Posts Tagged ‘phoenix’

If the Sustainable, Locally Made Clothes Fit, Wear Them

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Digging through an oversized box of fabric scraps, Roman Acevedo pulls out a pale-pink, ruffled dress and holds it up to his chest. The dress, sized for a three-year-old, is comically small, yet he continues to rest it against his muscular frame as he explains his plans to create American-made, sustainable clothing in a 1920s-era warehouse Downtown.

Roman from Ra-ApparelHis company, Ra-Apparel,will make clothes in-house using environmentally friendly practices, he said. And he plans to do that with the help of Arizona Opportunities Industrialization Center, a nonprofit Downtown that re-skills and transitions individuals back into the workforce through six weeks of on-the-job training.

“We’re on a mission to single-handedly bring clothing manufacturing back to Phoenix,” Acevedo said. “We want to create 150 jobs and bring in (OIC students), re-skill them and give them a new start.”

The students are trained to sew by making children’s clothing, like the ruffly pink dress Acevedo was holding.

“One of the seams isn’t quite perfect, but it’s pretty close,” he said, dropping the dress back in the box with a laugh.

That dress, along with two other boxes of material will be donated to children in need – providing a week’s worth of clothing for each child. It’s all a part of the community-minded, yoga-inspired culture that Acevedo is trying to bring Downtown. By creating jobs for those who need them, using organic and recycled material and giving back as much as possible, he plans to make Ra-Apparel about the community and not just the bottom line, he said.

sewing roomIn the six months since Ra Apparel moved into the former Chambers Transfer and Storage Company building, Acevedo has turned the upstairs loft into an industrial sewing room, reworked neighboring rooms into a fabric dyeing and screen printing shop and transformed a downstairs space into a full photography studio. The renovations are to ensure that his clothing is manufactured from start-to-finish under one roof, thereby reducing cost and controlling quality.

Along with his designer, Acevedo is creating three clothing lines: bohemian, yoga and children’s yoga. He’s built up enough of a collection of the colorful, ready-to-wear samples to create a preview catalog, the first step to generating orders and swinging into full production.

Once the clothing has been produced, Ra-Apparel will move into the space formerly occupied by Designer District in CityScape. Acevedo plans to sell the children’s yoga line in the store, bringing a type of clothing not readily available in Downtown to the storefront.

For now, however, he’s focused on getting everything in place.

“We know where we’re going and that’s half the battle,” Acevedo said.

Support Valley of the Sunflowers

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

If you’re eager to see the field of sunflowers bloom at Valley of the Sunflowers (854 N. 6th Street) and want to be involved, check out their inspiring Kickstarter video. You can contribute $1 and up. If the full $15,000 is not raised by Tuesday, October 25 at 12:01 a.m. MST, the amount they have raised will be forfeited. All contributions are tax deductible.

The sunflowers are now sprouting! Help them maximize this project’s potential and fulfill their mission to:

1. Create a transformative educational experience for local students.
2. Reduce urban blight by temporarily activating & beautifying vacant land.
3. Provide a biofuel source for the Bioscience High School’s hybrid vehicle using sunflower oil.
4. Serve as an innovative catalyst for sustainable energy and transportation in Phoenix.
5. Bring excitement and inspiration to Downtown.

Nomojoe and Tequilya

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

NoMoJoe and Tequilya. If you live in the Phoenix area, you know what that means and who these calaveras represent.

This mural on Roosevelt Row is by Lalo Cota, who I wrote about~again~a few days ago and his sometime collaborator, Thomas Breeze Marcus. I’ve photographed this building in the alley of the 400 block of East Roosevelt between Eye Lounge and Modified Arts before. This is what it looked like a year ago:

You can see that some of the roses and part of the background remain the same.

Over to the left, under the billboard, this is the mural on the side of Eye Lounge this month.

This mural changes every First Friday (except in the summer) and is always done by Joe Pagac, who you can watch paint amidst the crowds. This is what it looked like about a year ago:

And below is what it looked like about 6 months ago. This performance wall is commissioned by Stateside Presents, a concert and event promoter. So it’s a good gig for Joe Pagac.

