Hugo Medina: Phoenix Muralist and ASU Art Faculty

Hugo Medina, Phoenix artist, in front of his acrylic and aerosol on canvas, 'The Westward Ho,' at MonOrchid in Phoenix, photographed by Nicki Escudero

Hugo Medina, Phoenix artist, photographed in front of his acrylic and aerosol on canvas, ‘The Westward Ho,’ at MonOrchid in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Hugo Medina
twitter.com/Hugos_Art

Hugo Medina‘s art is seen all over the Valley, as the painter and custom metal fabricator has more than 30 murals up throughout the Phoenix area, from a 300-foot-long mural at Fountain Hill’s Fountain Park, to more than five in the downtown Phoenix area.

The 41-year-old Bolivia-born Phoenix resident is heavily involved in the Phoenix arts community, serving as an adjunct art faculty member at ASU teaching a community mural course, as co-founder for the Calle 16 mural project, and as board member for Artlink, Phoenix Arts and Culture Commission and Arizona Artists Coalition. He won the Phoenix Public Art award in 2012 and is currently planning for the Phoenix Festival for the Arts and Art Detour. He’s also working on a new installation for Cycle 5 of IN FLUX, a public art installation program.

Medina works as a custom metal fabricator and on his own paintings, the latest of which can be seen at his Home exhibit at MonOrchid in Phoenix through Friday, November 28. Join him this Friday, November 21, for the free artist reception at the gallery, from 6-10 p.m. Medina will talk about his collection at 7:45 p.m.

Medina talked about where his passion for art comes from, and you can hear him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video below.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was chasing my heart. My sophomore year, I taught at a vacation Bible school at a Native American reservation in San Diego and fell in love with the Southwest. I moved to Arizona in 1998 after I graduated college.

I was born in Bolivia and moved to New York with my family when I was 7. We were chasing the American dream. Continue reading

Hector Coris: Actor with Scottsdale Musical Theater Company

Hector Coris
facebook.com/ScottsdaleMusicalTheater

Hector Coris loves inhabiting different characters and bringing them to life on stage. In the past four years, the Phoenix resident has performed in more than dozen local theater productions, having caught the theater bug back in college in New York before bringing his talents to the Valley. He’s gearing up to next star in Scottsdale Musical Theater Company‘s The Producers, at Tempe Center for the Arts Wednesday, December 31, Friday, January 2 and Saturday, January 3. The New Year’s Eve show also features a post-show gala.

Coris, who works at ReachOut Healthcare America in Phoenix, also is the associate producer for Scottsdale Musical Theater Company, as well as works in marketing and publicity. He talked about why he’s so passionate about local theater and what he’s looking forward to about starring in The Producers. Continue reading to watch a video of Coris name his favorite parts about living in the Valley, too.

What brought you to Arizona?

I grew up in New York. I did a show here in March of 2009 for two weeks at the Mesa Arts Center, and I loved being here in March because it’s perfect weather. When I went back to New York, I got laid off from my job, so my partner and I were looking for a change. We decided to move to Phoenix. Continue reading

Kirstin Van Cleef: Founder of IN FLUX

Kirstin Van Cleef, founder of IN FLUX and outreach and temporary projects manager at Scottsdale Public Art, photographed at her home in Tempe, by Nicki Escudero

Kirstin Van Cleef, founder of IN FLUX and outreach and temporary projects manager at Scottsdale Public Art, photographed at her home in Tempe, by Nicki Escudero

Kirstin Van Cleef
facebook.com/INFLUXAZ

Vacant Valley storefronts get new life thanks to IN FLUX, a public art initiative founded by Kirstin Van Cleef, outreach and temporary projects manager at Scottsdale Public Art. Van Cleef founded the program in 2010, and it gives artists the opportunity to take over a vacant space and fill it (or cover it) with innovative visual and performance art. The 34-year-old Tempe resident started IN FLUX in Downtown Scottsdale, and she now works with public art programs all over the Valley to bring creative works to otherwise desolate spaces. IN FLUX completed its latest annual month-long call to artists in August, which garnered a new roster of impressive artists to show off their work.

Van Cleef is involved with Scottsdale Public Art programming this weekend, as artist and Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art muralist James Marshall, aslo known as Dalek, comes to town for a Meet the Artist party Friday, November 7 at 7 p.m. at the Museum — find more info here. Saturday, November 8, Dalek hosts a Community Mural Project at 10 a.m. — find more info here.

Keep reading to learn how IN FLUX works, and to watch a video of Van Cleef naming her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

My parents brought my sister and me here when I was 10. I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, then we moved to Colorado and New Mexico, then here for my dad’s work. I went to Cactus Shadows High School and ASU, where I got a degree in photography. Continue reading

Lance Greathouse: Founder of Wheelchair Labs

Lance Greathouse, creator of Wheelchair Labs, photographed at his garage in Glendale, by Nicki Escudero

Lance Greathouse, founder of Wheelchair Labs, photographed at his studio in Glendale, by Nicki Escudero

Lance Greathouse
www.wheelchairlabs.org

Lance Greathouse wanted to make things better for his brother, Brent, who had been diagnosed with a rare form of Parkinson’s disease in 2000. After the disease left his brother immobile and in a wheelchair, Lance noticed how people would treat Brent differently, so he set out to create the coolest custom chair for his brother. In his new chair, people responded more positively Brent, and the idea for what would become Wheelchair Labs, a nonprofit organization donating custom wheelchairs to those in need, was born.

