Category Archives: Phoenix community

Overall comments and happenings in Phoenix.

ASU Art Museum Film Festival

ASU Art Museum's Annual Film Festival: the turnout

ASU Art Museum's Annual Film Festival: the turnout

Last night was the 13th annual ASU Art Museum Film festival. The turnout was great —  50+ (edit: 1000+ so much for my ability to estimate crowds) people with lawn chairs and blankets spread out over the museum’s architecture in the warm night.

Oh  yeah, and the films were great too. Entries from all over the country were presented back to back, and I liked every one. Film festivals always present a great opportunity to escape from the formulaic, perpetual echoing of film-culture. They really challenge people to both feel and think through the visual/audio presentation. You may not always understand pieces, but understanding isn’t what’s important — it’s the sensations they provokes.

I took the opportunity at intermission to shoot my first panorama, using my crappy little digital camera. I just free-handed it so the images didn’t line up perfecty, but some creative cropping fixed that. Above is the full image in a low-quality format for the web, and I’m trying to create a player that allows you to zoom and move around the image, but it’s not working yet — WordPress may not allow me to embed it without some serious fennangling . I like how it turned out though; maybe I’ll do more panoramas soon.

Advertisements

Civic Space Park opens

enter the vortex

enter the vortex

"Her Secret is Patience" hovers over the Cronkite School.

"Her Secret is Patience" hovers over the Cronkite School.

About half a month behind schedule, the Civic Space Park opened today, bringing a large, urban-style park to Phoenix.

The park looked excellent — lush grass, chessboard-topped tables, polished and cleaned architecture. And, of course in the middle of it all, was Janet Echelman’s “Her Secret is Patience,” the giant “mothership-looking sculpture” (as my friend described it) that hangs over the space.

Water is good at 100+ degrees.

Water is good at 100+ degrees.

City council members, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, representatives from ASU and the community spoke at the opening. Gordon emphasized that the park’s completion made Phoenix final look like the fifth largest city in the nation — which appearances or not, it is.

Crowds gathered for the opening.

Crowds gathered for the opening.

Personally, I can’t wait to chill on the grass between classes at the Cronkite School. The park looks and feels (think grass on your toes) great. I’m just a bit miffed it didn’t open earlier; the good weather won’t last long.

Building a more connected (online) Phoenix

Yesterday’s post on Urban Affair and Downtown Phoenix Journal generated a ton of views and comments — way more than I expected.  But then, maybe that’s to be expected considering Phoenix’s increasingly large, and  zealous, local movement.

I just wish I had paid more attention.  The original post was a rush job I quickly hammered out between classes simply to get something posted (there’s a lesson in responsible blogging in here somewhere).  Of course, the result included some errors of fact and typos, but I’m actually glad they were there.  Without them, I doubt the post would have received the attention it did, and I never would have heard the bloggosphere’s Phoenix voices  — and there are a lot.

Beginning in-mass approximately 10 years ago, many Phoenix residents have worked hard to develop nationally recognized movements promoting local business and community.  Of course there’s Kimber Lanning, et al., with the exalted Local First Arizona, the largest coalition of independent business in the nation.  LFA is the organization I’m most familiar with, having written half a dozen stories on it for various publications and journalism projects in the past year or so — the topic always seems to please j-school professors.  But there are tons of other movements, and a surprising number of them are online.

The cyber community in Phoenix, while not as big as many other cities, seems to be extremely well-connected.  Blogs link to organizations, which link to blogs, which link to businesses, etc.  And the writers for these publications certainly seem to know what’s going on; the coverage is phenomenal.

As a small-time local blogger, it’s really amazing to see the power of these larger movements.  I DO see blogging as the future of local publications, overtaking the free, community papers.  Print will always be available, but more and more content has moved online.  And that’s great.  Online has so many benefits, among them the ability to link and create vast communities that coordinate and contribute to each other.  Groups like Urban Affair and DPJ have become hubs for both original content and aggregated information imported from dozens of personal spider blogs.

It’s good to be in a community.  As conceptions and expections of journalism change, the since of journalistic duty to the community will always remain.

Urban Affairs staches up Downtown Phoenix Journal blog

Downtown Phoenix Journal announced yesterday its acquisition by Urban Affair, the new marketing campaign for Phoenix.

DPJ, the biggest blog for aggregating info in Phoenix, has been a great source of news for the downtown area since 2006. Its bloggers mix postings about events and issues to produce a solid, hyper-local blog. However, downtown keeps changing; it recently rocketed out of the dull drums and into a world-class urban center. So, DPJ should change too, I suppose. I’m just worried the new renters will corporartize what was a great, independent voice.

A shiny new site is born...I'm a bit jealous.

