Category Archives: Arts and Culture

Grand Avenue Festival, Oct. 20, adds more activities, amenities

Help plan Phoenix’s Art Detour 25; attend Sept. 15 community meeting

Among your First Friday options, consider The Great Paint Escape (Part Two), Sept. 7

Harder Development and Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona are proud to present an exhibition and silent auction to benefit Free Arts on Friday, September 7, at 335 W. McDowell Rd. Silent auction bidding will begin at 6 p.m. and end promptly at 9:30 p.m. Participating artists include: (Curator) Hugo Medina, Sebastien Millon, JB Snyder, Angel Diaz, Katie Beltran, Amanda Adkins, Colton Brock, Pablo Luna, Thomas Breeze Marcus, Gennaro Garcia, Lauren Lee, Isaac Nicholas Caruso, Kyllan Maney, and Aaron Johnson.

Background: Ashley Harder, President of Harder Development, hosted a community mural and painting project with a dozen local Phoenix artists and Free Arts youth on August 11, 2012. Kids worked side by side with artists to create a community mural on the building, as well as painted with artists on canvasses.

“Not a Plastic Bag: Artist-Made Tote Bags” exhibit, Sept. 21 to Nov. 3

[Source: MADE Art Boutique] – Why should we be concerned with single-use non-biodegradable disposal plastic bags? A 1,000-mile wide collection of discarded plastics, mostly blown from land, currently floats in the ocean in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. This island of discarded plastics is estimately to weigh over 18 million tons.

Thirteen local artists are recycling used plastic bags and creating tote bags in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. None will end up in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre.

  • Date: Opening Reception, Third Friday, September 21, 2012; exhibit to run through November 3
  • Time: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Place: MADE, 922 N. Fifth St., Phoenix AZ

Artist Janet Echelman named 2012 Architectural Digest Innovator

Janet Echelman in her Brookline, MA studio. (Photo: Bob O’Connor)

[Source: Architectural Digest] – Architectural Digest has announced their 2012 AD Innovators. “Whether experimenting with digital technology, transforming well-worn terrain, or rethinking ancient crafts, these eight cutting-edge talents are challenging received wisdom and conjuring a bold new world.”

Among the eight is Janet Echelman, designer of the public art piece, “Her Secret is Patience,” in downtown Phoenix’s Civic Space Park. “With her billowing public artworks, an ambitious artist is changing the very essence of urban spaces.”

Read the Architectural Digest article here.

State of Sustainability Forum

Flyer for DVC's State of Sustainability forum

PHOENIX, Arizona – A panel of local experts and Andrew Ross, author of “Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World’s Least Sustainable City,” will discuss the current state of sustainability in metropolitan Phoenix at a public forum on Tuesday, January 17, 2012.  The event, free to the public, will be held at the George Washington Carver Museum & Cultural Center at 415 E. Grant Street. Doors open at 5:30 p.m., panel discussion 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., audience Q&A 7:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., and reception with complimentary refreshments 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

RSVP on Facebook / Join DVC on Facebook

Panel moderator will be Charles Redman, Arizona State University (ASU) Virginia M. Ullmann professor of Natural History and the Environment and founding director of the ASU School of Sustainability. The current slate of panelists (with two to be added soon) includes:

  • Steve Betts, former president/CEO of SunCor Development and current Arizona District Council Chair of the Urban Land Institute;
  • George Brooks, NxT Horizon Group and sustainability consultant
  • Terry Goddard, former Phoenix mayor and former Arizona attorney general who now teaches a course at the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus: “Phoenix and the Art of Public Decision Making;”
  • Taz Loomans, architect and writer/blogger on sustainability issues;
  • Eva Olivas, executive director, Phoenix Revitalization Core
  • Andrew Ross, professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University.
  • Silvia Urrutia, director of Housing and Healthcare Finance, Raza Development Fund

According to Susan Copeland, steering committee chair of Downtown Voices Coalition, “Issues of sustainability are paramount to the future of Phoenix. Ross’ book is a great springboard from which to begin, or continue, discussion.”

