No giant sign hangs over its entrance. It’s only giveaway is the inexplicable bouncer standing near the door. If you’re there after 7 p.m. or so, at least one motorcycle or scooter will have almost surely dug its kickstand into the dirt alongside the dumpster. If it weren’t for the growing knowledge that it resides in a basement whose main door opens into an alley, you wouldn’t know Valley Bar existed. But then the bouncer smiles and assures you this is the place.
You stick your face into the darkness and head down the stairs, your mood and your work and your life falling off of you with each step, and arrive at a fork in the road made of doors. Which one you choose doesn’t matter. Either way, the place unfolds into a three-piece wonderland: part music hall (with a bar), part ‘80s arcade, and part secret restaurant serving up Short Leash gourmet dogs and throwing the silhouettes of hanging metal art onto the main bar’s facade.
Now you’re in on the secret. Valley Bar is the distinctly Phoenician third place that never existed and should have all along. Food and beverage manager Grace Perry says it all: “We don’t want to be a Portland bar. We don’t want to be a New York bar. We want to be an Arizona bar. And we want to do everything we can to keep it that way.”
Co-owners Charlie Levy and Tucker Woodbury, the duo behind the already legendary Crescent Ballroom, set out to turn this place—this dark expanse of untapped potential—into far more than a music venue. Ending its former life as a storage space on the underside of an otherwise nondescript building, Levy and Tucker have morphed the 8,000 square foot joint into quite the downtown surprise.
And it’s not just the live music that keeps your feet tramping back in night after night. It’s the spoken word shows. It’s the storytelling nights. It’s the dance classes. It’s the literary meet-ups in the faux living room under the stairs. It’s the food.
Okay. It’s really the Skee-ball.
Whatever draws you in, the place certainly makes a claim on what it means to be an Arizona bar, especially in that we all really want to live underground. The exposed pipes are legit; they’re used by the entire building.
The brick walls seal you in with not a window to be found. The exits are hidden.
It doesn’t matter. It’s not a place you want to leave anyway.
This is no accident. Levy, Woodbury, and team have made the best of a place most would’ve looked right past. “You make your surroundings,” says Perry. “You don’t let your surroundings make you.”
They made their surroundings, alright. Now they’re surrounded by a crowd every time the alley door opens.
A few facts before you head over:
• The music hall holds 250 people; the place as a whole takes 300.
• Happy hour is Monday-Friday from 4–6pm and all day Sunday and gives you $1-off drafts, house wine, and craft cocktails.
• If there’s no event, there’s a good chance you’ll run into a free game night with $1-off drafts.
• Games include Skee-ball, darts, board games, shuffleboard, and if you’re lucky, a round of 8-ball.
• Bonus tip: If spaces are few, park at Crescent Ballroom and walk over. It’s closer than you think (like, two blocks), and Crescent has its own lot on the backside of the building.
This Saturday, August 29, hit Valley Bar for “The Factory” — a new wave DJ night fueled by the music of your teenage years if your teenage years sped by 20-something years ago.
This is the place. Dig it.
Photos by Robert Hoekman, Jr.
In DPJ’s Street Style PHX series, Kammie Kobyleski hits the streets in search of the looks that define our city style.
“People will stare. Make it worth their while.” -Harry Winston
While running errands on a recent Sunday, I needed a quick caffeine boost. I hopped into Lux Central for one of my favorite iced green teas and admit to stopping dead in my tracks and staring at these two fabulous and fashionable Phoenicians.
Ricci Demery, a Chandler native who now resides in Tempe and Jahmal Landers, a Portland transplant, took grabbing a casual cup of joe to a whole new level. I stopped my (awkward) staring long enough to ask who influenced this stylish duo, hoping to learn some of their secrets.
What are you wearing?
Ricci is wearing a white trendy top from Ross, Levi Jeans and coral heels from Charlotte Russe (if you can’t wear these fabulous heels to grab coffee where can you wear them?) Jahmal is in Guess jeans, a tank top from H&M and shoes by Nike.
Favorite places to shop?
Jahmal prefers second hand shops like Buffalo Exchange and Goodwill (shout out to ½ price Saturdays) and prefers a minimalist and effortless look, but likes to dress up too. Ricci said she doesn’t follow people or trends much, but wears what feels right for her (I mean LOOK at her. She’s doing her just right).
If you could raid one Style icon’s closet, who would it be?
Jahmal follows style icon Ozwald Boateng, a bespoke couture designer with accolades from Hollywood, London and the fashion elite. Ricci definitely has her own sense of style but named Beyoncé as a source of inspiration (because, Beyoncé.)
What about living in PHX influences your style?
Jahmal shared, “Phoenix is different than Portland. Here we don’t cover up as much because it’s so hot. I like the four seasons and enjoy dressing for that, but it’s hard to do here. I still have a bunch of coats from Portland that I don’t wear. I’m also super active so I wear stuff that can be comfortable and work for different activities.”
These two should set up an Instagram feed so we can all follow along on their stylish journey. If they make grabbing coffee look this good, who knows what going to the gym, grocery shopping and date night looks like.
Welcome to Downtown Design, a column that will focus on the graphic design of downtown Phoenix and bring awareness to the talented designers that we have living and working among us.
Take a look around as you stroll down the streets of Downtown Phoenix and you’ll quickly notice that there’s no way to avoid design. From our historic architecture to the brand new signage guiding you through town, every inch of our space is designed.
Graphic designers are the “silent artists.” The work they do is everywhere, yet rarely do they get to place their signature on a piece, or even receive credit in a byline. Sometimes they feel like they are simply a tool for someone else’s use in creating their vision, and sometimes that’s true – most often at the beginning of their careers. But most of the time, they take their clients’ ideas and direction and distill it to reflect the intended message using typographical treatments, photography, color, and format.
