Girls Rock! Ready to Shake Up Phoenix

Girls Rock! - YabYum Music & Artsby Lenore LaNova
Senior Editor

The newly founded Phoenix chapter of Girls Rock! is hosting their first public event this weekend to help raise both funds and awareness about this exciting edition to the community. Girls Rock!, a national organization aimed at helping girls build self-esteem through music education and performance, supports summer camp programs around the globe wherein young women learn an instrument, form a band, write a song, and then perform at a showcase. An empowering experience for a young artist if ever there was one.

I asked Sarah Ventre, President of Girls Rock! Phoenix, what campers can expect of a week spent with Girls Rock!

Ventre replied, “Campers can expect the best week of their lives!! They will come in on the first day not necessarily knowing how to play an instrument or even having any kind of musical experience. By the end of the week they will have learned an instrument, formed a band, written a song, and played a showcase. They’ll also be attending workshops on topics like body image or self defense, and learning in the DIY tradition through activities like zine making and screen printing. And the entire week, they’ll see and hear women as role models — teaching them instruments, performing for them, teaching workshops, and running the technical side of things. By seeing women in roles that are often given to men, it gives girls an opportunity to see themselves filling those roles from a very young age. It also reinforces the idea that they can do anything they want to, and they don’t need a guy to give them approval to do it. And it creates a space where women and girls are lifting each other up — seeing one another as collaborators instead of competitors.”

Ventre first became involved with Girls Rock! while she was living in Washington D.C. when a friend of hers volunteered for a Girls Rock! camp in New York. She then decided to volunteer as well for a camp in the D.C. area.

I asked Sarah what made her decide bring the organization to Phoenix when she returned to her home turf.

“So many things!!! The music world is really male dominated, and Phoenix is no exception. I kept thinking about growing up in Tempe, and feeling like I didn’t have access to our local music community until I turned 21. Then when I did turn 21, I only saw a handful of local bands with any women in them at all,” she began.

“I also thought about what it feels like when you’re growing up as a girl…it’s hard to feel confident or empowered about anything. Our society constantly tells girls that we’re not enough and we’re not worthy. We’re taught to apologize for being who we are, and when we try to do new things and find outlets for our creativity and self-expression, we get put down a lot. I used to think I had to wait to perform until I was “really good” at playing my instrument. But through volunteering at rock camps and really beginning to understand the riot grrrl tradition, I learned that you don’t need anyone’s permission to form a band and make music. And if I had been taught that at a young age, it would have made a world of difference in my teenage years and through to my adulthood. Now it’s time to grow this kind of an empowering, supportive community of women and make it accessible to young girls in the Valley.”

Already, the Phoenix edition of Girls Rock! has some notable volunteers involved in the program which plans on hosting its first Phoenix summer camp in 2016. According to Ventre, “Several local musicians (including Grace Bolyard from The Darling Sounds, Amy Young from French Girls, Jenny Weintraub from Sister Lip, Amanda Schukle from Steel Cranes, Alexis Ronstadt from Larkspurs) are part of our organizing team, as well as women who work at local venues/art spaces like Andrea Pederson from Nile Theater and Laura Dragon from {9} The Gallery, and a bunch of other women who volunteer in lots of different ways. We’ve also received sponsorship for our upcoming fundraiser from Kimber Lanning, and from Charlie Levy, owner of Crescent Ballroom and Valley Bar. Plus we’ll be working with Catherine Vericolli, owner of 513 Recording Studios to introduce girls to audio engineering.”

There’s still room for more volunteers for those interest in getting involved.

“For folks who want to volunteer at camp, we’re looking for women-identified, trans, and genderqueer or gendernonconforming folks who have an interest — no musical experience is necessary! We’ll need people to do everything from coaching and managing bands, to teaching instruments, to running workshops, to being roadies and moving gear, to helping with administrative tasks and organizing camp lunches! There’s a place for anyone who’d like to be there!!” Ventre stated in a message.

