This time of year is grand, ain’t it? Sandwiched in between weekends stacked with events is November Third Friday, an opportunity to quietly meander through the galleries of Downtown Phoenix. Grand Avenue is the perfect spot, offering a number of amazing art shows and spaces, as well as food and drink options to start or cap off your evening.
A good starting point is Bragg’s Pie Factory (1301 Grand Ave.), which features the insanely cool Trashy Sculpture show in its cavernous main room. Yep, it’s just like it sounds: Beautiful, one-of-a-kind sculptures made from yesterday’s scraps.
Gallery Marsiglia (1018 Grand Ave.), open from 5 to 9:30 p.m., is stuffed with art, of course, but will also feature a networking happy hour from 6:30 to 9 with Anna Weber, a consultant who can show you a thing or two about using technology to the utmost advantage for your small business.
Need a little musica? Right up the street is the Paisley Violin (1030 Grand Ave.), which is hosting a live music charity event called “Rock for Remedy!” Music starts at 5 p.m., but stay a while for a beer and one of Paisley’s impossibly tasty sandwiches.
The Phoenix Fall Space (1023 Grand Ave.), a quiet little gallery across the drag from Paisley, will be open from 6 to 10 p.m. featuring works from Jimi Girdner and Denise Fleisch. Then there’s the always edgy Deus Ex Machina gallery (1023 Grand Ave.), showing Michele Bledsoe’s “State of Grace” collection from 7 to 10 p.m.
A bit further south, step into Jordre Studio (1007 Grand Ave.) from 5 to 10 p.m., where painter Kyle Jordre splatters colors all over nearly every surface in the room.
An excellent corner to finish the evening is “Grandevelt” — the highly angular intersection of Grand, 15th Avenue and Roosevelt Street — home to the Kooky Krafts Shop (1500 Grand Ave.), Bikini Lounge (1502 Grand Ave.), Sweets ‘n’ Beats (1504 Grand Ave.) and The Trunk Space (1506 Grand Ave.), which is hosting a free artist reception with Michael Patterson (6 to 9 p.m.) and some good ole rock ‘n’ roll featuring Imaginary Colors, starting at 9.
Parking is available along any of Grand’s side streets.
“The old is new again” is the tagline of the 2010 Grand Avenue Festival, but don’t expect the same attendee experience at the second incarnation of this now annual festival. Sure, there will be the requisite funkiness of our diagonal westside highway — the examples of adaptive reuse, the fiercely local live music, the hole-in-the-wall shops, the vast array of artwork — but Grand is a year older and a year wiser, and will host a pretty slick shindig planned for Saturday, September 25. Since there is so much to see and experience throughout the entire day, activities are broken up by category for easy browsing.
PaisleyTown (at 11th Ave. behind the Paisley Violin Café)
10 a.m. to noon: Frequent Kings
Noon to 2 p.m.: Smoot Mahooty
2 to 3 p.m.: J. Miller
3 to 5 p.m.: James Cowden
5 to 7 p.m.: Plague Party
7 to 9 p.m.: Dead River Review
9 to 11 p.m.: Severe Ted
Paisley Violin Café (at 11th Ave.)
10 to 10: Jazz all day
Gallery Marsiglia (at 10th Ave.)
11 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Folk all day
Tilt Gallery (10th Ave. & Fillmore St.)
Noon: Rob Arpino
Phoenix Fall Space (at Taylor St.)
4 p.m.: Azul
7 p.m.: Douglas Littlefield
Bandstand at Oasis on Grand (15th Ave. & Roosevelt St.)
6 to 10 p.m.: CRISIS, Mark Nowichi, Janelle Sheppard
Deus Ex Machina (at Taylor St.)
7 p.m.: The Bliss Kickers
The Trunk Space (15th Ave. & Roosevelt St.)
8 p.m. ($7): Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, Michelle Blades, Otouto, Rough Tough Dynamite
Bragg’s Pie Factory, Jordre Studio, The Lodge, The Chocolate Factory, Deux Ex Machina, Palm Reader Pottery, Phoenix Fall Space, Serendipity, Urban Floral Art, Hugo’s Art, Lazy Lab Art Studio, Barry Sparkman Studio, Icaro Studio, Moderncat Studio, Studio 8, Chris Caufield Studio, R. Booker Studio, Sentrock Arts and Studio of Melinda Bergman will all be open during the festival. Consult the map below for locations.
