Posts Tagged ‘phoenix art’


Friday, August 27th, 2010

I love Day of the Dead art, the calaveras (skulls) associated with the primarily Mexican holiday, Dia de los Muertos. Some people (usually non-Mexicans) find it creepy, depressing, or just strange but, like the holiday, that is not the intention. The holiday occurs on Nov. 2, in conjunction with the Catholic observances of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day (Nov. 1 and 2). It is a day to remember friends and family who have died but it is a time of celebration, where partying is common.

Because of Phoenix’s  large Mexican-American population, celebrations of this holiday are common and, more and more, so are displays of the art, year-round. The above mural is in the Downtown arts district at 1105 Grand Avenue. It is by Lalo Cota, a Phoenix artist born in Mexico.

Several blocks away, on Roosevelt Row, is this new mural, on the side of Carly’s Bistro at 128 E. Roosevelt Street. Lalo painted this one with his collaborators, Pablo Luna and Thomas Marcus (aka Breeze).

These are such fun murals. About two blocks down the street, in the alley between eye lounge (419 E. Roosevelt Street) and Modified Arts (407 East Roosevelt Street), there are more Lalo Cota murals.

The sun was shining so brightly during this late afternoon that there is a glow on the mural but maybe that is appropriate.

There is another Lalo Cota mural around the corner at Conspire (901 N. 5th Street) but it was extremely hot that afternoon so I decided to leave it for another day…and another post. Check these murals out next time you’re in the area and get a little of that Day of the Dead feeling.

The Rat Pack

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Very close to one of our favorite restaurants, Cibo, 603 N. 5th Avenue, in the heart of the Downtown arts district, is this dynamic mural of the Rat Pack, Marilyn, Jack, Alice Cooper, and more. The buildings in this area are old houses; some are residences, some are businesses. The mural is a few houses north of Cibo on 5th Avenue, facing north. The gate was locked so I couldn’t get in but I was able to capture most of the mural in these shots.

I was surprised and pleased to see the artist’s name because Greg Bucher is the same person who painted the mural on the side of a Mexican restaurant, El Pacifico, that I wrote about a few weeks ago on my own blog.

El Pacifico is at 3311 N. 16th Street.

It’s definitely colorful here in Phoenix.

I have a feeling that Bucher has more public murals and, if I keep looking, I’m sure to come across some more of his excellent artwork.

Downtown Grab Bag

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

When I was a kid, I used to love pulling presents from a grab bag. Or getting those mystery lollipops wrapped in question marks. If you’re like me, and have a soft spot for the unexpected, this is your week in Downtown Phoenix.

Face Your Fears at Arizona Science Center

snakesI know plenty of people who are fascinated by eight-legged critters and will rush over to see the spider exhibit from the ASU Spider Lab. I’ll be avoiding it like the terrified, overgrown child I really am. But, the rest of this event should make for spine-tingling fun, this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

From Pyrophobia (fear of fire) to Coulrophobia (fear of clowns; no joke), this event will help you face your fears or at least laugh them off for a while. If you’d like to overcome a fear of needles – or just do some good – The American Red Cross will be sponsoring a blood drive on site. Contact Brittany Conklin at to pre-register.

Law Enforcement Appreciation Night at Churchill’s Fine Cigars – Open to the public this Thursday from 4-8 p.m., this charity event will benefit the 100 Club, which supports the families of police officers and firefighters. That’s a fine thing, but so are the Perdomo cigars you can taste for free. Nick Perdomo, the owner of Tabacalera Perdomo in Florida, makes some of the best Nicaraguan cigars in the country.Churchills_CigarsWEB

Third Fridays Latino Style – The Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center (ALAC) currently has an exhibition that focuses on urban Phoenix through the eyes of Hispanic artists. The exhibit, called “La Phoeniquera,” should be soul food for lovers of Phoenix history and culture. This Friday, from 6 pm to 10 pm, you can also catch live painting demonstrations and hear Latin music.

