Hamilton Comes to Tempe

by Rebecca Rudnyk

So let’s be honest. If you’re reading this, a formal introduction is likely not necessary. In my lifetime as a dedicated theatre nerd, I recall no other show garnering the excitement or the hype of Hamilton.

The musical, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, is based on the Ron Chernow biography detailing the life, death, and legacy of Alexander Hamilton. And it is arguably the biggest thing to happen to live theatre in decades. It is a show about America; its founding and its founders. Portrayed by actors, and using music, as diverse as our society is today. It is apologetically complex, while simultaneously crisp and minimalistic.

Currently playing on Broadway, as well as in London and Chicago, Hamilton recently launched its first national tour. Arizona State University’s Gammage Auditorium is hosting some of the earliest productions, playing from January 30 – February 25, 2018. Outside of the venue on opening night, you could feel the tangible electricity in the air. Expectations were high, and excitement was palpable. And I suspect that nobody left disappointed.

Amber Iman, Emmy Raver-Lampman & Hamilton Company – HAMILTON National Tour (c) Joan Marcus

The cast had enormous shoes to fill. A large portion of attendees had heard, if not obsessively listened to, the Triple Platinum original cast recording. Cast albums can be a double-edged sword. While the album played an integral role in establishing Hamilton as a cultural phenomenon, it also set a bar of expectation that any album recorded and perfected in a studio does.

As fans and audience members, we cannot help but desire to hear the songs and interactions precisely as they sound when we listen to them in our earbuds, cars, and homes. Thus, there is always a chance that the audience will be disappointed by the richness of extremely incredible, but occasionally live, voices. Even without the perfect acoustics some smaller venues provide, the entire cast delivered heartily. And the absolutely stellar performances by Austin Scott as Hamilton and Sabrina Sloan as Angelica Schuyler elevated the production to an unquestionably Broadway-caliber level.

Jordan Donica & Hamilton Company – HAMILTON National Tour (c) Joan Marcus

Hamilton is unpretentiously complex. Character development is layered upon social commentary, which is layered on top of music of every possible genre. The complexity of words and articulation develops as characters do. Music serves as a venue to represent culture. Immigrants, who have to fight for their place in society, leverage the percussion and rapidity of rap to speak their minds. The European monarch leverages the comfort of British pop to convey his thoughts. And “Americans,” those who were born in (and thus did not have to fight for their place in) their new country, play in the melodic spaces in between.

David Korins’ set design is muted and beautiful. Comprised of wood, brick, and rope, it serves as the perfect setting for a country in development; built by enslaved hostages, brilliant idealists, and “manumission abolitionists”. The turntable, used to symbolize the passage of time and the struggles of existence, subtly provides the mechanics for some of the show’s most heart-wrenching and powerful moments. Angelica’s request that Hamilton not “forget to write” proved profoundly intense. It gets me every time. There are many other moments that could only exist through the brilliant use of the turntable. But this is not meant to be a spoiler article, so I encourage you to go and discover those moments for yourself!

Additionally, Howell Binkley’s lighting design is a character in itself. A muted stage palate provides a blank canvas in need of light. Binkley found the space with shadows, depth, movement, and color. There are moments that evoke audible gasps from the audience perfectly timed to a lighting change, most notably in the “eye of a hurricane”.

Hamilton Company – HAMILTON National Tour (c) Joan Marcus_preview

Paul Tazewell’s costume design, primarily cloaking dancers in white, also considers the power of shadow. This is not a show meant to distract with beauty, glitz or glamour. The costumes are not memorable, nor are they meant to be. They serve a utilitarian purpose. They allow you to know and understand the characters.

In life there is some art that is world-changing; art that changes us, leaving an indelible mark on our souls. We experience it and know we are forever changed. I encourage you to experience Hamilton for yourself.

If you don’t already have tickets, there’s still hope! While Hamilton in Tempe is officially sold out, a small number of tickets are released daily. Your best best is to try in the morning the day of, through ASU Gammage/Ticketmaster. There is also a lottery for 40 tickets in the first two rows of the theater for every performance. If you win, those premium seats will only cost you $10 each! You can enter the lottery for every single performance through the Hamilton App which you can download from iTunes or Google Play.

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YabYum Seven: Tara Logsdon

unnamed (10)Who are you and what do you do?

Tara Logsdon and I create socially-enlightened art installations using teddy bears.

How did you get your start?

I ran a stuffed animal hospital at age 5 out of my bedroom closet and it all kinda snowballed from there.

What inspires you?

