Jacque Arend: Improviser and Instructor with The Torch Theatre

Jacque Arend, founder of, performer with, and instructor at The Torch Theatre in Phoenix, photographed at Federal Pizza in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Jacque Arend, founder of, performer with, and instructor at The Torch Theatre in Phoenix, photographed at Federal Pizza in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Jacque Arend
www.thetorchtheatre.com

No matter who she is playing on stage, Jacque Arend has a talent for engaging audiences, making viewers feel like they’re a part of her world, no matter how absurd it might be. Arend has been making improv lovers laugh for 10 years in the Valley, and the 35-year-old Phoenix resident is a founder of and instructor at longform improv theater The Torch Theatre.

Besides also doing corporate workshop training through The Torch Theatre, Arend can be seen playing on stage often, as she’s a member of improv troupes Light Rail Pirates, Mail Order Bride, JaxN Reed, MuChuChu, The Foundation, and Hickory Dickory Dock, and performs in regular shows such as The Wedding Party, The Skewed News Hour, and Birds and Broads. You can catch Arend on stage this week as part of the 14th Annual Phoenix Improv Festival at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix. She’ll be with Light Rail Pirates Thursday, April 16, and Mail Order Bride Saturday, April 18. For more information and tickets, head to www.phoeniximprovfestival.com.

Read on for what makes Arend so passionate about longform improv, and to hear her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

When I was in my freshman year in college, I was going to Grand Valley State University for film and video in Michigan. I was on winter break, and my parents came home from a vacation, sat me down, and said, “We have something to tell you.” They told me my dad was taking a job in Arizona and that they were moving within the next couple months.

My mom grew up here, her siblings and parents lived here, and my parents had always wanted to retire here. I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was, because I cried and was like, “What, we’re leaving Michigan?”

They asked me what I wanted to do. At the time, I wanted to stay and go to my sophomore year at college, but I made a deal I would move down after that, because I thought, as the youngest, that’s what I needed to do, is be with my parents. I moved out here in 1999 and took classes at Scottsdale Community College, where I had an acting/directing focus and took acting classes through the theater program.

I was born in Harbert, Michigan. Continue reading

Meghan Pearce: Founder of Pearce Family Foundation

Meghan Pearce, founder of Pearce Family Foundation, photographed at El Chorro in Paradise Valley, by Nicki Escudero

Meghan Pearce, founder of Pearce Family Foundation, photographed at El Chorro in Paradise Valley, by Nicki Escudero

Meghan Pearce
www.pearcefamilyfoundation.com

Meghan Pearce is a fifth-generation Arizona resident who wanted to make a difference in her community and keep her family legacy alive by helping others. In 2013, she founded the Pearce Family Foundation, an organization that donates to families with children suffering from a chronic or life-threatening illnesses. With her foundation, the 30-year-old Scottsdale resident raised more than $60,000 through events in year one alone and has granted out another $13,000 to families in need, helping them with everything from paying grocery and electric bills, to getting service dogs.

The Pearce Family Foundation sponsors the Runway of Hope fashion show Friday, May 8, with a DJ, nine boutiques (including Pepper) and designers showcasing their fashions, cocktails and an open bar, pop-up shops, a silent auction and hors d’oeuvres. The event takes place in the old Coors warehouse building at 475 E. Lincoln Street in Phoenix, and doors open at 7 p.m. Get tickets here.

Learn more about Pearce and where her passion for helping others comes from here, and keep reading to watch her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’m fifth-generation Arizonan. My family has been here since before it was even a state. I was born at Good Samaritan Hospital, went to high school at Desert Mountain, and went down to U of A and graduated with a degree in family studies. I moved back to the Valley after graduation. Continue reading

Bruce Robert: Co-Owner of MelRuce Salon

Bruce Robert, co-owner of MelRuce makeup and hair salon in Old Town Scottsdale, photographed at his salon, by Nicki Escudero

Bruce Robert, co-owner of MelRuce makeup and hair salon in Old Town Scottsdale, photographed at his salon, by Nicki Escudero

Bruce Robert
Facebook.com/BruceRobertW

Bruce Robert creates magic as a hair stylist and makeup artist for the salon he co-owns in Old Town Scottsdale, MelRuce. Robert not only brings out the best in his clients, he also educates them with home styling tips to keep them looking fabulous. Get to know the 36-year-old Glendale resident, whose services include updos and extensions, as well as special events, better here. Listen to him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video, too.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was birthed here. I went to Moon Valley High School and took some classes at Glendale Community College, Phoenix College and ASU West in addition to cosmetology school at Artistic in Glendale. Continue reading

Harper Lines: Singer for Harper and the Moths

Harper Lines, singer of Harper and the Moths, photographed at The Perch in Chandler, by Nicki Escudero

Harper Lines, singer of Harper and the Moths, photographed at The Perch in Chandler, by Nicki Escudero

Harper Lines
facebook.com/HarperandtheMoths

Harper Lines fronts one of the Valley’s catchiest bands, the pop rock group Harper and the Moths. With singalong lyrics and melodies that are guaranteed to get crowds dancing, the band amps up their live show with chic attire and lighting effects. Lines takes lyricwriting seriously, as he strives to write songs audiences can relate to and even learn from, and the group is hoping people love their new single and video, “Nighttime Tremors,” which also has a remix version.

