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: 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.

“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.”

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

Speaking with Song: Divided Minds

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photo courtesy of Divided Minds

by Song River
Staff Writer

Understanding our path can prove quizzically challenging. This struggle can drive us to either embrace what is happening and take action or do nothing at all.

Divided Minds is a band of four friends. A young band by not only by the standards of age yet they are a group of musicians that have faced their own individual challenges and collectively created a rocknroll band that delivers their tunes hard, cool, and with high-energy. Recently they participated in the Ballapalooza for the Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation. Now, Divided Minds is out on tour and will be releasing their next EP, Perception, on March 28th.

Song River for YabYum: Which one of you opened the playpen door, crawled over to the instruments against the wall and started rocking it out in diapers? (Sorry, I had this vision of you blokes as the babies for a moment in the TV cartoon, Rugrats.)

Divided Minds: This is an awesome visual… We all started in music at a young age. We all met each other at music workshops when we were around 11 and 12 years old.  Josh wrote “Frightened” when he was 12. However, Sean Collins (lead singer) most likely would have opened the playpen door.

Divided Minds is the ultimate energy drink. Where do the power pop influences come from?

DM: Our songs are definitely power pop in structure, but the words “power pop” sounds awkward and funny. We do not want to  label ourselves “power pop” because we are influenced by all types of music. Our influences come from A Day to Remember, Three Days Grace, Green Day and My Chemical Romance.

Are you serious about what you want to do and where you want your music to take you?

DM: (In unison) HELL YA! Our short-term goal is to get our music out to the public and tour. Our main goal is to be known internationally (that would be dope) and travel the world.

Undoubtedly the answer will be a resounding “YES, WE ARE!” Then where are you in lining up your rock star planets to make this happen?

DM: We are working hard at it.  We practice all the time and network.  We are trying to get our name out there.  Recently, we became an Ark Studios Media Group Artists/Band. Working together with Ark Studios will hopefully get us there.

divided minds 02You do some covers, do you have a favorite?

DM: “Here Comes the Sun,” by the Beatles and “The Hills,” by the Weeknd are our favorite covers to perform.  We like changing up covers and making them our own.

Originals is what takes you over the top- what elements do you like to combine in your song structure? Pop, Punk, Hard Rock, Screamo, Emo?

DM: We try to write songs that people can relate to. Our originals are mostly pop with metalcore influences.

SR: “Fine With it”, released back in 2014, really sounded like an anthem song with the opening line, “Hey guys you want some tacos?” Tell us what brought this idea around to a catchy tune?

DM: It was a long week of recording songs. On the last day of recording, we were in the studio for 8 hours doing vocals. We were being really goofy and threw it in the song. Coincidentally, after we were done with recording the song we went and got tacos.

You have opened for some national headliners: Blood on the Dance Floor and more recently you played on the same bill as Austin Jones. Now you’re on the same line-up in Mesa at the Nile with Slaves and Capture the Crown on the Us Against the World Tour. Does this dream of playing music at times feel a bit surreal?

DM: Yes, it does feel surreal. For example, we have seen bands we love play at the Nile. Now we are going to be performing on the same stage. It’s pretty sick!

As I was looking into all you’ve been involved with, charities and fundraisers seem to be close to your hearts. Talk a bit with me about your connections with giving back.

DM: This is very important to us because we have personally been affected by diseases. Josh Peters (lead guitarist) is a cancer survivor, Sean Collins’ (lead vocals) sister is a cancer survivor, and Ethan Cottor’s (bassist) brother has Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).  We know first hand the struggles people have when faced with financial and medical difficulties.  We want to give back to the community and the best way we can is with music.

How important is it do you feel to be involved on a social/community level?

DM: Very important because we love meeting people and reaching out to a broader audience that may not go to our shows. We also love connecting with our fans and getting feedback from them.

Recently you were involved with one in particular at the music venue, Club Red.

DM: Yes, Ballapalooza benefiting the Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation.  We were honored to be a part of their lineup and met so many amazing musicians. It was a great experience and we love helping raise money for charitable organizations.