Vibration, motion, math, quantum connections, astronomy, philosophy, patterns, diagrams, triangles, trespassing, abandoned spaces, esoteric belief systems, old books, smart people, handwriting, dreams, rituals (especially those involving fire) … the freedom to follow whatever signals pull me no matter how subtle.

What do you like about AZ?

I feel very connected to the desert. There is undeniable honesty in its sparseness and all living things must be hardcore to survive here.

Where can we see you(r) work?

For the past couple years, I have been working in conjunction with the house of intuition in Los Angeles so my “bearot” and “sacred bearometry” are integrated in their stores and temple.

What would you like to accomplish before you die?

This is a long, ever-changing list but I am currently obsessed with the idea of puling off large-scale land art in our desert with the hopes it could be the start of a series or something that would outlive me. I also want to live at least one year at Auroville in India.

What is your mantra?

accept>adapt>repeat

~

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YabYum Seven: Rossitza Todorova

Rossitza Todorova TransluminalWho are you and what do you do?

My name is Rossitza Todorova and I am an artist. Drawing is my primary art medium with which I create works on paper, installations, and artist books. In my work, I explore the relationship between place and memory creating landscapes that capture the flux of time.

How did you get your start?

I was encouraged as a child and told that I had talent. However, it was when I immigrated to the US from Bulgaria that my artwork became a way to connect with my new surroundings and helped me to assimilate into my new home. Being an artist is more than a passion, it’s synonymous for me with identity.

What inspires you?

I find the most inspiration while traveling, I love the moment of getting in the car or on the plane where I get to look out the window and feel myself moving toward something. The transition into a new place is often the feeling I am striving to capture in my work.IMG_8604

What do you like about AZ?

I have also been so very lucky to learn from and work with wonderful, genuine, intelligent people that have supported my art and my ambitions in work and in my personal life. I really love the art community here and am so proud to see how it is growing.

Where can we see you(r) work?

  • May 26 – September 29, 2016 – “Aesthetics Primary,” Fifth Street School Mayor’s Gallery, Las Vegas, NV
  • August 15 – 26, 2016, “Artist: In Residence,” Harry Wood Gallery, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
  • September 2 – 23, 2016 “Visions of Grandeur,” Chartreuse, Bragg’s Pie Factory, Phoenix AZ
  • July 18 – December 14, 2016 – “Rossitza Todorova,” Las Vegas City Hall, Las Vegas NV
  • August 6, 2017, “Anderson Ranch Art Center, 50th Anniversary Annual Art Auction,” Snowmass, CO
  • Visit my website

What would you like to accomplish before you die?

Have a retrospective at the New York Guggenheim. And, visit every continent and country on earth.

What is your mantra?

Ship, always ship.

Rossitza Todorova_If the sea can calm herself

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YabYum Seven: Sandra Ortega

unnamed (11)Who are you and what do you do?

I am a follower of Jesus, clothed as an artist, working in pastels and now oils. A member of the Arizona Pastel Artists Assoc. and Pastel Society of America. I also work at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. I am in a ministry to women in crises. And I’m married to Larry Ortega. We have two adult children and six beautiful grandkids.

How did you get your start?

My sixth grade teacher believed my art was good enough to enter it into the Laguna Beach Art Festival’s Children’s Exhibit. An she also entered it into Chapman College children’s art exhibit in Orange County. I finished my formal art education at Cal State Fullerton.

What inspires you?

I am awe struck at the dance of sunlight on an object. I am inspired by other artists of all mediums. And the human spirit is inspiring and emotionally captivating.

unnamed (1)What do you like about AZ?

I love Arizona! Coming here from Hawaii in 1980 it took about 3 years to get acclimated, but the beauty of the desert slowly came into focus. The desert is stunning. And I witness the most beautiful sunsets from my porch. Where else can you travel from the desert to ponderosa pine forest in an hour and 30 minutes? Arizona is truly the land of enchantment!

Where can we see your work?

I am in group shows two and sometimes three times a year with the Arizona Pastel Artists Assoc. I just got back from the Bisbee Plein Air Festival, where I was one of the two judges. I sold my plain air piece on display there. You can also see my art on my website.

What would you like to accomplish before you die?

My desire is to transition my painting style from a representational to more abstract. I also have a short bucket list and hope to accomplish that.

What is your mantra?

Observe the beauty around me each day, love people, love God.

 

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YabYum Seven: Emmett Potter

unnamed (2)Who are you and what do you do?

Emmett Potter and I am an artist.

How did you get your start?

