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Local First AZ to Celebrate Independents Week June 29 – July 6 with Events, Discounts, Contests, and More
In recognition of National Independents Week, Local First Arizona (LFA) will honor locally owned and independent businesses across the state from Sunday, June 29, through Sunday, July 6. The nationwide Independents Week campaign, coordinated by the American Independent Business Alliance and also known as “Indie Week,” takes place during the week of Independence Day with the purpose of enlightening consumers to the importance of supporting local businesses.
This year, Local First Arizona is hosting a series of events in the Phoenix Area to celebrate Independents Week. The first event was Phoenix Independents Bowl on Sunday, June 22, at Let It Roll Bowl and Entertainment at 8925 N 12th St, in Phoenix. This bowling tournament brought together local bands, independent businesses and fans of Arizona’s local scene in a battle to determine the best bowlers in Phoenix.
On Wednesday, July 2, Local First Arizona is hosting a special Downtown Dinner with Pizza People Pub and the Phoenix Art Museum. The event starts at Pizza People Pub, where attendees will sample delicious food. Attendees will get to meet the owners and hear from special guest Phill Weddle, one of the architects behind the Hance Park redevelopment efforts. Next, attendees will head to the Phoenix Art Museum for a special tour of the Hollywood Costume Exhibit, featuring over 100 costumes from Hollywood films over the past century. Cost to attend is $20 per person, which includes food at Pizza People Pub and entry to the Hollywood Costume Exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum. Registration is open to the first 100 people.
Local First Arizona will also be holding their second annual Indie Week Pub Crawl on Thursday, July 3. Attendees will be visiting locally owned pubs around Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row. Pub crawlers will visit several bars where they’ll enjoy drink specials and local trivia for fun prizes. More details to come on the LFA website and Facebook page.
Modified Arts’ upcoming gallery show will feature local artists Douglas Towne, Jeremy Rowe, and James Angel, who will be displaying works related to the history of Phoenix and Phoenix’s local business community. The show can be viewed during July’s First Friday on Friday, July 4, from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The gallery show opens on Friday, June 20, at 6:00 p.m.
In addition to these events, there are other ways to participate in Independents Week and celebrate local businesses, including the return of the Golden Coupon (good for 20% off at participating Local First member businesses), contests, and more. Individuals are encouraged to check http://localfirstaz.com/independents-week/ for updates as they are made available.
An appointment with a lawyer is not usually an outing on par with a trip to an art gallery. Yet within the legal offices of The Law Offices of David Michael Cantor in downtown Phoenix, prepare to leave behind your preconceptions about stuffy law offices decorated with mundane posters or black and white photographs.
When you exit the elevator and walk through the firm’s glass doors on the 18th floor of CityScape, you are confronted with an 8’ x 12’ foot mural painting of Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio entitled When Pigs Can Fly, which Attorney David Cantor commissioned from then local artist Robert Anderson in 1997. The brightly-colored painting, known throughout the office simply as Tent City, depicts the Tent City jail in downtown Phoenix. It has become such an established focal point to the office that its image is emblazoned on the complimentary water bottles given to guests.
For Cantor, the bold conversation piece is integral to the spirit of his practice and Cantor is clearly proud to have When Pigs Fly displayed so prominently. The Cheshire Cat peering down from the top of the painting at the ruckus below reminds Cantor of the cat he owned at the time, and he notes that “the nose [on Arpaio] is very distinctive, and Robert [Anderson] told me he did that on purpose.”
While approximately 60 of the more than 100 paintings, drawings and prints in this avid collector’s possession are on display throughout the offices, this is not a corporate art collection. Cantor acquired each piece over the past 25 years personally, and many have transitioned back and forth between his office and home.
Cantor estimates that 90 percent of the collection is comprised of local Arizona artists. With the exception of one or two, all works in the collection were created by living artists.
Cantor buys a piece because he likes it. “It’s personal, it’s not value driven.” Working without an art advisor, and a casual, but not close relationship with many of the gallerists and artists, allows Cantor full control over his collection, which includes a number of provocative political works.