How do you all go about keeping your heads as things progress? What are some of your other outlets to cut loose?

DM: Hanging out with friends and going on skateboarding adventures. To think about it, we go to high school, band practice and then perform. We really do not have a lot of free time.

divided minds 03New EP or Full-length album in the works?  

DM: Yes! Our 5-song EP Perception is being released digitally March 18, 2016. It will be followed by the release of our video song of “Time Goes On” on  March 25. We are super stoked for and we are always working on new material.


Divided Minds are: Sean, Ethan, Josh, and Deven

Additional Links:

Divided Minds’ Website




Interview with Kody Holmes of The Brave Optimistic

brave 2Kody Holmes, frontman for the indierock outfit The Brave Optimistic, chatted with our own Song River about music, math, and the new album, Oh, Odonata, which comes out tomorrow!

by Song River
Staff Writer


Song River for YabYum: Reading over your bio, Kody, have you taken a new look at how things add up? Songwriting/playing to higher math. Why?

Kody Holmes: Looking back, my whole life has been reevaluating how things add up. I certainly never planned on studying higher mathematics. I got into my math PhD program with a sociology degree, which is crazy. But I feel like every time I reevaluate I get a little closer to the truth, or at least my truth.

As to how songwriting plays into higher math, I could go so many directions with that. Higher math isn’t about numbers. It’s about ideas and their consequences. It’s about relationships. Music is very much the same way. Certain notes sound good together because of the way their sound waves interact and fit into each other. You can model this mathematically, but even just hearing it and knowing it sounds good, at that point you’ve already done the math. It’s innate; it’s a part of you. I had opportunities to take it further on this record though. For example, on one song I coded software to randomly place a drum hit using something called a Beta distribution. As the beat is placed in each measure, the points at which the drum hit takes place are added together and divided by the number of measures, an average. Each measure a new average is taken, and eventually the drum hit settles on a particular beat of the measure. It’s the law of large numbers in music-form. I love opportunities to combine math and music, and it’s crazy how naturally and subtly math can be incorporated.

SR: A long desert Valley dweller, you’ve experienced many changes here haven’t you about how music is played and received?

KH: It’s really felt like it, but my perspective is a limited one. I feel like many of the changes could have been more of me growing up than the scene actually changing. In high school, an early variant of The Brave Optimistic was playing with bands like The Summer Set and Anarbor. I grew up with a lot of the guys in that scene, and then pop-rock seemed huge here. Maybe if I was in high school now, going to see friends play, it would feel the same. But to me that scene really seemed to die as a lot of those bands were signed and the others broke up. All the venues we used to play closed too. Everything from ChyroArts to the One Place. We used to go see shows at the Mason Jar (which is now the location of The Rebel Lounge). I’m glad that place finally reopened under a new name.Brave

SR: What have been some of the largest changes you’ve witnessed? How have you found them to be? Positive/Negative?

KH: One change that seemed very real at the time was the drop in the numbers of touring acts coming through. This seemed to be a very real thing, especially after that controversial immigration bill a few years back. In my view, the scene really rose to the challenge after some initial struggles. Local acts have become very self-sufficient. Bands like Playboy Manbaby, Fairy Bones, and Captain Squeegee – they all have their own little cult followings. Every show is this experience of not only sound, but also culture.

SR: You said that leaving Phoenix and going to Nebraska was a bittersweet mix, how so? Seems there is a bit of a story here.

KH: It was bittersweet in many ways. I’m leaving behind an amazing family. It’s large, we’re all very close, and almost everyone is still in Phoenix. We have four generations of Phoenicians still living in our family. That’s remarkable. Even now that I’m living in Lincoln, it doesn’t feel real. I can’t imagine living anywhere but Arizona. Also, unlike the album lyrics purport, I’m not fleeing Phoenix to escape the memories of a girl. My current girlfriend was probably the hardest thing to leave.

At the same time, I think Nebraska is awesome. I always loved Saddle Creek Records and the Omaha/Lincoln scene. Completely separate from that, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln became an obvious first choice for me when I decided to pursue a math PhD. It just fit all my academic interests perfectly. I am excited to be here, but also really sad about everything I’m leaving behind.

