I was reminded the other day of an artist I used to know named Lisa Albringer, and I thought I would share.
Lisa is now teaching beginning oil painting in Portland. Once, she lived in downtown Phoenix and did a portrait of me (which you can see below and which is titled “JD”). While it is named after me, I don’t know how much it actually resembles me. But it’s lovely anyhow.
Lisa tours the country doing art shows when she isn’t teaching. I highly recommend picking up a piece by Lisa. She is already doing very well, but I expect her to be quite famous some day. While her paintings are priced in the hundreds now, I have no doubt they will appreciate in value over time.
Besides the investment aspect, a painting by Lisa realty brightens up a room. I have one in the corner with my houseplants, and it really goes well there.
Freaky things to do for Halloween are easy to find in Phoenix. Start out by trying out Transylvania, and enjoy all the pale skinny girls in corsets. The Goth sub-culture is the one sub-culture I have encountered where are the women are single and all the guys are gay or not into Goth girls.
With October only a few days away, lots of people have been talking about their Halloween plans. This year, Halloween happens to be on a Friday, which means everyone can go out and do something for the spooky holiday.
One of the places I recommend to spend your Halloween is Transylvania. Transylvania is a dance club that opens in The Palazzo building on Central Avenue just south of Roosevelt Rd. every Friday night. Usually, it is just a bunch of Goth kids dancing. That can sound scary, but it the club seems to attract an audience of normal, preppy guys looking to meet their dream vampire, so it can’t be that scary. Maybe they just like to watch these girls dance in corsets (I’m not sure how that’s possible) and vinyl mini-skirts. But for Halloween there will be a costume contest as well. Since the club doesn’t open until 10pm, there will be plenty of time for trick-or-treating before going to the costume contest and dancing the night away at the spookiest place in town.
When you arrive, Transylvania appears to be made of marble like an old building in Italy. Of course, it’s all fake, but it looks pretty neat. At midnight, the black lights turn on in Transylvania. This is when you can see all the paintings on the walls that have been done in black-light reactant paint, and which are slightly erotic. I advise using this to your advantage and having back-light reactant elements in your costume as well. I also advice going there for lunch sometime (yes, it’s a restaurant for lunch) and watching people in suits eat, while having no idea that there are naked vampires having sex painted on the walls around them. Brilliant!
With an indoor and outdoor bar, there is plenty of space so you can bring friends and have your own corner. And remember, it’s open every Friday. So if you just can’t wait until Halloween to dress up as a ghoul or ghost, you don’t have to! You won’t stand out at Transylvania, even if you have fangs.
Note the kids walking up in jeans. It’s like I said, you can go no matter who you are and no matter what you’re wearing. Just remember that if you’re not in black, you’ll really light up when the black lights turn on. Still, it’s a great place to get in the Halloween spirit.
Modified Arts is a venue and an art gallery on the Southeast corner of 5th Street and Roosevelt Road in downtown Phoenix.
Most venues only do things on Friday and Saturday night, but Modified packs in the people every day of the week. They have independent film screenings, local and national bands, and art exhibits, to name a few things. There is so much going on there that you really have to check their calendar to know when to go.
Modified Arts is owned by Kimber Lanning, who also owns Stinkweeds music store at the Northwest corner of Central and Camelback Road. Kimber is devoted to local arts and music, and has been active in the arts community for over ten years.
In Modified, she has a space that can be transformed into anything. It can be a spot for a dance recital, but it can also host an art show or a metal band. It’s worth dropping by to pick up a calendar. Kimber’s wonderful employees keep lot of monthly events calendars handy. That way, you always know what’s going on when you have a night free.
The Alwun House is at 12th Street and Roosevelt in Downtown Phoenix. The house is a four-corner bungalow design from the early 1900’s. It’s a neat house, but it also serves as an art gallery and a venue. The Alwun House hosts lots of events from fall to spring, although they don’t do much in the summer. Events are mostly out in the gardens, although the gallery is inside. A cash bar in generally set up near a beautiful coy pond and there are generally two stages on the east and west side of the backyard.
If you go to the Alwun House for an event, expect mature content. The Alwun House welcomes people 21 and over for events, and all ages for daytime gallery hours. But just because it’s all ages, doesn’t mean you should bring your kids. The Alwun House is proud of the fact that they use their right to free speech, and they sometimes allow adult-oriented art in.
I would certainly recommend a trip to the house in the spring to see the gardens in bloom. Even if art and music aren’t right up your alley, the gardens are magnificent. It’s amazing such lush plants can grow in the desert.
The Paisley Violin is an art space at 1030 NW Grand Avenue in downtown Phoenix. There are a lot of neat little art spaces downtown, but this one has good cookies. From tasty food to awesome Chai Tea, this space could certainly be called a restaurant. However, it’s much more than that. Some places are a work of art, and The Paisley Violin definitely fits that description. Renovated by the owner Eric and his friends, the counters are brushed steal with wood trim. The ceiling beams are left exposed, with things suspended in them like an old violin. From the floor to the fish tank, everything was done with the help of customers and friends.
“The reason why it is what it is, I have to say, is because of the individuals,” said Courtney Smith, a Mesa resident who provides security for the Paisley Violin on First Fridays.
There is a feeling of community among downtown Phoenix businesses that is much different from the competitive feel of other cultural hot spots like Mill Avenue. The galleries on The First Friday Art Walk and venue owners downtown are more willing to cross-promote, even if it might mean customers going elsewhere for the night. There are flyers for events at other venues on the counter at The Paisley Violin, and no one minds a bit. This sense of community and friendship seems built into the walls at The Paisley Violin, where local artists and musicians perform, and where local residents hang out.
The stage is small. It’s hardly big enough for a three piece band. But then, there are lots of local artists who perform solo, like Alden Powers, who performs alone with his guitar. There are plenty of large stages near by, so The Paisley fills its own niche with a space for smaller ensembles.
I definitely recommend a trip to The Paisley Violin. It’s a little crowded on a First Friday, so drop by during the week when you have time to enjoy a sandwich and check out the construction of this unique art space.
I have been going to the downtown Phoenix campus of ASU for almost two weeks, and I have run into a lot of questions about good places to eat and things to do downtown. So, I want to make a suggestion for food right now, and we’ll work on what to do in a minute.
The very best food downtown, in my humble opinion, is Fate Asian Cuisine at 5th Street and Roosevelt Road, just south of Modified Arts Venue and Gallery. Fate has fantastic appetizers, great entrees, and a magnificent wine and martini list. The restaurant is under construction because they are expanding, but you can get a table any night except First Friday with ease. I recommend “The Healthy Asian” as an entree, with tofu. I am not a vegetarian, but Johnny Chu, owner of Fate, makes killer tofu. Web site here.
Now, you can’t get a table there on First Friday because it’s busy. This leads into something you should do downtown. The downtown Phoenix First Friday Art Walk has been around for years. If you missed it up until now, it’s never too late to get in on the fun. I recommend starting out at 7th Street and Roosevelt, and walking West towards Central Avenue. When you pass Fate at 5th Street, stop in because even though you won’t get a table, you will see great art, DJ’s, and a wonderful outdoor bar where service is speedy and drinks are strong.
As you head down around 3rd Street you should see Carly’s Bistro. If there was ever a place that you had to grab a snack, this is it. The food is tasty and because it is not necessarily a sit-down affair, it will be easier to get food there than at Fate. Their site here.
All along the way there are great galleries like The Eye Lounge that are waiting to welcome you. Look for good deals at the street vendors booths too. I have paid almost nothing for great art there. Some of my favorite pieces come from starving artists setting up a table and selling their beautiful masterpieces for half what they would go for in a gallery.
You can also catch the shuttle from Roosevelt Row over to The Grand Avenue Galleries and see great places like The Paisley Violin. But no matter what, just make sure you get out on First Friday (tomorrow!) and check out all the great places to go, and pick up fliers for events coming up in the next month. This one night everything will be open, and you can case the downtown area and figure out what is where, and when you should go. It’s an easy way to get “in the loop” about downtown.
I finally ran back into an artist that I used to love. He doesn’t do many gallery shows, so he was hard to keep track of for a long time. But, he has a MySpace page now. So, I am really excited that I ran back into some fantastic Keegan Art, and I thought I’d share the link.
Keegan did a show at Alice’s Restaurant, which was a gallery at 7th Street and Pierce that I used to curate. I met a lot of artists while at the gallery, and I saw a lot of stuff that pushed the limits of what can be called art. I can respect that. I know that GI Joes posed in sexual ways and plaster casts of asses are “art” to some people. But, I was getting a little jaded with art when I met Keegan. I mean, you can call anything art, and people DO. But, I just didn’t like any of it.
In my opinion, the month Keegan did his show at Alice’s was the best month we ever had. It was October, which is fitting since his stuff is a little creepy. Still, it’s is beautiful detailed artwork. It’s not experimental or bizarre; it’s just pretty paintings, woodturnings, and drawings. It’s the traditional definition of art, (if there is such a thing.) Even my grandmother said that she could appreciate the artistic quality of Keegan’s art, though she wasn’t thrilled with the images depicted.
I proudly hang a Keegan woodturning on my wall. I hope I make a little money someday so I can buy more. There are a lot of artists in the valley, but the Rob Myers and Keegan’s are rare.