Local illustrator Matthew Creech kicks off the series by performing his playfully designed musical coloring books. These are not your typical coloring books as they are hand-drawn, animated, and enlivened with imagination and creative mastery. Creech wins the audience’s attention by dressing up in costume, playing the piano, and singing songs while presenting an array of noticeably talented coloring books. In all, Creech’s coloring books are illustrative examples of the benefits of coloring. According to Creech, everyone should pick up a crayon and color.
The next presenter, Patricia Sannit, switches gears with an archaeologically based public art project titled 4,704,480 steps that brings awareness to the destruction of art in the Middle East, particularly in the city of Damascus. The concept behind 4,704,480 steps lies in the hopes of creating a visible and shared language that reflects and pays homage to an art that no longer exists. It further calls attention to the many refugees who were forced to flee Germany from Damascus after their homes were destroyed, taking each person 4,704,480 steps to get there. 4,704,480 steps thus marks the incredulous journey experienced by many through the recreation of 4,704,480 bricks made out of clay.
John Tuomisto-Bell, a local sculptor subsequently delivers the 1000 crane project involving the remarkable creation of 1000 cranes made out of molten bronze to symbolize the meaning of peace after having experienced the atrocities of war. Inspired by his daughter who was a teacher in Japan, Tuomisto-Bell ardently delivers the concepts behind the 1000 crane project that encompass a dialectic between local and abroad, an exploration of humankind, a reflection of peace, and the importance of family.
Next up, Elizabeth Bayer delivers her musically inspired concept of a bicycle orchestra in downtown Phoenix, giving it the clever name of the Arizona Bicycle Orchestra, or AZ BO. AZ BO includes a 30 or 60 minute participatory bike ride where riders create music together. Different parts of newly refurbished junkyard bikes make various sounds (bells, whistles, flags, etc.) depending on where you are or what landmark you pass. Simply said, it’s “sonification;” it’s not necessary to read lyrics or receive formal training. Just ride.
Chris Czaja and Shelby Stringer are out to change the way local music is stored and shared in Phoenix. Sharing a collective passion for the local music and art scene, their project focuses on record-making by ordering small batches of records for local artists to share music. A collaborative project from the start, Czaja and Stringer also have an interest in hand-making record sleeves so the experience is an intimate and personal one. Most of the small screen printing operates out of Shelby’s shed, and the pressing of the records requires the use of a machine that the two artists sought after in Eastern Europe.
Last but certainly not least, Erin O’Laoghlin passionately discusses the need to renovate furniture at the well-known Arcosanti. Adhering to the creative vision of Paolo Soleri, O’Laoghlin proposes to design and hand-fabricate custom design furniture that incorporates ecology and architecture. She wants to design the furniture with an Arcosanti aesthetic through the use of concrete and steel to the rooms that need the most renovation: the community room and the camp living room. Her goal is to involve the transient community living at Arcosanti and support all of their hard work. Ceramic inlays in each of the pieces of furniture will serve as a dedication to the Arcosanti community, and for all of the staff who believe in sustaining Soleri’s utopic vision.
Each of the six presenters did a fantastic job presenting and deserve an enormous round of applause for the amount of effort and thought placed behind each of their projects.
And the winners are… Chris Czaja and Shelby Stringer for the 2015 Good ’N Plenty Artist Award!