Archive for the ‘Phoenix Arizona’ Category
Friday evening, February 20, 2015, I accepted an invitation from my artist friend Gilead to come to an art show at a local Phoenix brewery. I did not go for the booze, but just to see my friend and admire whatever art might be present. I found the place at 30th Street and Washington and went inside, where I talked to my friend, and chatted with other artists and craftsmen. I stayed about an hour, and tried to take at least once picture of everything worth seeing.
Brewery front door at 30th Street and Washington in Phoenix.
Gilead and his wife Stellar. Gilead does the best goblins and monsters.
Gilead’s painting: Swordsman meets big lizard.
Artist in early stages of painting.
I’m fond of pretty rocks. This shows me something I could do with them.
Rings and things, originals for ladies. Royal purple–a great color.
More hand-crafted jewelry. Husband and wife artist team–I have seen them before at local sci-fi conventions.
I think it’s going to be Batman.
Just plain strange. I have no idea where this painting is going.
The musician thinks everyone came to listen to him. He wasn’t bad, but nobody came to listen to him.
Breweries seem to be about big aluminum tanks. Who knew?
No idea what is inside them. The tanks are not labeled.
Art on the wall in the back room–1.
Art on the wall–2
Art on the wall–3
Art on the wall–4
Art on the wall–5
Art on the wall–6.
Art on the wall–7.
The cafe/pub side of the brewery. It’s a small room, smaller than my living room at home.
Another artist at work. He works small, but it’s fantasy.
Tanks for the memories.
Best in show–imho. It took me a day to get it. This is a picture of Fox and Mulder in an alien encounter of the worst kind.
The pictures are displayed in the order in which I took them. After a little less than an hour of walking around looking at things and talking to artists, I took my leave.
If you’ve ever gone to an art show that was a bit underwhelming, why not leave a comment?
I have written before about the painted walls of Phoenix. Artists, especially Chicano artists, but I suspect all artists have this trait, just love to find large open spaces they can fill with their pictures. Phoenix has a lot of murals and larger than life paintings done on sides of buildings, fences, and stone walls. I knew there was some art on Roosevelt–the half mile street between McDowell and Van Buren, but I never knew how much there was until I went down there yesterday, parked, and looked around. I found more stuff than I can show you in a single blog.
My curiosity was aroused by this piece of art as I drove past it last week in an attempt to get across town during rush hour. The freeway and the mile roads were bumper to bumper, so I tried to make better time on the half mile road. And as I neared 3rd Street going west, I saw this:
I saw all the tentacles, and my first thought was Cthulhu.
Yeah, there’s a fence in the way, so I couldn’t get a really good picture of it, but you have to admit that this is a pretty bizarre thing to find on a wall in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. When I first saw it, I knew I had to come back and look more carefully.
One of the great myths of pre-Columbian Mexico is the story of Aztlan, the primordial homeland of the Aztec people (and several related tribes as well). Themes drawn from pre-Conquest Mexico often show up in Chicano art–it is part of the heritage of Mexico and the Mexican people. I found a lot of that in the Roosevelt district.
These six panels covered a fence just east of 3rd Street. The top two are the most clearly Aztec in inspiration. The first one is a very good representation of the Quetzalcoatl figures carved into Mexican stonework, especially in Teotihuacan (technically Toltec, but it is a precursor to the Aztecs who arrived on the scene some 500 years after the City of the Gods was abandoned). The second one down shows a woman in the native costume of the natives of Central Mexico. The artist is Gennaro Garcia, an immigrant from Mexico. The man is prolific and has several pages on the internet, including Facebook. I may track him down and ask him to explain this series. I’m sure there are stories behind each picture.
Another distinctive Mexican theme is to represent people as skeletons. This is related to the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday (actually a 3 day holiday from October 31 to November 2). That ties it into Halloween and All Souls Day from the Catholic religion. Mexico is a very Catholic country, but the older native mythology has persisted and underlies some of the Catholic celebrations.
The watery theme may be a reference to Venice, or to Tenochtitlan, now known as Mexico City, a city built on a the big lake that was the center of the Valley of Mexico before the Spaniards arrived.
