This Saturday is the Downtown Phoenix Festival of the Arts in Heritage Square. Below is some brief, essential info, but I really want to focus on just one of the many events of the festival: an epic paint-off between supreme local talents Kyle Jordre, Gabe Sandoval, Ken Peloke and Taylor Swick. A duel this weighty only comes around these parts when the Spurs play the Suns twice a year at US Airways Center.
Jordre paints wall-sized, splattered, colorific paintings using any number of methods. The results are visually stunning. Then you have Sandoval, who uses aerosol like nobody’s business. Swick’s work is the most diverse, using oil and acrylics on various mediums of all shapes and sizes. Lastly, Peloke, a self-described “hermit” in the art world, has just started showing his work publicly. Will he rise to the challenge or will his nerves get to him? You have to show up to find out.
In the Know: Downtown Phoenix Festival of the Arts
March 20, 2010, 4-11 p.m. at Heritage and Science Park
Benefitting Artlink, the Volunteer Legal Assistance for Artists, First Fridays in Heritage Square and the Rosson House Museum
Admission is $10 presale and $15 at the door. Tickets can be purchased through downtownartfest.blogspot.com.
Alwun House is home to so many things: bizarre concerts, erotic art shows, stripped-down acoustic performances and so many mediums of art hanging on the walls it could make your head spin. But, its most important quality: It’s all about the community. Just check out the house’s Third Friday show, “Salon des Enfants,” for further proof.
The artists in question are our neighbors. They’re Phoenix Elementary School District students, and their legit talent can’t be denied. The 15th Salon des Enfants event showcases nearly 300 total pieces of art, each priced at $20 (100% of profits go straight to the students), sold right off the walls salon style. All works were created by students from fifth to eighth grades, representing 16 schools in the district and 18 art teachers.
The goals are twofold: Students become involved in the local arts community at an early age (priceless, really, when you think of all those budget cuts affecting school arts programs) and are given the self-confidence to keep learning their craft. The hope is by bringing the young artists to the Alwun House, they can be inspired by their peers to work harder, explore further and create often.
Prizes will be doled out — First, Second, Third and honorable mention winners — but the presentation itself is really what matters. Adding to the festivities, the Capitol band, Kenilworth Choir & Band, Bethune music and Folklorico dancers will be on hand to perform.
The show runs from 4-6 p.m. on March 19 only. Alwun House is located at 1204 E. Roosevelt St. in Garfield — 602.253.7887
From the Arizona Room is a weekly column examining the historic, reuse and infill structures in Downtown Phoenix. The inspiration for this column stems from the ever-expanding resources in Burton Barr Central Library’s Arizona Room (located on the fourth floor). For further information on this and other historic structures in the area, visit the Arizona Room during normal library hours.
215 N. 7th St. in Garfield
Seeing the colorful banners, neon lights and oodles of noodles at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, it may be hard to identify it as a historic building. But, like other buildings profiled in From the Arizona Room, its current use was not the building’s original intent.
Though the building has housed the museum since the summer of 2008, it has been standing far longer. Originally the Monroe School, it is one of the largest Neoclassical Revival schools left in Phoenix. It was built in 1914 by Los Angeles designer Norman Marsh. At the time, it was billed the “most modern grade school in the United States.” Even today, the original bones of the building are surprisingly modern for a building nearing the century mark.
Though major renovations — well over $10 million in all — went into the building prior to the museum’s opening, the outer shell remains historically intact. The steel frame, clad in brick, rises two stories atop a raised basement. The signature columned façade, a central pedimented portico with Corinthian columns and projecting end pavilions, was spared. A fire in the 1970s brought severe damage to the original roof, but the original building remains otherwise. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1977.
Sources: Phoenix Historic Building Survey by Charles Hall Page & Associates, Inc. Sept. 1979.; National Register of Historic Places
Is there a historic property in Downtown Phoenix you’d like to see in From the Arizona Room? Email me at email@example.com with the address and a brief description.
On March 20, Fractal, located in the Bragg’s Pie Factory building on Grand Avenue, will host home to the first-ever Grand Avenue Film Festival. The event will showcase 20 or so short films by local filmmakers with proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity.
The fest is being organized and promoted by local filmmaker Matt Robinson. Robinson went to film school and Scottsdale Community College and currently works at ASU as a videographer. Previously, Robinson helped co-run Free Sushi Records, where he helped book bands and promote shows.
Robinson decided to put together a film festival as a way for upcoming filmmakers to get their work out to the public. He feels that beginning filmmakers don’t have much of an outlet for their work. “They go up on Vimeo, and then that’s it,” Robinson says. “That’s literally it, and it bugs me. It’s too often that there’s never a chance to show your film or something you made and talk to people that watched it, like an audience.”
The two film schools in town, SCC and ASU, each have their own film fests; however, those are for students to attend, and they frequently require entries to come from second-year film students. Unfortunately, not everyone who wants to make a film is a student. “The film festival at SCC is great,” Robinson admits, “but that stinks for all the people that aren’t at SCC.”
When asked about the main goal of organizing the event, Robinson states, “Grand Avenue Film Festival is really just an opportunity to give people I know and filmmakers a chance to get an audience.”
Even students that attend film school rarely get the chance to get a response from a general audience. “There’s nothing more honest that an audience’s reaction,” says Robinson.
The fest is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on Saturday, and will cost just $5. The films will run a little over an hour and time will be allowed after for people to mingle and talk to the filmmakers about their films. Audience members will get to vote on their favorite film, as an audience award will be presented.
Bridging a dining gap between the local and homespun, with the highbrow and forward, is no simple feat for a culinary festival with freshman status. And, despite any initial hesitations, the newly minted Devoured Culinary Classic this past weekend proved just that — an ability to be everything to nearly every mindset.
