Arts & Culture
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.
The Downtown Phoenix Journal “Conversation” series consists of interviews with Downtown Phoenix, Inc. (DPI) board of directors and other downtown stakeholders. These interviews are an excellent way to introduce downtown Phoenix leadership to the community, and to learn their respective views on Phoenix. Now let’s read what Cindy Dach of the DPI board, Roosevelt Row CDC, MADE Art Boutique, Changing Hands Bookstore, and more… has to say.
PHOENIX WELCOMES YOU
Phoenix is the #2 U.S. destination – right after Las Vegas – to hold trade shows and events according to a new Expo Magazine survey of trade show managers. The other good bit of news from the survey, as reported in the Phoenix Business Journal, is that Phoenix has made significant strides in terms of its reputation as a destination.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport‘s busiest month was even busier this year, with March passenger counts up 3.2% from a year ago despite a late Easter. It is the third consecutive year-over-year gain in passengers this year, an encouraging economic indicator following two years of slight declines in overall passenger counts. Passenger traffic was up 3.8% in January and 2.9% in February.
Hines, the international real estate firm, announced that the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee has signed a 7,535 square-foot lease in Renaissance Square, a two-building, 965,000 square-foot Class A office complex on Washington St. between Central Ave. and 1st Ave. in downtown Phoenix (pictured left).
The Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT) invites you to submit nominations for the 2014 Governor’s Tourism Awards to celebrate outstanding local and statewide tourism achievements. Nomination deadline is Friday, May 16. Click here for details.
A CHANGE IN LANDSCAPE
Last fall, City of Phoenix officials issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to redevelop the block where the Central Station transit facility now stands at Central and Van Buren streets. The goal is to better utilize this prime downtown parcel with a multi-use development that incorporates public transit elements in the design. An evaluation panel comprised of business, civic, and community representatives reviewed proposals, interviewed finalists, and came to consensus on a project. The City, in agreement with the evaluation panel’s recommendation, selected the proposal from Smith Partners, LLC to advance for negotiation of business terms. Here is a rendering of the proposed project:
A half-empty office tower at the southwest corner of Monroe St. and 1st Ave. has been purchased by Rialto Capital Management LLC and a joint venture between Sunbelt Holdings’ John Graham and Ironline Partners LLC. The 19-story, 255,000 square foot building, dually known as 111 West Monroe and the First American Building, sold for $22 million.
New City Church in midtown Phoenix met its fundraising goal to finance a move to a new, larger facility at 1300 N. Central Ave. (across the street from Burton Barr Central Library). The new facility will house a sanctuary for 600 people, children’s gathering space, recording studio, gallery, and coffee bar.
A UNIFIED ARTS SCENE
A group of Phoenix arts organizations are coordinating their efforts and launching as the new Central Arts District. In a unanimous effort by the burgeoning art institutions located in the area between 7th St. and 7th Ave., Roosevelt and Virginia streets, leadership of these organizations envisioned the opportunity to distinguish the extraordinary concentration of arts in the new district and embrace the businesses within it.
Phoenix City Council Member and DPI Board Member Michael Nowakowski recently gathered some 30 civic leaders to discuss plans and options for a major Hispanic museum and cultural center to highlight the arts and culture achievements of our city’s Hispanic community.
TOUGH ACT TO FOLLOW
Recently we (the collective we) learned that Jim Ballinger will retire as director of the Phoenix Art Museum. Jim’s foresight and leadership transformed a 72,000-square-foot facility to a 285,000-square-foot amazing experience for art lovers locally, nationally, and globally. We’ll truly miss Jim around Central and McDowell, but know that his influence and involvement will continue to benefit Phoenix for many more years to come.
BEING IN THE KNOW
Our partner organization, Downtown Phoenix Partnership (DPP), has teamed with the Phoenix Convention Center to launch the “Know It All Series,” designed to give sales professionals who are in the business of selling our downtown the tools they need to best serve our visitors. It’s also a great way for industry peers to network while experiencing our wonderful locally owned businesses.
A downtown Phoenix small business was named one of the nation’s ten best start-ups for innovation, entrepreneurship, and creativity by G/O Digital, a Gannett Company. Congrats to Welcome Diner in the Garfield Neighborhood for standing out as one of the most unexpected gourmet culinary experiences around.