As you can see, the art is very colorful, fantastic and amazing. There is a great deal more in that part of town to see, but I’m not going to try and cram it all into one blog. I close this with one final picture. I don’t know whether this represents the Phoenix bird (this is Phoenix, Arizona), the Mexican Eagle, the American Eagle, or even the Thunderbird of the Southwestern tribes. Perhaps it can stand for all of them. That’s the glory of symbolism.
If you have seen this art, or great wall art in your own city, why not leave a comment?
Friday night, May 30, at 5 p.m. the Changing Hands bookstore, a store that has served the Phoenix metropolitan area for 40 years, although it has always been in Tempe, opened a new store at 3rd Avenue and Camelback Road, in the central Phoenix corridor on the light rail line. This was the site of a famous old ritzy restaurant called Beefeaters, but that restaurant closed up a few years ago, leaving just some expensive real estate and the shell of a building behind. Changing hands is one of two great independent bookstores in the Phoenix area–the other one is the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale. I’m an ex-librarian and an author (and a book accumulator). I love bookstores. I decided not to miss this gala event.
I got there about 4:45 p.m. The parking lot was already full, and Channel 10 television sent a news van to cover the story.
A pretty good crowd was already waiting for the doors to open. Many more would arrive in the next hour.
Looking at the front door of Changing Hands.
Cameraman from Channel 10 waits to get inside just like the rest of us.
The owner tells us the doors will open soon at about 5:06 p.m. A red ribbon has been strung across the entrance and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton is ready to cut it and let people in.
5:07 p.m., the stampede begins. I am not the only person taking pictures of this historic event. 🙂
Mayor Stanton is in the center of this shot, facing camera, open face, fair complexion. I’m gonna give him props for caring about books!
Good stuff, nothing radical, in the Children’s section.
I also checked out the science fiction section.
One of the things I wanted to see was what they had in their Games section–looks like word games are popular.
What really makes this bookstore stand out, is that it has its own bar, called First Draft. That’s a nice pun since a draft is a manuscript that hasn’t been published, and also a glass of beer that hasn’t been quaffed yet. Draft is one of those words that has a lot of meanings–I wonder how that came about–which makes it ideal for punning.
I found a bucket of tentacles. Just what everybody needs, right?
Bookstore coffee cups. I kinda like personalized cups like this and have quite a few, though I didn’t buy this one. It’s a coffee cup, but First Draft is the bar–disconnect there.
I found a book I decided to buy. This book will reappear in a future blog. I have an idea how to get some mileage out of Weird Arizona.
People really flocked to the bar. Every seat was taken.
Here’s a rack full of bottles of wine. Why buy one glass when you buy the bottle?
This is a terrible shot of Mayor Stanton enjoying a glass of beer. I thought it might make blackmail material, but I cut off his head. Bwa ha ha ha! How do we feel about politicians? Off with their heads!
Here are my purchases for the night–a book and a beer glass from First Draft. I think my clerk’s name is Abby. She was very friendly and happy to be there.
Abby signed me up for the Changing Hands Reader Club. Every time I buy something I’ll get a stamp on the card. Eventually, it will get me a disount or something free.
I took my purchases out and stashed them in my car. I didn’t want to carry them around. I have grown rather fond of taking pix of myself as a reflection in my car. You can see I was there, but you can’t really see me.
5:30 p.m. the parking lot is really crowded now. People trying to get in were clearly disappointed when I didn’t leave yet.
Bookstore window from the outside. I was headed back for seconds, but . . .
I got distracted and went into the restaurant that was also having its opening night. These ladies greeted me at the door and explained things. The blonde told me she was a vampire–she has the teeth, but I don’t think she’s a blood drinker.
I wound up sitting at the community table–a place for people without reservations.
I drank chicory coffee black
and ate chicken gumbo. It’s very spicy, but very good.
and I got my picture taken there at the Southern Rail restaurant with my server. What a pretty girl!
Many years ago this whole building was a famous Phoenix restaurant called Beefeaters. One of the waiters explained that the chandeliers and the walls were just about all that remained from the Beefeater establishment.
I finished off the gumbo. I drank a second cup of very bitter chicory coffee–at least it’s strong, you can taste it, and got the bill. When I tried to use my credit card to pay for it, the manager came by and said they couldn’t take credit yet, and comped me my meal. Nice!