When he’s not playing music, the 32-year-old Chandler resident works in marketing for the Apollo Education Group and studies at University of Phoenix. Lines talked about why he’s so passionate about music, and you can hear him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I came back to Arizona for music. I was born in Mesa, raised in Phoenix and went to Corona del Sol High School before attending Mesa, Scottsdale and Chandler-Gilbert Community Colleges. I moved to Seattle for a couple years, and came back because the band I was in, Harper and the Moths, was recording records, and I couldn’t come back every month or so to do a show. We were not generating the traction I wanted to, and I missed my friends and family. Continue reading

Fred Tieken: Painter

Fred Tieken, painter, photographed with his paintings in his Paradise Valley home gallery, by Nicki Escudero

Fred Tieken, painter, photographed with his paintings in his Paradise Valley home gallery, by Nicki Escudero

Fred Tieken
www.facebook.com/ArtistFredTieken

Fred Tieken‘s history as a professional musician, record label owner, music producer and design firm owner gives him plenty of stories to tell, but these days, he’s using paint and canvases to spread deep messages through his colorful, illustrative works. The 79-year-old Paradise Valley resident has only been painting since 2010 after retiring from the design world, but he’s already been a part of more than 40 art shows and has a second home and art studio in Venice, California.

Tieken and his wife and manager, Gail, are currently building a home gallery for his and guest exhibitions, as well as special events such as concerts and poetry readings, which they hope to have open by fall. You can check out his work now at Willo North Gallery in Phoenix through Saturday, March 28, in his solo show For the Birds, and he’ll be present for a reception there this Friday, March 20 from 6-9 p.m. He’s also gearing up for a solo show May 19 through June 9 at Agora Gallery in New York.

Learn more about the artist, who has played in more than 3,500 musical performances as a vocalist and saxophonist, as well as owned IT Records, ATA Studios and Phoenix design firm Tieken Design & Creative Services, better here. You can also watch a video of Tieken naming his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

My wife Gail and I got tired of scraping ice off the windshield in Chicago, where we had lived for 10 years. We had visited Phoenix and came back one more time and bought a place. We were among the first people to live downtown in a new development, Renaissance Park. We liked it a lot but kept expanding.

When we first moved here, I brought my business here and worked out of my condo for awhile before going to the New Times building in Phoenix after outgrowing it. After we outgrew that, we moved on to Central Avenue in Phoenix two different times and kept growing and needing more room. The graphic design business was really good to us, and we had some Fortune 500 companies we did a lot of work for.

I was born in Meyer, Illinois. Continue reading

Karin Fellman: Founder and Owner of Hot Yoga University

Karin Fellman, founder and owner of Hot Yoga University, photographed at Hot Yoga University in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Karin Fellman, founder and owner of Hot Yoga University, photographed at Hot Yoga University in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Karin Fellman
twitter.com/hotyogau

Every day, Karin Fellman and her Hot Yoga University bring peace, confidence and strength to those who walk through the yoga studio’s doors. The 53-year-old Tempe resident has created a sanctuary for mental, physical and emotional restoration, melding encouraging messages into each challenging workout that increases muscle-building, fat-burning and flexibility. The studio also offers sleep-based meditation, and with 45 classes per week, there’s a yoga offering for anyone, no matter the skill level.

Fellman talked about how yoga has changed her life and why she wanted to open her own studio, and lets readers in on how they should prepare for a class. Hear her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video, too.

What brought you to Arizona?

My family moved to Arizona in 1961 when I was 6 months old, and I was born in Greenfield, Massachusetts. My dad broke his back in an accident while working at machine shop, and after that couldn’t find work in Massachusetts, so my aunt said, “I hear there’s lots of opportunity for machinists in Arizona. Why don’t you move out there?”

He bought a Rambler station wagon and my mom, dad, brother and two sisters piled in, and we began our journey to the West. I attended Supai Elementary School, Coronado High School and Scottsdale Community College on an athletic scholarship for basketball and softball. Continue reading

Mr. P-Body: DJ and Bassist for Elvis Before Noon

Mr. P-Body, Phoenix DJ and bassist for Elvis Before Noon, photographed at his home in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Mr. P-Body, Phoenix DJ and bassist for Elvis Before Noon, photographed at his home in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Mr. P-Body
www.mrpbody.com

Mr. P-Body is a Valley music veteran, playing around town for more than 20 years in various bands and hooking up venues with dance-worthy tunes via his DJ sets. The Scottsdale resident currently plays bass in power pop band Elvis Before Noon, and you can catch him playing music at events and spots around the Valley, including Hotel Valley Ho and private parties.

