Monday, October 23, 2017

The Blue Man

This mural has a parking area next to it that makes it easy to see from the street.  It's a blue man playing darts on the side of a beer can.  It's on the side of a pub called H.B. Hanratty's.  I have a hard time hitting a standard dart target, hitting a target on the side of a beer can takes a special talent.  Possibly only a talent available to "blue" people.  The artist for this mural is Isaac Caruso.  

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Before and After

Last month I told you about my Art Club's meeting when we all got a lesson on pottery glazing.  Above is a photo similar to the one I posted of my three pieces and how they looked before they were fired.  Friday night at our meeting we got the finished products.

I love all three pieces.  They are each so different and each one looks completely different than they did before the firing.  In fact, it's like magic how much they changed.  That bowl that looks so pale in the top photo is a stunning royal blue.  That plate looked like one solid color but it turned out with a bit of a pattern on it that I like.  But, my favorite is the vase.  The two colors couldn't be more different than they looked before and I love all the patterns in the glaze.  I would jump at a chance to do this again.

I have a new post on Sharon's Sojourns today.  I'm visiting an Arizona winery.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Unique Conversation Areas

The lobby of the Renaissance Hotel is very long making room for several seating areas where guests can relax.  Each one of these areas was carefully designed based on the "Rooted Rising" theme and the hotel's overall history.  This area features a huge art piece called "Here Comes the Sun" with the images taken from vintage post cards that would have been for sale back in the early 20th century when the hotel was new.

This area is dominated by a painting called "The Relaxed Roadrunner" by artist Steve Hickok.  He's enjoying his desert environment.

This painting is also by Steve Hickok and it's called "Wink".  I love how they incorporated that black and white theme into this little seating area.

The artist Steve Hickok has actual roots that trace back to Arizona.  He is a direct descendant of Wild Bill Hickok who was a great uncle.  Steve was born in Phoenix and visions of the desert and Native American art forms have helped to shape his artistic style.

I snapped this last shot when the elevator doors opened and I was greeted by this whimsical photo panel on the back of the elevator wall.  One of these days, I'll go back to the hotel and check out the other elevators and see what artistic influences can be found in them.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Artistic Touches

I'm following up from yesterday's post with two more of the artistic pieces from the recent remodel of the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Phoenix.  This steel and iron sculpture is behind the front desk and represents the downtown skyline of Phoenix.  I was able to pick out a couple of the buildings, especially that giant sun burst that sits atop the city hall building.  They didn't know the artist for this piece because it's one that has been with the hotel for a very long time.  They've just moved it to amore prominent position.  The wall behind it is composed of resin lizard tiles.  There was another wall in the lobby that also had the same tiles.

The bright blue glass sculptures are secured to a wall on a landing that leads to the lower-level and the conference rooms for the hotel.

This one represents the precious water that is vital to being able to live in a desert environment.

I'll have more scenes from inside the hotel tomorrow.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

"Rooted Rising"

When I was downtown two weeks ago to check out the new Hilton Hotel in the old Professional Building, I also stepped in to The Renaissance Hotel to have a look at their remodel job.  You might remember that I posted the front of this hotel back in June after I spotted their new paint job.

I was treated to a tour of the hotel lobby and given all kinds of details about the work that was done by a very friendly concierge by the name of Irma Rosario.  And, I took a lot of photos to share.

Rooted Rising is the theme for the entire remodel work and it refers to the many times this hotel has risen from the ashes.  In 1910 it burned to the ground, in the 70's it was imploded, and now it's been totally remodeled. Three "rises" and counting.

I'm going to start with my favorite piece in the lobby, this gorgeous glass sculpture called Growing Vases.  It was created by a company called Lasvit and made especially for the hotel.  It's lit like a chandelier from above.

The structure below the sculpture is a faceted table in five segments designed to represent the Grand Canyon.

It sits near the entrance to the hotel where taxis and shuttles pull up to drop off guests.  I was so taken with this sculpture that I almost wanted to tell all those guests passing by it on their way to the front desk to stop for a minute and admire it.