But graphic design goes much further than “art.” Graphic designers come armed with an arsenal of knowledge and connections, along with a keen business savvy, memorized fontbank, and extensive color theory. Designers must also be knowledgeable in many areas including psychology, engineering, printmaking, fabrication, advertising, marketing, coding, proofreading, and so on.
Beyond their own skills, they often draw from a reserve of allied professional resources, like photographers, coders, filmmakers, sound engineers, printers, tech support, publishers, editors, and even lawyers.
Of all artistic disciplines, I’ve personally found graphic design to yield the most opportunities to work in an array of fields. My career has taken me from animation to fashion, to music to Fortune 100 corporate. The constant in each industry is that they all need graphic design.
A company can create an incredible product, yet, without the proper identity and brand, it’s going to be a hard sell. How often have you chosen one type of food at the grocery store over another simply because of the packaging? Maybe you don’t even realize it’s the packaging that’s appealed to your subconscious. That’s the “ghost artist’s” handiwork. An ingredient list doesn’t offer a story – great packaging does.
With Downtown Design, we will explore graphic design, from slick corporate design to sign painters delicately designing store windows. We will also post opportunities available for graphic designers and a calendar of events and competitions, which we would love to see one of our very own win! You are also invited to share any news of your own graphic design work at email@example.com. Let’s connect our graphic design community here through DPJ’s Downtown Design.
AIGA AZ Event Dinner with Designer: Marissa Groom & Ryan Anderson—August 31, 2015
AIGA AZ Event: CreatAthon Phoenix 2015—September 12-September 13, 2015
AIGA Design Conference 2015 New Orleans—October 8-October 10, 2015
HOW Poster Design Awards—DEADLINE October 2, 2015
Images courtesy of Rhonda Zayas
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
COMMUNITY MEMBERS ARE INVITED TO CELEBRATE THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE PHOENIX ARTS AND CULTURE COMMISSION
The city of Phoenix will mark the 30th anniversary of the Phoenix Arts and Culture Commission with a celebration of the arts in downtown Phoenix on Oct. 3. The PHX Arts and Culture @ 30 Years Celebration, will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Phoenix Convention Center, Herberger Theater and on Monroe Street between Second and Third Streets in downtown Phoenix. The multi-site event will feature music, dance and theater performances, talks and art making demonstrations. This event is FREE to the public.
“The arts are the living heartbeat of Phoenix, and it’s been incredible to watch and help this community grow since the creation of the Phoenix Arts and Culture Commission 30 years ago.” Mayor Greg Stanton said. “That is why we tripled funding for the Commission when I took office – creating a strong economy and a vibrant arts community go hand in hand.”
In addition to the contributions of the nearly 100 arts and culture organizations, the celebration will also feature downtown public art tours, food trucks and activities for people of all ages. Nominees for the fourth annual Mayor’s Arts Awards will be announced from the main stage.
PHX Arts and Culture @ 30 Years is sponsored by the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Reimagine Phoenix, City of Phoenix Water Services Department, Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, and the Phoenix Convention Center and Venues.
The Phoenix Arts and Culture Commission was established in 1985 by the mayor and city council to “protect, enhance, serve, and advocate excellence in the arts for the people of Phoenix in their City.” Over the past 30 years Phoenix has experienced an exciting proliferation of arts and culture activity. The Phoenix Public Art Program has collaborated with artists and designers to create more than 180 major public art projects throughout the city.
The expansion and creation of cultural facilities, such as the Phoenix Art Museum, Children’s Museum of Phoenix, Arizona Science Center, Phoenix Theatre, Ballet Arizona, Arizona Opera and Black Theatre Troupe, have dramatically changed the cultural landscape of Phoenix. A 30-year investment in a community grants program has nurtured the development of non-profit arts and culture organizations, which now number over 160 within the Phoenix city limits, and supported delivery ofcultural services to Phoenix residents in the form of community outreach and arts learning programming. The non-profit arts and culture sector has become a $300 million economic driver for the city of Phoenix.
For more information on PHX Arts + Culture @ 30 Years Celebration and a full list of participants, please visit phoenix.gov/arts or call (602) 262-4637. Please follow the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram #PHXArts30.
Images courtesy of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
ARTISTS “REPURPOSE THE BOOK” AT BURTON BARR LIBRARY
An invitational, juried exhibition of artist-repurposed books is currently on view at the Second Space Gallery of the Burton Barr Central Library through September 18th. A public reception for the artists will be held August 20th at 6pm.
Artists were invited to gather in the Rare and Artist Book Collection of the Burton Barr Library to kick off the project. Each selected a book from their own collection to repurpose, or chose from a collection of books being de-accessioned by the library. Over the next two months, twenty-two artists altered, collaged, colored, carved, painted, printed, pressed, and re-paginated their chosen book into compelling art objects.
The resulting works are varied and rich. Jurors selected first, second and third place cash prize winners and two jurors’ awards. Winners respectively were Saskia Jorda, Charles Orme and Sarah Hurwitz, Annie Lopez and Rossitza Todorova. Jurors were John Risseeuw, ASU Herberger Institute Professor Emeritus and founding director of Pyracantha Press;
Edward Lebow, Director of Public Art, Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture; and Sara Cochran, Interim Director and Curator of Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.
Following the exhibition, the works will be offered on-line and at a silent auction of the library’s Dinner in the Stacks fundraiser on September 26th in the Burton Barr Library Great Reading Room. Now in its thirtieth year, this year’s Dinner in the Stacks honors, celebrates and expands the mission and accomplishments of the Library’s College Depot, a resource center that supports learners of all ages and abilities who seek to continue their education.
For event details on Dinner in the Stacks, please visit www.dinnerinthestacks.org
Photos courtesy of Friends of the Phoenix Public Library.