I started in photography in the late 80’s and transitioned into graphic design by the 90’s. By 2006, I was really wanting to get back into creating artwork, but had no idea what direction to take. In 2008, I quit my day job and rented a studio at the now defunct Kollective in downtown Phoenix. The building is now occupied by FilmBar. That is where I met my wife, the artist, Kristin Bauer. We then became studio-mates in a little house on Portland Street with a friend of ours and then transitioned to a space in Scottsdale by 2010 that became our studio and also served as the home of Squeeze Gallery. That was where I really started putting up my work and selling as an artist.

What inspires you?

[A] good artist, my wife and kids, Carl Jung, pop culture, consumerism and life in general.

What do you like about AZ?unnamed

I like what AZ is becoming culturally, the desert landscape, and the good quality of life that is affordable in the Valley verses other metropolises.

Where can we see your work?

Currently, I was just in a two person show at Carlos Queso in Los Angeles and I will have a piece at the I.D.E.A. Museum in Mesa this summer.

What would you like to accomplish before you die?

A long, healthy life.

What is your mantra?

My mantra is: “The Dude abides.”

 

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STEAM at the Tempe Center for the Arts

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Monica Aissa Martinez

by Nicole Royse
Arts Editor

Tempe Center for the Art’s summer exhibition STEAM brings together the worlds of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics in an exciting and captivating exhibition.

“STEAM is a movement inspired by the popularity of STEM -based education”, states TCA Curator Michelle Nichols-Dock. The exhibition highlights a variety of art including painting, wood burning, sculpture, photography, as well as interactive displays and features an eclectic array of local artists including Monica Aissa Martinez, Alexandria Bowers, Madison Creech, Frank Gonzales, Molly Koehn and Ellen McMahon, just to name a few!

Striking casein and egg tempera paintings on the inner workings of the human body created by Monica Aissa Martinez greet patrons as they enter the exhibition. Next, a dazzling collection of wood burned insect studies by Alexandra Bowers are surrounded by the large-scale photography of various insect species created by Charles Kazilek. Frank Gonzales has created beautiful acrylic paintings of birds, flowers and cacti blending together realism and artificiality created by utilizing reference sources.

This exhibition explores the connections between these wonderful diverse disciplines while “highlighting the individuals who are using the various disciplines to transform and make better the lives of everyday people” states Dock. Seamlessly blending together artworks with technology and science displays, the TCA has once again partnered with ASU bringing fascinating insect collections ranging in species from the Hasbrouck Insect Collection, as well as an extensive collection of vintage cameras. Also highlighted in STEAM is engineering giving patrons the opportunity to view photographs, plans, models and historical data about the Tempe Town Lake and the Dam construction.d31a167f-84e6-46b1-8c24-f9fd0c6400a5

A series of free family workshops are being offered in conjunction with the exhibition as part of the “Maker Cafe” on Saturdays from 12-2 PM in the Gallery. Looking for some adults only fun? Then head to TCA on July 22 for “S.T.E.A.M.-Y Ladies Night Out” hosted by artist Cyndi Coon and scientist Catherine Seiler who will give a great science talk about diatoms plus draw your own mini “Cellfies.”

On July 23 create your very own cardboard tube Pinhole Camera with TCA staff while learning about optics. Visitors can enjoy a demonstration and partake in some Lego fun building a load-bearing bridge on August 5th when they welcome a “Lego Master Builder from Tempe’s new Legoland Discovery Center.

There is still plenty of time to explore STEAM, which will be on display until September 17th and is proudly sponsored by APS. Tempe Center for the Arts is located at 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway in Tempe and is open Tuesday through Thursday 10-5 PM, Friday’s 10-7:30 PM and Saturday’s 11-5 PM. More information about this exhibition and upcoming can be found online at the Tempe Center for the Arts.

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Frank Gonzales
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Alexandra Bowers
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“Cellfies”

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YabYum Seven: Aaron Thomas Roth

MeWho are you and what do you do?

My name is Aaron Thomas Roth and I am a collage artist.

How did you get your start?

"Head to the Wall"
“Head to the Wall”

I was a freelance illustrator working in New York City in the 1990’s when I met designer Carlos Fachi. It was about that time I was working on large-scale collages which, for me, were more of a “fine art” application and completely different from my illustrative work. Carlos had an art gallery downtown at the time and after seeing my work he offered me my first solo New York exhibition.

What inspires you?

For me, inspiration comes when I least expect it and usually from the simplest of things. Seeing a photograph, hearing a song… or even just walking down the street and seeing a texture on a wall or a spill on a sidewalk can really be all that is needed for a foundation for a new piece.

 

Waiting For The Sun
“Waiting For The Sun”

What do you like about AZ?

