Dave Ference: Owner of Ference Photography

Dave Ference, owner of Ference Photography, photographed at Gilbert High School, by Nicki EScudero

Dave Ference, owner of Ference Photography, photographed at Gilbert High School, by Nicki Escudero

Dave Ference
www.ferencephotography.com

Dave Ference is passionate about capturing the best shot for his clients, whether he’s working on family portraits, model photos for a portfolio or corporate photography. As owner of Ference Photography, Ference works with individuals and businesses around the Valley and strives to create a relaxed environment that brings out the best in those he photographs.

The 45-year-old Gilbert resident, who is also a baseball coach at Gilbert High School, talked about his best photography techniques and gave advice to everyday photographers. You can also hear him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was born and raised here. I went to Gerard Catholic High School and got my degree in graphic design from Northern Arizona University. Continue reading

Tim Yokley: Drummer for For the Love, The Wednesday Machine

Tim Yokley, drummer for For the Love, The Wednesday Machine, and Weird Is the New Cool, photographed at his home in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Tim Yokley, drummer for For the Love, The Wednesday Machine, and Weird Is the New Cool, photographed at his home in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Tim Yokley
www.timyokley.com

Tim Yokley is a pro behind a drum set, playing for thousands of music fans across the country and in town as drummer for For the Love, The Wednesday Machine, and Weird Is the New Cool. Yokley is also a tour manager and recently completed a summer tour with big names including Katastro, Dirty Heads, Pepper, and Aer. He heads back out with Katastro, Ballyhoo!, and Pepper this fall for a U.S. tour — find dates here.

The 30-year-old Phoenix resident had a career in real estate for 10 years before leaving to pursue music full-time a couple years ago, and he also plays with cover bands throughout the Valley. Yokley talks about what it’s like to be a professional musician and why he’s so passionate about the industry, 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’ve lived here my whole life. I was born in Phoenix and went to Camelback High School. I went to school for Microsoft networking and A+ certification and went to Glendale Community College for business. Just one of the reasons why I love living here and have stayed is because I’m a huge bass fisherman, and Arizona has some great lakes and tournaments. Continue reading

Michelle Penington: Painter

Michelle Penington
www.michellepenington.com

Michelle Penington‘s paintings are whimsical works full of narratives, often with bright colors bursting through her landscapes and figure pieces. The self-taught artist, a 41-year-old Cave Creek resident, transports viewers around the world in the locales she depicts, and her art often evokes positive feelings with evident passion shining through.

The artist recently had a six-month exhibition at the ASU downtown Phoenix campus library, and she’s exhibiting her work at Desert Broom Library in Cave Creek beginning this September. Those who are interested in her art may visit her studio by appointment (head here for more information), and Penington is available for commissions. Learn more about her inspiration, and hear her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’ve lived here almost 20 years. My family moved here from New Mexico because of my husband’s job, and his brother lived out here, so we thought we’d try it. I was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Dana Point, California. Continue reading

Scott Neff: Co-Owner of As You Wish Pottery

Scott Neff, co-owner of As You Wish Pottery, photographed at the Tempe Marketplace location in Tempe, by Nicki Escudero

Scott Neff, co-owner of As You Wish Pottery, photographed at the Tempe Marketplace location in Tempe, by Nicki Escudero

Scott Neff
www.asyouwishpottery.com

Scott Neff is thrilled to have left the corporate world to have a more personal touch in his business, as he has co-owned As You Wish pottery painting studios with his wife, Lori, for the past eight years. As You Wish has seven locations throughout the Valley, where patrons may choose items such as mugs and vases, paint them, and have them fired and glazed for home use.

Neff, a 50-year-old Chandler resident, is excited for the business to celebrate its 20th anniversary this September, with various specials leading up to the anniversary weekend September 18 to 20, when the studios offer $2 studio fees (usually $6-$8) and gift card raffles. Learn more about the special deals throughout the month on the As You Wish Facebook page here. In August, visitors to As You Wish can get half-off all glass fusing projects, including bowls, vases, nightlights and jewelry that are fired in the studio kilns.

Neff shared his advice for aspiring business owners and why he’s passionate about As You Wish, 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 was born here. I grew up in the Arcadia area and was part of the last graduating class of Scottsdale High School in 1983.