The Downtown Voices Coalition is sponsoring the event with in-kind support from the Lexington Hotel in downtown Phoenix, Four Peaks Brewery of Tempe and the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center.

Bird on Fire” is available at Made Art Boutique, 922 North 5th Street in downtown Phoenix and at Changing Hands Bookstore at 6428 South McClintock Drive in Tempe. It is also available at Burton Barr, Cesar Chavez and Mesquite Branch libraries in Phoenix.

Downtown Voices Coalition is a coalition of stakeholder organizations that embrace growth in downtown Phoenix, but is mindful that healthy growth should be based upon existing downtown resources — the vibrancy of neighborhoods, the strength of the arts community, the uniqueness of historic properties, and the wonderful small businesses that dot downtown. For more information, visit

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Film screening to explore history, benefits of park development

A documentary on the urban park development movement titled “Olmsted and America’s Urban Parks” will be the subject of a free, public screening at Civic Space Park’s A.E. England Building, 424 N. Central Ave., on January 12, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. Doors open at 5:30. The documentary explores the park architecture of Frederick Law Olmsted and the evolution and history of urban park development in the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries. The event will also feature the TED talk short video by artist Janet Echelman about her work, including Civic Space Park’s signature art piece, “Her Secret Is Patience.”

Viewers also will be able to meet one of the filmmakers of the Olmsted documentary, Rebecca Messner, and participate in a short presentation and discussion on local and national Red Field to Green Fields initiative to convert economically depressed “red” private property (residential, commercial and industrial) into public park property “green.”

The screening is a presentation of No Festival Required’s Building Community Cinema series with the support of the Speedwell Foundation, the City Parks Alliance, Arizona State University, Butler Housing Company, Phoenix Community Alliance, Phoenix Parks Foundation and the City of Phoenix.

Work Begins on Grand Ave’s Oasis Hotel

[Source: Benjamin Leatherman, PNT’s Jackalope Ranch]

Soon-to-Be Artist-Friendly Apartment Complex

oasis hotel on grand.JPG

Photo by Benjamin Leatherman

​The old Oasis Hotel on Grand Avenue is getting a major makeover.

The permits and plans for renovation on the vacant motor lodge, at Roosevelt Street near Trunk Space and the Bikini Lounge, has been an ongoing battle for developers and architects. But work started on the lodge’s balconies last week, and plans for the currently seedy property include a hip apartment complex called Oasis on Grand.

Real estate developer Timothy Sprague (also behind Portland Place Condominiums) and his firm Habitat Metro are behind the $5 million project, which will create 60 affordable live-work spaces for artists and creative types.

Oasis on Grand will be similar, in most respects, to Holgas. Plans include a variety of studio and one-bedroom apartments that will function as both studio-galleries and living spaces. According to Sprague, the spaces will rent for $400 to $700, and more than a dozen of the ground-level apartments along Roosevelt Street can function as galleries open to the public.
“What we envision is that the artists on the bottom floor can turn their living rooms into personal studio-galleries,” he says. “I love the idea of seeing a bunch of new galleries opening along Roosevelt open every First Friday.”

caravan inn west.jpg

The Oasis Hotel during its days as The Caravan Inn West in the 1960s.hmdavid on Flickr

Sprague says the remodeling will take approximately six to eight months to complete, with a grand opening happening sometime in the late fall.

​The Oasis began life as the Caravan Inn West in 1960, one of the many colorful motor hotels that sprung up along Grand Avenue when the thoroughfare was the primary route for motorists to get from Phoenix to Los Angeles or Las Vegas.

It later reopened as the Oasis Hotel in 1971, but fell into serious decline over the next four decades, becoming something a seedy flophouse before closing down in 2007.

Sprague says that several “common area” spaces at the new Oasis will serve as a community-oriented studio and gallery, and there will also be tree-lined courtyard area for special events.

