Blog Archives

Red Bull Manny Mania closes down Roosevelt Row (on purpose)

On First Friday, more than 5,000 fans packed downtown Phoenix, Arizona, to get a glimpse of Red Bull Manny Mania, the amateur skateboarding competition based on ‘the manual,’ a skateboarding trick similar to a wheelie.  Thirty locals tried their hand, with Ryan Lay coming out on top.  To view the full video, click here.

First Fridays art walk expands to downtown Phoenix’s Heritage Square

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Circa 1900 in downtown Phoenix's Heritage Square.

[Source: Rebecca Clark, Special to the Arizona Republic] — On the nights of the First Fridays art walk, the normally quiet streets of downtown Phoenix are packed with nouveau hippies offering free hugs, Scientology protesters next to Scientology promoters, and street vendors selling everything from aprons to jewelry.  Men and women of all ages, all walks of life and from all over the Valley are drawn in by fire breathers, live bands and, of course, art.  But sometimes, amid the blocks of mayhem near the Roosevelt Row arts and shopping district, the night can seem less about art and more about an “art scene.”

That’s why Artlink, a non-profit downtown Phoenix arts organization, has partnered with the Rosson House Foundation and Phoenix artist Sean Deckert to bring a calmer, quieter, completely art-focused element to First Fridays in Heritage & Science Park, south of the Roosevelt Row area.  “People who come to downtown only for First Fridays get the wrong idea,” said Deckert, who is program coordinator and co-curator of the First Friday expansion to Heritage Square.  “On First Fridays, it is like the state fair has come to town.  There are people selling ice cream cones and T-shirts, and amidst all of that, there is an artist showing and trying to sell his own work.”

That’s why vendors and certain kinds of street performers will not be allowed in the intimate historic space near the Arizona Science Center and Pizzeria Bianco.  Instead there will be an outdoor gallery showing six to 10 artists each month, and Deckert said that number will increase as the area develops a reputation for art.  [Note: Read the full article at First Fridays art walk expands to downtown Phoenix’s Heritage Square.]

Find more First Friday galleries, smaller crowds north of downtown Phoenix

[Source: Jennifer McClellan, Arizona Republic] — The off-the-beat locations of the galleries between Thomas and Camelback roads mean not as many people visit as at the Roosevelt Row and Grand Avenue areas of the art walk.  But for those looking for a specific type of art, the northern galleries are easily accessed by using the light rail or free First Friday shuttle.

Practical Art, just off the Central/Camelback light-rail stop, deals in “usable and functional” art, owner Jane Reddin said.  Each month, the gallery features a different Arizona artist trying to break into the art scene.  Reddin said she tries to make her gallery accessible to everyone, and never charges a fee to see the operative artwork…

Exposed Studio and Gallery, a stop on the north route of the free shuttles, shows a variety of provocative artwork.  “We show erotic artwork that other galleries are afraid to show,” said owner Gregg Edelman.   “Everything here is one-of-a-kind…”

Cuervo Studio and Gallery, on Thomas Road a few blocks from a north-route shuttle stop, specializes in Latino artwork… Artist-in-residence Martin Moreno creates sculptures and other art inspired by his community while running the studio with his wife, Sylvia Hernandez-Moreno.  Along with exhibiting artwork by local and national artists, Cuervo offers public art classes.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Downtown Phoenix gallery raided on First Friday for allegedly selling booze illegally

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Phoenix police officers stand in front of UM Gallery on Friday evening (photo: Jonathan McNamara, Phoenix New Times)

[Source: Benjamin Leatherman, Phoenix New Times] — Things got a little crazier than usual during First Friday in downtown Phoenix this past weekend after Phoenix police officers raided UM Gallery (the Fifth Street art space run by local hip-hop promoters Universatile Music) on charges of serving beer and wine without a permit.  The incident started just after 10 p.m. when about a half-dozen officers shut down the gallery’s First Friday celebration, pulling the plug on a few DJs spinning hip-hop music outside on the porch in the process. The cops then detained five members of the UM posse that were inside, including promoter Reuben Martinez, artist Jules Demetrius (who’s artwork was on display), and Dusty Hickman (who also goes by the DJ handle Pickster One).