Somewhat counter intuitively, the more outlandish pieces are on display at work, while the less salacious works stay in his private residence. “I’m a criminal defense lawyer,” Cantor says by way of explanation. The paintings are not merely decorative pieces to fill conference room walls, but pieces rife with social commentary. “It’s personal, but we display a lot that’s relevant.”
Asked if any artwork has offended a client, Cantor dismisses this notion.
However, one painting, Colin Chillag’s It is a Fearful Thing to Love What Death Can Touch (of “The Girls Next Door,” an E! reality TV show about the Playboy Mansion), was deemed unsuitable for the average visitor, and now resides back by the IT desk.
Other paintings, like Eric Cox’s Sheriff Joezo and The Wicked Witch of the Southwest, both purchased from R. Pela Contemporary Art‘s “The Joe and Jan Show,” or a yarn portrait of Governor Jan Brewer, Brewer? I Don’t Even Know Her…, by Todd Daniel Grossman, are scattered throughout the office.
Brian Boner’s Theft Balloon and Disappearance, both from 2004 and displayed as a diptych, depict a less overt political message. Both were purchased during a First Friday art outing. “Boner’s garage was open and he was working on this piece and I said I’ll take ‘em.”
Cantor’s life as an art collector began in law school in 1987 with a print by Olivia De Berardinis, inscribed to him by the artist, “To David, Good Luck in Law School.” He bought a second piece right after that, by Patrick Nagel, and a collector was born.
While he does not have a formal art education, he relies on magazines like Art in America and ARTnews to keep him informed, as well as visits to local museums when he travels. He frequents downtown galleries like Modified/Arts, Eye Lounge and R. Pela Contemporary Art, whose recent show, “Banned at the Herberger,” Cantor cites as a recent favorite.
His collection is united with color and figuration. “That’s the theme. A lot of these either have faces of a human or an animal, or it’s color. Fauvist. Almost everything has color. Even the so-called muted colors aren’t really that muted.”
The literal translation of fauve is “wild beast” and refers to the early 20th century art movement of brash, bold colors and apparent brushstrokes. It is the focus on brightly pigmented colors that shows the Fauvist influence in Cantor’s collection. A reinterpretation of “wild,” which includes socially progressive subject matter and outlandish presentation of some of the central figures is central to his collection as well.
The collection, as well as the office space, is constantly growing. Every office has at least one framed work on its wall, all curated by Cantor. Office inhabitants rarely get a say as to the art on their walls. Throughout the hallways, paintings reach towards the ceiling and the rare blank wall is merely a space that has yet to be filled.
Behind the reception desk—and directly facing Tent City—is another rare commissioned piece, this one a copper fountain by Gary Slater. It provides a sense of tranquility with undulating earth tones setting a serene scene. The juxtaposition of this subdued piece with the brashness of the Arpaio mural enables Cantor’s duality, as a lawyer and art collector, to shine through. This collection of bold work by talented local artists’ uniquely embodies his personal aesthetic sensibilities, as well as the rich scope and quality of contemporary art being produced in Phoenix today.
As an independent chronicler of all things downtown, DPJ takes a comprehensive approach to covering the urban living movement in Phoenix and, with this Conversation series, spotlighting the people who make it move.
“I picture myself with my hands on the butt of an elephant.”
Kimber Lanning wears several hats. She is owner of Stinkweeds, an independently owned and operated music store and website, physically located at Central Ave. and Camelback. She is also the executive director and driving force behind Local First Arizona, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting and celebrating locally owned businesses throughout Arizona. A former board member of Roosevelt Row, she most recently was named to the board of Downtown Phoenix, Inc. by Mayor Greg Stanton.
The first challenge to interviewing Kimber is finding a sliver of time when she’s not busy doing at least three things at once. We managed to pin her down for an hour at Stinkweeds, and she gave us a peek inside her thoughtful and highly practical perspective on how to stimulate and sustain a vibrant downtown. We sat with her on the floor while she sorted a huge collection of used records she’d just received from a single collector. As she sorted and priced the vinyl, we listened.