The adjacent Grand Corral restaurant and lounge will also be remodeled simultaneously, although it’s currently undecided whether the building will function as an eatery or bar.

Sadly, there are no plans to excavate the old swimming pool that dates back to the property’s days as the Caravan Inn West and has since became a parking lot.

“Sorry to say, the swimming pool will stay a thing of the past.”

NOTE: Tim is a member of the DVC Steering Comittee.

Phoenix Fringe Festival Returns to Downtown

[Source: Hannah LurieDowntown Devil]

The fourth annual Phoenix Fringe Festival, beginning April 1, is bringing off-beat performance art and unconventional theater shows back to the downtown area for 10 days. Many of the local performers are ASU alumni or current students.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Roth

For those seeking out of the ordinary entertainment in the next 10 days, Phoenix Fringe Festival may be the answer.

During the festival, 24 different nontraditional theater productions will perform in seven small art venues in the downtown area. Shows range from a reworking of Shakespeare’s Hamlet to a play about zombies to a musical about a divorce lawyer who comes head-to-head with the fury of Aphrodite.

Daniel Roth, the event’s director, said that students attending Fringe Festival can expect to have their boundaries pushed.

“We don’t have anything that’s safe really,” Roth said. “It will definitely make an impact. It will take you out of your comfort zone.”

Roth said the annual festival brings a unique atmosphere to downtown Phoenix.

“It’s a critical mass of entertainment downtown,” said Roth.  “It really transforms into a performance-art city.  You don’t get to see this kind of thing every day in Phoenix.”

Fringe Festival is not a concept unique to Phoenix, as  “fringe theater” is a common term used to describe unconventional theater shows and performances.

This is the fourth annual Phoenix Fringe Festival.  While smaller than it was last year, Roth said festival-goers will benefit from a scaled-down approach because it will be easier to get from one show to another.

“It allows the festival to run better,” Roth said.

Roth said that about half of the performers are local, but some have come from as far away as New York and Australia. Many of the local performers are ASU alumni or students who are graduating in May.

Van Rockwell, a 2010 theater graduate from ASU, is directing a show for the festival. This is the second year that Rockwell has directed a show and his first as a writer.

Rockwell’s show, “Oppressed: A Proclamation of a Maltreated Male,” will be performed on opening night at Phoenix Theatre next to the Phoenix Art Museum.

Part of Rockwell’s goal in putting on the show was to get ASU students and alumni involved.  Most of the actors and production people working in the show are either alumni or current students, Rockwell said.

Rockwell said he is excited about showing at this year’s festival because it is an outlet for creativity.  He said he feels like this show is “more suitable for Fringe” than his previous one.

“It’s innovative because people have a chance to do something they’re really passionate about,” said Rockwell.

Fringe Festival starts on April 1 and runs until April 10.

Contact the reporter at

Want to get a better idea of what performances to expect at Phoenix Fringe Festival? Watch the Downtown Devil’s video package of last year’s festival here.

Arts center brings Latino culture to life in downtown Phoenix

[Source: Emilie Eaton,]


The Arizona Latino Art and Cultural Center, on Adams and Second streets, was founded in December 2009 to help represent Latino culture in Phoenix. (Kristin Fankhauser/DD)

A center for Latino art and culture located in downtown Phoenix creates its own world for visitors to enjoy art, entertainment, dancing, workshops and above all, culture.

The Arizona Latino Art and Cultural Center, on Adams and Second streets, houses an art gallery, a gift shop and a performance area. Galeria 147, the name of the art gallery, sprawls across three rooms, each dedicated to different themed shows or artists.

The center sits across the street from the Phoenix Convention Center and in comparison looks deceptively small. In reality, the center is approximately 5,000 square feet, which accommodates private art studios and offices for numerous artists who volunteer or showcase their artwork at the gallery.

The center was founded in December 2009 when a group of people recognized that Phoenix was lacking a Latino cultural center.