After the meal, I went back and made one last pass through the bookstore.
I took a selfie . . .
and went on my way back home. The whole experience took just under 2 hours.
I’m glad I went to the opening of the Changing Hands bookstore. I had a good time. It’s a great independent bookstore, and the kind of place I can show off to visitors from other cities. It has more than books, and would be a good place to do Christmas and birthday shopping. I’m hoping that Changing Hands will have a long successful run here in Phoenix.
If you’ve ever gone to a bookstore opening, or even if you just like to hang out in such places, why not leave a comment?
On the morning that Ken woke up early
He read his email, and thought naughty thoughts,
And his conscience said, “You should take a walk!”
So, he grabbed his camera, and jumped in his car,
And drove away . . .
Past homes and businesses,
Through intersections and curves,
And finally came to where the rich things are.
Then he got out of his car
Sunrise where the rich things are.
And he said, “I will climb that mountain!
Heading up 56th Street
And I will walk where the Rich Things Live.”
And Ken thought maybe the Rich Things would walk their fancy dogs,
Or drive their fancy cars, or smile their terrible smiles,
But most of the Rich Things were still asleep,
So Ken took pictures of their fancy lairs,
Just to show that he dared walk where the Rich Things live.
As Ken walked, signs appeared and told him where he was and which way to go next.
Until he came to where the King of the Rich Things lived in his fancy castle.
This isn’t the biggest or fanciest house on the southern slopes of Camelback Mountain, but it is the one that looks most like a castle now. There used to be a real medieval castle up here, but it has been torn down.
But the King of the Rich Things was fast asleep, and did not come out and talk to Ken.
Then Ken said, “Now I am on top of the world,
Or at least up pretty high.
I will look down on my world,
And make pictures so all may see
The magical land that is my country,
Even though I am not the king here.”
And Ken took many pictures of the Land known as Phoenix.
Then Ken grew tired of being alone in the land where the Rich Things are,
So he walked on down out of the land where the Rich Things are.
He walked past lairs and palaces:
And through an enchanted forest
Yea, he passed the Land of Many Palm Trees . . .
Walking down the byways and the highways
And past the gates where Rich Things from other Lands came to stay and play in the Enchanted Forest
Until he finished the circle that was in no way round, and came at last to his trusty automobile
“Let’s go get some food,” said Ken.
And drove back through curves and intersections,
Past businesses and homes
Until Ken reached his own home at last
And went in and fixed himself coffee and cereal,
And it was very good!
If you ever wander into the lands where the Rich Things are, why not leave a comment?
Tuesday, April 1, 2014 I went, on a whim (and in my car), to the south end of 7th Street. Some day I need to do an end to end trip on 7th Street and show all the significant things that are located on that one vital thoroughfare in Phoenix, but not today. Today I found something else, and since I had my camera with me, I took pictures, and mainly for those of you who might actually enjoy vicariously strolling through the Arizona desert with me, I have this record of the day’s adventure. With the right attitude, every day is an adventure–do you agree?
South Mountain Park is, I believe, the largest city park in the world. It contains an entire mountain range and is about 20 miles long and ten miles wide. There are numerous ways into the park, only one goes by the park ranger station. In a lifetime in Phoenix, this is the first time I have ever seen this entrance. There is a nice trail, and I want to walk a mile or more every day, so I decided to enter. The time is near 11 a.m.
There is an unnatural depression/valley/crater near the entrance. It might just be the end of a gully that has widened out a lot, but perhaps it is the remains of an open pit mine that is so old that the desert has reclaimed it. You can’t tell from the photo, but the bottom of this depression is a good 50 feet below where I am standing, and is quite flat.
Do you see the far walls on the other side of the pit. These are typical of gravel pits and other big open mines in Arizona. The houses over there are very nice, upper middle class dwellings, and all this flatness is not typical of the bottom of a mountain range. Everything should be sloping downward toward Phoenix in the north. It’s a mystery, and I don’t suppose I’ll ever know how this place came to exist, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t natural.
Once I got past the dirt trail I started on I found a paved road. That seemed kind of strange because there is no way for a vehicle to reach that road. The entrance I used is a foot trail barely wide enough for a car at the beginning and too narrow for one a little further on, and it is blocked off by thousand pound boulders placed across the entrance. Perhaps there is a way in through the fenced-off water tanks at the ends of the trail, but I don’t know how the city made this nicely-maintained stretch of asphalt.