This coming Sunday, Girls Rock! Phoenix will be down at the Newton for a screening of Girls Rock! The Movie for folks interested in getting involved, showing their support, or just learning more about this worthy organization. Live music and a raffle are also included in the mix so don’t miss out! Tickets for the screening can be purchased here. Or, to learn more about the event, you can head here.

YabYum Music & Arts

Taking a Closer Look at “Portraits of Bohemia”

“Obliteration” by Jason Rudolph Pena. Photos courtesy of artists.

Beautiful portraits adorn the walls as you enter {9} The Gallery – a relatively new gallery located downtown on Grand Avenue, owned and curated by Laura Dragon. The current exhibition is Portraits of Bohemia featuring two local artists Jason Rudolph Pena and Carol Roque. They are self-taught artists that focus on expressing themselves through their art focusing on portraiture. There is a tremendous body of work within the gallery with both artists coming together harmoniously since their styles are so complimentary. Each artist demonstrates great use of color and shadowing bringing an added edge and drama to the portraits while relating pure raw emotion to the viewer. Together these two exciting artists have skillfully reinterpreted the idea of the modern portrait.

Ms. Dragon has been wanting to put together a portrait exhibition at {9} The Gallery but it wasn’t until about six months ago when she met Jason during art detour that the idea became a realty. Laura knew she wanted to exhibit his work and said, “Jason’s work is amazing and I love how he uses found materials to paint on”. Immediately she thought of pairing his work with Carol Roque whom she first met four years ago during First Friday. Laura purchased a print of Carol’s entitled “Rubber Ducky Never Judges” and she has since watched her career and style progress over the years. The inspiration for the title Portraits of Bohemia came from Ms. Dragon’s love of her community and portraiture, “Grand is very bohemian in every sense of the word” she said. When I asked the artists why portraits, Pena simply said “I usually paint portraits because I feel that is the best way to capture an emotion”. While Roque said portraits allow her freedom to “paint what I love or find interesting, and that often involves expressing those feelings through the individuals I create.”

Jason’s portraits are slightly abstracted with the composition cropped to emphasize the face. We see a brilliant use of color that draws the viewer through the portraits, highlighting the subject’s eyes. Compositionally he limits the background distraction allowing the viewer to focus on the face like with his piece “Obliteration”. Jason uses acrylic, watercolor, and ink on found material to creature his pieces. When I asked him about the inspiration behind his current artwork, he simply said “his fans.” Jason said, “people who collect my work, the people who share my posts on social media, the people who tell me they are inspired by what I do; they collectively inspire me.” He has an immense amount of respect for his fans and this is definitely evident throughout his work with the care he takes when depicting each subject.

“Cecilia Deals with Growth” by Carol Roque

Carol’s portraits transport you inside her imagination: playful, witty, with a dark twist. She incorporates a rich color palette, brilliant use of line and shadowing, and a delicate abstraction of her subject. Carol creates amazing original oil paintings, hand made dolls, and prints. A great example of her style is “Cecilia Deals With Growth”, a stunning portrait with beautiful lighting and imagery. When asked about how she chooses the models Carol said, “I based them on what I wanted to express, I find a pose I want to use and change it until it matches what I want to say through the work.” Her work is a reflection of her life experiences which she draws inspiration from for her paintings. Carol said, “sometimes it comes from what I know and understand, and while other times it’s something I don’t truly understand until after I’m finished.”

The Portraits of Bohemia exhibition is an incredible portrait exhibition that you don’t want to miss and it runs until October 4th with a special artist reception on Sept. 20th. Plus, there will be a poetry slam on September 17th with poet Andrea Gibson and an ASU Poetry Slam on Sept. 27 so mark your calendars and head down to {9} The Gallery!

Gallery Teaser
Jason Rudolph Pena Website
Carol Roque Website

by Nicole Royse
Contributing Writer