Archive for March, 2013

Sustainable Communities Lecture Series Discusses Prop 207 and the Fight Against Downtown Neglect

Friday, March 29th, 2013

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Photos by Alonso Parra/Lamp Left Media

Last week, another installment of the Sustainable Communities Lecture Series took place at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market. The topic of conversation was Proposition 207, titled the “Private Property Rights Protection Act”, a ballot initiative passed in 2006 intended to protect private landowners from government actions that may decrease property value.

I was unable to attend either of the last two panel discussions for this series , which is sponsored by Women Design Arizona and Blooming Rock Development. Thankfully, Tim Eigo, editor at Arizona Attorney Magazine has written about both at his blog. Compared to the previous panel, which took place in February and focused on water security, Prop 207 is considerably more esoteric, applying to landowners, developers, policy-markers and the like. However, the broad implications of this measure, it’s been argued, effect  historic preservation initiatives and the city’s ability to regulate land use, which in turn damages  Phoenix’s ability to overcome many of it’s current problems.

Eigo writes on his blog,

. . . As we sat in the empty lot of the Downtown Public Market, surrounded by food trucks and farm-to-table produce on a beautiful spring evening, I had to wonder.

That empty lot, and dozens of identical ones that surrounded us, are zoned for a pie-in-the-sky 500 feet of development. As Gammage pointed out, those massive structures will never be built in any of our lifetimes. And yet property owners hang onto these lots for generations, in case Phoenix suddenly morphs into Dubai.

In a Prop 207 world, panelists agreed, city leaders are unlikely to move to downzone anything, let alone declare a neighborhood historic.

For someone like me, who is young, idealistic, and has no knowledge of law whatsoever, these are very daunting topics. Walking around the city, observing everything from vacant lots and red-bricked llanteras to multi-million dollar projects like CityScape, I try to make sense of what seems to be a sporadic pattern of misguided sprawl. Our city bears the markings of poor design and development even for those not well versed in law or urban design. People like Tim Eigo and the Sustainable Communities Lecture Series, however, help to popularize these issues, making them more accesible to the general public. When topics like Prop 207 are presented in an inviting manner and discussed openly in a public forum, the city becomes that much less obscure, welcoming more people to get involved in what then becomes familiar ground.

Angel Diaz, Thomas “Breeze” Marcus, and JB Snyder on Think! Graphics

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

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Photo by Niba DelCastillo

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Angel Diaz, Thomas “Breeze” Marcus, and JB Snyder’s collaboration on the back of Think! Graphic’s location in Downtown Phoenix.

Beyond Buckskin Premiers New 2013 Lookbook of Native Fashion

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

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Beaded sunglasses by Candace Halcro

This past month, Beyond Buckskin released a first-of-its-kind lookbook featuring 17 Native designers from around the country. It was launched in Las Vegas during the Reservation Economic Summit, an annual event where Indigenous business leaders, entrepreneurs, tribal leaders, and corporate executives meet to help further develop American Indian Businesses. Bethany Yellowtail, a Crow and Northern Cheyenne designer based out of Los Angeles describes her feelings at the launch,

It’s such an honor to be a part of this milestone in documenting native fashion and to join forces with the most talented & creative native people from across the nation. Everyone involved has the same vision and that is to be progressive for indian country and to reclaim our imagery and representation.

On her website, Dr. Jessica Metcalfe, creator of Beyond Buckskin, describes the importance of this release.

This book has historical significance. This is the first time that such a large group of Native American fashion designers have come together for one photoshoot, and the book features striking images from this shoot alongside text pertaining to artist bios and quotes for an overall sophisticated publication that documents Native fashion being created now.

This book will be used to highlight the professionalism of Native American artists and designers, and to encourage customers, leaders, and business partners to invest in Native-made fashion and art as forms of economic development in Indian Country. The project also presents Native-made fashion as strong visual forms sovereignty as it pertains to reclaiming Native representations in mainstream media.

Beyond Buckskin’s lookbook is available for $20 on their website, where you can view more products and blogposts.

“The Joe and Jan Show”, Curated by Robrt Pela at 335 Commons

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

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This past weekend for Third Friday was the last public viewing of “The Joe and Jan Show” at 335 Commons, curated by Robrt Pela and hosted at the pop-up gallery by Ashley Harder of Harder Development. The exhibition has been the focus of a considerable amount of media attention after it was unexpectedly cancelled in January by Kristin Shears, owner of Willo North Gallery, where it was originally to be held. The cancellation prompted accusations of censorship, largely perpetuated by a Huffington Post article.

Barry Graham, an author based out of Portland, OR, documented the strange sequence of events that resulted after the cancellation on his website. Shears’ reasons for canceling the show only days before the opening was that Pela, whose resignation was due to go into affect after the opening, left her  unprepared and unable to continue as scheduled. However, as Graham shows on his website, Pela had given notice of his leaving weeks before and eventually released his resignation letter, which revealed Shears’ mismanagement of Willo North to be the cause.

In his letter, Pela writes,

“Perhaps some of the interns will stay, and the work I’ve done to create an audience for Willo North is one you can continue to build on, for sure. But I’m tired of showing up to find my work undone, or re-done, and I’m embarrassed to have to keep asking that you communicate with me about what’s going on, when clearly you don’t wish to.”

Despite the controversy that proceeded it, 335 Commons provided a wonderful space for the humorous depictions Arizona’s two most recognized politicians of modern day. A complete list of artists involved include: Kristin Bauer, Peter Bugg, Chary Castro-Maria, Eric Cox, Jeff Falk, Todd Daniel Grossman, Vincent LaRue, Annie Lopez, Melissa McGurgen, Annette Sexton Ruiz, Irma Sanchez, Chris Swanberg and Paul Wilson.

 

The “Dreamy, Ethereal Quality” in Rose Clement’s Photographs

Friday, March 15th, 2013

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At the risk of revealing too much, I have a soft spot for the natural environment. This is what immediately drew me to Clements’ work and the interactions she captures between the subjects and settings of her photographs. Having recently received her B.S. from NAU in Flagstaff, a place filled with the beauty of Arizona’s Ponderosa Pines, Clements’ eyes have grown attuned to the humbling effect that vast natural landscapes have when placed next to simple human affairs. There is an element of curiosity and light-heartedness that comes out, which I consider refreshing when juxtaposed with the inauspicious and foreboding traits commonly ascribed to nature by popular culture. Our films and books are filled with stories of characters who meet unfavorable ends due to the mistake of equating nature’s beauty with benevolence, yet Clement’s photographs show us that this is no mistake to make. The playfulness and curiosity invoked by natural settings is matched by the world around us.

I am a very dynamic person. I get bored easily and constantly crave change, but photography has always been a constant part of my life. As a kid, when my dad bought my family our first camera, I remember it was magical to me. I had always made art, but taking pictures was instantaneous. I could make something in a split second. Gradually, it changed the way I looked at everything, it was transformational. I’ve always been bad at explaining myself and talking is often very awkward to me, but photography is a way of communication that is effortless and natural. I graduated with my degree in photography this past May. I’ve been assisting for established photographers since then, and working on getting some exhibitions here in the valley before I make my next move.

I love that photography gives me the ability to change the way realities are perceived. It makes me feel like my camera gives me a supernatural power in a way, and so my work often has a dreamy, ethereal quality. I am also very inspired by people. I am very interested in emotions, reactions, and relationships between people– they fascinate me. Portraiture is definitely my favorite area of photography. Most of the photos I take involve people in natural settings, and my style often tends to be photojournalistic. I like the honesty and authenticity that spontaneous portraiture provides. I am always aware of a scene’s photographic possibility, always looking for the next shot. My camera is my third eye.

This quote from Ryan McGinley sums it up: “You have to be able to observe life as if you were a camera all the time, constantly looking at light and the way that things are placed and the way people hold themselves. You need the ability to see something in someone or something that no one else really sees and be able to bring that to light.

Rose Clements

View more from Rose at her website here

“Urban Hieroglyphics”, First Studio’s Art Detour Event in March

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

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Photos from “Urban Hieroglyphics”, First Studio‘s show hosted during Art Detour weekend in March featuring solo and collaborative works by Lalo Cota, La Muneca, Angel Diaz, Nomas, Niba, and Rosie T.

Phoenix Taco & NativeThinking Present: House of Wong at Long Wongs, March 30th

Friday, March 8th, 2013

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On March, 30th, the last Saturday of the month, Phoenix Taco & NativeThinking will be hosting “House of Wong”— a unique night of electronic music by up and coming DJs at Tempe’s Long Wong’s Fire House. Long Wong’s has become recognized as a staple in the Tempe music scene, hosting live acts with no cover nearly every night of the week. However, in the spirit of innovation and the desire to bring you the best that our creative scene has to offer, I’ve teamed up with NativeThinking (Eric Estrada of Walkingstick Presents) to fill a gap, long gone unfulfilled, in Tempe’s nightlife.