Although his brother lost his battle with Parkinson’s, Lance continues to fix up chairs and donate them to those in need. He also builds robots and elaborate tailgating grills, contraptions which have helped land him on television shows such as Robot Wars and BattleBots and have made him a standout annual Burning Man arts and music festival attendee.

The 54-year-old Glendale resident, who works as a dental field service engineer by day, hopes to one day make building custom wheelchairs his full-time job. Greathouse has never been paid a salary for his custom creations, and he’s donated 20 chairs in the past year and is always in need of more donations to help others. Learn about how he got into building custom wheelchairs below, and keep scrolling to hear him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’m a native, and my parents are also natives. I attended Alhambra High School, as did my father. I grew up watching (TV show) Wallace and Ladmo and having fun with friends and family at (amusement park) Legend City. I attended Arizona Technical Institute and earned a degree in electronics.

I’ll never leave Arizona. I can’t think of any other place I want to live. It has a little bit of everything — pines, lakes and desert — and I love it. Continue reading

Joy Li: Fashion Designer and Co-Owner of Studio Joy Li

Joy Li, photographed at her Studio Joy Li in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Joy Li, photographed at her Studio Joy Li in Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Joy Li
twitter.com/STUDIOJoyLi

Joy Li is one of the Valley’s most prominent fashionistas. From being a fit model at Liz Claiborne, to designing for big brands such as Skechers, to owning her own Old Town Scottsdale studio and boutique for the past seven years, Li is on a mission to make functional, stylish clothes women will love wearing. Li, a 53-year-old Scottsdale resident, is the perfect model for her clothes, as her perfect-for-layering, classic-yet-edgy pieces make them ideal for on-the-go lifestyles such as hers.

Li recently released her fall line, with pieces starting at less than $70. She talked about where her love of fashion came from, and what her design process is like. You can also watch a video of Li talk about her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley below.

What brought you to Arizona?

I came by accident from California, from the Redondo Beach area. I was in a relationship that brought me out here, and when I came, I was pleasantly surprised with what I found in Arizona.

I was born in Austin, Texas and grew up in New Jersey. I went to high school in upstate New York, then studied design at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. My dad wouldn’t put me through fashion school, so that’s what I studied. Continue reading

Everardo “Paco” Keeme: Co-Owner of Photo Fusion Studio

Everardo Keeme, co-owner of Photo Fusion in Scottsdale, photographed at his studio, by Nicki Escudero

Everardo Keeme, co-owner of Photo Fusion in Scottsdale, photographed at his studio, by Nicki Escudero


Everardo “Paco” Keeme
twitter.com/EverardoKeeme

Everardo “Paco” Keeme has captured some very priceless Valley shots, from documenting the Waste Management Phoenix Open as official photographer, to shooting events for American Cancer Society, to creating the perfect senior portrait for high schoolers around town with his Twelfth Year Senior Portraits. The 37-year-old Phoenix resident and certified professional photographer recently became co-owner of Photo Fusion Studio in Scottsdale, a relaxed space, open for rental, for shooting his Everardo Keeme Photography clients.

Keeme lets readers in on his secrets to a great shot, and he names his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video below.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’m born and raised here. I grew up in Tempe and went to Marcos de Niza High School. I got a degree in web design from the University of Phoenix, and went back for business marketing. Continue reading

Maggie McGrath: Founder of Pineapple Triangle Artist Market

Maggie McGrath, founder of Pineapple Triangle, photographed at Phoenix Public Market, by Nicki Escudero

Maggie McGrath, founder of Pineapple Triangle, photographed at Phoenix Public Market, by Nicki Escudero

Maggie McGrath
twitter.com/pineappletri

If you’re into local fashion and art, and love to support charity, Pineapple Triangle‘s AZ Share That You Care event provides the opportunity to get your fashionable art fix while supporting worthy causes. Founder Maggie McGrath, a wholesale sales rep for local clothing line Angie, started Pineapple Triangle to give local vendors more opportunities for exposure, while helping those in need, as each vendor donates at least 20 percent of their sales to the cause of their choice. The June event raised more than $1,300 for charities.

The next event, even larger than June’s with more than 50 vendors, takes place Saturday, October 18 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at The Icehouse in downtown Phoenix, with apparel, jewelry, beauty and home décor products from vendors including Be You Jewelry and Phoenix People features Strawberry Hedgehog and State Forty Eight. Admission is $5 cash, and visitors will be able to enjoy food from Buzznbeez food truck and music by 76th Street. Artists interested in participating can email hellopineappletriangle@gmail.com.

