In 2011, funding became available from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for cities to do smart growth planning. Phoenix had forward thinking civic leadership, staff, and community partners poised and ready to collaborate and seized the opportunity with a proposal for a bold, transformative program called Reinvent Phoenix. Curt Upton (pictured right) of the City of Phoenix Planning and Development Department was a key leader in the design and creation of this long-term collaborative project with two main goals: create an attractive investment environment in transit-oriented development (TOD) districts along the light rail, and maximize the community benefits from these investments.
Upton points out, “These were very competitive grants. Hundreds of cities applied and only 8% were selected.” Not only that, he adds, “Phoenix was awarded $2.9M, the 4th largest grant in the country.”
At the time of the grant application (2011), Upton contends that Phoenix was still hurting from the recession and “there was a strong feeling that we needed to try something different, to have a time out and think about how to develop our city differently. We’d just invested in a huge light rail project, and we needed to make the most of it.”
Thus was born Reinvent Phoenix. The Planning Department was the lead applicant, but “it was very much a collaborative process,” said Upton. “We needed about eight other city departments to participate in the process – streets, parks, art & culture, public works, etc….and we also had to reach out to community partners.”
They began by asking a bold question, “Can we create and implement a vision that can demonstrate a better Phoenix?….As the light rail expands, through this vision can we create a new model for how we develop our city that includes best practices, walkability, and equity – where everyone benefits?” The vision was “not just a place where wealthy people go, not just a café scene or art scene, but daycare facilities, decent housing and healthcare for the people who work in the cafes and neighborhood businesses.”
“HUD awarded us the grant because of both the ideas in the plan and the partners that were brought into process,” said Upton, who emphasizes that these partnerships are significant not just for the purposes of the grant, but in order to have a long-term impact on the city. “That was the hope,” said Upton, “to bring partners into almost a movement, using civic leadership to create coalition.” From Upton’s perspective, “building these partnerships upfront means that everyone has ownership in the outcome. Everyone is invested in the vision and the road map that creates investment and equity for the long term.”
This collaborative model helps dispel what Upton calls “every planner’s fear….that we’ll spend hours, months, energy and dedication to create a plan that just collects dust on a shelf. No one wants that.”
Reinvent is a transformational program – so it needs to have legs over decades. In order to do that it required upfront civic leadership and community engagement instead of top down planning. Upton says, “It’s much harder to do, but if you put the upfront work in, it pays dividends going forward. It’s important to build broad community ownership, so that many people support the plan over time.”
What are Curt Upton’s thoughts about the long-term impact on the City from the Reinvent Phoenix program? He says, “I hope that it helps position Phoenix to benefit over the next couple of decades. There’s a unique historic occurrence in cities going on right now. Two large demographic groups – millennials and baby boomers are converging on the real estate market and they both want the same things – walkable neighborhoods with amenities close by.”
Regarding baby boomers, Upton notes that “A whole generation will be over 65 in the next two decades. Increasingly they will be looking to get out of the suburbs and find ways to live that aren’t as costly and are easier to navigate if you don’t want to or can’tdrive.”
He adds, “At the same time you have the millennials coming in with a different set of preferences than the previous generation. And it’s not just going to be a fad. This younger generation is looking for a different product than in the past.”
Upton just returned from a conference in Seattle where he heard the phenomenon described by a real estate fund manager described as “planes in the air, looking to land.”
He explains, “Investors want to invest, but they are looking for good places to land. Cities can position themselves for investment by creating the right conditions for investors to land.” He adds, “Reinvent helps Phoenix take advantage of this historical opportunity to make our city better.”
Upton is a Phoenix native and has spent the last nine years with the City Planning and Development Department. Wednesday, April 29, was his last day, however, as he has been lured to a new job in planning in Denver.
“Denver is similar to Phoenix, but a little ahead of us. It’s an opportunity. I’m a Phoenix native and have lived here my whole life, but I respect the work they are doing in Denver and it is a chance to learn stuff.”
“Nine years ago I took the job with the city for the opportunity to do important work.” In reflecting back, he is grateful for the entrepreneurial, hands off management in the department that empowered him and his staff to do just that.
For 27 years, Artlink has worked with artists and galleries to present the annual two-day free celebration in downtown Phoenix known as Art Detour. Visitors from throughout Phoenix and the entire Valley will be welcomed into studios and spaces throughout downtown this weekend to see working artists in their natural habitat, buy their work, and enjoy the creative energy of our thriving arts community.
