Christine Cassano: Phoenix Mixed Media Artist

Christine Cassano, Phoenix mixed media artist, photographed at her studio in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Christine Cassano, Phoenix mixed media artist, photographed at her studio in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Christine Cassano
twitter.com/cmcassano

Phoenix artist Christine Cassano has turned extreme pain into inspiration for her current body of mixed media sculptural work, blending biological and organic influences with technological themes. A hiking accident 10 years ago resulted in a hip dislocation, hip socket fracture and full hip replacement for Cassano a few years ago, while she developed an auto-immune thyroid condition the same time as her accident that only went into full remission last year. Now, the 40-year-old Phoenix resident says she feels healthier than ever and is thrilled to focus on her art, having had eight exhibits the past year alone, as well as her freelance work as a graphic designer.

See Cassano’s work as part of the Tempe Mill Avenue post office installation in December, and check out her 150-piece wall installation at Tempe Center for the Arts for the venue’s biennial through January 31.

Cassano explains the inspiration behind her art below, and you can also watch a video of her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’m from Virginia Beach, Virginia. I graduated from art school with a BFA in studio art from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia in 2001. I wanted a different life and contrast from the ocean where I grew up, so two months after graduation, I packed up a moving truck and drove across the country. Continue reading

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

Nicole Royse: Painter and Curator at Willo North Gallery

Nicole Royse, painter, curator at Willo North Gallery and assistant curator at Shade Projects at monOrchid, photographed with her work at Vision Gallery in Chandler, by Nicki Escudero

Nicole Royse, painter, curator at Willo North Gallery and Shade Projects at monOrchid, photographed with her work at Vision Gallery in Chandler, by Nicki Escudero

Nicole Royse
twitter.com/NicoleRoyseArt

Nicole Royse doesn’t just have an eye for what works in an art space as curator at Willo North Gallery and Shade Projects at the monOrchid in Phoenix. As a painter herself of abstract, flower and layer art, the 31-year-old Chandler resident has been a part of more than 60 exhibitions in Arizona and California. She’s currently showing her work at Vision Gallery in Chandler and five15 Arts Gallery in Phoenix.

She’s gearing up for three fun shows for this Friday’s Third Friday Art Walk, where she’ll be making appearances at all of them. Willo North Gallery features a solo exhibition of Daniel Shepherd, a collage artist working with re-purposed materials, whose 6-9 p.m. reception includes a meet-and-greet with the artist, music, hors d’oeuvres and refreshments.

At the monOrhcid, the final round of the THERMAL PHX art competition and exhibition is open to the public, also from 6-10 p.m. She has another painting, Twilight, at five15 Arts Gallery through August 30, with an artist reception Friday from 6-10 p.m. You may also check out Royse’s works Rapture and Vivacious at Vision Gallery through August 29 in its Flourish: Artworks Inspired by Our Gardens exhibit.

Read writing on the arts by Royse in local publications, including LocalRevibe Magazine, YabYum Music & Arts and East Valley Magazine. She also has her own blog featuring local art events, as well as a gallery rundown every first and third Friday.

Learn her thoughts on the local arts scene, and watch a video of her talking about her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley, below.

What brought you to Arizona?

I moved here in high school with my grandparents, when my grandmother was transferred here with her company. I fell in love and was married at 19, and my husband is born and raised here. We both graduated from ASU, where I got my art history degree with a business and marketing background, and we stayed in the area to be near our families, as well as raise our family.

I was born in Las Vegas and grew up in Orange County, California. Continue reading

Alexi DeVilliers: Creator of Fishliptz Sculptures

Alexi DeVilliers, founder of Fishliptz, photographed at his home in Tempe, by Nicki Escudero

Alexi DeVilliers, founder of Fishliptz, photographed at his home in Tempe, by Nicki Escudero

Alexi Devilliers
facebook.com/Fishliptz

Alexi DeVilliers started his career with wanting to feed the homeless. The 48-year-old Tempe resident creates unique sculptures, such as robots and dogs, made out of cans formerly containing food used to cook meals for those in an elderly shelter. As an artist, he goes by Fishliptz, which he’s been devoted to full-time since November. His art is sold everywhere from Method Art Gallery in Scottsdale and SunDust Gallery & Art Center in Gilbert, to Ian Russell Gallery of Fine Art in Prescott, Arizona, Pop Gallery in Sante Fe and the Children’s Museum of Phoenix.