Broken rock landslide area. Desert scenery. I just like to look at and discover such places.
Looking back the way I came in. The huge tank is probably storing water for South Phoenix. It’s not like any explanation is posted for it.
Another view of the depression. Some time I may return and climb down into it.
Mountain slopes and mesquite trees.
A view across the pit. The eroded slope in the foreground is more typical of an Arizona gully.
This is the southern end of the pit. The mountain slopes become very steep here, and a true gully appears.
My walk has taken me to the end of the big pit where a real desert wash empties into it. The tumbled rocks and the undercut caves on the far side are typical of such watercourses. The caves provide shelter for all manner of desert wildlife.
This area is well explored (by others). Here is a trail leading across the wash.
Back on the road. Such scenes always make me think of Tolkien’s song: The Road Goes Ever On. I want to see where this one will take me. And also it’s easier than climbing through gullies. 🙂
The road climbs to this other big tank nestled between two hills and fenced off from the world.
Looking uphill. This desert is not real good country for saguaro cactus, but there are a few, and here is one that has found a home.
A trail on the ground.
A trail in the sky.
Looking back down the road. I had to climb a bit to get here. I think the climbing should be worth extra credit in the big scorebook in the sky. (I’m so obsessive. I have to count and score everything I do these days.)
That desert trail I’ve been talking about apparently has a name. I will wind up on this trail that leads to the summit some 2.5 miles away, but I’m not prepared to climb any mountains today.
As I was looking at the signpost, this woman came down the trail. I said good morning, and asked her where the trail led. This developed into a short conversation. I told her my name (Ken), found out her name is Barb. She hikes in the desert two or three times a week and goes many different places including the Superstition Mountains and Prescott. I offered to walk her back to her car, just to continue the conversation. We stayed on the lowest reaches of the Holbert trail for another quarter mile, just chatting about the desert, and hiking and such. I probably should have asked her to get a picture of me, but, oh well, didn’t think of it.
I have seen petroglyphs at South Mountain before, but wasn’t really expecting any. This is clearly a lizard.
This is more likely to be a man, or perhaps a horse or coyote. If that is a tail, then it’s an animal.
Barb had taken a guided walk with a ranger on this trail before. She told me that the ranger said these petroglyphs are relatively modern, and not made by the Amerindians who lived in this part of the country.
But these petroglyphs are authentic. You can see a solar symbol, a desert tortoise, and a snake. The rangers have erected a small fence to keep people away from these glyphs.
Near the end of the trail I noticed these glyphs. I think they look like camels because of the humpy back and curving necks. The U.S. Army did import some camels into the Arizona desert after the Civil War, although the experiment was not a great success. Or they might be horses, though I like my camel hypothesis better. A wonderful thing about such scratches on the rock–they make one think, wonder, and dream, but there is really no way for me to ever know the truth.
Back at the parking lot, I take one last look back up the hill. I wonder what caused that big scar up on the mountainside. I think I’m about done here, but my adventure isn’t quite over yet.
Barb gave me a lift in her van back to my car some 7 blocks to the east. Looking around I see some signs I hadn’t noticed before. I have found the location of Mystery Castle. There is quite a story about this place. I visited it once as a teenager 50 years ago. I tell Barb what I remember about it, though I haven’t given the place a thought in decades. It looks kind of sealed off and forgotten, doesn’t it?
Raising my sight, I see the castle itself. Someone is living here.
This sign is so worn out. I wonder if they still give tours of the place.
By walking off the road I find a better angle to photograph the house.
This is how I know someone is living here. They have a guard dog. He barked at me once, even though I didn’t approach the fence or make any effort to get inside. Just being friendly, I guess. He didn’t get up and come over to the fence to see me.
And that is my last photo from Tuesday morning. Although I did not find a striped stone, it turned out to be a morning well spent. I got a good walk of a couple of miles, made a friend, rediscovered a fabulous place that I had visited once 50 years ago.
If you’ve ever hiked around the desert, admired petroglyphs, or visited strange architecture, why not leave a comment?