Fashion 4 A Cause – This live fashion show at the Wyndham Phoenix highlights a nonprofit group called Athletes 4 Awareness, which works to enlighten the community about health and fitness. Local clothing designers, hair stylists and barbers will display their cutting-edge skills. Tickets are $15 per person.

Live Fridays at Seamus McCaffreys – In case you’re wondering what’s surprising about this event, it’s the pairing of an Irish pub and a pop/funk/jazz trio, Nick Heward and The Elements of Style. The show starts at 9 p.m., and you can knock back a Guinness or two beforehand.

A Reminder of Rose

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

The abundance of murals in Downtown Phoenix have been beckoning me lately. I have driven by this mural for years but never stopped until recently.

These murals are on the old Mercer Mortuary building on 16th Street, just south of Thomas; the newer part of the mortuary is around the corner. They were painted in 1998 by a Phoenix artist, Rose Johnson. She was born and educated in England and  moved to the US when she was in her 20s, settling in Phoenix. Rose was well-known and respected in the local art community. In 1998, she moved to Bisbee, AZ, a small arts enclave in southern Arizona, but still had many ties to Phoenix. She was strongly influenced by Mexican art.

Tragically, a little over a year ago, she died in Bali, where she had recently relocated, from acute alcohol poisoning as a result of ingesting liquor that had been laced with methanol. It was the 23rd such fatality to occur in Bali in a 10-day span. She was 48.

This mural is one of her best-known works.

You can read more about Rose here or see an interview of her while she still lived in Bisbee, soon after first visiting Bali. An extensive article appears here. If you click to make the images larger, you can see more of the interesting detail.

We are fortunate that this mural survives as some of her local murals have been so extensively tagged that they have now been painted over.

Urban Art Thriving

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Central Phoenix is full of murals, if you know how to find them. Lately, I’ve been photographing them for my own blog and thought more locals might find this sort of unique urban art interesting. This one is definitely worth checking out.

This is one of the larger murals in Central Phoenix.

It’s by Joerael J. Elliott. It’s been described by Robrt L. Pela, a Phoenix New Times writer, as “a gorgeous mural depicting our overbearing desert sun and how people survive it.”

This fantastic mural is on the side of a building housing Hair Pollution (formerly Way Cool Hair) at 1524 E. McDowell Road. There are many great murals in the Downtown arts district along Roosevelt Row and Grand Avenue.

Here’s another link where you can see more photos.

This is one of the more elaborate ones I’ve seen, so far.

And, hopefully, with 24-hour surveillance, this one won’t get tagged as so many others have.

Hope for Haiti: The Pink Door June 25

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

RodneyOn Friday, June 25th, at 7 p.m., a photography exhibition featuring images created in Jacmel, Haiti, three months after the earthquake by professional photographer and humanitarian Rodney Rascona, will be on exhibit at the historic Icehouse, 429 W. Jackson St., in Downtown Phoenix.

These images represent one brief moment in time where individuals forgot about their worries and stood for Rodney, giving him the gift of their image in what are difficult times for many of his subjects, lending honest testimony to the unfailing hope which the Haitian people, despite such enormous personal loss, still possess …

These images, along with additional multimedia formats being prepared for the exhibit, were created by Rodney as a way to support The Paradigm Project and Suisse-based Medair, in raising awareness to the serious conditions the Haitian people continue to endure long after their story has left the news cycle.

For more information and to RSVP, visit

What To Do When It Hits 100

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Summer has officially arrived, and with it comes the urge to hide in the house with the A/C on full blast. I hope you resist the urge, because there are all kinds of ways to keep your cool Downtown.

world cup2010 World Cup Watching

This year’s World Cup takes place in South Africa, which is the first time Africa has hosted these global games. That’s big stuff, and so is the first-ever World Cup match-up between USA and England. The games start this Friday, June 11th and Downtown has several official locations for watching the action (yes, there’s actually a World Cup Soccer Bars Directory for Phoenix. Who knew?)

