Elena Thornton: Founder of Arizona Consortium for the Arts

Elena Thornton, founder of Arizona Consortium for the Arts, photographed at Dog-Eared Pages Used Books in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Elena Thornton, founder of Arizona Consortium for the Arts, photographed at Dog-Eared Pages Used Books in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Elena Thornton
www.artizona.org

Elena Thornton believes the arts are instrumental in the advancement of humanity. In an effort to help support and foster arts and culture here in the Valley, she founded the Arizona Consortium for the Arts in 2007, which puts on free art events and festivals throughout the Phoenix area and sponsors literary and poetry magazines. The nonprofit’s monthly open mics, spanning all disciplines and genres, take place at the Dog-Eared Pages Used Books in Phoenix every last Thursday of the month from 5 to 7 p.m., including¬†this Thursday, May 28.

Thornton’s ultimate goal for the Arizona Consortium for the Arts is to use it as a vehicle to open a multicultural center that will be free for local arts groups to use, as rehearsal, performing and recording space and more.¬†The 53-year-old Phoenix resident talked more about her goals for the Arizona Consortium for the Arts and for Valley arts, 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 a Russian teacher in upstate New York, and the weather was depressing, with rain and snow all the time. We — my husband Jim and our son Jeremy — came here on vacation during spring break in April of 1994, and we moved in July.

I was born in Moldova, and my family moved to Albany, New York, in 1976. After graduating from Albany High School, I went to the University at Albany (SUNY) and earned my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. Continue reading

Kris Rhymes: Artist, aka ChocKolate-Man

Kris Rhymes, artist also known as ChocKolate-Man, photographed in downtown Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Kris Rhymes, artist also known as ChocKolate-Man, photographed in downtown Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Kris Rhymes
www.krisrhymes.com

Art by Kris Rhymes is literally drool-worthy, as the 23-year-old Phoenix resident uses chocolate syrup to create realistic portraiture and creative works. Known as ChocKolate-Man in the art community, Rhymes is featuring 13 Valley kids in his Sweet Kids exhibition this Saturday, May 23, at {9} Gallery in Phoenix from 5:30-8:30 p.m. His subjects entered a competition to be featured, and the ones chosen made it into Rhyme’s second solo exhibition based on their achievements and aspirations.

Besides reaching people with his canvas art, Rhymes is also a professional barber who creates unique styles in his salon work. He also is a motivational speaker as part of the ACT-SO program, sponsored by NAACP, and works with high school students as a mentor of visual arts.

Rhymes talked about his unique medium, why he’s passionate about helping youth, and what people can expect from this weekend’s exhibition, 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 in south Phoenix and moved to west Phoenix. I went to Central High School and took classes at South Mountain Community College before leaving to pursue my art career. Continue reading

April Howland: Painter and Founder of Howland Studios

and founder of Howland Studios, photographed at Thunderbird Park in Glendale, by Nicki Escudero

April Howland, painter and founder of Howland Studios, photographed at Thunderbird Park in Glendale, by Nicki Escudero

April Howland
www.howlandstudios.com

April Howland brings joy to the Valley with her gorgeous nature- and wildlife-inspired paintings, as well as the pet portraits and commissions she creates that perfectly display the essence of those depicted. Howland has been artistic all her life and turned to painting full time around five years ago. The 41-year-old Peoria resident is represented in Idaho at Gallery Five18 and by Beals & Co., which is putting on her Friday, June 26 exhibition at Hyatt Tamaya Resort & Spa in Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico.

Howland shared where she garners inspiration and why she’s passionate about creating art, 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 and raised in Sedona and moved down here to go to college at Collins College. I got my degree in graphic design and never left. I love it here. Continue reading

Michael Rumpeltin: Founder of Brick & West Design

Michael Rumpeltin, founder of Brick & West Design, photographed at Postino Annex in Tempe, by Nicki Escudero

Michael Rumpeltin, founder of Brick & West Design, photographed at Postino Annex in Tempe, by Nicki Escudero

Michael Rumpeltin
www.brickandwest.com

If you’re a foodie, you’ve probably enjoyed a tasty meal in a project Michael Rumpeltin has designed. As founder of Brick & West Design in 2013, Rumpeltin has helped create welcoming social spaces in the Valley including Postino Annex, Joyride Taco House Central, Taco Guild, Culinary Dropout, The Yard, Dakota, Comoncy, and Little Cleo’s. The 44-year-old Phoenix resident has more than a dozen projects currently in the works, including The Crown on 7th, a 20,000-square foot mixed-use space including three major local restaurants, set to open in September at 7th Street and Palo Verde Drive in Phoenix.

Read on for more of what he’s working on, as well as to learn advice he has for aspiring designers, and to hear him name his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I didn’t really have a plan; I was sort of picking it out on a map. I went to school for architecture for a year at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. One day after about a semester-and-a-half there, I got tired of the weather. It was very rainy, and I wanted a place with sunshine.

ASU had a great architecture program, so I got on a plane sight unseen, and moved here. My cousin is an archaeologist here and loves Arizona, and I thought it’d be great. I’ve been here ever since.

I’m originally from Ramsey, New Jersey. Continue reading