Arizona is unlike any place I’ve ever lived. The weather and the landscapes here can be magical. I love standing outside on hot summer nights watching the lighting storms in the distance and listening to the far off rumbles of thunder.

I occasionally miss the seasons of the East Coast but there is something to be said for wearing a tee-shirt here in December.

Where can we see your work?

I would love to say I’m hanging here or there but at the moment my work is not hanging anywhere. This past year and a half I was unable to produce any new work and unfortunately had to cancel a couple of exhibitions. Now that I’m up and running again, I have decided to concentrate on just producing work. No distractions and no excuses…

What would you like to accomplish before you die?

I must say I have lead a very fortunate life… I’ve done all kinds of stuff but as a person who creates images that hopefully capture peoples attention, I think the ultimate for me would be to one day hang in the Whitney Museum of American Art in NYC. That would be the cherry on top.

What is your mantra?

Live in the moment… Live like there will be no tomorrow…. And trust no one! 😉

YabYum Seven: Cheryl Brandon

5dbe72b1-653f-4b1d-923f-a7b9b6678053Who are you and what do you do?

I remember how odd it felt the first time I spoke out loud that I, Cheryl Brandon, was an Artist. I always knew it was so, because my mother had recognized this talent in me at a very young age and sent me to study at the Oklahoma Science and Art Foundation. In fact, it was this institute with its petrified mummies on display under large glass cubicles that inspired me to be a figurative Clay Artist. I work with clay. With a little pressure and control of this very earthy medium, I am able to speak without using words.

How did you get your start?

I went to college and took every available class in clay. Pottery and sculpture were my main focus. It was pretty easy to see I was on to something because I could see other students work and compare my work to theirs as well as to my professors. And so, the light went on and I fell in love with it. I started competing with my college professors in many craft shows and exhibitions at their suggestion. This put me in the art world and proved to me that I belonged; that I could succeed in the field. By far the most impressive push I got early on was from sweet loving family. My brother and sister, along with my mother, went in together and purchased my first kiln. This gesture still brings a tear to my eye. I have truly been blessed with great support.

What inspires you?5f1c3279-a30f-40e3-a2cb-408a8842a263

I think it comes down to nature, anything from the world of nature, including human nature, and the way people interact to both. The most interesting and inspirational aspects of human nature is the way individuals deal with internal and external realities and conditions. Such as personal conflicts with internal dialog (that little voice we often time listen to), and perspectives on sexuality, especially for me, that of being female. So first is people and their spirits. Second is any form of beauty in nature, whether it is the wind, the sky, the colors or the strange beauty of plants and animals. I really like to work with both to create feelings that are familiar, universal, and speak to everyone. This is best noted in my latest work with totems.

What do you like about AZ?

When I first moved to Arizona in 1996, I could not believe my eyes. The plants reminded me of something from a different planet, strange beauty that sometimes bite, but demands respect. And wow! The places you can go: to the mountains, ski slope, or the canyons, such diversity and no matter where you are in Arizona, the sun shines every day, even if it rains. It is really hard to be in a bad mood with all the sunshine. Happiness for me is to feel the sun on my face and know that it will be the same tomorrow.

The people of Arizona are a very mixed bag from all parts, so you don’t have any barriers to break through. What I mean is, people in Arizona are friendly, trusting and accepting of newcomers. This makes it easy to call Arizona home. Plus, Phoenix is a very metropolitan city, and has a healthy Art Community, which is very attractive to me. And let’s not stop there, so many more art communities with great appeal to tourists and artists like Carefree, Sedona, Tucson, Bisbee, Tubac, Jerome, and Prescott. Any artist would be so lucky to live, love, and make (or sell) art in Arizona.

abca067b-f997-403a-b9d0-2fcc00f4c713Where can we see your work?

Presently, I am represented by Carsten’s Fine Art Gallery in Scottsdale. Or you can view my work on my website. In the past, I have shown in many galleries here in the valley, on Marshall Way, and Cave Creek as well as galleries in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and Bernalillo, New Mexico. I also show in many group shows here in town such as The Shemer, The Herberger, the Alwun House, West Valley Museum, the Airport Museum, R. Pela Contemporary, Oblique Art, AZ Clay and wherever the “Calls to Artist” may lead me.

What would you like to accomplish before you die?

I have always wanted to have my own studio/gallery space so I would like to find a piece of property, in an art-savvy community, design and build my gallery. More than just a building, I would like this gallery to be inviting to everyone, not just artists and collectors. I believe that people need art and they want to live with art. But, more than sometimes, the art venues are somewhat intimidating. I would like to use a sense of humor and whimsy to reduce the intimidation, thus, bringing all types of people to the space. I want people to know what I know: that everything in our life is a symbol, a clue, a reminder of what we understand and what we don’t. These are the how’s and why’s of manifestation, the creation of Art. It is so simple, really. In art, look to the beauty for the truth and, to what hurts, for its beauty.