Find him  on 4th St. and Roosevelt for every First Friday Artwalk in downtown Phoenix, and read more about how he merges his passion for creating art with helping others, below.

What brought you to Arizona?

I’m from Miami, and 9/11 brought my wife and I here around 13 years ago. My wife worked for the airlines, and I worked for a sprinkler company. After 9/11, they started to lay people off and gave her a severance package. We were going to come here to visit my friend John for his 40th birthday, and we said, “Let’s just move.”

I was born in New York, and my parents were born in Cuba. We moved to Florida when I was 5. Continue reading

Lisa Starry: Founder of Scorpius Dance Theatre

Lisa Starry, founder of Scorpius Dance Theatre, photographed in her studio in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Lisa Starry, founder of Scorpius Dance Theatre, photographed in her studio in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Lisa Starry
twitter.com/scorpius_dance

For 15 years, Lisa Starry has brought spooky vampires, passionate lovers and aerial flyers to local stages, all of who know how to groove. As founder of Scorpius Dance Theatre, Starry has choreographed and directed dancers at worldwide performances, with her company of more than 20 dancers, as well as aerial performers.

The 44-year-old Phoenix resident is also helping shape the future of the local dance scene, as co-founder and Associate Head of School of Metropolitan Art Institute (Metro Arts). In-between her day job and coming up with new moves for Scorpius, she teaches modern dance for Scorpius and the public Wednesday nights at 6 p.m. in the studio at Metro Arts.

See her work this weekend as Scorpius Dance Theatre performs Catwalk, with music by Duran Duran, Friday, July 11 and Saturday, July 12 at Phoenix Theatre. Find tickets here. Starry explains how she started her company below, and you can watch a video of her name her five favorite reasons for living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

My parents moved here when I was 11. I went to Central High School, then studied at the Phoenix School of Ballet before going to California Institute of the Arts to get my degree in dance choreography. I was born in Dover, Delaware. Continue reading

Steve Weiss: Founder of No Festival Required

Steve Weiss
facebook.com/NoFestivalRequired

Some of the best films shown in the Valley come courtesy of Steve Weiss, whose No Festival Required film showings have brought cutting-edge and impactful independent movies to art galleries and theaters across the Valley since 2002. The 58-year-old Phoenix resident is a photographer who also worked professionally in the film world, and started NFR when he saw a need for high-quality film showings. Now, he’s the resident programmer at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Arts and is working on series at Phoenix Center for the Arts.

This week, you can catch two of his events. The first, Thursday, June 19, starts at 7:30 p.m. at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Arts and includes two films about American suburban living, Gimmie Green and Wagonmasters. Then, Sunday, June 22 at 1:30 p.m., he shows Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense at Phoenix Center for the Arts.

Read on for where his passion for film comes from, and keep scrolling to hear him name five of his favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was born and raised here. My parents came here in the late ‘40s when my father became the first full-time dentist at the Arizona State Prison in Florence. My parents were initially interested in Arizona and moved from New Jersey to come here.

I went to Camelback High School and got a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography from ASU. Other than living in Phoenix and attending ASU, I went to San Francisco Art Institute for a year and then returned there after I got out of ASU in 1978 for a total of three months. I’ve been back here ever since. Continue reading

Steph Carrico: Co-Owner of The Trunk Space

Steph Carrico, co-owner of The Trunk Space in Phoenix, photographed at The Trunk Space, by Nicki Escudero

Steph Carrico, co-owner of The Trunk Space in Phoenix, photographed at The Trunk Space, by Nicki Escudero

Steph Carrico
twitter.com/TheTrunkSpace

The Trunk Space has hosted rowdy punk shows, moving poetry readings, sexy burlesque, and life-drawing sessions. For the past 10 years, it’s been a haven for all ages to come express themselves through art and music, featuring monthly art exhibits, touring and local bands and sideshow acts that inject a quirky feel into the Downtown Phoenix Grand Avenue space.