A shiny new site is born...I'm a bit jealous.

Urban Affair, a recently started campaign, is looking to promote Phoenix in much the same way cities like Las Vegas promote themsleves—by establishing a well known brand and appeal.  In our case, Urban Affair wants to market Phoenix as the “urban heart of Arizona.” (Correction: The “urban heart” campaign is actually the work of Downtown Phoenix Partnership.  Thanks for those who commented and corrected me.)

DPJ’s new look certainly ratchets up the visual appeal — ah, the wonders of professional graphic designers.

Now, this move is probably a good thing in most respects.  Urban Affair shows great promise.  Their moves seem to show they understand why people like downtown—the urban appeal, the independent shops, the unique atmosphere.  Hopefully DPJ and their fan base will help guide them too.

February’s First Friday

Last night marked the February edition of First Fridays, Phoenix’s monthly art walk. I never pegged Phoenix for an artsy place myself, but First Fridays is the largest art walk in the nation, attracting thousands of people every month.

People crowd the street.

People crowd the street.

I found this month’s offerings among the best yet. For frequent attendees like myself, several activities and participants have become staples of the night — break dancing, violin-loop-pedal guy, ghost busters, Irish drum corps, et al. They return month after month and provide some continuity, but the night’s magnetism always comes from new vendors, who continue to add variety and uniqueness to the mix.

A couple perform across from busy booths.

A couple perform across from busy booths.

This month, a group of Capoeira dancers raised the bar for ethnic eccentricity. Capoeria, a Afro-Brazilian dance closely resembling fighting, involves a circle of participants and two or more dancers in the center. The music accompanying Capoeria is played primarily on a berimbau, a bow-like percussion instrument.

A performer plays the berimbau for Capoeira dancers.

A performer plays the berimbau for Capoeira dancers.

Friday’s Capoeria group had all these traditional flairs. They set up their dance circle at the intersection of Garfield and 5th streets, drawing a huge crowd that just intensified the dancers’ spirit and bravado.

The galleries along Roosevelt also come alive on First Friday. Their cramped rooms have difficulty handling the masses of people at the art walk and things get quite crowded. The night serves artists well, however; giving them enviable exposure — even if the majority of people are poor college students unable to splurge on art.

Personally, I’ll never get over the charged atmosphere of First Friday. So much creative youth out in the warm night air yields incredible energy — creative energy. More than once, I’ve stumbled upon groups of guerrilla artist; painting, spraying and fabricating amazing works from anything handy. This time, I was impressed to see a group weaving moccasins from rubber bike tires. This spontaneous urge to create and share tops my list of reasons to love First Fridays; there’s nothing like it.

rallies: they’re not just for your parents anymore

Community is a lot like an abstract painting—all the parts work together, even if you’re not sure how or why.

While the Phoenix art scene and the university system exist as two independent brush strokes, the two both come from the same painting and the link between artists and academia can’t be ignored.

Many Phoenix artists contribute to or in some way associate with Arizona State University. I know first hand the impact ASU faculty have on the burgeoning arts scene. For instance, the Kitchenette Gallery in Phoenix—well known for the controversy following ASU Professor Betsy Schneider’s photography—features monthly photographers, who for the most part, come from the pool of ASU graduates and students.

The art community also connects predominately with ASU. College-aged students make up the majority of the art community as well as the major audience that attends the more offbeat scenes. The experimental years of college can provide the most introspective, edgy and controversial movements.

students protest with signs and slogans

students protest with signs and slogans

With that, I hope I’ve established how crucial ASU’s community has become to Phoenix’s cultural growth. A threat to ASU mushrooms into a threat for the community.

Yesterday, about 1,800 protesters from all three Arizona universities assembled outside the state capitol to oppose sharp budget cuts that university officials say could cripple education. The protest atmosphere — slogan chanting, picket signs, uniform color and moving oration — resembled the idiosyncrasies of the 70s, a foreign experience for members of my generation.

students march on the state capitol

students march on the state capitol

ASU President Michael Crow instituted furloughs last night for all faculty, marking the first decent of the rollercoaster.

“Through this furlough the university will save approximately $24 million to help toward meeting its FY09 state budget reduction which could total more than $60 million,” Crow said.

This comes as a surprise considering the catastrophic numbers originally released in other e-mails from the president. The budget proposal working in the Arizona legislature calls for a 20% cut this year and another 20% next year, totaling 40%. Needless to say, a budget cut of this magnitude would greatly harm the school and art/culture programs are historically the first to go.

However, this issue goes beyond the university. All of Phoenix faces money problems in this bum economy. I fear Phoenix’s unique people and places will be the first to suffer.

http://www.houndbite.com/?houndbite=7517