What is your mantra?

Thoughts become things. So be careful what you think. Choose the good ones.

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YabYum Seven: Fausto Fernandez

faustoWho are you and what do you do?

Fausto Fernandez: I am a fine artist. My works include a variety of mixed-media collages, paintings, public art, and community engagement projects. My studio creations are colorful, geometric, mixed-media collages on canvas, photo transfers of people and crowds and aviation renderings.

How did you get your start?

I studied graphic design and painting at the University of Texas in El Paso. A year after graduating in 2002, I moved to Phoenix where I continued to make art and completed a non-paid internship at the Scottsdale Public Art program. Thereafter, I was hired to install exhibitions as a contract museum preparator at The Heard Museum and Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA). I later became an employee at the Arizona State University Art Museum for 5 years.

Working at the museums was my introduction to the Phoenix art scene, where I met other artists and worked alongside curators with whom I learned professional museum skills. I had the privilege of installing art shows for friends and other artists I admire, and this is how I received insight into the art world and started participating in shows. I moved into my first art studio at The Lodge on Grand Ave in 2002 where I was able to maintain my artist studio for 10 years. I later moved to Los Angeles and I currently live in Anthony, New Mexico.

What inspires you?

Living vicariously through the experiences and challenges of the people I’ve met. They challenge me and provide me with opportunities I didn’t think I was capable of achieving.

What do you like about Arizona?fausto3

The Arizona landscapes are beautiful. Arizona is my home away from home; It is where I was able to grow up independently from my family and where I have cultivated a good family of friends. Arizona has seen me fail and succeed, so I owe much of my experience to the 10 years I lived in Phoenix and I love it.

Where can we see you(r) work?

The floor at the Sky Harbor International Airport Sky Train Station in Phoenix, AZ; Turner Carroll Gallery and The Bataan Memorial Building in Santa Fe, NM; City Hall in El Paso, TX; East Rancho Dominguez park Installation in East Compton, CA and my Website and Instagram.

What would you like to accomplish before you die?

I’d like to own a classic car and go on a road trip, build a house with a studio to use as my home base, and travel to find a passion for something new and unexpected.

What is your mantra?

Make a lot of friends everywhere.

~

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YabYum Seven: Kevin Caron

kevincaron-headshotWho are you and what do you do?

I am Kevin Caron, a sculptor. I excite and delight people with my fabricated metal and 3D printed sculptures. Nothing makes me happier than seeing someone look at one of my sculptures from every angle, soaking it in – or trying to figure it out!

How did you get your start?

I wasn’t one of those people who always wanted to be an artist, so I sort of backed into being an artist. We wanted a privacy screen at our house. People saw it and began asking me to make things for them. Before I knew it, instead of trading for work, people began paying me to have fun.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by trying to make the things I see in my head. Sometimes a technical challenge presents itself (I’ve been told this makes some of my work conceptual). I let my hands become an extension of my mind, as I do when I am riding my motorcycle. I also love sound, movement, shadows and illusion, as well as the sensuality of shapes, the gentle rise and fall of their sides and junctures.

kevincaron-knotme
“Knot Me”

What do you like about AZ?

Growing up, I spent a lot of time in the desert, exploring washes, interacting with the plants and animals around me. Arizona is in my heart as well as being my home.

Where can we see you(r) work?

In Arizona, my work is at Pearson & Company in Scottsdale, Vision Gallery in Chandler and Van Gogh’s Ear gallery in Prescott. As for where I work, I have a studio, which is a converted auto garage (only fitting, since I was a mechanic for many years), in Phoenix where I do my metal work. My three 3D printers are at home – the studio is too dirty for sensitive (and I mean sensitive!) equipment.

I just wrapped up a solo show of my 3D printed work at the Walter Art Gallery in Scottsdale and a solo show of my metal work and drawings came to a close on April 28 at the Central Arts Plaza in Phoenix. Both were curated by Robrt Pela of R. Pela Contemporary.

You can also see – and hear – my artwork at my Website and watch me work on my YouTube channel, where I have more than 400 videos.

What would you like to accomplish before you die?

I’d like to create an Escher-worthy piece.

What is your mantra?

“Run through the grassy fields of my mind.”

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“Arabesque”
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“Charged Particle”
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“Fuego”
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“Genome Project”
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“Oculum”
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“Simple Planes with Aquamarine Stripe”
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“Wherever You Go There You Are”