McGrath, a 29-year-old Ahwatukee resident, talked about her passion for fashion and for helping those in need, as well as named her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley, in a video below.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’ve pretty much lived here all my life, since I was 3 when my family moved here. I was born in Akron, Ohio. I went to Desert Vista High School and ASU, and got a B.A.S. degree in operations management and technology. I also have an Associate’s degree in fashion merchandising from Mesa Community College.

The main reason that keeps me here is all my siblings are here. I’m the youngest of four, so I really like being close to them. Continue reading

Paul Goldschmidt: Arizona Diamondbacks First Baseman

Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman, photographed at Chase Field, by Nicki Escudero

Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman, photographed at Chase Field, by Nicki Escudero

Paul Goldschmidt
twitter.com/DBacks

No matter what happens, Paul Goldschmidt never loses his positive attitude. The 2014 season was a tough one for the Arizona Diamondbacks two-time Major League Baseball All-Star, who was sidelined in August and September with a hand injury. The team completed the season with the worst record in the MLB, and manager Kirk Gibson and bench coach Alan Trammell were fired this past Friday, leaving the team with a lot of re-building to do in the off-season.

Despite all the disappointments, Goldschmidt, who signed a five-year contract with the D-Backs last year, remains optimistic about his team. The 27-year-old Scottsdale resident, a Delaware native who grew up in the Houston area, talked about how he’ll be spending the off-season, why he’s passionate about giving back through charity, and what he likes to do for fun. Keep reading to watch Goldschmidt name his five favorite reasons for living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

Playing for the Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks drafted me in 2009 out of college (at Texas State). I was in the minor leagues, so I lived in Montana, California and Alabama.

Then, I got called up here to Phoenix and loved my two months in the season, and decided to stay out here with my wife and rent a place. I heard so many things about it and had so much fun in the off-season, we decided to stay here and make it home. Continue reading

Brian Hill: Executive Director of Phoenix Fashion Week

Brian Hill, executive director for Phoenix Fashion Week, photographed at Schumacher Mercedes-Benz, by Nicki Escudero

Brian Hill, executive director for Phoenix Fashion Week, photographed at Schumacher Mercedes-Benz, by Nicki Escudero

Brian Hill
twitter.com/PHXFashionWeek

Every fall, the Valley’s biggest fashion event, Phoenix Fashion Week, brings notable designers from around the country and here in the Valley together, as local models strut the catwalk showing off innovative fashions for retailers to add to their collections. This year’s event takes over Scottsdale’s Talking Stick Resort Thursday, October 2 to Saturday, October 4.

The event isn’t just to display the latest trends. Phoenix Fashion Week features an Emerging Designer Challenge, where more than a dozen fledgling designers (including Phoenix People feature State Forty Eight) get to pick up business chops during a four-month apparel boot camp, before battling it out on the runway for the title of Emerging Designer of the Year.

Phoenix Fashion Week is the brainchild of Brian Hill, a designer himself with various fashion lines since he was a student at Arizona State University. As executive director for Phoenix Fashion Week, Hill puts on 10 fashion-focused events year-round throughout the Valley. He’s still working in the fashion world as a custom apparel designer and consultant for fashion lines around the country, and he’s also working on a new collection for a line he started at ASU, Femme Athletic, due next year.

Learn how the Phoenix resident started Phoenix Fashion Week in 2006 and where his passion for fashion comes from, and watch a video of him naming his favorite reasons for living in the Valley below.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was born in St. Louis and lived there until I came to ASU as a walk-on wrestler. I’ve been a fashion entrepreneur for awhile, and I graduated from ASU with a degree in real estate and marketing. Continue reading

Gardner Cole: Music Producer

Gardner Cole, music producer, photographed at his home studio in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Gardner Cole, music producer, photographed at his home studio in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Gardner Cole
twitter.com/GardnerColeHits

Valley music producer and songwriter Gardner Cole is responsible for some of music’s biggest hits, including Madonna’s “Open Your Heart,” which she performed in recent years at the Grammys and Super Bowl. It’s also been featured on television show Glee, and Cole’s thousands of tracks have been on 100 million albums — yes, 100 million. The prolific songwriter isn’t just a hitmaker — he’s also performed with groups a-ha and ABC, as well as had his own solo album deal with Warner Bros. Records.

Now, the 52-year-old Phoenix resident is producing local songwriters, as well as gearing up for charity shows and work in film. Read on for how he got into the music industry and where he hopes to go from here, and watch him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

I bought the house I live in now in ’94 as an investment and met my wife in ’97. I had come out with some friends and loved the proximity to Los Angeles and Vegas. I was living with the Jacksons’ before I moved here, working with Tito and his kids. My wife and I were trying to have this relationship, and it wasn’t working when I was out in L.A. My brother had been living in my house, and I moved him out and moved my wife in.

I was born in Flint, Michigan. I went to Berklee College of Music in Boston, and from there, I moved to Los Angeles. I spent time in London working with some groups based in Europe (ABC and a-ha) before moving to Los Angeles to make albums and write songs for Warner Bros. I stayed there for 15 years. Continue reading