More from this beautiful remodel tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Funny Place for a Nap

I spotted this squirrel high up on a dead branch at the Desert Botanical Garden last Sunday and I watched him for a long time and he didn't move a muscle.

In fact, I thought it was an optical illusion until I used my zoom to zero in on him and see that it was indeed a squirrel sitting very high up and looking like he was taking a nap.

Finally he opened his eyes but he still didn't move.  So, I snapped a couple of shots and continued on with my walk.

When I returned to the same spot I saw that he had changed positions but he was still up there in that same spot.  At least I knew he was mobile so I could stop worrying about him.  He must have been up there for a reason.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Look at What Has Invaded the Garden

If you've followed my blog for any length of time, you probably realize that the Desert Botanical Garden always has an interesting art exhibit that adds a splash of color to the the garden trails.  We've seen a variety of artists represented most notably two different Chihuly exhibits.  This year the prize goes to Jun Kaneko, the Japanese-American artist who creates such colorful and fanciful sculptures.

A favorite of his sculptures are the wonderfully colorful "Tanuki" or raccoon/dogs.  The garden has a whole ring of these whimsical creatures.

In addition, there are quite a few "Heads" which Kaneko is also famous for creating.  There are also many more colorful creations of various shapes and sizes.  Since the exhibit stays up well into spring of next year, I'm sure I'll be showing you more of these fantastic pieces over the months ahead.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Listening to the Rain

I found a new art piece at the Phoenix Art Museum two weeks ago that I thoroughly enjoyed.  I'm going to try to convey this to you even though it's one of those things you really have to experience.  You enter a darkened room and you hear the pitter-patter of rain drops and as you are hearing it you see a small scattering of white lines appearing on the walls.  As the rain gets harder, more lines appear and then there is a little thunder and the lines flash a little. Finally the rains slow and the lines start to thin out.  It had a sort of calming effect.  I walked out of the room and read the description sign and learned that the recording of the rain was not rain at all.  It was a large choral group snapping their fingers for the light rain, clapping their hands or slapping their legs for the harder rain and stomping their feet on boards for the thunder.  I went back in the room to listen again and sure enough, I could hear all those things.

When I found out that the artist who created this piece was going to talk about her work, I decided I wanted to hear her so, last Wednesday evening I went to hear Magdalena Fernandez from Venezuela speak about her works.  That's Ms. Fernandez seated to the left and next to her is one of the curators of Latin American art who helped with translations.  I also captured Amanda Cruz the museums Director and CEO standing to the far left.

All of her works are large scale and very tactile.  She said she enjoys things that can be touched or experienced in some way.  This particular work has an unusual name, "2iPM009".  She has had exhibits in museums all over the world.  I'm glad I got to hear her speak about her work.  This particular piece will be at the Phoenix Art Museum until December 31st of this year.

Sunday, October 15, 2017


It's Greek Festival time in Phoenix so Friday night I joined my friend David and his sister and brother and a few other friends at the Greekfest sponsored by Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral.  David's family has solid Greek roots so they know all the tasty treats (and how to spell them)!

These handsome fellows were in charge of preparing the Saganaki (flaming Greek cheese).  Very tasty!  We also had Souvlaki topped with Tzatziki and the honey drizzled Loukoumades for dessert.  It was all delicious!  In addition to all kinds of traditional foods, there were crafts and art works to admire and Greek dancing to enjoy.  It was lots of fun.

I have a new post on Sharon's Sojourns today.  I'm visiting a town in the very center of Arizona that is home to some great Arizona wines.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Civil Dialogue & American Politics

I attended a fascinating lecture last Thursday evening at the Arizona State University Tempe campus sponsored by the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership.  The guest speakers were former Senators Tom Daschle (D) of South Dakota and Jon Kyle (R) of Arizona, two well respected former political leaders from opposing sides of the aisle who actually get along and worked together when they were in office.  Imagine that!