Downtown Phoenix fosters an environment where women business owners are increasing in number and influence, says the Downtown Devil. Two pieces of hard evidence: (1) Arizona ranks fourth in the U.S. for economic clout for women-owned businesses and (2) membership in the Phoenix chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners has increased significantly.
Featured homepage image courtesy of RED Development. Lustre Rooftop Garden at Hotel Palomar is beginning its 100 Days of Summer campaign May 24th and 25th with a Memorial Day pool party.
Every city has its hidden gems—those under-the-radar places you walk by a million times, never realizing that history is being made behind the unassuming walls. One such example in Phoenix is Chaton Studios, a state-of-the-art recording studio located near the Coronado district in downtown.
The creative force behind this Chaton Studios is Otto D’Agnolo, a record producer, audio engineer, musician, singer and songwriter.
D’Agnolo received his audio production training in the early ’80s in his home state of Illinois before relocating to Phoenix in 1989. Soon after, he went to work at a recording studio in Paradise Valley, then known as Chaton Recordings.
“I worked there for 10 years, and when they wanted to close up shop, I said, ‘should I go to California for a job or build a studio?’ So I offered to buy all their gear and license the name and build my own studio,” says D’Agnolo.
He re-established the business, calling it Chaton Studios, and moved it to its current location in central Phoenix.
In his time as a record producer, he has worked with some impressive talent, including artists like Waylon Jennings, Glen Campbell, Kenny Rogers, Lou Rawls, Nils Lofgren, and Jordin Sparks, to name a few.
D’Agnolo also records and releases his own music, which has been featured on national television shows, like Jersey Shore, One Tree Hill and Punk’d. And due to his undeniable physical and vocal resemblance to John Lennon, he fronts a tribute show devoted to the legendary Beatle called “Working Class Hero.”
When he’s not lending his more than 30 years of experience to major label acts and independent artists alike, he’s contributing projects to Phoenix’s creative cache.
He developed a website called therecordingartist.com, which recently featured a live broadcast of local bands producing a track over the course of three hours. Fans bought memberships to the site so they could watch the process unfold. The show featured local artists like Sarah Robinson and the Midnight Special, Banana Gun, Dry River Yacht Club, and Ghetto Cowgirl. The show was in production from 2012-2013, and it is D’Agnolo’s hope that it will be live again soon.
D’Agnolo is putting his experience to work for the next generation of Arizona’s artists. “So many parents have kids with talent and don’t know how to help them. Someone like me can evaluate them and provide objective feedback,” he says.
“One of my hopes is that parents living and working downtown, whose sons or daughters want to pursue a career in music, discover that they have someone right here that they can go to for information and assistance in helping those careers stay on track.”
With his proven track record, he’s shown that artists don’t have to go to L.A. or other larger cities for high-quality music production. “Production work can be done in a lot of places,” he says, “so I think it’s sad when bands feel like they have to leave the Phoenix market to record. Because they don’t have to.”
Additionally, Phoenix has a wealth of music and recording talent that attracts artists from other cities according to D’Agnolo. “I have a client who’s flying here from San Diego constantly to do his country record because of the musicians here. I have another artist who has been working in Nashville and she’s coming back to work here.”
After years of making records with some of the music industry’s biggest names, helping independent artists elevate their careers, and attracting clients from all over the world to work with him, D’Agnolo has shown that this “hidden gem” is an essential element of Phoenix’s artistic and cultural landscape.
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
eye lounge: a contemporary art space [sic] celebrates 15 years of exhibitions and welcomes new arts venture
In 1999, a group of graduate art students at the Arizona State University School of Art were concerned with the lack of opportunities to exhibit contemporary artwork in Phoenix. In response, they founded eye lounge: a contemporary art space, an artist-run collective dedicated to creating exhibition opportunities for artists. In 2001, the group moved into its permanent location at 419 East Roosevelt Street in a building owned and managed by founding members Greg Esser and Cindy Dach. This year marks the 15-year anniversary for the collective.
Since its founding, the venue has hosted more than 500 one-person and group exhibitions. Many member artists have continued on to representation in commercial galleries in Arizona and nationally and to tenured teaching positions throughout the U.S. eye lounge was a founding gallery of the Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation.
