Blog Archives

Cities x Design made quick stop to Phoenix this weekend

Cities x Design is a 35-city trans-media research trip across the United States that is recorded online and will later be released in film, exhibition, and book form.  Their fifth stop was Phoenix.  Visit their website to learn more about their trip, express your opinion on your favorite metro Phoenix sites, and view pictures of places they visited here and along the way to their next stop, San Diego.

Nov. 23 event to launch 2nd book printing on noted Phoenix architect, Al Beadle

constructionspostcard[Source: Modern Phoenix Neighborhood Network] — Come celebrate the second edition of this highly sought-after and long out-of-print book.   Join us in a brunch hosted by Desert Living Magazine, Nancy Beadle, Eddie Jones, and Gnosis Ltd. to celebrate the book’s release.  Click here to RSVP.

  • Sunday, November 23, 2008
  • 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • 4450 N. 12th St., Phoenix, AZ 85014 (a Beadle building, of course!)

Committed to the ethics of the Case Study Program and the vocabulary of building with glass and steel, the late modernist Al Beadle brought Modern Architecture to the Arizona desert.  In 1993, ASU’s B. Michael Boyle and Diane Upchurch produced a catalogue to accompany an exhibit at the College of Architecture and Design which showcased Beadle’s work.  “Constructions: Buildings in Arizona by Alfred Newman Beadle” is the only written resource on Arizona’s own, revered architect.  It can be purchased at the Gnosis website.

Has Phoenix finally arrived? Feel the love.

[Source: Robrt L. Pela, Phoenix New Times] — In Jason Hill’s Phoenix, the sun never sets.  His paintings of the city — a vibrant Valley National Bank framed by a glowing sky; a dazzling Financial Center with a jet jauntily speeding past — are thousand-watt, high-color beacons that send the same, simple, not-so-subliminal message: Phoenix is cool.  Come see for yourself.

Laura Spalding’s paintings are more roundabout celebrations of our town.  Onto old Arizona license plates and tin trays, she paints skies cluttered with telephone poles and electrical wires.  Her cityscapes are testimonies to how amazing it is that Phoenix sprang up in the desert in the first place; homages to how it survived to become a prosperous, distinctive destination.

Georganne Bryant’s message is less subtle.  Onto black, cotton T-shirts that she sells at her midtown boutique, she has had a local T-shirt artist silk-screen this legend: Love Phoenix or Leave Phoenix.

Something has shifted.  Hill and Spalding and Bryant and dozens of others like them are having a public love affair with Phoenix.  They’re opening cafes and launching Web sites and creating art that speaks of their pride in a city that most of us have gotten pretty good at mocking.  Many of these folks would have us believe — and, perhaps, want to believe themselves — that we, the country’s fifth-largest city, have finally arrived.  That Phoenix has at last, after decades of false starts and near misses, awakened from a slumber that lasted way too long.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

National Trust officials tour Valley for possible 2012 conference

Kathy Adams and Lori Feinman of the National Trust for Historic Preservation flew into town last week to view Phoenix’s convention facilities; tour selected historic sites and neighborhoods in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe; and visit with area preservation advocates to determine Phoenix’s ability to host the 2012 National Preservation Conference.  Meeting them at Sky Harbor was Sally Forrest, National Accounts Director for the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Phoenix Councilman Michael Nowakowski welcomes National Trust representatives Lori Feinman and Kathy Adams. (Photo: Midtown Messenger)

The three lunched at the Hotel Valley Ho, one of the National Trust’s Historic Hotels of America, and then drove to downtown Phoenix to tour the Phoenix Convention Center, the Hyatt Regency and Wyndham hotels (two of the host hotels), and Orpheum Theatre. Barbara Stocklin, City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Officer, and Jim McPherson, Arizona Advisor to the National Trust, joined them for dinner at the Rose & Crown Pub in Heritage Square Park (a large outdoor venue that could serve as the opening reception for the 2,500-plus attendees of the 2012 conference).

Phoenix's historic Ellis Shackelford House was decked out in the colors of Arizona's state flag. (Photo: Midtown Messenger)

On Tuesday, Adams and Feinman started off the day by visiting the historic San Carlos Hotel and breakfast at Palette in the Roosevelt Historic District.  Then it was a “timed-to-the minute” whirlwind van tour of First Presbyterian Church, Security Building (and ASU’s PURL overlooking the city), Monroe School (Children’s Museum of Phoenix), Phoenix Union High School Buildings (University of Arizona College of Medicine), Steele Indian School Park, Heard Museum, and several midtown residential historic districts.

State Historic Preservation Officer Jim Garrison and Modern Phoenix Founder Alison King joined the group for lunch and tour of the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa.  Then it was off to drive by the Wrigley Mansion, and visit the Desert Botanical Garden, Gammage Auditorium, Pueblo Grande National Historic Landmark, and St. Mary’s Basilica.  Special guests “popped in” throughout the day to say hello, provide their perspective on preservation, and tout Phoenix as a conference site: Attorney General Terry Goddard (Palette), State Senator Debbie McCune Davis (UA College of Medicine), City of Phoenix Council Member Greg Stanton (Children’s Museum), attorney Grady Gammage (Gammage Auditorium), former Phoenix mayor John Driggs, and Arizona 2012 Centennial director Karen Churchard.

Dan Klocke (Downtown Phoenix Partnership), Charles Fortenberry (Southwest Association of Buffalo Soldiers), John Jacquemart (Arizona Historic Sites Review Committee), and G.G. George (Encanto Citizens Association). (Photo: Midtown Messenger)

Topping off the visit was a reception at the Ellis Shackelford House in downtown Phoenix.  Over 60 preservation advocates from all over the Valley (and Sierra Vista!), city officials, and downtown business group leaders attended.  A balloon arch, special signage, decorations, and flowers in the colors of Arizona’s state flag welcomed our guests from the National Trust.  City of Phoenix Council Member Michael Nowakowski, Garrison, Stocklin, Feinman, and McPherson said a few words, and the rest of the evening was spent enjoying each other’s company and dining on wonderful hors d’oeuvres from Catered by St. Joseph’s.  Gift bags courtesy of the State Historic Preservation Office and City of Phoenix were presented to Adams and Feinman, and each attendee received a small gift as well.

Remixing Phoenix

Pick up a copy of this month’s 944 Magazine Architecture + Design issue where you can read the editorial of Alison King, Founder of Modern Phoenix Neighborhood Network, about adaptive reuse in metro Phoenix.  One Oxford English Dictionary word you won’t read: “sustainability” — although the entire article is about it.  If you can’t find a copy around town, read the online version (click on Phoenix; then head to page 65).

Idea of the Day: Turning to t-shirts to spiff up downtrodden cities

Modern Phoenix

From time to time, we’ll throw out an “Idea of the Day” culled from sources here in Arizona and elsewhere.  The following idea was passed along by Brian Kenny and written about in a July 13, 2008 New York Times article, Turning to T-Shirts to Spiff Up Downtrodden Cities, by Catrin Einhorn.  Here’s what it’s all about:

As Jeff Vines pulls down the iron on the heat press in his small studio here, he is trying something far grander than simply searing another image onto another T-shirt.  The machine hisses, Mr. Vines opens it and sizes up his handiwork: a cotton weapon in his quest to revive his long-challenged city.  The St. Louis-themed shirts that Jeff Vines and his identical twin, Randy, make are not for tourists.  They sport neighborhood references and inside jokes unintelligible to those not from here.  Some easily offend, displaying profanity and raunchy innuendo.  But to the Vines brothers, their edginess is part of their mission for St. Louis — a place many of their friends from high school fled — to rehabilitate its image from the inside out and, ultimately, to make future generations want to stay.  “You have to get the people who live there to be the best advocates for the city, or else you don’t really have much,” Randy Vines said.  “So you need to change the psyche and change the way they see their own city.”

The Vines brothers, 30, are not alone in their effort.  In cities like Youngstown, Ohio, and Detroit, damaged by the decline in manufacturing and decades of population loss, entrepreneurs in their 20s and 30s are pushing back with the simple stuff of T-shirts, tote bags and soap.  Faced with condescending attitudes from outsiders and grumbling from many locals, they are determined to peddle in pride, and hope to convert others in the process.  “It’s reframing the identity of these places that have been misrepresented,” said Abby Wilson, a co-founder of the Great Lakes Urban Exchange, a new group dedicated to bringing post-baby boomers together to work for the health of postindustrial cities in the Great Lakes region.

The Vines brothers’ company, STL-Style, makes retro-looking T-shirts that extol and lovingly tease St. Louis; slogans include “My Way or Kingshighway,” and “Where the Mullet Meets the River.”  In Pittsburgh, Lindsay Patross, 28, offers T-shirts and aprons that read “Pittsburghers are tasty.”  At City Bird in Detroit, siblings Emily and Andy Linn, 30 and 25, make clocks, lamps, earrings and bracelets patterned with maps of their city.  Another company, Rusty Waters Apparel, sells skull-adorned T-shirts celebrating Youngstown, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.  A quote on the company’s MySpace page says: “Don’t mess with the underdog.  Rustbelt Warriors!”

Another Rusty Waters Apparel design depicts a downtown Youngstown building, the Home Savings and Loan, hanging upside down from the neckline, with birds flying around it.  “The fact that it’s upside down signifies the struggle that Youngstown has gone through,” the shirt’s designer, Kate Butler, 24, explained.  But the birds are flying right side up, symbolizing hope, she said.

These T-shirt makers know, of course, that their merchandise will not cure the deep-seated problems of their cities.  But they see them as one way to fight against powerful stereotypes, and consider them more authentic than city officials’ public relations campaigns.  Mark-Evan Blackman, chairman of men’s wear design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, said T-shirts can have a profound effect on social change, and that these shirts should not be underestimated.  “It’s saying we’re cool, we’re here,” Mr. Blackman said.  “We’ve not jumped out of the boat, this city is cool and we’re making it cooler, and look at us.” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]