- On my way home from gym class Wednesday afternoon, I took a different route, and I found something very different. I decided to come back and document it, so Thursday, Feb. 13, I returned with camera and this is what I found.
Self portrait of the artist? Or, is it Seymour?
This guy appears to be in some pain. I am thinking it may be the artist, seeing himself as Seymour, the protagonist. This all came out of a 1960 film by Roger Corman called Little Shop of Horrors that was written by Charles B. Griffith. Here’s a link to explain it all if you haven’t seen the play or the movie. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Little_Shop_of_Horrors). What I love most about the pictures that follow is that these giant carnivorous plants seem to be so happy with themselves.
Moving from left to right, north to south down the side of the building this is what you see.
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. . . and then you go around the corner. I was looking for a way in to see if could talk about the art, but that did not prove possible. Whatever is happening in this building, it is not open to the general public.
Even on the short wall, the picture was too big to get in one shot.
. . .
Mother and child?
View looking north from across a street.
This “Little Shop of Horrors” is in one of the older and poorer neighborhoods in Phoenix. Within a few blocks there are some other interesting examples of street art. I drove and walked around to show what else can be found in this seedy part of Phoenix.
Firestation number 3 is just south of the Green House. This is the nicest place in the area, but if it was the third station established in Phoenix, it shows how old the neighborhood is. There are now 59 fire stations in the Phoenix city limits.
Just down the street one lot lies this home, built in the style of an earlier century and different world. I am thinking that the Addams Family or perhaps some of their relatives live here.
Two blocks further down the road, I found this memorial to diversity and freedom. Was it done by the same artist?
Who knew there was a Statue of Liberty in Phoenix, Arizona?
The young woman or girl is clearly meant to be Hispanic. She and her people have come north on the “yellow brick road” from a land in chains to the land of freedom. Even so, this land is fenced in. We are not all that “free”.
There are some quotes from American Presidents painted onto the building. I am wondering who needs to see these quotes, and realize they are probably aimed at people like me.
Do you recognize this quote from the Statue of Liberty?
Does it come as a surprise to you that this is part of a “historic” district? It surprised me. I have lived my entire life in Phoenix and never seen one of these signs before. Phoenix, and especially its suburbs, is not known for its historic districts.
The skyline of downtown Phoenix is only half a mile away.
Three blocks to the north, I found a different fantasy landscape, this one clearly aimed and painted for children, on the 15th Avenue sidewall of an ancient family grocery store.
Some people might claim these are weeds, but I see them as the native flowers of this part of the country. They grow on the streets and don’t need a garden to survive.
Two blocks to the northwest on Grand Avenue I found this friendly fellow. Clearly, the same artist has struck again.
And on a side street I found this plaintive message. Is it from the unknown artist?
Who did all this? I don’t know–did not see any signatures on this art. Phoenix is decorated with such murals, however, and many of them are in areas that are chiefly Spanish in population. I love the street art of Phoenix, and wish there was even more of it.
If your city also bedecks itself in painted walls and street art, why not leave a comment?
We’ve been here before. Rio Salado Park is an effort by the City of Phoenix to turn a dry riverbed into a park. The city pumps in water between 7th Street and 15th Avenue which turns the area into a wetland. It is quite a good habitat for small wildlife, and I like to go there just to see what animals I can spot. There are four different quadrants, and I have now explored them all. Yesterday’s walk covered the northwest side of the river between 7th Avenue and 19th Avenue.
I parked my car in the area provided on the northeast side of 7th Ave. and made my way down toward the river.
First view of the river–a green and pleasant place, but you can’t walk there because it’s all water below the surface.
Looking southwest toward the 7th Ave. bridge.
My hike begins. My goal is the bridge at 19th Ave. The sign lies. It might be 1.2 miles as the crow flies,but it is farther and harder walking on the cobbles down beside the river.
What can I say? I’m a troll at heart, and I just like to be under bridges. Wilderness and civilization side by side.
Looking southwest at the greenest part of the river.
It looks easy, but this is rough terrain. Every little rock wants to stab your foot or turn and spill you on the ground.
What a jungle!
Almost everything growing here is green, but this tree is purple.
About 1/3 of the way to my goal, I reached a gully entering the river. This iron bridge crosses it, but, of course, I’m down by the river, and can’t reach the bridge without going a long way back which I don’t want to do.