Thank Steph Carrico, who along with co-owner JRC, strives to cultivate a diverse line-up of entertaining acts. The 38-year-old Phoenix resident is a photography and 2D/3D design teacher at Metropolitan Arts Institute and a freelance photographer when she’s not running the space.

Get excited for new Trunk Space developments. The venue, which also features an artist-made gift shop and vintage photo booth, is getting an air conditioning unit this summer, and Carrico and JRC plan to expand their coffee bar hours to all day by summer, too. Carrico talked about her motivation for running the space, and keep reading to see a video of her talk about her favorite reasons for living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

My parents brought me to Arizona when I was 9. My dad was a contractor, and we were living in northern Utah where it’s snowy. There’s no snow here, so they decided to move here because it was safer for him to work year-round.

I was born in Salt Lake City. Here, I went to Coronado High School and graduated Arizona State University with a degree in fine art photography. Continue reading

Nicholas Polando: Designer for State Forty Eight

Nicholas Polando, designer for local T-shirt line State Forty Eight, photographed in downtown Tempe, by Nicki Escudero

Nicholas Polando, designer for local T-shirt line State Forty Eight, photographed in downtown Tempe, by Nicki Escudero

Nicholas Polando
twitter.com/StateFortyEight

When it comes to T-shirts showing off Arizona pride, cartoon cacti aren’t the only way to go. A new locally printed line, State Forty Eight, sets out to impact the Arizona fashion scene in a big way with chic, eye-catching, stylish designs showing off state pride. The line includes lightweight hoodies perfect for Valley winters, as well as women’s, men’s and children’s shirts and accessories. Designer Nicholas Polando started State Forty Eight with his brother Stephen Polando and their friend Mike Spangenberg, and it launched this past March. The 25-year-old Tempe resident talked about the future for the line, with Phoenix Suns and Coyotes themes expected to launch by early next year. Keep scrolling to hear Nicholas talk about his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

I moved here when I was 3 from Urbana, Ohio with my parents. I grew up and lived in Chandler and went to Chandler High School and Scottsdale Community College. 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

Sebastien Millon: Artist and T-Shirt, Print and Card Designer

Sebastien Millon, local T-shirt, print, card and plushie designer, photographed at Pita Jungle in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Sebastien Millon, local T-shirt, print, card and plushie designer, photographed at Pita Jungle in Phoenix, by Nicki Escudero

Sebastien Millon
twitter.com/sebreg

Judging by some of Sebastien Millon‘s artwork, you might think the local artist and T-shirt designer has a very twisted mind. There are murderous cats, drunk bears and psychotic bunnies who pepper his digital artwork. But the 31-year-old Paradise Valley resident is quite kind in real life, an artist who wants to help out his peers in the scene as much as he wants to share his sinfully funny, yet still super-sweet, art around the world. After starting to produce his digital art full-time four years ago, his T-shirt line earned a headlining spot in Phoenix Fashion Week, and he’s traveled to comic and art conventions around the country, selling his shirts, prints, greeting cards, and plushies. Millon plans on launching a Kickstarter campaign for a book of his illustrations, and check out a show of his at Hava Java in Phoenix in October. Millon talked about what kind of work goes into becoming an artist full-time, and you can hear him say five of his favorite reasons for living in the Valley below.

What brought you to Arizona?

I moved here with my parents when I as about 12, when my dad’s job in pharmaceutical management at Eli Lilly brought him out here. I was born in Belgium. My family is originally French, and we moved around a lot. We moved to Germany, then Puerto Rico, then Indianapolis, then to Japan, then here. I went to college in Chicago to study econ and art. Continue reading