Growing up, I was involved with all old-school Valley of the Sun things. When I was a Cub Scout, I went to The Wallace and Ladmo Show and won a Ladmo bag. When I was a teenager, I worked in the ice cream parlor at Legend City, and I sold T-shirts at Compton Terrace. Continue reading

Erick Biez: Stand-Up Comedian

Erick Biez, Valley stand-up comedian and comedy show host, photographed at The Turf in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Erick Biez, Valley stand-up comedian and comedy show host, photographed at The Turf in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Erick Biez
www.facebook.com/erickbiez

Erick Biez is responsible for bringing established and new comedians from the Valley and across the country to local stages, as the 31-year-old Phoenix resident and stand-up comedian hosts comedy nights at various bars and comedy clubs throughout town. Catch him hosting Monday Night Comedy at The Turf  in Phoenix every Monday from 10-11:30 p.m., a show that features both local and national comedians. He also runs Copper Comedy at Copper Blues in Tempe and the New Faces of Comedy shows at Stand Up Live and Tempe Improv. Beginning Thursday, September 3, he starts up a new comedy show at Valley Bar in Phoenix, with co-producer Anwar Newton.

When he’s not facilitating laughs on stage, Biez serves hungry diners at Mother Bunch Brewing in Phoenix. He shares his tips for beginning and veteran comedians below, 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 was born outside of Cleveland, Ohio, and moved to Flagstaff in 2002 to study writing for TV and film at Northern Arizona University. After college, I moved to Chicago for a year, then moved back to Flagstaff, and then moved to Phoenix in 2010. Continue reading

Courtney Cotter King: Singer-Songwriter

Courtney Cotter King
www.courtneycotterking.com

Courtney Cotter King is one of the Valley’s most talented singer-songwriters, with a beautiful soulful voice and adept songwriting ability spanning genres ranging from pop to progressive rock. The 23-year-old Gilbert resident has written more than 100 songs and released three albums since she was in junior high school, and she performs at venues throughout the state when she’s not making polished music videos for her singles.

King is signed to local record label Fervor Records and is available for hire for special events such as weddings. She also teaches piano lessons and plays house parties for donations, which you can read more about below. Keep reading to see her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video, too.

What brought you to Arizona?

My ancestors came to Arizona, and my family has lived here for years. I was born here and went to Mesa High School. After high school, I attended a summer music performance program at Berklee College of Music before I studied audio production at Mesa Community College. Continue reading

Marshall Shore: Arizona’s Official Hipstorian

Marshall Shore, Arizona's Official Hipstorian, photographed at The Clarendon in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Marshall Shore, Arizona’s Official Hipstorian, photographed at The Clarendon in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Marshall Shore
www.marshallshore.com

Have a question about Arizona history? Ask Marshall Shore. The 48-year-old Phoenix resident has immersed himself in Grand Canyon State days of yore since he arrived in the Valley more than 15 years ago, and he is a public speaker educating various groups around the state on what makes Arizona so special. Shore is known throughout the Valley as “Arizona’s Official Hipstorian,” as he blogs for the Arizona Oddities website, leads tours in various cities as a representative of organizations such as Arizona Humanities Council, sits on the board for historical cemetery Pioneer Cemetery, and hosts events such as the Underground History night every second Sunday at 7 p.m. at Valley Bar in Phoenix.

When he’s not schooling the state on Arizona history, you can meet Shore behind the bar at Café Tranquilo at The Clarendon. Catch him hosting a trivia night this Thursday, July 16 at 7:30 p.m. at Changing Hands Bookstore, and head to Grand Avenue in Phoenix Friday, September 4 to visit art shows he helped curate: Hot Summer Nights at Chartreuse (1301 N.W. Grand Avenue) and the 10th Annual Grid Show: Art About Art at The Trunk Space.

Keep reading to gain Shore’s insight into Arizona history and to watch him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in Arizona in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I moved from New York City to Phoenix about 16 years ago. My partner and I had sort of a slumlord for a landlord, there was a rat in the apartment, and then there was a fire. It was time to move, and we chose an adventure.

For our current home, we wound up buying a 1950s Phoenix ranch. That was one of the goals and perks of moving to Arizona: we could get a mid-’50s ranch. The criteria is that it had to be as original as possible, close to the light rail. We wound up in the area just south of Camelback on 19th Avenue.