Check it out this coming First Friday and see what changes are in store…

Mas Calaveras

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

The other day as we were driving over to see the Valley of the Sunflowers field, my companion said, “There’s a new mural.” I knew right away that it was done by Lalo Cota since it features his unmistakable calaveras which I have blogged about before. Here’s a collage I did last year featuring several of them, scattered about the Downtown Phoenix area.

Sometimes Lalo collaborates with Thomas Breeze and/or Pablo Luna. I was excited to see a new one on the front of Tacos de Juarez (authentic Mexican food at 1017 N. 7th Street) and I know there are a couple more around town, too, that I will blog about soon. It’s great to be photographing a few more murals again and we’re coming up on the best time of year to be walking around colorful Downtown Phoenix with a camera.

I didn’t see any signatures so I’m not sure if he did the rooster, too.

Stay tuned for some new and updated murals…

Comedian Kevin Hart at Comerica Theatre June 4

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Comedian Kevin Hart will bring his new “LAUGH AT MY PAIN” tour to Downtown Phoenix’s Comerica Theatre on June 4.

kevin_hartHart’s career is definitely on the rise with appearances in a number of high-profile movies such as Soul Plane, The 40-Year Old Virgin, Scary Movie 4, Extreme Movie and Death at a Funeral.

His self-deprecating humor cracks me up! I love how he talks about his height, his family and the fact that he’s not a fighter.

I really became a fan after he stole the show during his stand-up routine at the All-Star Comedy Jam at Phoenix’s Celebrity Theatre back in 2009. He absolutely killed it that night!

Buy your Kevin Hart tickets today!

RoRo Mural Update

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

Despite the fact that I live in central Phoenix, not far from Downtown, it had been awhile since I’ve been there in the daytime, with a camera. And, just a short trip around Roosevelt Row (“RoRo”), the heart of the Downtown Arts District, showed many changes in the area’s murals.

This wall, at 3rd Street and Roosevelt, used to display one of the commercial Pabst Blue Ribbon murals that I wrote about a few months ago. You don’t have to look too closely to see parts of the old mural under the red paint. Hopefully, a new (non-commercial) mural will pop up here soon.

Practically next door is this new geometric mural on the side of MonOrchid Gallery at 214 E. Roosevelt:

You probably don’t remember but this is the front and other side of MonOrchid as I photographed it awhile back.

And right next to this building is this new mural:

Across the street, on the side of eye lounge, at 419 E. Roosevelt, I saw this month’s mural by Joe Pagac.

Pagac paints a new mural on this wall every month on First Friday. Yeah, it would be cool if I went down and photographed him doing that but I would need to use a tripod to do it at night and there are literally at least 10,000 people who attend First Friday every month and most of them congregate right here. But I really should at least document every month’s mural. Another one I photographed last summer can be seen here. Same annoying billboard obstructing the mural but I guess that’s part of the installation. This performance wall promotes the Marquee Theatre (Stateside Presents) in Tempe. You can see another of the monthly murals and read an amusing interview with Pagac here.

There were a few other changes. On the side of what was formerly Conspire, 901 N. 5th Street, a coffeehouse and store, those in charge of its new iteration as Imagine painted over one of Lalo Cota’s murals. I guess part of being a muralista is knowing that your work may be transitory, tagged, or overpainted. At least there’s photography to preserve the memories.

At any rate, just this small area had so many changes that I guess it’s time to take my camera and go for a longer walk Downtown to see what else has changed. Check it out the mural changes next time you’re Downtown.

Downtown Chamber Series Shows Unique Art

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Last weekend we went to one of our favorite recurring events, the Downtown Chamber Series, which is held 5 or 6 times a year. The series brings chamber music to distinctive art spaces in Downtown Phoenix, showcasing professional musicians (many from the Phoenix Symphony) and the works of local artists. Additionally, wine and refreshments are served at intermission and you get this all for the whopping price of 10 bucks! The series has been in existence since 2000 and we have been attending almost from the beginning.

Last week’s event was held at one of the more unusual and unique venues they frequent, the historic Icehouse, 429 W. Jackson Street, an original 1910 icehouse built along the railroad tracks formerly used to keep produce cold before shipping. The art displayed this evening was a special exhibit by some Arizona State University art students just for the two nights of the concert.

The most compelling works (in my opinion) were by ASU M.F.A. candidate Benjamin Phillips, already an award-winning sculptor, from Nova Scotia. The piece above is entitled American Oedipus. This is what Benjamin says about it: “The metaphorical implications of Sophocles’ tragic nobleman, fated to wander blind and begging seems fitting for representing the doubts and anxieties of a once great people; now seemingly doomed to a disparate future, lacking beauty and utterly vulnerable.”

The stark lighting and the shadows cast on the old brick walls and concrete floors added to the raw feeling of these almost life-sized figures.

This piece is called The Obsessive Man and is described by the artist: “T.O.M. merges the idea of obsessive compulsion with an implied peace of sleep, in the form of a sleepwalker. The conflicting signals enhance the psychological disturbance of a dream in compliment with the eccentricities of the form itself.”

This is Benjamin Phillips’ artist statement:

“The figures invoke anxieties about the body and flawed features that we tend to avoid looking and thinking about. Compiled from disparate components, sometimes in wrong scale or oddly joined, the figures project an abject discomfort and uncertainty. This unsettling representation calls upon the viewer’s willingness to empathize with another individual’s shame and/or discomfort.

My composite bodies suggest questions about how we define social status and its relationship to beauty and revulsion. These questions come to life in the physical interplay between the viewer and the sculpture. My freestanding sculptures are generally between four to five feet, to frame the object in the realm between child and elderly. This creates an expectation of frailty and subordination.”

Autumn (above) “explores aspects of uncertainty through wavering confidence, independence and grace. Autumn, the transitional season preceding winter, is portrayed off balance in mid-recline. It appears bleak, yet unresolved.”

There was another of his sculptures there, Effeme, but it was in a smaller area leading to the concert room so I didn’t photograph it but you can see it and more of his striking work on his website.

If you like music or art or Downtown galleries or wine or all of the above, you should really try out the Downtown Chamber Series in March, which will be held at Modified Arts, 407 E. Roosevelt Street, another distinctive Downtown art space.

Murals with a Message

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

The above messages can be found in the parking lot and on the buildings around Zao Gallery and Universal Hair Salon at 925 Grand Avenue. Artists Francisco Garcia, Alban Fernandez, Francisco Guerrero, Averian Chee, Edgar Fernandez, and Jeff Slim have been filling up the blank walls. When the mural is done, the group hopes it will show solidarity between cultures and against current cultural and political conflicts. You can see more photos on the mural’s progress here.

The above mural is by Elmac (El Mac), who I have mentioned in some other posts. Check out this work in progress next time you’re on Grand Avenue.

Neverending Murals

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

This mural and the one below are both located between 3rd and 4th streets on McKinley. Everytime I think I’m getting close to the end of my Downtown Phoenix mural photography project, I see or hear about another one (or several). Originally I thought today’s post was going to be one of the last ones for awhile but now I know where there are at least five more murals. Murals are now a big thing in Downtown Phoenix and someone is constantly working on a new one. There is even a fledgling mural organization program called Mural Match, organized by Roosevelt Row.

The murals in today’s post all have one thing in common: I don’t know anything about them nor who painted them.

According to one of the shop owners that I spoke to in this strip of galleries, this mural is slated to be painted over with a new one soon.

There is a controversy brewing now where some street artists have been tagging murals that other artists were commissioned to do. The street artists feel that murals should have a message, basically their message, and that they have a right to vandalize commissioned murals. Of course, the business owners and muralists whose works are defaced do not agree.

This mural is located at Fresh Gourmet To Go, 110 E. Roosevelt Street.

So this may be the project that never ends and that is a good thing because it means Downtown Phoenix will just keep getting more colorful and more animated.

Winged Flight

Monday, November 15th, 2010

This is MonOrchid, a beautiful gallery and event space at 214 E. Roosevelt in Downtown Phoenix.

Kinda reminds me of Twitter. The painter is local artist Brian Boner. You can see the painting that inspired the mural on his web site.

This is what he said the birds represent to him, “It is something about the instinctual way they rely on each other, working together making constant progress. The migration of the flock and the unison, not of one bird but the entire group.” It reminds him of the growing community of artists in Downtown Phoenix who have been working together. You can see the progress and it is not based on one individual, but the collection of many (from blendercreative, where you can also see some photos of Brian painting the mural if you scroll down to the Feb. 2, 2009 post).