While much of the activity during Detour is concentrated in downtown and on Grand Ave., increasingly the borders of Detour are expanding, and interesting artists and spaces can be found beyond where the trolley route can currently cover. Never fear, however. Using a combination of Metro Light Rail (get a day pass!), bikes and shoe leather, these destinations are within easy reach, and we can help you “connect the dots” to get there. So, with pith helmets firmly snapped in place and our trusty map in hand, we offer a multi-modal guide for intrepid explorers to get the full Detour experience.
Using light rail stations and GRID bike hubs as our guideposts, here are some “beyond the trolley route” spaces you’ll want to incorporate into your weekend Art Detour adventure.
Located on the southwest corner of Camelback Road and Central Avenue, the light rail station is a great place to consider starting your “beyond the trolley” adventure. There is ample parking both at the station and in the Uptown Plaza parking lot on the northeast corner of the intersection.
First Stop – Practical Art, 5070 N. Central
Less than a block north of the light rail station on the west side of Camelback you’ll find Practical Art, a hybrid store/art gallery featuring functional artwork by more than 100 Arizona artists, along with monthly exhibitions of fine art. For Art Detour they will be featuring an exhibition of paintings by Lee Berger called “Indispensable Dispensables – Lessons to Still Be Learned.” In addition, on Saturday they will host some of the instructors from the Bergamot Institute, who run their summer kids classes.
Take the Light Rail to the Indian School and Central station (1 mile south of Camelback).
This is a good location to grab a GRID Bike, as there are a handful of great artist studios and galleries within blocks of this station. The GRID Bike lot can be found at the entrance to Steele Indian School Park. If you have a GRID bike membership you can reserve your bike for pick up, but if you don’t, there is still a chance that there will be bikes available at this stop. This weekend, however, is chock o’block with activities and at Steele Indian School Park, the Arizona Hemophilia Association will be hosting their 31st Annual My Nana’s Best Tasting Salsa Challenge on March 7 and 8 from 10:00 a.m. You might want to stop by for a salsa snack before starting your Art Detour adventure.
So, chow down on some salsa, then grab your bike and head east on the south side of Indian School Rd. to:
Collective Gallery @ The Artery, 623 E. Indian School
The Artery features work by many different artists, including pastels, paintings, photography, woodcuts, jewelry and more.
Studio 6 @ The Artery, 625 E. Indian School
Upstairs in The Artery are six studio spaces where artists welcome visitors to see works-in-progress.
After your visit to both spaces at The Artery, it’s time to head west on Indian School and south on Third Ave. to The Clarendon Hotel & Spa, 402 W. Clarendon.
The Clarendon Hotel & Spa lines its public spaces with the work of local artists and presents an annual art “happening” in May called ARTELPHX, featuring local visual and performing artists. For Detour, the Clarendon will be featuring large scale paintings by local artist Bill Dambrova in the lobby. And just off the lobby, you’ll find The Bolles Gallery, A Historical Reflection Space which commemorates Don Bolles, an Arizona Republic journalist who was murdered in the parking lot of the hotel back in 1976. So, stop by and catch up on a little of the dark side of Phoenix history. And, if you’ve worked up a thirst or an appetite, before you leave for the next location, you can get a drink and nibbles at Cafe Tranquilo.
After you’ve scoped out everything the Clarendon has to offer, hop back on your bikes and head south and west to Willo North Gallery.
MAP CORRECTION – There is a slight error on the Art Detour map that we need to address here. While it’s shown as an orange dot with a 32 on it, it is actually the dot for Willo North Gallery (#30) on Gallery list. It’s in the correct place, but the number is incorrect.
Willo North Gallery, 2811 N. 7th Avenue
This popular gallery is off the beaten track, but well worth the effort. It’s only a short bike ride from the Clarendon. For Art Detour the gallery will be featuring a solo exhibition of paintings by Fred Tieken called “For the Birds.”
The Hive, 2222 N. 16th Street
The Hive is an eclectic art space that is part shop, part studios, and part gallery and it is well worth the ride. The midcentury modern Hive is in the historic Coronado neighborhood and hosts unique shows throughout the year. During Art Detour they will be featuring work by local artists Thomas Breeze Marcus and Dwayne Insano.