Grand is full of examples of historic buildings that have been converted for modern usage. This year’s ReDapt tours examines buildings centered around the three-way intersection of Grand, Roosevelt Street and 15th Avenue, including the Rodriguez Boxing Gym, the Gonzalez Heating and Cooling building, La Luz Del Mundo Church and the “Grandevelt” complex, home to Bikini Lounge, Kooky Krafts Shop, Sweets & Beats and the Trunk Space. The tours will also stop at the future home of Oasis on Grand, the upcoming reincarnation of the old Oasis Motel. Tours are $10 and are scheduled for 8, 9 and 10 a.m. starting at Rodriguez Boxing Gym. Tickets are available on grandavephoenix.com.
The bizarre fashion shows were the talk of last year’s festival, and this year there is a full day of alternative fashion exhibitions that may just top last year’s craziness.
Devious Indie Fashion Experience & Fashion in Motion at ShopDevious.com, 2 to 6 p.m.
ShopDevious.com pairs its collection of wigs and accessories with locally designed creations and makeup artists with a live, rotating fashion show that starts at 2 p.m. Stick around for live comedy and poetry and a shopping expo all afternoon.
Urban. Unique. It’s All About U. at Soul Invictus, 5 p.m.
Handcrafted jewelry and accessories in a variety of styles paired with Gallery Marsiglia’s off-the-wall style.
Untrashed Recycled Rubbish Fashion Show at Bragg’s Pie Factory, 5 p.m.
Wearable fashions made from repurposed and recycled trash displayed alongside the Trashy Art Show, also inside the main gallery in the Bragg’s Pie Factory building.
Local Boutiques Fashion Show at Bragg’s Pie Factory, 7 p.m.
The latest looks from Phoenicia Association, Butter Toast Boutique, Blueberry Deluxe and Dragonfly Boutique with tracks from DJ Kris the Fist.
Local Designers Fashion Show at Bragg’s Pie Factory, 9 p.m.
Stop in to see original fashions in a standing-room-only capacity. Wicked Wear, Arte Puro, Wiskc, MLE Jean and Sticker Club Girl will be shown to the music of DJ Jared Allen.
You’re bound to get hungry (or thirsty). There are plenty of good spots around Lower Grand.
Asadero Torro (17th Ave. at McDowell Rd.), 10 a.m. to midnight
Azteca Bakery (7th Ave. at Fillmore.), 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Bikini Lounge (Grand at Roosevelt St. and 15th. Ave.), noon to 2 a.m.
Capitol Sports Bar (18th Ave. at Van Buren St.), 10 a.m. to 3 a.m.
El Mana (15th Ave. at McDowell Rd.), 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
El Norteño (7th Ave. at Roosevelt St.), 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Golden Moon (14th Ave. at Van Buren St.), 4 to 8 p.m.
La Canasta Capitolio (17th Ave. at Van Buren St.), 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Mel’s Diner (Grand at 17th Ave.), 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Oaxaca Restaurant and Cantina (15th Ave. and Van Buren St.), 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Paisley Violin Café (Grand at 11th Ave.), 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Sapna Café (Grand at McKinley St.), 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Valley Pizza (13th Ave. at Roosevelt St.), 11 to 11
Getting to Grand
The Lower Grand area encompasses Grand Avenue from Van Buren Street and 7th Avenue northwest to I-10. Parking is available along Grand and its various neighborhood side streets. For those light railing, the south side of the festival is approximately seven blocks west of Central Station, and the north end of the festival is approximately 15 blocks west of Roosevelt Station. Attendees are encouraged to walk, light rail or bike to the festival, if possible. If you are curious about transit along Grand Avenue, be sure to stop in to Motley Design from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. to learn about the proposed Grand Avenue Rail Project.
Kyle Jordre’s artist’s statement opens with “When I paint, I get lost.” He may get lost in his paintings, but they have helped him find himself and his place in Downtown Phoenix. Just a few years ago, Jordre was a middle school teacher in Minnesota. Today, he’s a well-known local artist who was recently named the New Times “Best Artist Who Colors Outside the Lines.”
