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artDRAW: Joe Jankovsky’s “Document and Facsimile: Photographs from the Icehouse 1990-2010” exhibition

One of the highlights of this month’s First Friday event in downtown Phoenix is sure to be the opening of photographer Joe Jankovsky’s Document and Facsimile: Photographs from the Icehouse 1990-2010 exhibition.

With The Icehouse’s recent announcement of its closure at the end of 2011, after over twenty years of garnering an international reputation as Phoenix’s premier venue for large scale works and installations, it may also be one of your last chances to see this historic cultural center.

The solo exhibition features film photography (including many darkroom silver prints) documenting two decades’ worth of installations and performance art at The Icehouse, artist portraits, and representative pieces from the 1994 “Alternatives Phoenix/Mexico” cultural exchange between Phoenix and Mexico City.

According to the press release, the show "will explore the relationship between a photograph as document versus installation/facsimile for what happened in the photographs."

We’re not quite sure what that high-falutin’ artspeak PR means, but know that Jankovsky has beautifully captured part of Phoenix’s vanishing artistic edges in these works.

This event is the first in a retrospective series of shows to be held at The Icehouse throughout 2011.

"Phoenix’s The Icehouse is probably the only exhibition and performance space where the viewer feels like they are part of the art and process. Here the art viewer is creative collaborator; they often leave the place inspired with a sense of purpose for art in their lives." - Joe Jankovsky

Document and Facsimile: Photographs from the Icehouse 1990-2010 opens this Friday, January 7th, and will also be available for viewing during next month’s First Friday, February 4th.

The Icehouse is located at 429 W. Jackson Street in downtown Phoenix.

(photos courtesy of Joe Jankovsky)

Community Meeting to Discuss First Friday Street Closures Scheduled for January 11

by Pete Petrisko

A community meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 11th at 6:00pm at MonOrchid (214 E. Roosevelt St) to discuss the issue of Roosevelt Row street closures on First Fridays.

As detailed in an email from the Phoenix Police Department (reprinted below), vendors will no longer be allowed in the roadway but the department is willing to listen to “business owners and community for possible new ideas that would allow the street closures to occur.”

Oh, Phoenix… there you go again!

Regular readers of AzKaos may remember us breaking the Phoestival/First Friday fiasco story - scooping both the daily and weekly mainstream press in the process - back in the May 2010 print edition, about three weeks prior to Phoestival officially going on hiatus.

That original 6p. article, “Are First Fridays Really Ovah?”,can be read HERE.

The type of street barricading outlined in the PPD email would again negatively impact surrounding businesses, ignore the city council-approved Downtown Phoenix Strategic Vision, and recreate a clusterfuck of revelers within a narrower area of a major downtown thoroughfare that cries “safety concern waiting to turn ugly”.

Instead, inspired by the city’s own “Big Idea” of the Connected Oasis as detailed in the aforementioned AzKaos story, it’s put forward for consideration that a solution complimentary, rather than competitive, to these concurrent events be realized.

Why can’t a plan that doesn’t toss the Connected Oasis into the dustbin of downtown history be devised - one that doesn’t involve closing off one of the more densely business-populated areas for the addition of temporary vending there on First Friday?

A plan that is neither counter-intuitive nor counterproductive to smart growth.

Hance Park is located next to the library and buttresses the northern edge of the arts district. Civic Space Park is just south of it on Central Ave. Both typically sit empty on First Friday. Both are accessible by light-rail and to possible connecting points for Artlink’s bus shuttle route into Roosevelt Row and the surrounding small business neighborhood.

While Hance Park is the more logical choice, due to closer proximity, either (or both) could provide public space from which vendors could sell their wares.

Best case scenario: Instead of blockading parts of First and Second Street, as proposed in the PPD email, minimal street closures (primarily some adjacent cross-streets along both Central Ave and 3rd St.) are used to help create a pedestrian corridor between Roosevelt and Hance Park via these two streets. As a result - whether on foot, bicycle, or Artlink bus - crowds in attendance more naturally disperse over a greater open area, with a positive impact of “spreading the wealth” between vendors and all permanently fixed business locations in Roosevelt Row and the vicinity.

Believe it or not, other big cities have solved the “how can vehicles and pedestrians co-exist downtown” conundrum without resorting to major barricading of the heart of that area and overburdening its police force. It involves smart-growth planning, for which Phoenix already has the blueprint.

It’s hoped that members of the community in agreement will attend Tuesday’s meeting to propose an alternate Park(s) Option plan, thereby holding the City’s feet to the “Big Idea” fire.

