Grand Avenue Festival promises edgy fun in downtown Phoenix

[Source: Emily Gersema, Arizona Republic]

Photo credit: Diana Payan/The Arizona Republic

Alexis Ariana Hermosillo, 20, of El Mirage, is dressed in a pleated skirt of newspaper with a sweetheart top made of packaging paper. She crinkles whenever she takes a step, and as she tugs to pull the back together over her shirt, she asks her professor, “What am I going to do about the back?”

“Maybe it needs a bustle,” muses Melinda Bergman, an ASU West art faculty associate and artist with a studio in Citywide Studios, 701 N. 15th Ave. near Pierce Street, west of Grand Avenue.

Hermosillo, a senior at the Arizona State University West campus in Glendale, is one of Bergman’s 19 students who are turning trash into edgy fashion for the second annual Grand Avenue Festival on Saturday.

They, or friends who volunteer to model their trashy clothes, will take the runway for the “Untrashed Recycled Rubbish Fashion Show.”

The show is just one element of the all-day festival that celebrates artwork, music and businesses along Phoenix’s former diagonal streetcar route from Seventh Avenue and Van Buren Street to Linden Street and Laurel Avenue. The festivities kick off at 8 a.m. with a tour of old buildings made new by innovative developers. Tour tickets are $10 per person, and other tours are at 9 and 10 a.m.

Live music will kick off at 10 a.m. with the band Frequent Kings at the Paisley Violin Cafe, 1030 W. Grand Ave.

Kate Benjamin, a member of the Grand Avenue Merchants Association that hosts the festival, said business owners and artists started the festival last year to draw more people to the area, which is west of the more heavily frequented businesses that benefit from the light-rail ridership along Central Avenue.

Grand Avenue is used by many drivers to quickly escape rush-hour traffic downtown and head for the suburbs in the northwest.

“Our challenge with Grand Avenue is that’s such a thoroughfare,” said Benjamin, whose cat designer products shop, Moderncat, is one of the half-dozen studios housed in the Bragg’s Pie Factory, 1301 W. Grand Ave., near McKinley Street and 13th Avenue.

Grand Avenue has many surprises., 1229 W. Grand Ave., houses resale beauty items, including wigs, and a small-business center for computer repair. Soul Invictus Gallery & Cabaret, 1022 W. Grand Ave., is a combination theater and gallery.

The Trunk Space, 1506 W. Grand Ave., is full of art and handmade gifts. It also hosts performances.

The art studios and galleries along the avenue will be open to visitors throughout the festival.

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