For the TRULY adventurous – there is one more out of the way stop we have to mention: Gary Beal’s artist studio at 2030 N. 17th Avenue, North of McDowell and West of 15th Avenue. It’s a little off the beaten path and he didn’t make it onto the Detour map, but he will be open and if you are a fan of glass/sculpture, you won’t want to miss Gary’s work.
On the final leg of this part of your Art Detour adventure, you can ride back towards Central Avenue and head south to leave your GRID bike at one of the GRID lots along Central, near the Heard Museum or the Phoenix Art Museum. During Detour weekend, the Heard Museum will be hosting the 56th Annual Indian Fair & Market, a ticketed event and the Phoenix Art Museum will be hosting Devoured, a popular, sold-out local food event.
Burton Barr Public Library, 1221 N. Central Ave – Art Detour Park and Ride Trolley Hub
Just one block south of the Phoenix Art Museum, at the Burton Barr Public Library, you’ll find an Artlink Trolley hub, where you can jump on a free trolley and hit all of the great venues along the route. Trolleys will circulate throughout the downtown all day on both days. Waits at each stop are about 15 minutes between trolleys. There will be volunteers and maps to help guide you the rest of the way.
Enjoy Art Detour this weekend, both on the trolley and beyond. Discover how the arts can help “connect the dots” to your unique downtown adventure.
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To celebrate the Andy Warhol: Portraits exhibition that opens at Phoenix Art Museum on March 4, the public is invited to the Exploding Plastic Inevitable with live interpretations inspired by Andy Warhol from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, March 6 at the Museum.
- Light works
- Wooden Indian
- Four Chambers Press
- Liliana Gomez
- Yai Cecream
- Francisco Flores
- Jar of Buttons
- Tumble Tees
- Palabra | hair.art.collective
- Vintage fashions
Exhibitions on view:
- Andy Warhol: Portraits - $2 (only during the March 6 #phxff)
- Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester and The Power of Observation - $8 for Adults, $5 for youth 6-17 after 6 p.m.
- PLATINUM: Contemporary Photography – free after 6 p.m.
- Mysteries from Europe: Works by Unidentified Artists – free after 6 p.m.
- All That Glitters is Not Gold: Platinum Photography from the Center for Creative Photography – free after 6 p.m.
- Fashioned In America - free after 6 p.m.
- Sacred Stories and Images of the Buddha: The Vessantara Jataka Scroll - free after 6 p.m.
Phoenix Art Museum is one of four Artlink Phoenix First Friday Trolley hubs. Park and enjoy the Museum then take the trolley tour and explore all the downtown Phoenix arts and culture destinations. The Museum is conveniently located by the Central and McDowell Valley Metro Lightrail station.
Enter to win a Museum Membership:
- Share the party on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with the hashtags #Warholphx + #EPI for a chance to win a free Museum Membership.
- One winner will be selected and notified by March 13.
- Ernst & Young LLP
If you go
When: Friday, March 6, 6 to 10 p.m.
Where: Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85004
Admission: Free general admission
Downtown is more than a grid system of streets and square miles. It is an experience made up of the sights, sounds, feel and tastes unique to the place. In this short series, DPJ contributor, Colin Columna hones in on the five senses as his guide to explore the distinct qualities of downtown Phoenix.
Setting our sights on the Burton Barr Library, near the intersection of Central Avenue and McDowell Road, we visit one of Phoenix’s most invaluable, yet often overlooked, resources. The Arizona Room, located on the second floor of the eye-catching Will Bruder designed landmark, houses a meticulously curated collection of books, periodicals, journals, letters, maps and other materials relating to the city of Phoenix, the state of Arizona, and the geology, archaeology, and natural history of the desert Southwest.
The glass sided enclosure is a pre-Wikipedia time portal of first-hand accounts, primary sources, old school sleuthing and, due to the nature of the materials, writing in pencil. Within the archives are newspaper stories and handwritten letters of the westward facing pioneers, fortune seeking miners, prospectors and dreamers, and civic leaders and city boosters who homesteaded, staked out claims and labored to build a new city in the Arizona Territory of pre-1914 statehood.