If city officials aren’t willing to at least seriously consider, if not honestly work toward, implementing such a Connected Oasis-derived plan, then I humbly request that the City Council issue an apology for wasting several years of everybody’s time by inviting us to attend multiple forums and meetings to give input into what it later approved as the Downtown Phoenix Strategic Vision.

The email from Sergeant Chas Clements, of the Phoenix Police Department South Mountain Precinct, that further explains details of the January 11th meeting, is as follows:

Hello Everyone,

Recently a group of business owners approached the Phoenix Police Department and began a discussion about allowing vendors in the roadways on the first Friday of each month. The Police Department listened to the plan that involved a street closure on Roosevelt Street between Central Avenue and 3rd Street. Portions of 1st and 2nd Street, just north and south of Roosevelt Street, would also be closed. The group presented a detailed plan on what type of vendors would be allowed to participate in the event, security within the event, and the support from several businesses within the target area.

The Police Department is not willing to allow vendors in the roadway on the first Friday of each month due to the problems from previous events. The Police Department is still providing an abnormal amount of resources to cover the area from Central Avenue to 7th Street, Moreland Street to Fillmore Street. A long term plan has been developed to reduce the public safety concerns within the area, enact crime suppression programs (some will remain confidential to keep the integrity and safety of the operations), and reduce the number of officers used to cover the area.

The Phoenix Police Department has been a part of First Friday for many years. Officers have been used to cover the area, but there was a significant increase in department resources and money when the street closures occurred and vendors were allowed in the roadway. The increase in manpower was the result of a public safety concern due to the large amount of people who would participate in the event. As a result, the street closures were no longer allowed and the new plan was implemented.

I realize this issue has been addressed during many meetings involving the Mayor and City Councilman’s office during the past two years. The Police Department is willing to listen to the new group of business owners and community for possible new ideas that would allow the street closures to occur, and not cause a public safety concern and continued use of 30+ on-duty officers in the area.

The meeting will take place on Tuesday, January 11th at 6:00 p.m.

The meeting location will be at MonOrchid, 214 E. Roosevelt Street. To set the tone for the meeting we are looking for public input on how a new event involving street closures will not create the same problems the department faced in the past. Always keep in mind public safety and fiscal responsibility during these challenging times.

Lieutenant Connolly and I look forward to seeing everyone at the meeting. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Chas

Chas Clements, Sergeant

Phoenix Police Department

South Mountain Precinct

Neighborhood Enforcement Team, 41X Squad

400 W. Southern Ave.

Phoenix, AZ 85041

(602) 534-1029

 

Phoenix Idiotarod is GO! Registration Deadline Looms

The 5th Annual Phoenix Idiotarod is on! Online registration ends on February 3rd, register now to get that bang for your grocery shopping cart buck.

Loosely inspired by the Iditarod, a long-distance dog-sledding race in Alaska, this human-powered call of the wild features teams of five “idiots”. Each has four members pushing a modified cart, carrying one sitter, through the streets of downtown.

Sabotage and bribes are allowed. However, as stated on the website of organizer AZ Cacophony Society, “any team using, or causing the use of, human or animal biological waste will be immediately removed from the race” - and banned for life… and that’s in human years, not dog years.

In other words, while congenial subterfuge may be encouraged, feces interference or doing anything to cause other teams to shit their pants will not be tolerated - which is always a perfect recipe for good clean fun.

Fancied-up carts and costumed co-conspirators are both highlights of this race so, if you want to get in on the shenanigans, check out the details and rules of AZ Cacophony Society - Idiotarod to be held on Saturday, February 5th, starting at 1pm.

(photos by Chromatest J. Pantsmaker, courtesy of AZ Cacophony Society website)

State of the Art and Media in Phoenix

by Pete Petrisko

In today’s edition of Phx’s weekly paper, a think-piece about the state of the arts was published. It’s authored by Robrt Pela, who opines, “…I wish this scene were more about art and less about partying. The established artists I love are rarely shown downtown anymore, and if they are, it’s in a group show, where their work often as not shares space with junk by kids who are entering a gallery scene that’s not really set up to nurture them.”

The editorial goes well beyond the scope of that excerpt, is both insightful and thought-provoking, and you’re encouraged to first read his full story, as published in New Times:

Phoenix’s Art Scene Could Use Another Curator

In response to Pela’s piece, I submit the following addendum (which has also been reprinted as a comment following his original story) - -

While I cannot disagree with Pela’s basic premise - that partying has surpassed artistic dialogue and support within the downtown arts as the norm - I don’t believe his editorial tells the whole story.

The arts has always had a “marriage of convenience” with the media. However, in Phoenix, the Az Republichas left it widowed and New Times has filed for divorce.