To see guys use everything but their hands to score, head for Alice Cooper’stown or Majerle’s 9-Lounge. Another prime viewing spot has to be The Rose & Crown Pub, since no one loves soccer quite like the Brits. Knock back some Guinness or any of the pub’s many imported or domestic beers to keep from losing your cool.

Third Friday Art Reception

Next Friday, June 18th, local artist Mhelanie Banzon Silao will be featured at a Third Friday art reception. Using lengthy exposures, Silao’s amazing photography captures multiple light sources in one shot. See “Captured Light: Light Paintings” from 6:30 pm to 9 pm at the Artlink Heritage Square Gallery.

Movies, Movies, Movies

While I admit that I do the whole Netflix thing, I still prefer sitting in a dark, crowded theater with a box of popcorn and a sense of anticipation. Three blockbusters are currently playing at the AMC Arizona Center 24 theaters, including IronMan2, Robin Hood and the Prince of Persia, plus Get Him to the Greek, starring the hilarious Russell Brand.

Cocktails at Hanny’s

This sleek, upscale restaurant/bar specializes in all kinds of spirits. Their Midnight Martini gives you the chance to sample one of their signature drinks in a small size for only $2.50 (after midnight, of course). Hanny’s serves food till 1 am 7 days a week, and last call at the bar is at 1:30 am.

An Artist, A Bar Tab and a Historic Building

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Some friends of mine, founders of Holy Piñata, shared the following discovery with me and in turn I felt it was appropriate to share it with you. Let’s just say it involves a famous native Arizonan artist, a historic building and a large bar tab.

Please enjoy the following…

This past summer, Holy Piñata stumbled upon an unbelievable gem inside an unassuming building in the heart of Downtown Phoenix. It’s something we’ve been meaning to share since our discovery. And granted, it’s not exactly like we recovered the Ark or found a mint condition AT-AT still in its box, but it’s pretty awesome nonetheless. Most importantly, this finding represents something of a coup for Phoenix and the significance of the city’s Downtown, its history, and its sense of place: key commodities for an area in danger of reinventing itself into oblivion. So enough with the buildup — here’s how it went down.

Ever-curious about a perpetually vacant building on the corner of Roosevelt St. and Third St. (an edifice, incidentally, smack in the middle of Holy Piñata headquarters and a few of our watering holes of choice), Danny and I booked an appointment with the landlords to check out the innards of a place we had long admired exclusively from the outside. Upon entering that dim brick building that hot afternoon, our eyeballs just about fell out of our skulls. Pristinely displayed along the building’s interior eastern wall is an enormous mural (10 feet by 40 feet, let’s say) by renowned artist Ted DeGrazia. The piece features a dozen or so indigenous people in varying poses in DeGrazia’s signature seafoam green and rusty brown palette.


Needless to say, it was pretty wild to see a museum-worthy work of art amid small piles of rubbish and cheap dinette chairs. And sure, it’s not like DeGrazia is a household name, but for those who grew up in Arizona, his ghostly depictions of Southwestern life are as much entwined with our conception of the Union’s 48th state as chimichangas, Soleri bells, or Wallace and Ladmo. According to the building’s owners, meanwhile, DeGrazia painted the mural as compensation for an outstanding bar tab back when the place served as a tavern. You can’t make that stuff up.

And aside from being, arguably, Arizona’s most famous artist (and one of America’s most reproduced illustrators), DeGrazia was a pretty cool character to boot. An original Italian cowboy (born in Morenci, Ariz., to old country parents), DeGrazia burned 100 of his own paintings in 1976 to protest inheritance taxes.

OK fine, so what? What’s this mural got to do with me? Well, it’s hoped that our community — the Holy Piñata community – can throw its weight into seeing that this work of art gets preserved or recognized in some fashion. This building, after all (still prominently featuring a For Rent sign), could get snatched up tomorrow. Who knows — the new tenants, unaware or uncaring — could paint over the mural, bust out the wall, sand blast it. And with that, say goodbye to a one-of-kind piece by an acclaimed and very deceased artist. (On the flipside, the Subway menu board will look just smashing.) At the least, we’d like to generate awareness of the cultural and historical significance of DeGrazia’s presence in Downtown Phoenix. It requires absolutely no money to save this mural, no real effort either — just awareness. If there are any lawyers out there, interior designers, artists, preservationists, or anyone who cares about Phoenix history, we encourage you to get the word out, and possibly put in a call or an e-mail to the Phoenix Historic Preservation Office. You can contact that agency here — Or feel free to inform the folks at DeGrazia’s Gallery In the Sun in Tucson —

Finally, we’d like to add this isn’t some battle between landlords and the community befitting an after-school special. By every measure the key holders of this property appreciated the mural. We just can’t speak for their motivation to preserve it, particularly in this economy. Hopefully they’ll stipulate in their lease that the mural mustn’t be altered or destroyed. We certainly hope so.

Festival Celebrates Downtown Arts Scene

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

This Saturday, some of Downtown’s brightest creative talents will strut their stuff at the Downtown Phoenix Festival of the Arts. This first-ever celebration of Downtown’s burgeoning arts scene is loaded with offbeat and exciting performers and artists. In fact, it’s one of the most interesting line-ups of artists and events yet presented, with everything from a short film festival to an epic painting duel.

But first, I can’t resist a shout-out to one of the participants, fashion designer Xoe McAleece, who came up with a wildly clever idea. Her brainstorm – that sewing machines have a beat – led to the creation of her own sewing machine orchestra, which will click away in unison as the soundtrack for her runway show. I’m betting she beat Project Runway to the punch on that one. Kudos, Xoe. Her line of couture fashion, Vintage Mama, will take to the catwalk along with garments from Las Otras Hermanas.

Chris_Burton_Jacome-In another creative move by the festival, four local artists will engage in a showdown on canvas. Kyle Jordre, Ken Peloke, Taylor Swick and Gabe Sandoval – all of whom work on large-scale paintings – will showcase their very different techniques. As an attendee, you get the final say: a chance to vote on the painting you like best.

If you’re a film buff, check out the short film festival, which includes several films produced by ASU students. The movies run the gamut, from documentaries and comedies to dramas and avant-garde works.

The list of performing artists is equally eclectic. Acroyoga Electra will demonstrate their how-did-they-do-that fusion of gymnastics and yoga, live bands programmed by The Shizz will entertain all night, and DJ Benni Beatnik will showcase dubstep, a cross between techno and hip-hop. Local artists will display their work and attendees can show off their own creative gifts on a public art canvas that will be donated to the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department.

I can’t resist a final shout-out to other participants, in this case two talented locals, flamenco performers Lena and Chris Jacome. If you’ve been watching too much (or any) “Dancing with the Stars,” you might think flamenco is some outmoded art form involving costumes with way too much glitter and velvet. The truth is, flamenco is a passionate, deeply sensual art form invented by gypsies, and I was lucky enough to see live performances of it years ago in a smoky bar in Seville, Spain. When it’s good, it’s as thrilling and rhythmic as anything you’ll ever see.

The Festival runs from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. this Saturday at Heritage Square. To add to the buzz – your own, in this case – a beer and wine garden will serve beer from local brewer Four Peaks and wine from Barefoot Wine and Bubbly.

Admission is $10 presale and $15 at the door. You can purchase tickets in advance through the Downtown Phoenix Festival of the Arts site.

Artlinks First Fridays at Bentley’s Lounge in Phoenix – Nov. 2009-Jan. 2010

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

The Artists of the Black Community/Arizona (A.B.C./AZ) will be hosting Artlinks First Fridays

Artlinks First Fridays will feature some of the finest African American art – ceramics, paintings, drawings, sculptures, mixed media and much more. Light refreshments and entertainment will be provided. Admission is FREE to the public.

Bentley’s Lounge
308 N. 2nd Ave., Phoenix
6-10 PM

On the following dates:
Nov. 6, 2009
Dec. 4, 2009
Jan. 1, 2009

For more information, call Larry Wilson at (480) 694-9415.