Significantly more opportunities exist now for emerging and established artists to exhibit in downtown Phoenix than ever before. “The relocation of Bentley Projects and, more recently, Lisa Sette Gallery from Scottsdale to downtown Phoenix bode well for the maturation of the downtown Phoenix arts scene,” says Dach. “The vibrancy of this area is almost unrecognizable now from where we started.”
In an effort to create new opportunities for incoming artists to establish roots in the Roosevelt Row Artists’ District, eye lounge is reconfiguring its building footprint to welcome a new artist venture into the space. Beginning June 2014, ASU School of Art alum, photographer and educator Stephen Gittins will open his business, Capture 12, in 417 East Roosevelt, the western bay of the building.
“We’re very excited to have Capture 12 join the space,” says Esser. “Capture 12’s classes, workshops and exhibitions will add even more street level activation to this storefront on Roosevelt Street. This area has a strong history of supporting photographers, and this neighborhood, with its murals and authentic ‘funky’ building fabric, has become one of the most photographed areas of Phoenix.”
The new configuration more closely echoes the original purpose of the two individual storefronts built more than 50 years ago. Esser explains, “We’re very fortunate to have met the adults who grew up in each of the buildings that we have renovated in this neighborhood. The Beck family lived in the home which now houses Made Art Boutique. In 1949, when this was a very vibrant pedestrian-focused mixed-use neighborhood, the Beck family built the eastern storefront addition. One year later, they completed the western storefront addition. The family’s son, though he left the area decades ago before it went into decline, now comes back to his old neighborhood to attend First Fridays and purchase artwork and is thrilled with how the area has evolved.”
The parking lot to the west of eye lounge housed a separate craftsman bungalow-style single family home until the late 1960s. Plans are underway to develop additional new artist venues at this location. Events and a publication to mark the 15-year anniversary of eye lounge are currently in development.
It’s hard to imagine how exciting it must have been to attend the 1913 premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, which ended in a riot because of the disturbing rhythms and incendiary musical patterns. Even Beethoven – now considered a staid staple of classical music – was once regarded as somewhat revolutionary in his harmonies.
A concert titled Opus II features premiere performances of works by members of the Arizona State University Society of Composers, Inc. (SCI) in the informal, inviting setting of Phoenix Art Museum, offering the chance to perhaps hear from a modern-day Stravinsky or Beethoven.
“The partnership with the museum is great,” says SCI president Collette Sipho Mabingani, “because…we have the same mission: exposing the public to this music that sometimes is not accessible.” Mabingani was born and raised in South Africa and obtained degrees at Grand Valley State University and Central Michigan University before earning his doctorate in music composition at ASU.
“I started with [percussion] performance,” he says, “and…you have to improvise, so you get this idea of creating…and I got tired of playing other people’s music. I love experimenting with new kinds of music, so I still try and discover something I’ve never heard before.” At Opus II Mabingani will perform his own composition, a solo autobiographical work using rhythms reflecting his personal journey from South Africa to the West, including Latin cadences.
Other composers will use various configurations of a “Pierrot ensemble” of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, percussion, and piano — named after the instrumentation used by Arnold Schoenberg in his landmark 1912 melodrama Pierrot Lunaire (Moonstruck Pierrot) –- plus saxophone.
“Even though it’s been around for over a hundred years,” says SCI public relations manager Elliot Sneider of the ensemble, “there’s something always new about it, for some reason. There’s a lot you can do with it, so it’s kind of fun to work with.” Shortly after Sneider wrote his dissertation analyzing blues in the music of Aaron Copland, Maurice Ravel, and George Gershwin, he composed Big Hands Blues for piano, then arranged it for Opus II.
“I…was drawn to jazz when I was very young,” he says, “…this pull to jazz composers like Charles Mingus and Thelonious Monk, and the idea of having these structures that…allow for improvisation.”
Sneider studied composition at New England Conservatory of Music and New York University, then received his DMA from ASU, where he was initially intrigued by the work of professor James DeMars. “I have a jazz background,” says Sneider, “so for me there’s always been a pull to accept other cultural music and ‘how do I bring things together?’” He continues, “I found he’s someone who has…made a career dealing with those issues, and so that’s why I wanted to study here.”
“He [DeMars] composes in the same way that I do, which is what we call ‘intercultural music’,” says Mabingani, who also found his advisor’s compositions appealing. “But he uses Native American music with Western music, combines it and makes it his own…so I just fell in love with the way he writes.”