Arizona Census data on mircofilm from 1870-1930 and extant city directories to 1892 provide researchers and genealogists with the names, relationships and addresses of early Phoenix households. Highly detailed citywide Sanborn maps of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, originally drafted for insurance companies to determine potential liability, today provide urban planners with insight into the historic platting of Phoenix’s streets and neighborhoods and the city’s population patterns of growth and mobility. Historic preservationists reference the maps to determine a building’s significance and historical context.
U.S. Army Headquarters records from Fort Verde, Interior Department territorial appointment papers and historic surveyor and topographical maps offer details into the government’s effort to gain control over Arizona’s challenging environment and Native populations. However broad the scope of the collection, each archival document adds to our understanding of Arizona’s progression from Territory, to admittance as the 48th state of the union, to today’s geographic ranking the sixth largest state in the country.
The foundation for the collection began with the 1934 bequest of the personal papers and photographs of James Harvey McClintock. Journalist, historian and member of the Rough Riders, McClintock’s life and exploits read like the stuff of a nineteenth century wild west dime novel. At fifteen, he joined a traveling circus headed for Phoenix and worked as a “barker” in front of the tents erected on an empty lot on West Washington Street. He directed this talent for creating “buzz” in tirelessly promoting his new hometown as President of the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, President of the Arizona Folklore Society, President of the Arizona Archaeological Society and State Historian. Energetic and ambitious he was member of the first graduating class of Tempe Normal School in 1887, also the town’s Justice of the Peace, one of the three surveyors of the future Roosevelt Dam site, lifelong friend with President and fellow Rough Rider Teddy Roosevelt and 25 year correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. As a journalist he reported on events as he lived them and as a historian he carefully archived all of the clippings.
Unlike the library’s Rare Book Collection, no reservations are needed to access the Arizona Room’s 33 linear feet of archival materials, which include the McClintock papers, 25,000 volumes, 2,500 maps, and 73 moving images. The room keeps the same hours as the library and is overseen by Arizona Room Librarian, Maria Hernandez. Possessed with an encyclopedic knowledge of the collection’s holdings and a storyteller’s gift for bringing history to life, Hernandez is more engaging tour guide than academic custodian. She describes the archives as an “ongoing project” and encourages the community to help fill in the gaps within its bookshelves.
“Personal history, family history is the history of Phoenix,” she explains. “High school yearbooks, community cookbooks help tell the story of what it was like to live here. They are valuable records and need to be preserved.”
Next spring the library launches an oral history project to record the memories and life stories of the people who are the life of the city.
“We want to hear from the voices of those who grew up in Phoenix during wartime, the Vietnam War era, who took part in our community’s civil rights movement. We want to hear from people who got up everyday and went to work, who lived their lives in Phoenix. Who remember Royal Wax Museum, who grew up cruising on Central. We want those stories. The city is based on personal experiences.”
If You Go:
What: Arizona Room
Where: Burton Barr Central Library, 1221 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona 85004
When: Open during regular library hours
Please Note: Due to the nature of the collection, materials may only be used in the room. Copying of most materials is available at 20 cents per page and pencils only may be used for writing. No food or drink is permitted in the Arizona Room.
All this talk about the Arizona Room at the library reminds us of a whole host of stories from DPJ’s own past. Check out our From the Arizona Room stories to learn more about the fascinating history of downtown.
Whether you prefer to immerse yourself in the holiday spirit or rebel against the trappings of the season, you’ll find your fun downtown with a few of Phoenix’s quirkier activities. Adults-only theater pushes the envelope with A Bloody Mary Christmas while unique Christmas light tours appeal to all ages, and puppetry and dance shows keep kids jolly.
Ballet Arizona offers the usual fairies and sugarplums at Symphony Hall with its spectacular, highly acclaimed production of The Nutcracker (through December 28), reinvented a few years ago by artistic director Ib Andersen. Tchaikovsky’s familiar music performed by The Phoenix Symphony can’t be beat, and a family four-pack includes parking, premium seats, a photo with the Sugarplum Fairy and hot cocoa.
If you prefer the music of a different Russian, try Snow Queen at Herberger Theater Center’s Stage West (through Dec. 21), choreographed by Frances Smith Cohen and presented by Center Dance Ensemble. Hans Christian Andersen’s tale comes to life with melodies by Sergei Prokofiev. Take a midday work break, buy or bring your lunch, and sample the Lunch Time Dance Theater option for only $6.
