August 31, 2008

From Burgeoning to Blundering

by Jerome du Bois

Presenting more fun about the stumbling Phoenix downtown art scene.

Back in June, the Downtown Voices Coalition --"Working for a sustainable Phoenix for everyone"-- conducted a "visioning" session organized by the Grand Avenue Merchants Association (GAMA). Twenty-one locals gathered to help GAMA "craft a long term vision for Grand Avenue and vicinity."

After two hours of brainstorming, the visionaries

summarized statements that best defined the thoughts generated throughout the evening, and best described the neighborhood everyone wanted to live, work, and play in:

* “Grand Avenue can be a diverse, sustainable urban boulevard and a funky cultural community and destination, without gentrification.”
* “Grand Avenue can be a vital place/destination for economic and cultural diversity with chaotic character filled with small businesses providing self sufficiency for a neighborhood; plus, a diffusion of people from the main avenue into the neighborhood to experience exciting niches –-parks, Laundromats, restaurants, etc.”

You know, when I recall all the exciting experiences I've had in laundromats, it makes my heart --but that's another story. Speaking of hearts, though, the Paper Heart wasn't able to sustain itself in the funky cultural community, was it? Even though Scott Sanders got money from the City to try to keep it afloat. Even though it was the most popular venue on the Avenue. Even though it was about as funky as that community could want, featuring skanky strippers and spoken-word loudmouths.

Three years after we wrote about this scene, it's pretty much the same as it ever was. With most of the same people running the run-down show.

But let's not dwell on the past. Here's Scott Andrews from Hearsight with news:

Faced with a rent increase and poor traffic, Perihelion Arts is relocating to the Artisan Lofts mixed retail and residential housing complex on Roosevelt at 5th Street, across the street from their sister gallery Pravus on Roosevelt Row. The gallery, known for presenting national level artists who are often seen on the pages of Juxtapoz Magazine, has occupied the corner spot on Grand Ave. and 15th Ave. next to the Bikini Lounge and The Trunk Space for the last six years. Asked why Perihelion is abandoning Grand Ave., Douglas Grant, co-owner with Amy Young of the gallery, said that "We have no AC, my landlord won't do repairs and thinks our falling down ceiling is 'quaint.' Since the Paper Heart closed, there is no traffic coming down the street, and now our rent is going up. Besides, many of our buyers are afraid to park in the area, so we're moving. But the art will still be the same."

No air-conditioning, a cheapskate landlord, a collapsing ceiling, and a dangerous neighborhood. For six years. What a marvelous community! Thanks for all the help, DVC and GAMA! See ya!

By the way, when I first read the news, I went to the Perihelion website to find more information about the move. There wasn't any, nor on the website for Pravus; and tonight, when I checked Perihelion again, I see that their domain name has expired. What an efficient pair of entrepeneurs!

But at least the art will still be the same.

Posted by Jerome at August 31, 2008 10:38 AM | TrackBack