“I think all of the composers at the school really have something unique to bring,” adds Sneider. “Usually you choose your composer and you work only with that person, but here [at ASU] they not only encourage but require you to…work with all of them for a much broader experience.”
“There’s no one dogma, or one style,” says Israeli composer and Doctor of Musical Arts student Gil Dori. “I really got into the music of [ASU professor] Glenn Hackbarth — he’s…into the music on the electronics side, and that’s what I’m interested in doing too.” Dori came to ASU for his master’s degree after graduating from Haifa University, which he describes as “really heavy on composition…the best composers in Israel.”
For Opus II, Dori wrote a work called Shevarim; “in Hebrew it means ‘fragments’ or ‘shards,’ he explains, “but it’s also one of the calls of the shofar [ram’s horn], and really that’s a work based on an old Eastern European Jewish folk tune…it just slowly emerges through this texture.” The piece is a duet for saxophone and bass clarinet, and Dori enjoyed integrating sound effects like tongue smacks, clicks, and breathing through the instruments.
Visit the Phoenix Art Museum this afternoon to hear these new works by Mabingani, Sneider, Dori, and other ASU composers — it’s free with museum admission, and the program promises previously unexplored treasures.
If you go:
When: Sunday, May 11 at 1PM
Where: Phoenix Art Museum
Cost: Free with museum admission
UPDATE (5/11/14 12:47PM): Here’s a live streaming link if you can’t attend the performance: http://ustre.am/1dGp0
DPJ’s Wire series delivers news and information straight from the source without translation.
Phoenix Arts Groups Announce the Formation of the New Central Arts District
A group of Phoenix arts organizations coordinated their efforts and today officially launched the new Central Arts District. In a unanimous effort by the burgeoning art institutions located in the area between 7th Street and 7th Avenue, Roosevelt and Virginia Streets, leadership of these organizations envisioned the opportunity to distinguish the extraordinary concentration of arts in the new district and embrace the businesses within it. The formation of the Central Arts District will provide a platform for these esteemed arts institutions to continue their work with a higher visibility and collaborate with one another on progressing the arts and culture in Central Phoenix. With four of the State’s largest arts and cultural organizations within these borders and the recent investment of over $60 million in the neighborhood, the sheer concentration and impact of their presence in the community merits the creation of the new Central Arts District.
Vincent VanVleet, Managing Director of Phoenix Theatre and a chief contributor to the Central Arts District movement said, “We are infinitely excited to embrace this artistic core and more cohesively promote our neighborhood as the new Central Arts District to Phoenix’s citizens and patrons, tourists, and indeed the world. Great people reside in and visit great cultural cities. Phoenix is a thriving cultural city with an arts community in the midst of a rebirth. The Central Arts District collective represents an estimated 2,000 annual events and exhibits contributing to this arts renaissance in Phoenix.”
Ms. Leah Fregulia Roberts, Head of the Arizona School for the Arts, is especially excited about the opportunity this poses for her students. “Within the new Central Arts District, established arts organizations inspirit local arts and culture creating an exciting place to live, work, visit, play and most importantly, learn. It is an unparalleled experience for Arizona School for the Arts students to become embedded in the cultural life of our city.”
Edward Cook, Co-President of McCarthy Cook & Co., owners of Viad Corporate Center which is also home to the Playhouse in the Park added, “We are excited to embrace and support this extraordinary concentration of the cultural jewels of Phoenix with the creation of the new Central Arts District. In honor of this new district and our continued support for the arts, we are pleased to announce that Viad Corporate Center will soon be renamed Central Arts Plaza.”
Gail Browne, Executive Director of The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture added that “The City of Phoenix is pleased that so many arts and culture organizations have come together to create the Central Arts District. This coordinated effort will enhance the visibility of arts and culture groups that are thriving in this area. It will also stimulate further cultural development and foster synergies between arts and culture and other businesses. Moreover, this kind of place-making bolsters our collective sense of civic pride.“
The following organizations are founding members of the new Central Arts District: Phoenix Theatre, Viad Corporate Center, Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix Center for the Arts, Heard Museum, Arizona Opera, Playhouse on the Park, Phoenix Community Alliance, Arizona School for the Arts, Hance Park Conservancy, and Metro Arts High School.