In addition to the occasional wickedly subversive 18+ puppet slam, Great Arizona Puppet Theater provides a steady stream of funny shows for children young and old. The Night Before Christmas (through December 28) features joyful music and stories.
For those who love cinema, FilmBar offers a glorious month full of movies in an intimate 70-seat venue with the added bonus of a beer and wine bar (alcohol with popcorn — what could be better?). December’s options include The Captive, The Babadook, Bad Santa and Free the Nipple (both on the Naughty & Nice Film Series), Awake: The Life of Yogananda, and the incomparable Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Foreign films include Luis Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel (El ángel exterminador) and Louis Malle’s Zazie dans le metro as a double feature. And don’t miss Opera at FilmBar — December 19 brings Gioachino Rossini’s La Cenerentola (Cinderella) from the Gran Teatre del Liceu, starring a sparkling Joyce DiDonato and the yummy Juan Diego Flórez.
The calendar’s packed at Crescent Ballroom, where Cocina 10’s food and drink are complemented by the stories of Chow Bella’s Eating Christmas (December 16). For a canned food donation you’ll hear food-themed tales of holiday adventure (for ages 21 and older). Otherwise, try “Life’s a Drag. Party Like a Queen” (December 18) with interactive games, “Truth, Drag or Dare,” and drink specials all hosted by Olivia Gardens.
Phoenix Theatre serves a full plate of seasonal cheer with Holiday Classics From Screen to Stage (December 18-21), when Arizona Opera singers croon holiday favorites from films like Elf, Miracle on 34th Street, Love Actually, A Charlie Brown Christmas and more. Vocalist Dennis Rowland takes the stage with the Greg Warner Project and special guest Diana Lee for the Holiday Jazz Cabaret (December 22-24) and a range of Christmas classics. And you’re sure to have a jolly holiday with Mary Poppins (through December 28), an eye-popping fast-paced feast of color, song, dance, and special effects including Valley favorite Toby Yatso as a tap-dancing, levitating chimney sweep.
Back in the realm of adults-only entertainment, Space 55 pulls out all the stops for the fifth year of A Bloody Mary Christmas (through December 21), in which Sun City retirees sing, dance, and battle a heartless homeowners’ association. Set to original music by Dangerville and Samson Says, Bloody Mary showcases Toni Jourdan, Lee Quarrie, Paula McKenny and Bob Peters. 7 Minutes Under the Mistletoe (December 20) gives local performers their seven minutes in the sun with an opportunity to do whatever they want — interpretive dance, dinosaur burlesque, competitive doughnut eating, action figure battles…even naked stage magic. Who knows what you’ll see?
Other Space 55 shows include Storyline: A Winter’s Tale (December 19), part of a monthly storytelling showcase, and Resolutions! A new show for an old year (December 31), a good warm-up for your New Year’s Eve party or downtown’s Flannel Ball.
“Hip Historian” Marshall Shore brings a big yellow school bus to The Clarendon Hotel as the launch point for his Christmas Lights Tours (December 16, 18 & 23). “We cruise through Phoenix, Tempe and Mesa,” says Shore. “I curate for the most jaw-dropping displays that I can locate.” Join in the caroling and live music with your very own kazoo (provided), or sit back and enjoy Shore’s talents as a storyteller while you see commercial, private home and religious displays.
If you go:
- Ballet Arizona: The Nutcracker (through December 28)
- Center Dance Ensemble: Snow Queen (through December 21)
- at Herberger Theater Center’s Stage West, 222 E. Monroe
- visit centerdance.com or call 602-252-8497
- Great Arizona Puppet Theater: The Night Before Christmas (through December 28)
- in the GAPT’s lovely renovated historic 1929 LDS 2nd Ward Church, 302 W. Latham
- visit azpuppets.org or call 602-262-2050
- 815 N. 2nd St.
- visit thefilmbarphx.com or call 602-595-9187
- Crescent Ballroom and Cocina 10
- 308 N. 2nd Ave.
- visit crescentphx.com or call 602-716-2222
- Phoenix Theatre
- 100 E. McDowell Rd.
- visit phoenixtheatre.com or call 602-254-2151
- Space 55
- 636 E. Pierce St.
- visit space55.org
- “Hip Historian” Marshall Shore: Christmas Lights Tours (December 16, 18 & 23)
Schedules are subject to change. For more holiday diversions visit DowntownPhoenix.com: