His friend is actually an art project that displays 26 Downtown Phoenix blocks from the perspectives of 52 local writers and photographers. It debuts Friday at After Hours Gallery.
Although the project has helped bring the community together, Parks says he wasn’t trying to accomplish that, or anything else, really.
“The project feels like a friend; someone I just met at a coffee house,” he says. “There’s this great person and I just want to introduce him to everybody.”
Parks adds, however, that he hopes the project will get people to look at each block from a different perspective and change their attitudes, which, he says, is how people start to change their cities.
Parks developed the abstract idea for 26 Blocks last October, but it really came together and launched in late November after his best friend passed away unexpectedly.
“I just felt like there’s no time to be afraid,” he says. “All of those ideas that were disconnected were suddenly on fire.”
He began pitching his idea to Phoenix-based writers and photographers, inviting them to be a part of his vision. He started with a few people he already knew and asked them for the names of other talented writers and photographers in the area until he had 26 of each.
“The amazing part was that I’d pitch them and I’d do all this research, and every time they’d write back and they’d say, ‘This is awesome, sign me up.’”
The photos, which are 24 inches by 36 inches, are suspended from the ceiling by steel cables with the 12-inch by 18-inch writings attached underneath. Twenty-six waist-level cinder block stacks are also part of the display, with each stack holding one of 26 wood cubes created by sculptor Rafael Navarro. Parks says the cinder blocks represent the concept of building blocks. He chose the number of city blocks for the project based on the 26 children’s building blocks, A through Z.
The project also incorporates monthly contests from now until the end of the year. Contestants will choose one of the blocks to write or photograph. The 52 project contributors will select two winners every month, a writer and a photographer, who will each receive a prominent spot on the 26 Blocks website with a biography and a headshot. At the end of the year, the public will vote to determine the grand winner, who will join the end of the tour (at another gallery to be announced) and be featured in the 26 Blocks book.
The project has inspired Parks to consider more projects in the future so he can have more friends like 26 Blocks.
“This person is great. I want more friends like this and not exactly the same,” he says. “I want to surround myself with other projects that are equally stimulating and equally challenging for me.”
Parks, who has never done an art show before, says he feels like he can do anything that is just as big as this project as long as he can find a way to set his ideas on fire and box up his fear.
“All you need is an idea that’s really interesting that you can get people excited about, and all you need other than that is just evidence that you can pull off the different components.”
26 Blocks debuts Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. After Hours Gallery is located at 116 W. McDowell Rd. (light rail station at Central/McDowell) in Willo.
The Arizona Diamondbacks return to Phoenix from a very long road trip as they prepare to face some more challenging teams. The first matchup of the weekend includes the power-hitting offense of the Milwaukee Brewers with Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. The two teams combined have hit a total of 71 homers to date as they prepare for what analysts look to be a home run derby. Short of a triple play and stealing home, there are not many things as exciting as seeing one hit out of the park.
After winning the series in Colorado and struggling in Chicago, the Diamondbacks were able to come back to take three of four against a sub-par Houston team. Wins continue to be important as the team heads home to face the Brewers and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers expect to have Manny Ramirez ready for the series against the D-backs. Ramirez is currently playing in San Bernardino, CA, for the Class A Inland Empire 66ers in preparation of being placed back on to the roster.
Some of the highlights of the week include Dan Haren’s 10th complete game of his career, and Kelly Johnson was named the player of the month for April. Johnson, who comes to Arizona from Atlanta, was expected to have a breakout year this year. In April, just the first month of the season, Johnson already boasts better stats than all of last year.
Despite some troubling times with the bullpen and their current place in the standings, there has been plenty to be pleased with about the D-backs in 2010. Don’t forget that Friday night is fireworks night at Chase Field, and on Saturday the first 15,000 fans will receive baseball caps courtesy of Sports 620 KTAR. On Sunday, the first 5,000 moms will receive a D-signer tote bag for Mothers’ Day. Until next week, continue to show your love for your elite local teams and remember to show your D-backs some love.
Last week’s games
04/30 — Cubs 11, D-backs 5
05/01 — Cubs 7, D-backs 5
05/02 — Cubs 10, D-backs 5
05/03 — D-backs 9, Astros 1
05/04 — D-backs 1, Astros 0
05/05 — Astros 4, D-backs 2
05/06 — D-backs 6, Astros 3
This week’s games
05/07 — Brewers @ D-backs, 6:40 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona
05/08 — Brewers @ D-backs, 5:10 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona
05/09 — Brewers @ D-backs, 1:10 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona
05/10 — Dodgers @ D-backs, 6:40 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona
05/11 — Dodgers @ D-backs, 6:40 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona
05/12 — Dodgers @ D-backs, 6:40 p.m., Fox Sports Arizona
Previous week’s games
4/29/10 SUNS 99, Blazers 90
5/03/10 SUNS 111, Spurs 102
5/05/10 SUNS 110, Spurs 102
This week’s games
05/07/10 Suns @ Spurs, 6:30 p.m., ESPN
05/09/10 Suns @ Spurs, 5 p.m., TNT
05/11/10 Suns vs. Spurs, 7:30 p.m., TNT (if necessary)
It has been 17 years since the Suns have been in the position they are in right now. The year was 1993. Charles Barkley was the new kid on the block that just moved into a brand new house, then known as America West Arena. The Suns were up 2-0 on the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Fast-forward to 2010, and the Suns are finally back in that position. After an impressive 110-102 win Wednesday night, the Suns have a commanding two-game lead over the heavily hated Spurs in their second-round playoff match-up.