I remember when the Az Republic included a local appearance by performance artist Frank Moore (internationally-known for his night-long pieces that include participatory audience nudity) in its Fall Arts Guide, when the Phoenix Gazette gave sustained ink to local arts, and New Times pushed the envelope past both daily papers by providing keen in-depth coverage of the more cutting-edge cultural happenings.

That was a long time ago.

Now the Rep has trouble getting the facts straight, the Gazette is long gone, and New Times regularly substitutes the depth of facts with surface flash in its online blogs.

When it comes to New Times’ culture blog, Jackalope Ranch, research and details are too often sacrificed for what amounts to Doodle Journalism.

The best that talented and undiscovered artists can hope for is coverage of what they’re wearing or how many tattoos they may have, possibly with a hyperlink to their art website included. Instead of writing about what these artists do, and why - even if in the context of a more superfluous topic - the new standard is that hyperlinks are used to fill the void left by a lack of more relevant story content in such articles.

My criticism is less about what’s not written about but more of what isn’t included when it is written.

That’s not to say there aren’t a few culture writers at New Times who regularly place substance over style, by doing more research and avoiding cookie-cutter questions, producing lengthier blogs that are far more satisfying. But it’s seemingly not the norm, which may have more to do with editorial direction rather than what all the writers are capable of producing.

Even opportunities to combine hard facts with some flash are regularly missed. As recently as this Tuesday, in its coverage of that night’s First Friday street closure meeting, the blog ended with “don’t fret if you can’t watch the sparks fly tonight — we’ll have a recap tomorrow right here” - then Wednesday came and went, with no recap being published.

I only wish the culture blog (and its sister blog, Up on the Sun, which reads like Pitchfork-Lite, at the expense of other music genres) would reach for the high-content bar set by NT’s political/social blog entries. I don’t believe I’m alone in that sentiment.

Bottom line, vacuous coverage will only encourage vacuous culture.

I commend Pela for speaking out, and becoming part of the solution to return a more art-centric role to the arts scene, but my question is this: Will the rest of Jackalope Ranch follow suit, by more regularly digging past the surface to provide more insightful detail in its coverage?

Heck, it may even inspire other galleries in downtown to follow Pela’s curatorial lead. That’s kind of how marriages work, even ones of convenience.

(I’d like to conclude by thanking AzKaos publisher/managing editor Rikki Lee for providing an alternative press outlet for writers such as myself and other like-minded folks. If you’d care to comment on this, or any other, story then please join AzKaos | Facebook - all entries here are crossposted there.)

UPDATE: New Times published its street closure meeting recap blog (“The Future of First Friday Street Closures (To Be Continued)”) as of Thursday afternoon.

We’re suckers for old technology, so can’t help but share a flyer displaying wax cylinder players. Luckily, the show it promotes isn’t crap. That could’ve been awkward.
First Saturday’s Get Lost series is held at the Lost Leaf, where patrons can tempt their worldly palate with a large selection of bottled beers from four corners of the globe - including a varied assortment of fine dark lagers and stouts. There’s also light ales and fruit beers, as favored by weekend hipsters and feisty felines alike, available on the menu.
But the bar/gallery’s focus is on the music, with this month’s edition of Get Lost featuring Coats and Villa, Colorstore, Lauren Farrah, and Haunted Cologne.
The Lost Leaf / 914 N. 5th St. / Saturday, Feb 5th - 5pm to 12am / Free / 21+

We’re suckers for old technology, so can’t help but share a flyer displaying wax cylinder players. Luckily, the show it promotes isn’t crap. That could’ve been awkward.

First Saturday’s Get Lost series is held at the Lost Leaf, where patrons can tempt their worldly palate with a large selection of bottled beers from four corners of the globe - including a varied assortment of fine dark lagers and stouts. There’s also light ales and fruit beers, as favored by weekend hipsters and feisty felines alike, available on the menu.

But the bar/gallery’s focus is on the music, with this month’s edition of Get Lost featuring Coats and Villa, Colorstore, Lauren Farrah, and Haunted Cologne.

The Lost Leaf / 914 N. 5th St. / Saturday, Feb 5th - 5pm to 12am / Free / 21+

Dateline: Phoenix. Timelapse: Haboob.

Mike Olbinski first invited viewers to "follow along with me during the summer monsoons in Arizona" with last week’s timelapsed Downtown Phoenix Sunset - An omen for the Monsoons.

The photographer describes his latest video short (Massive Haboob Hits Phoenix - July 5th 2011, shown above) by saying, No words to describe this. I’ve lived in Phoenix for 35 years and seen tons of dust storms. This was something else entirely.”

Now we’re curious to see what kind of summer monsoonery he’ll timelapse on Vimeo next.