The Alwun House

The Alwun House
The Alwun House

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

This is the sign you see from Grand Avenue
This is the sign you see from Grand Avenue

 

 

The Paisley Violin

Grand Avenue Galleries 

 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.
 

 

Check out their site

 

 

 
 
 

 

Fate and Fun

Fate's sign on 5th Street
Fate

 

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.

The Amazing Art of Keegan

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.

 

Click here.

 

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.

 

My very own Keegan art.
My very own Keegan art.

Ear Candy

This is just a quick mention of a charity called Ear Candy.

The charity exsists to pay for music programs in schools, and to buy musical instruments and music lessons for kids. The founders of Ear Candy believe that budget cuts are wipping out all the music programs in Arizona schools, and they are worried that this will wipe out a whole generation of little Arizona musicians. Since it would be tragic to imagine a future without music, Ear Candy has ben created a a way to help make up the diffrence.

Here is a link to their Web site if you want to learn more, volunteer, or donate.

I am mentionning Ear Candy because I think wonderful charities like this are an important part of Arizona culture. I found out about them when Leslie announced that profits from The Bigger Picture would go to this charity this year.

The Bigger Pictre

If you remember nothing else; remember this:

Be at Tempe Town Lake on Sunday November 16th at 3:30pm.

Okay, now I am going to tell you why. Let me start by saying that Phoenix has a wide variety of awesome local bands. I could never list them all, but to name a few: I love Selfless, Ikonoklast, Isle of Essence, and Hardwire. There are a zillion more but this is not about listing them; I want people to see them, and that is what The Bigger Picture is all about.

The event has a MySpace page managed by Leslie Crieger, who is one of the most influential people in Phoenix culture, and who is one of the founders of the original Big Picture. You can see her page here.

The short version is: The Bigger Picture is all about taking a picture of Phoenix’s soul. It has often been said that there is no local scene here and no culture, but that’s not true at all. The Big Picture has been a way to prove it. The idea has been to get together as many local musicians as possible, and take a picture of them holding up their instruments. That way, when someone says Phoenix has no culture, we have a picture to prove them wrong.

I helped with the first two Big Picture events, and they were fantastic. Venue owners came and talked to local bands. Fans came and bought local music CD’s. There was networking going on between promoters from all over the valley, and The Blaze 1260 AM was even there (that’s ASU’s radio station, in case you didn’t know.)

This year will be the third Big Picture event. We are hoping that this year’s picture will be even bigger than the picture in 2004 and the picture in 2006. Every single Phoenician can help with this, so tell anyone and everyone you know! Does your brother play harmonic in the basement? Send him out! Does your friend play guitar at an open mic night? Bring them along. Do you know a band? Cool, we want them too!

The more people we get out, the better the picture.

Once the picture is taken, we will try to get it everywhere. We hope to put it on post cards, which will be available at local hotels. That way when people come to town, they can look at the venue list and the picture, and tell their friends back home about the great culture they experienced in Phoenix. There is always a show to go to and there is always an art gallery open, so no matter when someone visits, they can find something to do that they can write abut on the post card.

But it’s not just visitors we want to get the word out to. We need to tell the people living here about our culture. Every Phoenician should be helping to shape our arts and culture, and they can’t help if they don’t know it exists. So of course, we will be promoting the picture all over the valley, in hopes of attracting more locals to our shows and art walks and other great experiences.