The Suns were able to jump out to the 2-0 series lead with one of the most impressive wins I’ve ever seen from the team. With most of the focus coming into Wednesday on the Suns’ decision to wear their “Los Suns” jersey partly in an effort to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and partly to protest Arizona’s new immigration law, Phoenix was able to overcome an off-shooting night and come away with the huge victory.
Despite playing the game at a pace that favored the Spurs and shooting a lowly 42% from the field (including a measly 34% in the first half), the Suns still managed to put up 110 points, the fifth time in five games against San Antonio that Phoenix has scored at least 110, and basically beat the Spurs at their game.
A lot of talk coming into this series was about how the Suns are too soft, not good enough defensively and too weak on the boards to seriously compete with the Spurs. Wednesday evening, the Suns made some doubters eat crow. The Suns came out and punched the Spurs in the mouth, absolutely dominating the glass. The final scoreboard shows Phoenix won the rebound battle 49-37, but honestly, it didn’t even feel that close. To offset their poor shooting night, the Suns out-hustled the Spurs to come away with 18 offensive rebounds. The Spurs had seven.
Jared Dudley has to receive credit for sparking the Suns in this one. His energy early in the second quarter really turned things around and got the Suns going. On one possession he actually picked up two and-ones, and they were both a result of pure energy. After the game, Spurs coach Greg Popovich snapped at a reporter when asked if he felt the Suns had more energy. Pop claimed both teams came out with equal energy, but that clearly was not the case. The Suns’ energy was a huge factor in this win. The Suns played like a desperate team down a game.
On Friday, the series shifts to the Alamo City, with the Suns and Spurs both in unfamiliar territory. However unfamiliar, though, I think I could get used to this.
On Twitter? Use the #ScorchTheSpurs hashtag when talking anything Suns!
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.
1611 W. Fillmore St. in Oakland Historic District
The Oakland Historic District is a wedge-shaped grid of neighborhood streets bisected by Grand Avenue’s 45º posture, and many simply do not realize the great history tucked just west of the iconic highway. In the heart of the district, near 15th Avenue and Fillmore, is the Judge Tweed House. It was finished in 1881, making it one of the city’s oldest remaining structures, and the oldest building From the Arizona Room has featured thus far.
The house is unassuming enough, on a strictly residential part of Fillmore away from the bustle of Grand in a quiet old neighborhood. The home, one of the biggest in this historic district, has clearly been taken care of, as it does not look its 129 years. Second Empire style, it is two stories (a rarity in this neighborhood) with a wood frame and stone foundation. The home is surrounded by mature foliage and a vibrant green lawn, other atypical sites in these parts.
Wood shingles line the hip roof, but this is one aspect of the home that needs some TLC. The gabled dormer on the roof line’s second story remains a quaint touch from the past, and the garage, tucked around the corner, is still fully functional.
Of course, there is the name, Judge Tweed. Tweed was the associate judge of Arizona at the time of building. He purchased a 160-acre homestead with his riches, and starting building the home in 1880. He sold it in 1882, but the name stuck. The home was later occupied from 1926-1935 by John Woodmansee, one of the subdividers of East Oakland, which eventually would become part of this very historic district.
Source: Phoenix: Nineteenth Century Architecture. Survey by Woodward Architectural Group, June 1991.
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.
Residing in the Garfield district has its odd assortment of perks. First off, you are guaranteed to hear mariachi music at odd hours of the day, usually late into the night. Second, there is no need to go to the pound to pick up a dog, as they seemingly run rampant in the streets, and my yard in particular. Third, we do have, in my humble opinion, one of the hidden gems in the Phoenix restaurant scene, the Welcome Diner.
This place hasn’t actually been open in some time, because some crazy person decided to hit it with their car — not a drive-thru, dawg. Seriously. So, I have been in a befuddled and depressed state for some time. I am anxiously awaiting its reopening, sometimes driving by just for the heck of it. When I was informed that the Welcome was opening its doors for a special event hosted by MFTasty, I could not get dressed fast enough to get over there. Honestly, I didn’t even look at the menu… not that I could have seen it through the tears of joy filling my eyes.
My white and red, nine-seat palace shined like a beacon of hope for my aching heart. I strolled in and plopped down on my favorite light blue stool (who am I kidding, they are all my favorite) and nostalgia set in. I could still smell the hand-cut fries and the greasy amazingness that was the Welcome Diner burger.
My daydream was interrupted by the MFTasty menu that slid under my nose. Moderately startled, my eyes raced down the page to see that my choice was not going to be easy. Duck sausage “hot dog” with white truffle aioli, cinnamon shrimp tacos, BLT with cured bacon and fried green tomatoes, grilled cheese with cheddar and muenster and, my selection, Mexican Coca-Cola BBQ pulled pork sandwich with avocado all graced the glorious, pig-logoed page. They did not make it easy on me. I could have eaten anything on that menu. I’m still wishing that lunch was longer.
I kind of splurged and realized it when my pulled pork sandwich came. I ordered hand-cut sweet potato chips and caramel-apple coleslaw to go with my succulent sandwich. Diving in, I was instantly in BBQ heaven. I am seriously hoping that my afterlife involves being surrounded by mounds of this juicy, tender pork that has obviously been marinated in what all Southerners consider life blood, Coca-Cola. The avocado had a cooling effect on the sandwich and helped make it the perfect consistency. The sweet potato chips did not last long. I devoured them as if someone were about to take them from me. Also, my caramel-apple coleslaw was just as amazing as it sounds.
My journey to the Welcome Diner was definitely a success. MFTasty opened the doors in a great fashion. Apparently, they are doing monthly events in different places, so I suggest that you hit up their website and “Join the Club” to find out about treating your taste buds right. As for you, Welcome Diner, I trust that you will return to me one sweet day.
The Welcome Diner is located at 924 E. Roosevelt St. in Garfield — 602.495.1111