Mr. P-Body talked about his musical beginnings, what he wishes crowds would keep in mind when it comes to DJs, and what he thinks of the Valley’s music scene. Catch him naming his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video, too.

What brought you to Arizona?

My parents moved out here when my dad got a teaching job in Phoenix. I was born in Louisville, Kentucky and moved here when I was 5.

I went to Alhambra High School. I went to college at Dillard University in New Orleans and ASU to acquire a business degree. I’ve been here since and love the city. It’s nice visiting other places, but I like living here because I like the fact it’s always changing and growing. Continue reading

Michelina DiSibio: Chef and Owner of Michelina’s Ristorante Costa Campagnia

Michelina DiSibio, owner of Michelina's Ristorante Costa Campagnia, photographed at her restaurant in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Michelina DiSibio, owner of Michelina’s Ristorante Costa Campagnia, photographed at her restaurant in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Michelina DiSibio
facebook.com/MichelinasRestaurant

Michelina DiSibio runs one of the tastiest Italian restaurants in the Valley, her namesake Michelina’s Ristorante Costa Campagnia. The Italian-born chef, 63, has been cooking since she was a little girl, and now her gorgeous, intimate, fresh flower-filled restaurant is set to celebrate its 30th anniversary this upcoming November.

Learn more about her restaurant by watching KAET 8‘s Check, Please! Arizona this Thursday, February 26 at 7 p.m. Get to know the Phoenix resident, who is in the kitchen every night the restaurant is open, better here. You can watch a video of DiSibio naming her five favorite reasons for loving living here in the Valley, too.

What brought you to Arizona?

I arrived in the United States in1970 and lived in New Jersey for nine years. I was married and had two children. We came to Arizona in 1979 because we had visited and loved it and wanted to get away from the cold and snow. It’s been great.

I was born in Gesualdo, Italy and came to America when I was 18. My sister was married and living in New Jersey at the time. My dad convinced me to come here because he thought I’d have better opportunities here and didn’t want me to go to school in Italy. I worked in a factory in Newark and learned English within a year. Continue reading

Lauren Wise: Founder of Midnight Publishing

Lauren Wise, founder of Midnight Publishing, photographed at The Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Lauren Wise, founder of Midnight Publishing, The Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Lauren Wise
twitter.com/MidnightWriting

Lauren Wise is a writing and editing machine, as a freelance writer for publications around the country, and as founder of her own Midnight Publishing, which provides editing, self-publishing and ghostwriting services for authors and businesses. The 30-year-old Tempe resident has helped edit more than 30 books, aiming to create industry experts with the power of the pen.

Wise is also a huge heavy metal fan and works with HeavyMetalTelevision.com as a host and record label contact. She shared why she’s passionate about writing and helping others hone their skills, as well as shared her most memorable moments as a journalist. You can also watch her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I moved here when I was 15 and went to Saguaro High School before attending ASU and getting my degree in journalism. My parents relocated, so I had to go with them. I was born in Hinsdale, Illinois, a little bit out of Chicago.

I spent my childhood all over South Florida and my early teenage years in Kansas. My dad designs golf courses, so that is why we moved so often — you go where the work is. Arizona is a perfect place for that, and the projects here he worked on include Grayhawk, Mirabel, Estancia and Whisper Rock. Continue reading

Josh Montag: Drummer for Scattered Melodies, The Wiley Ones and Ruca

Josh Montag, drummer for Scattered Melodies, Ruca and The Wiley Ones, photographed in his home studio, by Nicki Escudero

Josh Montag, drummer for Scattered Melodies, Ruca and The Wiley Ones, photographed in his home studio, by Nicki Escudero

Josh Montag
facebook.com/ScatteredMelodies

Josh Montag is one of the busiest guys in the local music scene, as drummer for bands Scattered Melodies, The Wiley Ones and Ruca. The 27-year-old Mesa resident works as a server at Pita Jungle, but his true passion is music, as is evident by the myriad shows you can catch him playing around the Valley.

Montag and his Scattered Melodies collaborator, Jake Johnston, are currently working on their second album, which will feature more than 30 musicians and different singers and guitarists on every track. Learn more about why Montag loves the drums, and watch him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was 6 years old when my family moved here from California. I was born in San Diego and lived in San Jose before coming here. I went to Mesquite High School and studied film at Scottsdale Community College before studying music business at Chandler-Gilbert Community College. Continue reading