We’ve recognized that many people, both artists and audience, have become discouraged by the lack of  electronic house acts in Tempe that aren’t suited for the frat-infested crowds of Mill Avenue or Scottsdale’s clubs. So, we’re excited to give the opportunity for people to enjoy the more mellow sounds House of Wong’s DJs have to offer. In addition, we’ve also invited Phoenix-based Sunorus to start the night off with their jazz-infused, Latin-based ensemble, so make sure to show up early to witness the range of acts featured throughout the night, the likes of which are rarely seen in Tempe.

View more info, including links to artist’ pages, at House of Wong’s Facebook event page

 

Apache Skateboards Presents “What Tribe?” at Sagrado Gallery During March’s Art Detour

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

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Photos by Chancey Teholatanek and Phoenix Taco

For March’s First Friday event during Artlink’s Art Detour weekend, The Sagrado hosted “What Tribe?”, curated by Douglas Miles of Apache Skateboards. What Tribe? exposes and comments on the plethora of racial Native American stereotypes widely embraced by popular culture. Images appearing in the show are often found in Victoria Secret advertisements, popular social media sites like Tumblr, or in the portfolio of any established tattoo artist. Headdresses, dream catchers, and teepee’s were in abundance, as well as historical figures like Geronimo, who have become popularized as universal archetypes of Native culture.

In most contexts, these symbols are irrelevant to Native art, applying only to specific tribes that popular culture has homogenized into stereotypes and generalizations. For the artists in What Tribe?, these references of Native culture are presented with a hint of mockery, as if to reclaim their meaning, like in Thomas Breeze Marcus’s installation of teepees grouped together with the words “Slum Village” written above. This work and others like it are a powerful testimony to the fact that Native American resistance to outside influence continues into the 21st century. To visit a reservation in the United States is  to visit what would be considered a third world country by other standards– rates of unemployment, sexual violence, and disease soar astronomically above the national average. When considering the reality of today’s Native American communities, it’s understandable that Native artists like those in “What Tribe?” would fight against stereotypical representations of their culture that reflect nothing of the true circumstances.

Still, other artists showed work that contained little, if any overt traces of their “tribal” background, like in Sam Gomez’s photographs featured above. When asked, he explained  that one of the photographs featured was taken on the San Carlos Apache Reservation during a community event, but there is no obvious indication of this. The photograph is of a young man in a group as his eyes unexpectedly meet the camera– a quick look into a sincere moment of daily life as captured by Gomez. More than ridicule stereotypes, What Tribe? presents the works of talented artists like Gomez who strive to perfect their medium, irrelevant of any designation as “Native”, proving that these artists will have the last say in who they are.

A list of artists featured in the show:

Eriberto Oriol / Photographer – Los Angeles, CA
Mike Miller / Photographer – Los Angeles, CA
Lyncia Begay / Painter – Flagstaff, AZ
Rye Purvis / Painter – San Francisco, CA
Sam Gomez / Photographer – Phoenix, AZ
Thomas Breeze Marcus / Painter – Phoenix, AZ
Werewulf Micah Wesley / Painter – Norman, OK
Jasmin Rosales / Photographer – Norman, OK
Brandan Odums / Painter – New Orleans, LA
Jonathan Nelson / Artist – Santa Fe, NM
Luke Dorsett / Photographer – Phoenix, AZ via Japan
Douglas Miles / Mixed Media Artist – San Carlos, AZ

 

For more, visit the What Tribe Project facebook page and Apache Skateboard’s website

 

Casey Cooper’s Floating Scultpures During Scottsdale’s Canal Convergence in February

Monday, March 4th, 2013

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Photos courtesy of One Speed: Go!

Through the months of January and February, the City of Scottsdale hosted Canal Convergence, a series of events centered around a routine draining and cleaning of SRP canals at the Scottsdale Waterfront, the likes of which are not scheduled to occur again for another seven years. Artists were invited to participate with public arts projects, including water-like creatures painted on the side of the canals from artists Isaac Caruso and Ashley Macias. The above photos feature Casey Cooper‘s contribution to the project, where he constructed buoyant triangle structures made of inflated steel.

To view more of Casey Cooper’s work, visit his website here.