I was born in Indiana, in a small farm town of about 25 people, called Odell, with two roads and one stop sign. I realized at an early age it wasn’t where I wanted to grow up. As soon as I could, I got myself through college and then moved to New York City, as a librarian with the New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library for about a decade, before coming to Arizona. I did my undergraduate at Purdue in communications and my masters in library science at Indiana University. Continue reading

Mia McPoland: Blood and Bone Marrow Donation Awareness Activist

Mia McPoland, 12-year-old blood and organ donation activist, photographed at Kiwanis Park in Tempe, by Nicki Escudero

Mia McPoland, 12-year-old blood and bone marrow donation activist, photographed at Kiwanis Park in Tempe, by Nicki Escudero

Mia McPoland
www.bethematchfoundation.org/goto/MiaMcPoland

Mia McPoland, a 12-year-old from Chandler, is turning her struggle with an extremely rare disorder into a mission to increase blood and bone marrow donation throughout the state. As an infant, McPoland was diagnosed with Diamond Blackfan anemia, a rare inherited bone marrow failure syndrome that causes her to not produce red blood cells. As a result, she has received monthly blood transfusions since her diagnosis, while she also deals with Turner syndrome.

As an activist, the spunky student works with several local nonprofits, as well as serves as an honorary assistant coach for the Phoenix Mercury women’s basketball team, to raise awareness for the causes so close to her and her family. She has been hosting blood drives since she was in kindergarten and is an activist for organizations Be the Match, HopeKids, Camp Soaring Eagle, and PeppedUp!

Besides donating blood every 50 days to help patients like McPoland, you can show support by participating in the September Champ 5K on Saturday, September 19, to benefit children’s cancer causes. The event will also feature a blood drive — visit www.septemberchamp.org for more information.

Read on to learn more about McPoland, and you can check out a video where she names her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was born here. I’m going into seventh grade at Santan Junior High school. Continue reading

Katie Flanigan: Co-Owner of Juice Core

Katie Flanigan, co-owner of Juice Core, photographed at Juice Core in Old Town Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Katie Flanigan, co-owner of Juice Core, photographed at Juice Core in Old Town Scottsdale, by Nicki Escudero

Katie Flanigan
www.juicecore.com

Katie Flanigan is helping Valley residents achieve their daily servings of fresh fruits and vegetables with Juice Core, a cold-pressed juice business she co-owns with her mom, Patty Flanigan, that serves up delicious liquid concoctions, cleanses and raw vegan foods packed with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. The 25-year-old Phoenix resident’s fondness for fresh juice coincides with her love of yoga and a healthy lifestyle, and Juice Core offers juice both at its Old Town Scottsdale location, where it’s been open for the past two years, and via deliveries. Juice Core juices can also be found at the Scottsdale Old Town Scottsdale Farmers’ Market and Gilbert Farmers Market every Saturday.

Besides her work at Juice Core, Flanigan also models and teaches yoga at Humble Monkey and at companies throughout the Valley. She talked about passion for juicing and how she started her business, and you can hear her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was born here. I went to Horizon High School and ASU for two years. Continue reading

Laura Strickland: Executive Director and Principal Flutist of Arizona Pro Arte

Laura Strickland, executive director and principle flutist of Arizona Pro Arte, photographed at Fountain Hills Community Theater, by Nicki Escudero

Laura Strickland, executive director and principle flutist of Arizona Pro Arte, photographed at Fountain Hills Community Theater, by Nicki Escudero

Laura Strickland
www.azproarte.com

Laura Strickland is one of the most talented flute players in the Valley, with multiple master’s degrees related to music and performance chops with several ensembles. You can catch the Fountain Hills resident with orchestra Arizona Pro Arte, where she serves as principal flutist and executive director, and as part of flute/guitar duo SoSco.

Strickland also teaches flute lessons at Scottsdale Neighborhood Arts Place (SNAP), when she’s not working as a business strategist for the FrameShift Group, a health care quality improvement and change management consultancy. Strickland talked about her passion for music and flute performance, and you can hear her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video below.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’m from Seattle and came to Arizona to start my undergrad at ASU. I absolutely loved it here, but as a junior, I transferred colleges and moved to Chicago to study with a flute teacher I wanted to study with. I moved around a lot as I went to different colleges but always wanted to come back, so once I got married and had an opportunity to move wherever I wanted, we decided to come here. Continue reading