Much of the discussion was about what has changed in American politics and why and what if anything we can do about it.  The "what to do about it" part is by far the biggest challenge but these two men were hopeful that through education and citizen activism some things might be accomplished .

When asked what they thought were the things that have lead to this current total disfunction, they had several thoughts.  First Mr Daschle said the he thought some Senate and House rules need to be changed requiring members to be present Monday through Friday.  He said that so many representatives fly home on Fridays and return Monday evening or even Tuesday leaving only two days to get any work done.  Another problem of course is media and social media.  They talked about how there are so many pundits out there who spend all of their time stirring the up controversies just to improve their ratings.  They also mentioned how much it costs to run a campaign and how legislators have to spend 80% of their time raising money.  There was so much more discussed and all of it worth delving into deeper.

One thing that stood out in my mind is the statement that we live in a world where we are bombarded by information from every direction and there is no expectation that any of it is the truth.  They said that if telling the truth is not an obligation, than that leaves all of us to try to figure out what is true and what isn't.  That's a pretty heavy burden for all of us but one that is simply imperative.

They were both hopeful that more events like this, more classes on civil dialogue and even more citizens getting together to have these types of discussions could help.  Me too!

Friday, October 13, 2017


I went to a preseason basketball game last Monday evening with my friend Janet who is a huge fan of the hometown team the Phoenix Suns.  She's such a fan that she's had season tickets 47 years.  One of the great players from the past, Connie Hawkins passed away a few days before so the Sun's did a very nice memorial to him before the game started.  I did get to see him play back in the 70's and he was one of the most skilled players I've ever seen.  He had been doing public relations work for the Phoenix Suns so we would see him at the games from time to time.  He'll be missed.

It's a good thing this was a preseason game because it was  pretty bad for the home team.  I think we were down around 40 points when we left.  The game was so bad, this guy decided to read the paper rather than watch the mayhem way below him.

Hopefully, the real season will get off to a better start.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

It's All in the Details

For the last two days I've been taking you on a tour of the freshly restored art deco Professional Building in downtown Phoenix.  It has a new life as a Hilton Garden Inn.  At the far end of the huge lobby I featured yesterday, was the entrance to the hotel's business center.

The business center had two different levels with conversation areas in each.  That seems to make it very convenient for small business meetings to take place without having to reserve a special room.

The business center was cozy as well as functional.  On the far wall you can get a glimpse of the row of computers available for doing a little research or to check in for a flight.  Traditionally, this is the location of where the bank vault would have been.  I can't really tell if this area was once the vault but, typically, the bank vault was always at the far end of a long lobby.

I enjoyed these four prints on the wall.  Each one depicts some piece of the art deco detail from the outside of the building.  I like this idea, bringing a little bit of the building's outside history inside the newly remodeled interior.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Art Deco Beauty

Walking through the front doors of the new Hilton Garden Inn which is housed in the old Professional Building, I was very impressed by the beauty of the lobby.

I love the huge pillars, the beautiful tile floors and those great round light fixtures.  Even the furniture and desk features maintain a bit of the art deco feel to them.  It's easy for me to picture this area in it's original role as Valley Bank.  This is the quintessential 20th Century bank lobby; impressive to some, intimidating to others.

I was happy to see that the original elevator doors have been maintained and the elegant marble that surrounds them has been polished up beautifully.

Opposite the elevators I found this ornate grate that probably was in front of an old heating/cooling vent.  And the sign with the original name of the building sits there proudly.

It looks like they stayed true to the original design and used the building's wonderful features to their best advantage.

Tomorrow I'll show you some more details from inside the hotel.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

It Took Many Years, But It Was Saved

For two decades, this beautiful art deco building in the heart of downtown Phoenix sat empty.  In fact, I took this photo exactly four years ago when I caught sight of the pigeons flying in and out of those empty window frames.

When I was downtown three weeks ago, I noticed that the building was looking rather dapper and was once again alive and functioning.