Martinez later told me that they were serving cans of PBR and cups of Charles Shaw wine (a.k.a. “Two Buck Chuck”) to patrons in exchange for a “recommended donation” to help support the gallery.  Hence, he claims that they weren’t in violation of state liquor laws.  The cops obviously disagreed, as Martinez, Demetrius, and three others were cited for selling booze without a permit (which is a Class 2 misdemeanor).  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Latino artists increasing their profile on Phoenix First Fridays

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — When the Valley’s marquee monthly art walk returns today, it will include several spaces showcasing Latino artists.  The events range from an Arizona State University exhibit to start-up galleries that focus on Latino art.  First Friday, the monthly self-guided tour of downtown Phoenix art galleries and spaces, is important to local artists because it brings thousands of visitors, and it exposes artists to throngs of people who may not have otherwise seen their work.

Friday’s events come as an arts group pushes to create a Latino museum and cultural center in downtown.  Advocates for Latin@ Arts & Culture want to raise $200,000 to open a small cultural center this year, but eventually plan to build a $10 million facility downtown.

Hispanic artists are becoming more visible on First Fridays, said Nydia Cortez, who opened Lo Nuestro Gallery in June.  “It’s a small but growing scene,” Cortez said.  The gallery at 736 W. Fillmore St. embraces art from a wide sweep of Latin American countries, including Cuba.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

ASU downtown Phoenix students to promote “Action, Advocacy, Arts” on April 3

Arizona State University’s “Action, Advocacy, Arts” will emphasize the strength of community dialogue and engagement through a series of free activities from 1:30 to 10 p.m. on Friday, April 3 at the Downtown Phoenix campus University Center, 411 N Central Ave. Highlights include:

  • 1:30 to 3 p.m. — A Civil Rights Forum featuring national Native American rights leader John Echohawk, who has been called the “Thurgood Marshall of Indian Law.”
  • 3:30 to 5 p.m. — Open discussions led by experts on current civil rights and social issues, including immigration, health disparities, human trafficking and poverty in America.
  • 6 to 10 p.m. — An Urban Art Exhibition featuring four new mixed media collections and a celebration of the arts as ASU joins the First Friday Art Walk.

For more information, click here.

Midtown Museum District association to meet March 25

The Midtown Museum District Neighborhood Association will meet on Wednesday, March 25, 2009 at the Century Plaza Condominiums, Central and Osborn.  The meeting will start promptly at 6:30 p.m.  Vice Mayor Tom Simplot will be the keynote speaker.  After the meeting, there will be an opportunity to view the Century Plaza condos.

The next social event will be on Friday, March 20 at Switch, 2603 N. Central Avenue (just north of Virginia), starting at 5:30 p.m. followed by a short walk to the Heard Museum to enjoy their Third Friday event.  Tickets for Switch will be $9 per person for one drink and an appetizer buffet.  RSVP here.

Phoenix First Friday vendors change products to suit slow economy

In this Cronkite News Service report, vendors at First Friday in downtown Phoenix make changes to their product mix due to the poor economy.

March proclaimed “Phoenix Arts Month”

Every weekend during the month of March, arts events will be hosted in downtown Phoenix and surrounding neighborhoods, along with events, exhibitions, and performances on other days throughout the month.  In recognition of the local arts community and these public festivals, Mayor Phil Gordon has proclaimed March as “Phoenix Arts Month” and invites everyone to attend and celebrate.

  • March 7-8, Art Detour: The city’s First Fridays art walk of local galleries and art spaces organized by Art Link.  Free shuttles run beginning at Phoenix Center for the Arts, and take guests to destinations throughout downtown Phoenix.
  • March 7-8, Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market: One of the nation’s most acclaimed gathering of Native American artists. 
  • March 12-15, West of Western Culinary Festival: Celebrating Arizona’s chefs and culinary arts at the Phoenix Art Museum
  • March 15, Phoenix Art Museum: Spring exhibition “In Contemporary Rhythm” opens.
  • March 21-22, Valley Fever Art Festival: Phoenix’s newest festival celebrating visual and performing arts, including music, dance, poetry, theater, street painting, and more at Heritage Square.
  • March 28-29, Phoenix Fringe Festival: Innovative, experimental and provocative theater by local, national, and international artists.

For a full calendar of events during the month of March, click here.

Downtown Phoenix children’s museum offers First Friday free admission

[Source: Arizona Republic] — The Children’s Museum of Phoenix will offer free admission during the first Friday of each month from 6 to 10 p.m., thanks to a $50,000 sponsorship from Target Corp.  The free admission, which will be for the rest of the year, coincides with downtown Phoenix’s monthly evening art walk.  During First Fridays, visitors walk though neighborhood galleries, browse crafts from vendors, and hang out in local bars and restaurants.  The museum is at 215 N. Seventh St.