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

Daniel Davis: Founder of Steam Crow

Daniel Davis, founder of Steam Crow, photographed at Desert Ridge Marketplace in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Daniel Davis, founder of Steam Crow, photographed at Desert Ridge Marketplace in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Daniel Davis
twitter.com/steamcrow

Monsters aren’t scary — they’re just like humans. They get sad, they have aspirations, and they’re quirky. At least, that’s how local illustrator Daniel Davis, aka Steam Crow, sees it. The 44-year-old Peoria resident makes his living drawing endearing monster creatures for prints, books, buttons, and more, and has amassed a national fan base from appearing at conventions such as San Diego Comic-Con and at pop-up stores from Portland to Denver.

Besides founding Steam Crow, Davis started Tiny Army, a community of local artists that meets once a month each first Wednesday at various locations. You can find his art in local spots MADE, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, The Record Room, and Lulubell Toy Bodega, in addition to his site. This Saturday, September 28 and Sunday, September 29, he and his wife (and Steam Crow partner) Dawna host Keen Halloween, a Halloween event at Sano Fitness Studio in Phoenix, where patrons can check out cool art from artists around the country, as well as attend workshops on everything from costumes to decorations. Head West this November to Disneyland, where he’ll be a featured artist at the park’s WonderGround Gallery. Keep reading for Davis’ monstrous inspiration, as well as to hear five reasons why he loves living in Arizona.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’m from Spokane, Washington. I was in a creative rut and had friends who were artists but who weren’t necessarily good for me. I had a job opportunity to move to Arizona. I didn’t really want to live here, but I needed to get out of my comfort zone. Also, my wife Dawna’s family lives in Tucson. We moved in 2004. Continue reading

Patrick Battillo: Mr. ORNG, Phoenix Suns Super-Fan

Patrick Battillo, Phoenix Suns super-fan Mr. ORNG, photographed at US Airways Center in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Patrick Battillo, Phoenix Suns super-fan Mr. ORNG, photographed at US Airways Center in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Patrick Battillo
twitter.com/PHXMRORNG

He wouldn’t want you to call him it, but Patrick Battillo might just be the Phoenix Suns’ number one fan. The 26-year-old Peoria resident and Brooklyn, N.Y. native, can be spotted at every Suns home game, donned head-to-toe in bright orange as “Mr. ORNG,” a Suns super-fan who is known for his whistles, chants and all-around Suns support both at home and at road games. Battillo, a life-long Suns fan, works for Target as a logistics group leader during the day. He also volunteers as a basketball coach for National Youth Sports in the West Valley, gives post-game interviews to KTAR 620-AM after home games, and makes appearances at community events as Mr. ORNG.┬áHe stresses that just because many fans may not be able to make it to games, doesn’t mean they’re not loyal or passionate, but he’s happy to help represent them at the arena. He shared his motivation for supporting the Suns as Mr. ORNG, how he hopes to support the community in general, and five reasons why he loves living in the Valley, below.

What brought you to Arizona?

I moved here when I was 7 — my parent’s job brought me here. What was interesting is that I always followed the Phoenix Suns, but I didn’t know they were in Arizona. When I moved here and was able to follow them live in person as opposed to the TV, that was really cool. Continue reading