked bread to your doorstep.
John Bogart, Phoenix – Self-Sustaining Aquaculture
Bogart wants to create a self-sustaining aquaculture that uses fish waste to fertilize a vegetable garden. Truly a self-sustaining eco-system, the hydroponic garden will also be used to grow the food for the fish themselves.
Bruce and Tina Leadbetter, Phoenix – Stone Hoe Gardens
The Leadbetters run an organic farm that repurposes waste from the local food industry to create nutrient rich soil in nylon socks. With the help from some earthworms the socks are filled with a mixture of organic food waste, water and coco-peat to create an “uber-soil” to grow local produce.
Cade Stripplehoff, Phoenix – Sub-Irrigated Planter Systems
Stripplehoffʼs new technology uses 50% less water and an automated refilling system to grow heirloom and high quality produce. Designed for homes and restaurants, the planters are virtually weedless and make growing accessible and simple.
Christoph Kaiser, Phoenix – V Gen Powerplant
Kaiser has an elegant solution to convert cooking grease into electricity and biodiesel fuel. Affordable and compact the generator is ideal for small and narrow spaces.
If you go
Event: Feed Your Dreams Dinner
When: TONIGHT, August 20 at 6 p.m. Tickets available until 5 p.m.
Location: Arizona Science Center
It hasn’t been too often in recent years that Phoenix has found itself being recognized on the global map for humanitarianism. It’s also not frequent that we downtowners are inclined to be supportive of our fellow compatriots leaving us, but when it’s someone that we know deserves an escape abroad like Cindy Gentry, we stand in full support.
If you know Cindy from the Phoenix Public Market, have worked with her on one of her food access projects or through the state’s Farm to School program, asked her for some words of wisdom, or are simply a fan, then you know she is one of the hardest-working and most compassionate people this state has, and the international non-profit Slow Food has recognized her for that.
She, along with two other Phoenix food names we’re all familiar with, Pamela Hamilton of Edible Phoenix and Margaree Bigler of Devour Phoenix and Local First Arizona, have been accepted to attend Slow Food’s 2012 Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre five-day conference in Turin, Italy. While anyone can attend, the three are provided places to stay, transportation, wonderful food and have the honor of representing Phoenix.
Because one is not always given the opportunity to jetset off to another country, the community rallied around Cindy to ensure that she was able to make the trip. A post on her Facebook stated, “Just a note to say how thankful I am to all of you for your extraordinary generosity! In your kindness you have given us enough funds to make it possible for both [her friend] Chip and I to attend the Terra Madre 2012 event, a trip of a lifetime. We will find many ways to pay it forward. I am and we are, truly grateful.”
And THAT is proof right there that the Phoenix community knows an inescapable opportunity when it sees one. After all Cindy has given for this city, it’s refreshing to see the locals rally around one of their own and recognition given where it is truly deserved.
Essential oils, the liquid extract found in plants, are becoming the products of choice for local companies looking to offer alternatives to chemical-filled health and beauty products on the market today.
Loral Deatherage, cofounder of ecocentricity!, hosts classes on essential oils and uses them herself for anything from the common cold to stress relief.
“I usually base things on facts and research, so when I first heard of these essential oils, I thought it was just some modern day ‘woo-woo,’” Deatherage said. “But now, every time I have a pain or ailment, I go to the essential oils first rather than to a doctor or medicines.”
According to Deatherage, essential oils are basically the energies used by plants to protect themselves against various threats. The plants are typically steam distilled to capture the essence inside. The oil from each plant contains different properties and can be used for a variety of applications.
These oils are similar to herbal medications, Deatherage said, but much more powerful.
Common uses include alleviation of burns, headaches, colds, coughs, upset stomach, nausea, fever and bug bites. People also use them for aromatherapy to relax, sleep better and even prevent illnesses.
Despite the long list of benefits, Deatherage said people today aren’t commonly using these oils because our society focuses on hospitals and doctors for healing or wellness.
“Doctors won’t usually steer people toward essential oils for their illnesses because it’s just not part of their training,” she added. “They are taught to treat things with drugs or surgery.”
Ancient civilizations used oils (similar to the blend “Thieves,” pictured right) to fight off illnesses and even ward off the plague, but then we became too “smart” with our technological advances, Deatherage said.
“We forgot about what’s out there in nature, and about these methods that are much easier on the body,” she said. “We’ve turned our health completely over to our doctors rather than being responsible for our own bodies.”
Tracy Perkins, owner and artisan at Strawberry Hedgehog, said she uses essential oils in her bath and body products because conventional products can contain over 3,000 different chemicals.
“There is a reason people get headaches when they head through that (perfume) section in the shopping mall,” Perkins said.
She added that the blanket term “fragrance” often refers to products containing thousands of mystery ingredients, including some that are toxic.
“We could easily return to using all essential oils in place of synthetic fragrance,” Perkins said. “(There are) greatly improved products available that actually help people rather than hurt them.”
Kari Bower, owner of Emelmahae Soap Company, said she has used essential oils for over 20 years and also refuses to put any synthetic fragrances into her products.
“Using essential oils makes for better products because your body knows what to do with them,” Bower said. “They are also better for the earth and won’t cause pollution issues because the earth knows what to do with them, too.”
With more people becoming “label-readers,” Bower said there is much more awareness of the difference between natural and synthetic products. When she sells her products at the Phoenix Public Market, customers will actually pick up the soap products and read the list of ingredients.
“People are starting to notice a difference in these types of things,” she added. “I think that (the oils) are a much better choice, and they enhance life while helping clean out unnecessary toxins from the things around us, so they definitely deserve a shot.”
Keep an eye out for these local companies that sell essential oil products: