DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
Spirit of the Arts
A Unique Community Project to Beautify Downtown
Phoenix Center for the Arts, in partnership with The Breadfruit & Rum Bar, Roosevelt Row CDC, and State Representative Ken Clark, is excited to announce Spirit of the Arts, a fun and creative collaboration to repair and beautify one of the most visible buildings in Downtown Phoenix, Phoenix Center for the Arts. Spirit of the Arts will be held Saturday, August 15, from 6-9pm, at Phoenix Center for the Arts to raise funds for important building repairs in a very creative way.
Local and nationally acclaimed artists from all mediums have been commissioned to convert discarded rum bottles from The Breadfruit & Rum Bar into works of art. These works will then be auctioned at the Spirit of the Arts restoration gala. A portion of the proceeds will go directly towards the improvement of the building.
Over the past year, The Breadfruit & Rum Bar has collected hundreds of these rum bottles, which would have otherwise ended up as trash, to support this endeavor. “These bottles came from rum-producing regions all over the world, says The Breadfruit & Rum Bar Co-Owner, Dwayne Allen. “Each bottle has been carefully considered and crafted to embody the spirit its origin. These bottles have intrinsic value and can serve to inspire and delight just as they did when they were filled with rum. As they collect dust, their labels fade, they crack and chip from neglect. Similarly, the Phoenix Center for the Arts campus, though well-used and well-loved, is cracked, chipped, and faded. It deserves to be ‘dusted off’ and given a chance to shine as our front door to downtown Phoenix.”
Phoenix Center for the Arts is a non-profit operated City of Phoenix facility that borders Margaret T. Hance Park (also known as the Deck Park) on Third Street, just north of Roosevelt. The City acquired the campus – a former Baptist church – in 1975 when construction of Interstate 10 began. Since then, the facility has continued to serve thousands of Valley residents each and every year. The Center has truly blossomed in the past 4 years since “going nonprofit,” having grown by nearly 500% since 2011. Most recently, the buzz behind the new Hance Park Master Plan has increased the Center’s visibility and bolstered community awareness of Phoenix Center for the Arts’ role in shaping our local culture and arts community.
The southbound Third Street corridor has long been considered a major gateway to downtown Phoenix. It offers a magnificent view of the Downtown skyline that ushers motorist and pedestrians into the urban heart of the City of Phoenix, as well as the State of Arizona. One cannot help but notice the historic red brick building, which boasts a majestic staircase and monumental pillars. The mere sight of it conjures memories of downtown Phoenix in its formative years.
“Unfortunately, as it sits today, this great piece of our community’s history is in a state of relative disrepair, says State Representative, Ken Clark. “We are excited to work with community leaders to bring back the building’s original charm in support of arts in Arizona.” The building itself is 84 years old and has served the community as an Arts Center for nearly 40 years. In fact, the Spirit of the Arts event will serve as the first of many Anniversary events.
Joseph Benesh, Director of Phoenix Center for the Arts states: “This is about placemaking and historic preservation. Our objective is to return the Phoenix Center for the Arts facade to a state that accurately represents the value of its history, the importance it holds for our community today, and the potential it will possess in years to come.”
Spirit of the Art tickets cost $75 each and can be purchased by visiting phoenixcenterforthearts.org/spirit
For more information about Phoenix Center for the Arts, visit phoenixcenterforthearts.org or call 602-254-3100.
David Krietor has served as CEO of the newly-formed Downtown Phoenix, Inc. (“DPI”) since April 8, 2013. In that time, he has begun work with community stakeholders to develop the downtown we want. “Your Downtown” shares his thoughts and DPI’s progress with the downtown community and beyond. Read the other chats here.
While the weather remained wildly unpredictable in other parts of the country these past few weeks (i.e., snow, hail, wind, twisters), Phoenicians enjoyed sunny skies and balmy temperatures enough to hold many Valley Bike Month, Phoenix Urban Design Week, and Earth Day events in the great outdoors. Even Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton led hundreds of cyclists around downtown on Bike to Work Day. Time to get your GRID on…
Home Sweet Home
According to the Arizona Republic, “For the first time, metro Phoenix is growing up more rapidly than out. A record number of high-rise, townhouse, and loft housing developments are shooting up in central Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe, and selling out quickly. Condominium sales are climbing faster than regular home sales in the Valley, a reversal of the region’s growth pattern since the 1950s.” People seem to characterize downtown as “cool” or “hot.” For us longtime advocates this is a really exciting time.
- 44 Monroe, Arizona’s tallest residential building, sells for $51M
- Building a vision for downtown living
- Roosevelt Row highlights downtown’s growing pains
- Shipping container housing in Baton Rouge? It’s happening in Phoenix
- APS buys Phoenix land for new downtown, midtown substations
- Banner Health’s new headquarters may give boost to midtown
- Big plans in works for Hance Park downtown
- Grand Avenue hosts street cleanup in hopes of revitalization
- New south Phoenix Park-and-Ride connects commuters with downtown
- Roosevelt Row shipping container art galleries in downtown to move
- Uber won’t confirm downtown “Global Command Center”
- Valley cities work to fight blight along stretches of Grand Avenue
- Girls in Tech national conference held downtown
- Innovation-focused companies fuel downtown, midtown growth
- Innovative, independent entrepreneurship grows downtown, in the Valley
- Phoenix High Tide announces 5 new downtown startups
- Phoenix on its way to becoming a tech hub
Each spring, the Phoenix New Times Big Brain Awards recognizes 15 emerging creative individuals in the areas of Culinary Art, Design, Music, Performing Art, and Visual Art. This year’s winners (one from each category) were announced on Saturday, May 9, at Monarch Theatre during Artopia, the New Times’ annual soiree of art, music, food, and drinks. In other downtown art related news…
- Creating architectural memories
- Downtown band, Black Bottom Lighters, celebrate release of first album
- Focus. Flash. Phoenix: Ineffable Artifacts
- Latina-owned ad agency christens downtown studio, gallery & culture lab
- Midtown museums benefit from recent large gifts
- New downtown exhibit, “El Sabor,” celebrates influence of Latin music
- Phoenix arts leaders celebrate 30 years of progress, look to future
- PHXFLAMEnco launches monthly arts and entertainment programs
- Steven Tepper talks about how ASU art students are changing downtown
- Third Friday becoming more than great works and art lovers out and about
New Food Spots
- DeSoto Central Market displays variety of cuisines, with more to come
- New Phoenix food truck focuses on French fries
- New life for old downtown church; plans include restaurants and the arts
- Short Leash hosts Pinewood Derby for adults in downtown
- Songbird re-opening pleases customers in century old downtown house
- Valley Bar, new music venue opening, hiring in downtown
- Vote for Ripe Awards up-and-coming chefs, spirit maker, and bartender
- Wednesday downtown open air market to move, expand to Thursdays
- County OKs contract to shelter homeless sleeping in lot
- Our homeless deserve more than a parking lot
- Phoenix fights blight with plastic windows
- Phoenix named among America’s least bike-friendly cities
- Two openly-gay pastors aim for inclusion downtown
Mark Your Calendars
- Urban Wine Walk, May 16
- Slide the City, May 16
- Creative Placemaking: Transforming Communities Through the Arts, May 20
Over at the ASU downtown Phoenix campus, student journalists with Cronkite News and the Cronkite Public Insight Network Bureau want to understand how the downtown Phoenix community sees itself. Through an online survey, they’re asking downtown stakeholders what they would like to see happen in our city. They’re asking how city leaders, business owners, community leaders, residents, and the media can best discuss the issues that concern everyone the most. If you have a connection to downtown Phoenix, feel free to share your thoughts here.
Featured image courtesy of Downtown Phoenix Inc.
With its deft characterizations and non-stop flow, the one-man show Buyer & Cellar (B&C) is far more than a funny riff on the quirks of a celebrity.
The entirely fictional story is set in a fantastic — but surprisingly real — location: the private shopping mall of actress-singer-composer Barbra Streisand. The Academy, Tony, Golden Globe and Grammy award-winning artist wrote My Passion for Design in 2010. Her book includes a description of the mall, built in the basement of her Malibu home and housing Streisand’s personal collections in settings including a doll shop and a boutique of antique clothing.
Fascinated with what he calls an “artificial utopia,” playwright Jonathan Tolins (The Twilight of the Golds, If Memory Serves, The Last Sunday in June, and Secrets of the Trade) spins the comical tale of a struggling actor hired to work as the mall’s sole employee.
“The set is very simple and classy, leaving a sort of blank slate for creative lighting, projections, and imaginative storytelling,” says actor Toby Yatso, the star of Phoenix Theatre’s production. “And there are only two props: an actual copy of My Passion for Design, and a cell phone in my pocket.”
Fresh from an athletic performance as Bert in Mary Poppins, Yatso teaches musical theater at Arizona State University, works as a member of the Megaw Actors Studio and an artist-in-residence at Phoenix Theatre (PT), and directs PT’s summer Musical Theatre Intensive program.
Buyer & Cellar is directed by Ron May, who himself stars in the upcoming Phoenix Theatre production of One Man, Two Guvnors running May 20 through June 14. May is founding artistic director for Tempe’s Stray Cat Theatre, and brings to B&C his considerable expertise with unusual shows like Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Pluto.
Although Streisand is a cultural icon, B&C promises equal entertainment to devotees and new fans alike with no need for deep background knowledge, says May,”…no more than an audience has to have any kind of knowledge of, like, Danish royalty to enjoy Hamlet.”
“I suppose knowing about the ins and outs of Barbra’s life may give you a deeper appreciation of a handful of references, but there’s nothing that’s going to really leave anyone in the dark,” May explains. “It’s a comedy about our worship of celebrities – Barbra just happens to be the target.”
“She’s funny, she’s warm, she’s wildly quirky, she’s vulnerable, she’s demanding, she’s caring…” he says. “I actually liked her more after working on this show.” May adds, “If Barbra Streisand in real life is anything like the Barbra in this show, I totally want to be friends with her.”
“The script does a superb job of teaching as it goes,” agrees Yatso. “All you need to know is that Barbra Streisand is a force of nature in the entertainment industry, so that covers just about everyone in America.”
“I think our obsession with celebrities is twofold,” he continues, “…and the play touches on both halves – what makes her untouchable and what makes her perhaps like everybody else.”
Although Yatso’s six roles in B&C don’t take him strolling up and overhead around the proscenium arch as in Mary Poppins, they demand lighting-fast character changes. “Let it be known that I am not flipping in the air or tap-dancing on the ceiling in this one,” the six-and-a-half-foot-plus actor says with a laugh. “But I try to use my body expressively and creatively however and whenever possible.” He adds, “There’s a lot of body there, so make it count, right?”
“It’s actually a very physical show,” says May. “It’s just one guy creating a number of different worlds and characters and environments and situations, and all he has is his voice and his body.” The director explains, “All it takes is a little subtle shift of his physicality and you instantly know which character just showed up on stage. Those skills are a godsend in a show like this.”
“I have a lot of conversations ‘with myself,’” Yatso says. “Maybe it feels like playing Ping-Pong with yourself, but both sides really want to score the point…?”
“The challenge is really for Toby,” declares May. “He has to keep the ball up in the air for the whole 100 minutes. The amount of focus and concentration and energy that takes is pretty insane.” He continues, “My satisfaction honestly comes from watching him absolutely kill it night after night and audiences going wild over him.” May chuckles and adds, “I feel like a purring cat watching him.”
If you go:
As Phoenix begins a multi-month celebration of the 30 year anniversary of the Arts & Culture Commission, DPJ will share a series of articles that highlight the impact the Commission has had on the look of our city, the growth of our arts organizations, and the evolution of arts learning.
Thirty years ago this month, Phoenix city leaders had the foresight to pass a City ordinance that created the Phoenix Arts Commission (later renamed the Phoenix Arts and Culture Commission). The ordinance, unanimously accepted by then-mayor Terry Goddard and the City Council on April 16, 1985, called for a Commission to “protect, enhance, serve, and advocate excellence in the arts for the people of Phoenix in their City.”
On Friday, April 17, the Phoenix Arts and Culture Commission will launch a multi-month celebration of all that the City and the Commission have accomplished in these first three decades. The inaugural event, “Phoenix Arts & Culture @30: A Conversation” will be held from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Phoenix Art Museum and will include Mayor Greg Stanton, former Mayor Terry Goddard, arts leaders James K. Ballinger and Black Theatre Troupe Executive Director David Hemphill. They will be joined by former commissioner F. William Sheppard, first executive director of the Office of Arts and Culture Deborah Whitehurst, first public art director Gretchen Freeman and current public art director Ed Lebow. Arizona Poet Laureate Alberto Álvaro Ríos will moderate.
The Phoenix Arts & Culture Commission is comprised of a minimum of 18 commission members (currently there are 22) who serve in three-year terms. Over the first 30 years, the Commission accomplished a lot, and there’s much to celebrate in three overarching areas: public art, arts learning programs, and grants to arts and cultural organizations. Ongoing celebratory activities are being planned for this summer and into the fall, culminating with a day-long festival in October. To coincide with celebration elements as they unfold, DPJ is planning a series of articles to cover it all, beginning with the program that has had the biggest visible impact on the city, Public Art.
The City ordinance establishing the Commission allocated one percent of the overall Phoenix Capital Improvement budget for public art and the funding was backed up by three major bond initiatives (1989, 2001, 2006). The results over the last three decades have transformed Phoenix.
“That first bond (in 1989) enabled us to look at a map of the city and decide where public art would do the most good,” says Gail Browne, current Executive Director of the Office of Arts and Culture. “The point of public art is that it is for the public, for everybody. So the idea was to get public art where it would do the most good throughout the city.”
Current Public Art Director Ed Lebow says, “It began with the idea that quality design belongs to every neighborhood, and that all residents deserve to have wonderful design as a part of their public spaces.” This meant that, as Phoenix was growing and infrastructure was being built, artists were involved in projects from the beginning to insure that the results would be more than simply functional.
At first this program was a little confusing for the public. As Lebow puts it, “We were hiring artists to do things that very few people expected them to do: design streets, freeway overpasses and underpasses, pedestrian bridges, bus shelters, and more.”
Browne adds, “In the beginning I don’t think there was a full appreciation of what the overall impact would be.” But she notes that along the way, the successful proliferation of so many projects began to change people minds.
“Attitudes in City Hall began to change, as well,” adds Browne. “Other City departments began to understand how these projects were enhancing the city and making the projects they were responsible for more accessible, more safe and more beautiful.”
Over the years, the impact of these projects was felt far beyond Phoenix. For example, the innovative 27th Ave. Solid Waste Management Facility, which was designed in 1989 and completed in 1993, began garnering national attention and awards, and helped change the way people throughout the country thought about this kind of facility.
To date there have been 170 completed Public Art projects citywide and many others are in development. They’ve included streetscapes, parks, pedestrian bridges, freeway over and under-passes, canal improvements, and so much more. At Friday’s event, the panelists will discuss these projects and share how this internationally respected program has successfully integrated beautiful design into the bones of the city.
“What once was new and novel is now normal,” says Lebow.
Recent award-winning projects include the Downtown Civic Space Park sculpture “Her Secret is Patience,” which has become an icon, as well as the Phoenix Sky Train terrazzo floors at the 44th Street Light Rail Station, the East Economy Station, the Terminal 3 Station, and the Terminal 4 Station. In April 2013, the National Terrazzo & Mosaic Association awarded “Job of the Year” to these remarkable floors. As Browne says, “Who’d have thought that just creating a walkway for people could be such a symbol for the city and that it could be so welcoming?”
The panel offers the public an historic opportunity to see the impact and hear from the people who’ve been involved in the Commission over the years. Browne adds, “People will come away from this panel discussion with a real sense of pride in the degree to which we are all invested. They’ll see the contrast between a city that had very little investment in arts and culture, and they’ll understand that a broad community effort was what drove this success.”
If you go:
What: “Phoenix Arts & Culture @30: A Conversation”
When: Friday, April 17, 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central Ave.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
PHOENIX ART MUSEUM RECEIVES $2.5 MILLION GIFT
Donation to be used to fund a Chief Curator
The Phoenix Art Museum Board is excited to announce a $2.5M gift from Suzanne and Bud Selig to be used toward the funding of a Chief Curator, a position that is transformational for a museum of its size. This significant contribution is one of the largest gifts Phoenix Art Museum has received in recent years.
Suzanne Selig, who is a member of Phoenix Art Museum’s Board of Trustees and her husband Bud, the Commissioner Emeritus of Baseball are avid supporters of the arts and actively contribute to several cultural organizations in their home state of Wisconsin. “Bud and I truly love Phoenix Art Museum and wanted our contribution to be applied toward something that is instrumental in the growth of this wonderful institution,” said Sue Selig. “This museum holds a special place in our hearts and we hope our contribution allows it to develop into a museum that is recognized both nationally and internationally.”
Recently at Phoenix Art Museum the position of Chief Curator has been the responsibility of the Museum’s director; making it a stand-alone position will allow the Director to concentrate efforts on fundraising and expanding the international visibility of the museum.
Amada Cruz, The Sybil Harrington Director of Phoenix Art Museum added, “As the first Chief Curator in over a decade, The Selig Family Chief Curator will develop an overall exhibitions and collections strategy that benefits the largest art museum in the Southwest. This position will allow our Museum to move to its next phase of expanded programming and enhanced visitor experiences.”
The Selig Family Chief Curator will have curatorial oversight of exhibitions, collections, and programming, and will provide strategic leadership to the Museum’s curatorial staff. Along with curatorial responsibilities, this position will also assist with fundraising for exhibitions and art acquisitions.
“We are both grateful and honored by the generous gift from Sue and Bud Selig,” said Phoenix Art Museum Board of Trustees Chairman Jim Patterson. “Their gift will enable the Phoenix Art Museum to add a Chief Curator to our talented curatorial team that we were not otherwise in a position to do; this will enable the Museum to reach new heights in curatorial excellence.”
The search for The Selig Family Chief Curator will begin immediately.
Image courtesy of the Phoenix Art Museum.