“Latino culture and Arizona did not have a focal representation. There was an Irish cultural center, there was an Asian cultural center and a Native American cultural center,” said Mario Mendia, the center’s operation coordinator. “In spite of (Hispanics) being the largest minority in Arizona, there was not a Latino art and cultural center.”

Mendia learned of the aspirations of the group and began volunteering in the months approaching the grand opening.

“I was so impressed with the vision of this project that I remained throughout the last several months, which is about 12 or 13 months,” said Mendia.

The center is currently hosting an exhibit showcasing the journeys of Cuban artists. “The Dream And The Time II” features 50 Cuban artists and will be open until April 30.

The opening reception for the exhibit was held in early March and featured Cuban festivities, food, live music and art.

The center is also currently featuring an exhibit by Carlos Rivas, a local artist who also volunteers at the center. Rivas discovered the center while walking through downtown Phoenix taking photographs and has been volunteering at the center ever since.

The center hosts several other events and receptions throughout the year that feature art, music, dance, film and theatre.

“It’s almost like Disneylandia,” said Mendia.

Recently, George Yepes, a renowned artist who has been featured in over 30 museums across the country, and Gennaro Garcia, a prominent artist from the southwest, completed a two-man show.

Christopher Plentywombs, an 18-year-old Native American artist, created an exhibit of dresses made from newspapers that can be worn. The center hosted an event where models showcased Plentywomb’s fashionable art.

Another prominent exhibit at the center was “SB 1070 – An Artist’s Point of View.” A group of local artists put together the 30 piece show expressing their thoughts on the controversial law. The center also devoted a hallway in the gallery for the public, who were encouraged to create their own art or express their own opinions on SB 1070 on the walls.

“We’re a non-partisan organization, and so we try to be very open to all issues and different points of view,” Mendia said.

The center has also held a Latina Author Night, an exhibit by Latino Native American veterans and an exhibit honoring the virgin of Guadalupe.

The center faced daunting odds in the days approaching its grand opening in December 2009. Founders and volunteers had about three to four weeks to prepare the gallery, the performance area and the gift shop with what Mendia described as “an impossible budget.”

“When we opened up, we had no pencils, no chairs, no brooms,” said Mendia. “No anything.”

In addition to preparing the gallery, which had no lighting, the volunteers had to curate a 30 piece show featuring Arizona Latino artists. Somehow, the volunteers managed to do it.

Volunteers and donors have been a vital aspect in helping the center grow and expand, Mendia said. Target executives, for example, saw a list of the center’s needs in the days approaching it’s opening and donated everything on the list.

Mendia, who worked as a teacher for several years, has been active in expanding the educational and community outreach of the center. The center has hosted educational workshops for elementary schools and hopes to do similar activities in the future.

Artwork from the center is currently being exhibited in buildings on ASU’s downtown campus.

In October, November and December, the center will host three Native American artists from Mexico. Each artist will hold workshops and presentations for the public and students. This program is “phase two” for the center, which includes, among other things, an emphasis on education.

The center also hopes to put on a Colombian show.

Exhibits at the gallery are not exclusively traditional Latino art. The center showcases new-aged art with little Latino influence. Also, several non-Hispanic artists exhibit traditional Latino art.

All of the exhibits in the gallery are for sale. Profits from the exhibits benefit the center, Advocates for Latino Arts and Culture and the individual artists.

The center encourages ASU students to attend receptions and events. Student membership for the center costs $10 a year, which qualifies students to attend special events and to exhibit artwork. General membership for artists and the public costs $25 a year.

The center also rents out it’s facilities for events and meetings. The sense of spirit and culture that other locales lack is provided by the center as companies can also take advantage of the featured performing artists.

Mendia believes both ASU students and the general public would enjoy the many activities the Arizona Latino Art and Cultural Center offers.

“We’re open to everybody who would like to celebrate Latino culture and it’s many facets,” Mendia said.

Contact the reporter at