Devoured is the new food festival to be held each spring at the Phoenix Art Museum. Though technically it was a brand-new event altogether, Devoured unofficially replaces the previous event held annually at the Midtown museum, West of Western. To say that casual comparisons between the two illustrations of sophisticated, urban food festivals by attuned locals wouldn’t happen, would frankly be naïve. So, thankfully, by all respectable accounts (and the palpable vibe of the crowds on both days), Devoured not only one-upped West of Western, but it also was an honest improvement.
Orchestrated in large part by local advocacy and growing nonprofit Local First Arizona and its supreme leader, Kimber Lanning, Devoured encouraged an agenda-driven undercurrent of all things local and “independently edible.” Though there were definite exceptions throughout, Devoured was also intended to be a weighted showcase of participants located within the loose radius of Central Phoenix — a tip on the local dining scale that usually leans Scottsdale. To those living outside the urban bubble of Central Phoenix traveling inward to attend Devoured this past weekend, it was representation done well.
With a range of interesting guest speakers (former New York Times and Wall Street Journal restaurant critic Raymond Sokolov was a particular big-ticket draw) and cooking demonstrations, as well as over 70 local restaurants and 25 wineries (mostly Arizona bred) taking part, Devoured’s inauguration was a near perfect food-themed storm that would respectfully cater to both food snobs and casual eaters alike.
Though worth the ticket price for both Saturday and Sunday, if one day had to champion the other for ultimate food hierarchy, the latter, Sunday, would have to take the rank. Participating restaurants and chefs jockeyed not only for prime grassy real estate in the Phoenix Art Museum’s beautifully landscaped and spacious sculpture garden, but also for prime scheduling. Sunday unofficially became a magnate for some of the most sought-after eateries in town, and, for the headlining chefs, the most overt flashes of showmanship and craft, as well.
Some of Saturday’s highlights included an exceptional (as expected) charcuterie and cheese selection from Uptown’s Petit Fromage; a standout tuna tartare from the Phoenician’s J&G Steakhouse (one of the best such examples of tartare, of many similar, all weekend), served tightly atop avocado and a bright ginger broth; and Christopher’s Crush‘s other-worldly gâteau Marjolaine, a decadent and laborious pressed cake created with, among many other things, layers of almond meringue cake, separated by intermixing levels of chocolate, coffee and vanilla flavored creams. Gallo Blanco Café’s carne asada tacos and Hana Japanese Eatery’s waloo (think Hawaiian butterfish) tataki were both equally confident but simple pleasers.
Sunday brought even more standouts. Former Cowboy Ciao chef Bernie Kantak helmed a booth representing not a specific restaurant, but his own creative, skilled abilities with curried, smoked shrimp and coconut. Shrimp paella from Lola Tapas was another immediate, well-executed sell. Nationally decorated restaurant Kai’s breadth of offerings made an intimidating impression with wild goat machaca and fry bread, seared rib-eye slices over a pineapple-avocado quinoa and two playful (and very popular) additions to their otherwise serious buffet — housemade, decidedly elevated versions of Ding Dong desert cakes and icy, citrus-bright hibiscus push-up pops.
Sweet Republic, with its locally iconic, retro orange Chevy van parked in full view, served an array of ice cream flavors both seen and new — think flavors like bacon, salted butter caramel and white truffle. Different Pointe of View (at Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort) served a near-unanimous crowd favorite: seared, cupcake-sized diver scallops with a creamy, emerald English pea risotto. Honey Moon Sweets‘ collection of perfectly executed dollhouse desserts earned definite points for yum factor (let alone for presentation) with jewel-sized chocolate almond cups, tarragon and strawberry shortcake cookies and a near effervescent blackberry purée folded with homemade whipped cream and garnished with shavings of pistachio. Not to be outdone, easily maintaining one of the festival’s consistently lengthiest lines of hungry visitors, Old Town Scottsdale’s FnB restaurant was on hand with some premium miniature meatballs molded from Arizona-bred beef, as well as its popular shaved fennel salad and a thick butterscotch pudding for a welcomed sugary finish.
Holding a double-day presence, Barrio Café was on hand with its drool-inducing cochinita pibil (slow roasted, citrus marinated pork), crowd-pleasing guacamole and on Sunday only, served its infamous mole.
Besides a couple of liquor outposts and some tasty local brews from SanTan Brewing Company, the majority of alcohol consumption at Devoured belonged to wine. And, with the exception of a few participants, nearly all wineries present were Arizona anchored — another admirable trait of Devoured — like Pillsbury Wine Company, Page Springs Cellars and Arizona Stronghold, among several others.
Cooking demonstrations were also popular at Devoured on both days, with acclaimed chefs like Christopher Gross, Aaron May (Over Easy, The Lodge, Mabel’s on Main), Matt Carter (Nine|05, Zinc Bistro, The Misson), James Porter (Petite Maison), among several others, drawing large audiences. An unofficial climax occurred during Sunday’s few remaining hours when Caffe Boa’s Payton Curry carried a whole pig (head, hooves and all) over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes to the demonstration area, where he cheekily butchered the carcass in front of a highly entertained audience, readying it for preparation and samples. Showmanship at its finest.
There were many, many other participating restaurants, chefs and wineries not mentioned that served great products. The entire crowd was food focused and full of positive, respectful energy. At any given time, circulating eaters could witness firsthand notable local restaurant critics, restaurateurs, off-duty chefs, winemakers, bloggers and food-focused tweeps intermingling, gushing about what they tasted with great energy.
Devoured was easily a success, and this new annual food fête more than delivered on its intended angle that independent and local should always be a diner’s prerogative when out to patronize. Phoenix should be proud — the talent is here, the ingredients are being grown here and finally it seems, the enthusiasm to support it all is here as well.