Kimber’s dad was transferred from Okinawa, Japan, where she was born to Luke AFB when she was just nine months old. She and her brothers grew up on Min Takaguchi’s farm at 59th Avenue and Northern. Her earliest memories of downtown Phoenix are of going to concerts at Veterans Memorial Museum and to Suns games; a field trip to Shamrock Farms, where she got to eat ice cream in a little cup with a wooden spoon; and her “best of memory of all,” a 2nd grade trip to the Phoenix Art Museum to see the Alexander Calder exhibit. For years after she made mobiles (with the help of her dad) for everyone she knew.
“Suddenly then-mayor Skip Rimza threw open the door and pointed at me. ‘You!’ he said, ‘I’m giving you 10 minutes to get this organized.”
Her earliest involvement with downtown came as a musician, playing drums at Metropophobia and Peter Petrisko’s Gallery X. In 1999, she opened Modified Arts in the old Metropophobia space on Roosevelt and it was at this point, she says, “my whole life changed.” Soon after, she heard rumblings about the potential of a new arena being built in that area and she decided to go to a City Council meeting to listen and learn.
“I showed up to the City Council meeting, not really knowing what to expect.” When she got there, the arts community was outside artfully protesting. “Suddenly then-mayor Skip Rimza threw open the door and pointed at me. ‘You!’ he said, ‘I’m giving you 10 minutes to get this organized.’”
That was the beginning of her downtown activism.
She believes that the most significant changes in the last decade have been adaptive reuse policy changes. Mayor Gordon put her on the Development Advisory Board, and it was at that table that she began to learn the details of building codes and to understand what policies were making it difficult for small businesses to succeed. It was there she began to formulate strategies for how to make the changes that needed to be made.
“It was hard to see from the outside, but one of the biggest problems was that the Development Services Department back then was all cost recovery, which meant they had to balance their budget with fees and whatnot. That created an entire culture at the city. Because of the need to balance their budget, they loved big huge developments – it’s easier at the counter because it’s new construction and brings in more fees.” (Since that time, Development Services has been blended into the Planning Department. There are still some cost recovery elements.)
But that need to balance their budget made it nearly impossible for the small business owner to succeed.
We need to create more touch points for visitors and get more creative about connecting people to everything going on downtown.”
“In comes the guy with the wine bar in an old house,” she went on. “What are the staff thinking? ‘He’s not bringing in fees, he’s taking all our time, and we can’t balance our budget. If we can’t balance our budget it will mean layoffs.’ So, wine bar guy means layoffs. You can’t see it from the outside, but once you understand it, you can apply pressure to make changes, draw attention to the flaws in the system, and develop strategies.”
It takes time to get under the surface and understand how a policy might have unintended consequences that can squelch growth. It takes patience to find the root, and to make the necessary changes. As Kimber puts it, “I picture myself with my hands on the butt of an elephant.” She has persevered indeed, and last fall, in recognition of what she’s accomplished, she was awarded the Distinguished Citizen Planner award from the Arizona Chapter of the American Planning Association.
For Kimber, Downtown Phoenix, Inc., is significant because it represents the first time that large and small institutions are being incorporated together to plan the future of the city. She sees her role on the DPI board as an opportunity to “underscore the not-so-obvious connections between the fine-grain, place-making stuff, and economic development.”
“To continue to grow the vibrancy of downtown,” she said, “it is critical to find ways to connect downtown to the people who work there but do not live there. We need to create more touch points for visitors and get more creative about connecting people to everything going on downtown.”
When asked what she thinks people do not know about downtown Phoenix that they should, she answered, “Twenty years from now people will look back on this as the era of the entrepreneur. Right now, we’re in it.”
You may have noticed that increasingly downtown Phoenix galleries are opening their new exhibitions on Third Fridays. This Third Friday (tonight) brings a much-anticipated show at Modified Arts, featuring new work from 3CarPileUp, a downtown Phoenix artist collective since the 90’s, featuring originating members Randy Slack, David Dauncey, and James Angel. For 14 years, 3CarPileUp has presented the Annual Chaos Theory exhibition featuring over fifty local creatives.
As a part of the 3CarPileUp exhibition, local film and video artist Perry Allen (a periodic contributor to DPJ) will premiere his new animated work, “Town of Product.” In 2012, Allen was awarded an Artist Project Grant Distinguished Merit Award (that’s a serious mouthful!) from the Arizona Commission on the Arts to create this piece, which premieres tonight.