Hilton Garden Inn has taken over the building and converted it to very nice looking hotel.

The building was built in 1932 and originally housed Valley Bank which later became Valley National Bank.  The bank took up the lower three floors and various medical offices took up the rest of the building.

In 1972 Valley National Bank (now Chase) built a new glass tower across the street from this one and moved out and gradually the remaining tenants left too.

Luckily, a solid purchase was made within the last four years and renovations started.

A little bit of trivia is that this building was used in the opening shot of the 1960 movie "Psycho".

Tomorrow I'll show you inside.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Got Any Bright Ideas?

I found this mural in the Roosevelt Row Arts District in downtown Phoenix,  I couldn't find the artist's name for this one but, clearly this guy has the idea "lightbulb" going off in his head.  I sure hope he has a idea about solving our current political problems.  Wouldn't that be great?

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Brilliant Blue Sky and Lots of Sun

Standing in front of the Phoenix Art Museum, I get a wonderful view of this tall office building and on this particular day, the sky was sapphire blue and the sun was creating a nice sun flare.

My friends Julie and Dave work in this building.  Their law firm has offices on two of those upper floors.

I have a new post on Sharon's Sojourns today.  A hot summer day at the Grand Canyon is on tap.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Meeting the Artist

My good friend David asked if I wanted to join him Thursday night to attend a VIP reception for the opening of an art exhibit by Hugo Medina.  I jumped at the chance and I'm so glad I did.  You see, I've seen some of this artist's work before in murals around the city.  In fact, I featured one recently on this site, here.  This particular show is called Portraits by Hugo Medina and it features some new work he's done that was inspired by a recent backpacking trip across Europe.  The one above was one of my favorites however, I will say it was hard to pick a favorite.  He does faces so beautifully.  This one was inspired by a scene on the colorful island of Burano in Venice Italy.  He told me that the three women were not keen on having their photo taken but after hearing he was an artist finally decided it was okay.  This show is currently at the Onyx Art Gallery at 1346 W Roosevelt Street in Phoenix and it runs from now until November 3rd.  If you live in area, stop by and take a look at his wonderful portraits.  I know you will be impressed.

Friday, October 6, 2017

More Doors

I have three more interesting doors or entrances that I've observed from my wanderings around town.

This one has a very tropical look to it with those big palms all around.

This one has a very high rock wall that seems to frame a sort of courtyard inside.  I also noticed the security camera on top of the wall.  Maybe guests must be pre-screened before entering.

This door has some very interesting tile work that frames it quite nicely.  That tile almost has a Moroccan look to it.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Unique Apartment Living

I recently found this brand new apartment building located in the Roosevelt Row arts district in downtown Phoenix.  It's unique because it's constructed entirely of shipping containers.  There are 9 one-bedroom apartments available and 2 live-work spaces and one commercial space in the building. It's called The Oscar.  Another "artsy" feature of the complex is the changing art piece that will reside in front of the place.

I cropped in on the current art piece to give you a better view.  This one is by Pete Deise and it's called "Whitewater".  Deise is a sculptor who works with ribbon-like metal.

Interesting apartments and interesting art project.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Last Scattering Surface

I think this art piece that glows in the lobby of the Phoenix Art Museum is my favorite piece in the whole museum.  And it looks so pretty lit up at night when the museum is closed.

The piece is called "The Last Scattering Surface" and it's part of a series that the artist, Josiah McElheny calls the Big Bang Series.  The artist says that this piece attempts to explain the creation of the universe.

In the artist's description he explains that the term "last scattering surface" is a scientific term used to describe when the universe transformed from opaque to transparent or in other words, "when light particles that filled the early cosmos separated from normal matter and began to travel freely through space."

It's made from glass, metal and electrical lights.

I never fail to stop for another photo.  I'm simply drawn to it every time I visit the museum.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Glittering Lights

I've been drawn to the lights, sparkling lights!

Tomorrow I'll show you where all these glittering lights come from.