Before moving to Phoenix, a high school drafting class was the only formal art training that Jordre had ever taken. His background is in primary education, a career he pursued for nearly a decade, teaching fifth and sixth grade social studies in a middle school in Egan, MN, a Minneapolis suburb. Needing a shift in perspective, he took some time off and moved to San Diego, then headed to San Francisco after landing a job as a corporate trainer for a Silicon Valley high-tech firm. After a few years in this field, including a brief stint in North Carolina, Jordre remained restless.
It wasn’t until he was renovating his North Carolina home in 2005 that Jordre stumbled upon painting. Needing a piece of art to fill a blank wall in his home, he picked up a canvas from a craft store, filled two plastic condiment bottles with paint and started splattering away. His hands ached for weeks afterward. But, it was worth the temporary pain, as it launched his career as an artist. The original piece now hangs in his parents’ home.
Jordre moved to Phoenix in the spring of 2006. He had visited on several occasions, and enjoyed the culture of First Friday art walks. While looking for houses, on a whim, Jordre asked his real estate agent if there were any art studios on the market. The agent showed him a small vintage building on Grand Avenue. Jordre knew immediately that this former grocery store-turned-art gallery was the right space, and Jordre Studio was born.
Since then, Jordre has progressed from creating art with condiment bottles to other kitchen implements such as wooden spoons, spatulas and serving forks. One tool he has never used, however, is a paint brush. Jordre uses his unconventional implements as a way to get a lot of paint on a canvas quickly, as he says doesn’t have a lot of patience and wants to see his work come to life in front of him.
As a rule, Jordre doesn’t name his paintings, nor sign them to indicate orientation. He “wants people to look at the art and react for themselves.” Leaving paintings unnamed allows for people to be drawn in and find their own meaning. Jordre feels this encourages dialogue, and ultimately broadens the meaning of his work over time.
Jordre has no formal training or connection to the art world. Far from limiting him, however, he credits it with his early success. “Not going to art school was a benefit to me,” he says. He feels that his lack of formal training has freed him to experiment and left him open to new ideas and methods that he may not otherwise have attempted. He jokes, “If I went to art school, I’d probably be painting with a brush!”
One benefit of being new to the art scene was that Jordre had no had no clue about how difficult it is to sell art. “If I did,” Jordre comments, “I would never have started.” He estimates that it takes at least 1,000 people viewing a piece of art to find the right buyer. That’s a lot of eyeballs. To attract them, Jordre participates in First Friday art walks, holds several shows each year and uses the Web and social media to market his work.
Another unique aspect of Jordre’s art is its sustainability. He makes every effort to reuse and repurpose materials in his work. All the paint he uses comes from the “oops” section in local paint and hardware stores. He also reuses the paint cans, turning them into sculptures, furniture or room dividers. An upcoming show, opening November 14 at the Sunrise Mountain Library in Peoria, highlights his dedication to the environment by asking, “What color is green?” He is promoting it using cut-up pieces of some of his paintings.
A self-declared introvert, Jordre has nonetheless channeled the educator in him to reach out and interact with his community. He says that as an artist, you need to take part in the a community to survive. To this end, Jordre views his gallery space as a community resource for others. Not only does he open his gallery on First Fridays, but he also allows other artists to use it for openings and receptions.
Jordre also uses his studio space to hold small workshops and retreats for friends, other artists and other small groups. During these sessions, Jordre talks about his work, how he creates it and his “no rule” approach. He then turns the participants loose with stir sticks, grilling forks, squeegees, spatulas and power drills on large group-sized and smaller personal canvases. Jordre enjoys these sessions, as they combine his education and facilitation background with his passion for painting. He has had great feedback from participants as well. Even the most reticent people end up enjoying these events, channeling their inner artists.
In addition, Jordre has donated several pieces of his art to local fundraising efforts. Some highlights include a 2007 Free Arts of Arizona ‘Chair’-ty Fundraiser, the “Diner in the Stacks” 2007 fundraiser for the Phoenix Public Library Association at the at Burton Barr Library, a “belly cast” to benefit the Phoenix Birthing Project and a Twestival fundraiser earlier this fall benefiting St. Mary’s Foodbank. This fall, Jordre will participate in two charitable projects: The Mannequin is our Muse Design Competition at the newly opened Barney’s in Scottsdale benefiting the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, and the All Decks on Hand auction at After Hours Creative benefiting the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center.