“Town of Product” is an animated installation using still image advertising from the 80s to create 24 hours of life in a suburban town, complete with people that move down streets, peek in windows, and shop; breezes that ruffle trees, in world that interacts. Perry Allen digitally animated the project to reflect this 24-hour cycle then sped it up to screen in 24 minutes.
“There was kind of an interesting documentary element to the project,” said Allen. “I put out a call to my network of friends and contacts looking for examples of print advertising and people started sending me all these magazines from the 80s. I didn’t start with a focus on that time period, that’s just what happened.” The ads that Allen used came from the leading mainstream, pop culture magazines of the time – such as Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, Vogue and Cosmopolitan, to name a few.
Every element of the town comes from the ads Allen discovered in the magazines: houses, trees, people, cars, and buildings. “There’s no storyline,” says Allen. “It’s more of a meditation on time and place, on our consumer culture and suburban lifestyle as it looked thirty years ago.”
To make it even more interesting, Allen was inspired by a conversation with Kimber Lanning to project the video onto the windows of Modified instead of an interior wall. In this way, the installation will be visible from both inside the gallery and to the people passing by on Roosevelt Street. Should be pretty cool!
The exhibition runs through June 7.
If You Go
Where: Modified Arts, 407 E. Roosevelt
When: Friday, May 16 through Friday, June 7
For more info: 602-462-5516 or Facebook
I have buried my sketchbook under books on polar exploration, a plant-based diet and the concept of space in the age of the internet. When I enter my studio space, I take a moment to stare frighteningly at the scattered, messy desktop buried under unopened mail and a few dirty coffee cups. I am haunted by Facebook posts of artist friend accomplishments and the reflection it has on my inactivity.
This is the frozen desert of being at an artistic standstill.
Like pressing on through a frigid, barren landscape with no clear end to the steady, repetitive horizon: the days of inactivity and unmeasurable creativity continue. For many artists, this is when we start to look at whether it might have been better to study as a Latent Print Examiner or follow a more practical career as an accountant. Maybe some have even fantasized about the seemingly simple life as a heavy machine operator or bus driver. Imagine the satisfaction of completing an honest day of work and settling in to relax in the evening.
This possibility is as remote as a constantly shifting magnetic pole and as unappealing as an unseasoned bowl of polenta. Any artist who has attempted this shift in career due to a temporary lack of inspiration soon finds out that they are floating in a virtual world of non-ideas. It is not the world they are cut out for.
Unfortunately, the artist is beset with the drive to produce and put something in to the world. Although one might be able to sit back and be distracted, distraught and disengaged, the pull to act keeps nagging like hunger. I can’t ignore forever that there are thoughts in my head and I am compelled, like an explorer was to the open sea, to find out more about it.
It is time to get out. When in the darkest moments of intellectual despair, sometimes it’s better to turn outward. Luckily, Phoenix has answered with a repertoire of activities to foster ideas, import information and maybe most importantly: generate human contact. Tuesday night Lawn Gnome hosts Books and Beakers, a weekly “bringing science to the people” event on the subject of Time Dilation Theory and more remotely local interdisciplinary artist Chris Danowski opens his show Dogface at the ASU West, Artspace West Gallery. Friday I can visit the multi-media installation by Ann Morton at Modified, Jackalope Ranch’s Manifesto exhibit at Drive-Thru Gallery and the Valley of the Sunflowers Paper Project at Combine Studios.
With so many options to turn outward, I have no reason to fall further into the crevasse of my own artistic inactivity. Instead, I can revel in the collective ability for others in the community to lift me up through their own action and energy and realize that I will get mine back in time. The desert, even in its cold state, need not be bleak.
Suggested reading: The Race to the White Continent: Voyages to the Antarctic by Alan Gurney; Below the Convergence: Voyages Toward Antarctica, 1699-1839, Alan Gurney; City of Bits: Space, Place, and the Infobahn, William J. Mitchell; Thrive Foods: 200 Plant-Based Recipes for Peak Health, Brendan Brazier