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

Audrey Thacker: Founder and President of Artisan Markets

Audrey Thacker, founder and president of Artisan Markets, photographed at the Scottsdale Waterfront, by Nicki Escudero

Audrey Thacker, founder and president of Artisan Markets, photographed at the Scottsdale Waterfront, by Nicki Escudero

Audrey Thacker
www.artisanmarketsaz.com

Audrey Thacker was a jewelry maker who saw a need for an artist market community in the Valley. She founded Artisan Markets in 2009, which has grown to a twice-weekly Scottsdale market featuring items ranging from metal sculptures to glass art for purchase. The markets are every Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m. and every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Scottsdale Waterfront, complete with live music to listen to as you peruse the artist offerings.

The 37-year-old Phoenix resident talked more about what goes into organizing the Artisan Markets, and you can hear Thacker name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was attracted to the prospect of good weather, opportunity and affordability. I am originally from Connecticut, but moved to Arizona after living in Hawaii, because I wanted a place where I could embark on my career as an artist. Arizona had everything I was looking for. Continue reading

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

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

Jennifer Boonlorn: Founder of Soul Carrier

Jennifer Boonlorn, founder of Soul Carrier handbags and accessories, photographed at Sip Coffee and Beer House in Scottsdale, holding one of her products, by Nicki Escudero

Jennifer Boonlorn, founder of Soul Carrier handbags and accessories, photographed at Sip Coffee and Beer House in Scottsdale, holding one of her products, by Nicki Escudero

Jennifer Boonlorn
www.SoulCarrier.com

A tragedy inspired Jennifer Boonlorn to pursue her true passion: fashion. After losing both her parents in a car accident she was also in, Boonlorn has created Soul Carrier, a line of handbags and accessories in upliftingly named collections, such as her upcoming Conscious Intentions collection. Items from that collection will be available exclusively through a Kickstarter campaign this month — check the Facebook page for details — while current offerings are found at www.soulcarrier.com and at Chestnut Fine Foods and Provisions in Phoenix.

Learn more about the 36-year-old Phoenix resident’s goals with Soul Carrier, and keep reading to hear Boonlorn name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was born and raised here and was home-schooled before studying marketing at ASU. I spent four years in New York City going to fashion school for design and marketing at Parsons The New School for Design. I interned for Oscar de la Renta, got to go to Marc Jacob’s Christmas party, Kate Spade and Tory Burch spoke to our class — it was a wonderful experience.

It was really my little niece who was born who brought me back to Phoenix. I loved New York, but I really love the sunshine and having a car, and was craving home. Continue reading

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

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

Tara Logsdon: Founder of DIE Bearmy and Multimedia Artist

Tara Logsdon, artist and founder of DIE Bearmy, photographed at the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area, by Nicki Escudero

Tara Logsdon, artist and founder of DIE Bearmy, photographed with her dog, Mixtape, at the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area, by Nicki Escudero

Tara Logsdon
twitter.com/DIEBearmy

Tara Logsdon feels a unique connection to inanimate objects. Teddy bears found face-down in thrift stores speak to her emotionally, and she rescues them and rehabs them, turning them into beautifully unique pieces of art with her DIE Bearmy teddy bear line. The artist makes one-of-a-kind stuffed animals for people around the world, and the bears have found their ways into the multimedia artist’s exhibitions. She’s made bears for celebrities, and is planning on creating one for actor Jeff Goldblum’s baby.

The 41-year-old Phoenix resident works as a production assistant for Martha + Mary, a venue development company with an arts focus, and at Jobot cafe in Phoenix on the weekends. You can see her bears in her upcoming art installation Bearial Ground at Frontal Lobe Community Space and Gallery in Phoenix February 6 through 20, and you can meet her at the opening reception this Friday, February 6 from 7 to 11 p.m.

Learn more about how Logsdon founded DIE Bearmy, and watch her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley in a video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I grew up here and moved to Seattle to go to The Art Institute of Seattle. I graduated with a degree in multimedia and a minor in curation. From Seattle, I was moving to L.A. and had all my possessions stolen, and my insurance wouldn’t cover it, so I had to move back in with my parents. My son was 9 at the time, and he wanted to stay here because his grandparents were here, so we stayed. I ended up finding downtown Phoenix and moved into Holgas [artist living space].

I was born in Beatrice, Nebraska, and my parents moved out here when I was 5 years old. I went to Buckeye Union High School. Continue reading

Carlos Montufar: Flamenco Dancer and Instructor with Flamenco Por La Vida

Carlos Montufar, flamenco dancer and instructor with Flamenco Por La Vida, photographed at the Burton Barr Central Library, by Nicki Escudero

Carlos Montufar, flamenco dancer and instructor with Flamenco Por La Vida, photographed at the Burton Barr Central Library, by Nicki Escudero

Carlos Montufar
FlamencoPorLaVida.com

Carlos Montufar’s passion for flamenco is evident every time he graces a stage, as his turns, claps, stomps and facial expressions are fueled by a fervor he’s had since he was a child, and that has since made him one of the most prominent flamenco dancers in the Valley. The 31-year-old Phoenix resident studied the classic Spanish dance in New Mexico before bringing his talent back to the Valley, and now you can see him on stage with local flamenco company Flamenco Por La Vida (FPLV) Wednesday nights at Gallo Blanco and Saturday nights at Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix.

Montufar works as a teacher’s assistant for Madison Rose Lane Elementary during the day, working for the special education department, converting print to braille. He also works as an instructor with FPLV, teaching flamenco Monday nights at 5th Row Dance Studios in Phoenix — find more information here. Read on for why Montufar loves flamenco, and to 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 Monterey Park, California and moved to El Paso, Texas when I was 6. I came to Phoenix when I was 17 to study drafting at High-Tech Institute. I wasn’t a fan of the school, so I transferred to Glendale Community College to get my associate degree in arts and humanities. Continue reading