Jordre’s dedication to his community has begun to pay off. Recently, the city of Peoria purchased one of his paintings (and a pair of boots he wore while creating it). The painting (#117) now hangs immediate inside the newly opened Sunrise Public Library, and is the centerpiece of the building. A short video of the painting’s creation is available for viewing here. Next year, some of his work will appear in the Glendale Public Library.
Jordre is glad that he is part of Grand Avenue. He enjoys the energy and vitality that is building along the street. He also enjoys the fact that people are able to do their own thing, whether it be painting, other forms of arts or the many crafts-related galleries and stores that are popping up. As for the future of the street, he would love to see it live up to its full potential and is looking forward to its continued evolution. He admits that such an evolution is dismaying to some — noting that emotions and business don’t always mix. Nevertheless, Jordre asserts that like art itself, a successful arts district can’t be static; it needs to adapt to changing times and demographics. The challenge is finding appropriate ways of doing so, namely through encouraging small businesses, artists and entrepreneurs who can connect with a community in a way that larger business cannot.
Jordre Studio is located at 1007 Grand Ave. To schedule a studio visit, or for further inquiry, contact Kyle by email or by calling 602.254.6303.
After a week of mild (well, for September in Phoenix) temperatures, the mercury soared yet again just in time for the Grand Avenue Festival. Phoenix’s notoriously anti-conformist diagonal roadway, however, proved to be a worthy draw for thousands who braved the heat. From the Trunk Space all the way down Jordre Studio, the day was a scorching success. The lure of free snowcones probably helped, too.
As a group of about 25 people congregated on the grounds of the Tilt Gallery at 9:30 a.m., it was already 102º, but that didn’t stop them from crisscrossing Grand Avenue for an hour-and-a-half, learning about adaptive reuse processes in several key buildings that line the avenue.
The leisurely adaptive reuse tours slowly snaked northwest along Grand, popping in and out of buildings erected from the early 1900s to the 1950s — structures that were once groceries and mechanic garages that now house artists, office spaces and cafés. Three separate tours throughout the morning hours accommodated a total of 80-some people, each learning a bit about Grand’s storied past. At Jordre Studio, painter Kyle Jordre openly told attendees to head into his living quarters in back of his studio to see his “cute ruby red” (his words, not ours) bathroom. Up the street at Paisley Town, listeners heard tales of the colorful cottages moving from Papago Park to 17th Avenue to their final spot in the quaint courtyard.
As the morning rolled into the afternoon, most galleries and eateries were reporting strong foot traffic, often first-time Grand Avenue visitors. By late afternoon, side streets along Grand were lined with cars and bikes chained to fence posts. More than a few houses nearby were enjoying raucous parties, clearly welcoming the attention on the normally quiet avenues.
Music could be heard rounding nearly every corner. On the rooftop of the Loft, bands such as Bolt and Haunted Cologne rocked patrons sitting outside Sapna Café (which, by the way, had long wait times the entire evening). The PHiX hosted two stages: raucous indie bands inside the cavernous space, and the more subdued River Jones PRESENTS! stage just to the north of the building. A makeshift stage popped up in a lot next to Jordre Studio, while the Paisley Violin hosted tunes for 12 hours straight.
At the Bragg’s Pie building, a packed house came to see “trashy” art on display, and stayed into the evening hours for the recycled wearables and local boutique fashion shows.
It’s tough to say just how many people were on Lower Grand throughout the day, but the first Grand Avenue Festival was an undoubted success. We have something to build on for next fall’s festivities — Grand has once again proven that it is a relevant, important and constantly budding cultural landscape in Phoenix.
It’s a common refrain in the Valley that we have “no history.” This perceived lack of lineage has been used to justify the demolition of countless commercial and residential buildings, even entire neighborhoods. One area that has largely been spared from the wrath of the wrecking ball is Lower Grand Avenue, stretching from Van Buren Street to the I-10 freeway overpass.
Beneath its sometimes gritty façade, Grand Avenue has a long and storied past. Since the mid-1990s, this history has been dusted as many buildings are reverting from industrial uses back to the original small retail and offices that once lined this important connector to Wickenburg, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. An important factor in this renaissance has been the many innovative commercial adaptive use projects in the neighborhood. New owners have preserved parts of the existing vintage structures while making necessary concessions to the realities of modern life. The result is a varied collection of shops, galleries, cafés and living spaces scattered throughout the neighborhood.
Iconic urbanist Jane Jacobs famously said, “New ideas must use old building.” This adage is well exemplified along Lower Grand. The adaptive use of older commercial buildings has been an important factor in nurturing the small business community, particularly the arts. Many small, entrepreneurial businesses are attracted to the funky storefronts, affordable studio spaces and overall neighborhood character. Several of the gallery spaces have passed from artist to artist over the years, maintaining the affordability and fostering a new generation of creative minds.
On September 26, a handful of these adaptive reuse projects will be highlighted during the Grand Avenue Festival. During the morning, tours of six buildings are scheduled as part of the day’s many festivities. Tour stops include the following:
Tilt Gallery: This house, on the southeast corner of 10th Avenue and Fillmore Street in the Oakland-University Park neighborhood, was built in 1905. It was built of cast concrete blocks, fabricated from molds to resemble quarry stones. It was converted to an art studio and photography gallery in 2005. The current tenants Michelle and Melanie Craven contributed substantial sweat equity towards renovating the building, including stripping and refurbishing the hardwood floors, installing slate flooring in the rear of the gallery and planting desert-friendly plants in the previously all-dirt yard. Today, Tilt Gallery is a contemporary fine art gallery specializing in historical to alternative photographic processes and mixed media projects. The gallery features local, national and international works by emerging and established artist.
Jordre Studio: This small commercial building, at 1007 W. Grand Avenue, was originally built as a corner grocery in 1928. A year later, it was operating as both J.B. Johns Grocery and R.L. Mercer Meats. Local artist Kyle Jordre purchased this newly renovated building in 2006, originally constructed of lathe and stucco with a corrugated tin roof, and now uses it as a studio to produce abstract work that includes rich, colorful fields of paint with vibrant, bold textures.
Paisley Violin and Paisley Town: This commercial building, one of the few along Grand Avenue with a partial basement, was purchased by Derrick and Gina Suarez in 2004, who relocated their successful Paisley Violin Café there from its former site at Roosevelt and 3rd streets. Standing since 1925, this brick building is the very definition of adaptive use, serving as a grocer, furniture store, tamale vendor, radio repair facility, amusement sales and finally a veterinarian before its current incarnation as a café.
In 2007 the couple relocated six small World War II cottages to the backyard of the premises. They have converted them to colorful small business venues that house a hair salon, ceramic artist, vintage boutique, yoga studio and contemporary clothing boutique, with a florist on the way.
Motley Design Group: This modest building was constructed in 1957 as a transmission repair shop and was later used as a warehouse and workshop. In 2008, it was rehabilitated as an architecture and engineering studio for Motley Design Group, best known for its work in historic preservation planning and design.
Rehbein Grocery: Located on the corner of McKinley Street and Grand Avenue, the Rehbein Grocery is an excellent example of an early 20th century strip commercial building. It is one of the best remaining two-story brick strip commercial buildings in Phoenix. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. Today, the space is home to Shop Devious and Lodge Art Studio.
Bragg’s Pie Factory: This historic 1947 cast-in-place concrete building at 1301 W. Grand Ave was originally built by Alan Bragg and his wife, Elaine, for their expanding family pie business (formerly on Van Buren Street close to the state capitol). The building reflects an international style of modern architecture popular at the time (with few remaining examples left in Phoenix). The main, 4,500-sq.-ft. room in the 15,000-sq.-ft. building is capped by a beautiful steel bow truss roof. It is now home to Sapna Café and several offices and studios, including Modern Cat, Barry Sparkman Studio and Studio 8.
Tickets are $10 per person and can be purchased by calling Beatrice Moore at (602) 391.4016 or by visiting the festival website at www.grandavenuefestivalaz.com. Tour times are 8 a.m., 9:30 a.m. and 11 am and leave from Tilt Gallery at 919 W. Fillmore St. Tickets will also be available on the day of the event at Sapna Café, 1301 W. Grand Avenue. Proceeds from ticket sales for the guided walking tours will go to the Grand Avenue Merchants’ Association.