Trying to cross the ravine. The picture doesn’t really show it, but this is vertical distance I must cross.
As I walked I was surrounded by the flutter of wings and the sound of bird calls, some of them very strange calls, but it was hard to take pictures of them. This bird held still long enough for me to capture him after I climbed up out of the gully I had just crossed.
You know how there is this stereotype of wandering through the desert and finding a sun-bleached skull. Well, I found one. I’m guessing this is a dog or cat skull, but it could be a fox or coyote. Your guess is as good as mine. It is bizarre to find a skull. I didn’t touch it–left it for the viewing pleasure of anyone else daring to walk this rough terrain.
Tunnels. I’d like to explore these tunnels below the city and the desert, but there is no access for someone like me.
I have passed most of the greenery now, and am looking toward my goal.
The 19th Ave. bridge is in sight. This kind of rocky streambed is rough walking–you have to be very careful where you put your feet.
I am close to my goal. I have walked a mile and a half, and it is about 9 a.m. with a temperature in the 90s.
Ah, shade! Now I am below the 19th Ave. bridge. It has been a rough walk. My feet are starting to hurt, even though I’m wearing my best new hiking shoes. I am going to see if I can’t climb out of the river, and find an easier way back to my car.
The last pool in this part of the river.
Wild oleander flowers.
I climbed out of the riverbed below the bridge. From the amount of trash on the ground, this is obviously the place where other people had climbed down into it.
Resting under the bridge . . . this is a kind of tunnel, not high enough for me to stand up in. Will I have to crawl through it to head back?
No. I found a better spot where I could walk through. My plan is to follow the road back atop the reinforced riverbank.
I got a good shot of the skyline of central Phoenix. The city core is only about 2 to 3 miles away.
This is an access path through a sand and gravel company’s private property. There is no one around to ask me what I’m doing here on Sunday morning.
Walking eastward now, I am cut off from the river by this chainlink fence. It looks flat, but that is a 60 degree slope down to the riverbed, and not much room to walk on the other side of the fence. No cliff-walking for me on this trip.
A glance back at the 19th Ave. bridge. I was down there just a little while ago.
There is a long hot dry road in front of me, but it’s better than trying to walk along the stony riverbottom.
I made this walk hoping to see some wildlife, and not in a zoo. All I saw were birds, bunnies, and bugs–a couple of rabbits at the very beginning of my walk, but hundreds of these birds along the trail.
Birds on a fence. Mostly the birds flew away before I could photograph them, but this fraction of the flock let me get close enough to catch them on film.
More birds. I believe these are desert doves, related to pigeons, but not as annoying.
I can see the greenery again. This is an island, and on that island lives some really large white bird. I saw it fly on the trip out, but couldn’t tell wht it was–perhaps a swan or an egret. I think that little white spot on the right middle edge of the photo is the bird.
No reason to take this picture. I just love looking at green.
I found another sign. I still have a mile to walk. It’s 10 a.m. and 100 degrees on the ground, and the bottom of my feet are really sore and tender.
This shot of downtown Phoenix makes it look like it’s built on a slag heap. There was this amazing hole in the ground full of rocks.
The end is in sight. The 7th Ave. bridge is about 1/4 of a mile away.
I am finally going to see that iron bridge up close.
This is the gully the bridge crosses–a kind of a hidden wound leading back toward the city.
You get to see the top of a bridge for once. I guess bridges are the fourth B of this trip. Bunnies, Birds, Bugs, and Bridges.
The black car is mine. By this time it is the most welcome sight of the entire trip.
That completed my latest walk through this urban wilderness. I covered about 3 miles in mid morning on May 19. I took water along with me, and ate a grapefruit at the beginning of my hike. I wore the Trollgod’s hat to keep the sun off my head, and kept myself hydrated. I saw 2 rabbits, hundreds of birds, hundreds of bugs, many of them a kind of black desert dragonfly that live in the swampy part of the river. There was no one with me to take my picture on this trip.
I wish you had been there to hike with me, since it’s always great to have some companionship when trudging through the wilderness, but even if you can’t be with me, I’m still going to go out and walk about from time to time.
If you know anything about the birds I photographed, leave a comment. 🙂