SR: Can you share some of the musicians you’ve written for, and the song titles?

KH: I’ve always written either as a producer or as a favor to bands, but I’ve never been officially credited, so I don’t want to rear my head and take credit now. I guess it’s basically ghostwriting, but all those experiences were very collaborative. I never felt like I was giving someone else my vision. Instead, I was helping them realize their own. Nothing I’ve ever written for an artist has ever become a huge radio single or anything, so the answer wouldn’t be too interesting anyway.

SR: Which ones were some of your favorites? Anyone in particular more memorable in its final outcome and production?

KH: I did get to write a rap verse once, and I think it turned out decent. That’s still probably my favorite contribution to date. It was just so out of my wheelhouse, which is fun. I have enjoyed every project though. I love writing. I love storytelling. I just hate most of what is required of a professional musician, so I’ve been very happy hiding in the background and just doing the things I like the most.

SR: You refer to your music as more of a hobby?

KH: It definitely is. I haven’t made serious money off of music for about three years. At one point it was my entire income, but I was honestly miserable. I eventually realized that, at least for me, anything I love too strongly could not be my job. Having something you love that passionately as a profession, it just strangles the life out of it. Math is great in that respect, because I enjoy it and it stimulates me, but it’s also not a burning passion. More often than not, math is a perfect bridge that gives me new ways to interact with some of my more intense passions like music and biology. It’s also a pretty reliable way to make money.

SR: Why the creation then of the album?

KH: I suppose my answer to your last question sort of answers this too. Hobby makes it sound like a passing interest, but it’s not. Music is a very serious passion of mine, which is why it’s now a “hobby.” As for why I’m finally making a full-length record, it had a lot to do with helping me deal with leaving home for a new town. It was also the perfect time to get music out of my system, temporarily. Graduate school can be grueling. I don’t want to be too distracted. Fortunately, the process of making the record was also grueling. I’m more than a little burned out, so I probably won’t even think of writing another song for at least another six months. So yeah, it buys me a semester of focus.

SR: The album is a story. Relay the connecting dots.

KH: The album is structured to chronicle a relationship. The very first song is about some down-on-his-luck, young Phoenix-Metro bus passenger who fantasizes about a girl seated across from him. He’s too afraid to talk to her because he is embarrassed by his current life circumstances, but of course she’s on the same bus. I love that song, because it really spoke to some of my insecurities while I lived at my parents’ house, preparing for grad school. If you buy into my mild embellishment that the album relays a cohesive story, then somehow things work out between the two of them. Sparks fly. Then things get shaky. Eventually our protagonist is heartbroken and flees his hometown for a math degree in Nebraska. The album is definitely structured in a way that makes this story coherent, but a few songs are admittedly tangential detours. Those are just songs that I really wanted to write and put on record.

SR: Kody you chose to release a song, one at a time, prior to the full-length album. Are you creating videos to go along with the tracks as well?

KH: It’s actually a song every three days. Some of the musicians who helped on the record unofficially voted on their favorites. There were five songs consistently mentioned, so I decided to put them all out as singles before the record drops. No videos, unfortunately. I don’t have the stamina or time to put that all together myself. I also don’t have the money to pass that job onto someone else, and I’m not really into asking for favors. I’ll probably put the audio tracks on YouTube eventually though. That seems to be an interesting marketing strategy some bands take on these days.

SR: How brave in truth is the, Brave Optimistic?

KH: I don’t know if I’m all that brave in the traditional sense. I do think there’s something to be said about someone who is always open to the truth (or what appears to be the truth), no matter how scary or uncomfortable it may seem. I’ve always tried to be skeptical, scrutinizing and honest with myself. I’m maybe brave in that sense.

SR: Words mean something. As you took adjectives and decided they were nouns… what was the drive behind your development into songwriting?

KH: I first started learning guitar in 6th or 7th grade. Pretty early on, I got curious and tried my hand at songwriting. I found it completely impossible. It reminds me of when I was a kid. I wanted to learn to wiggle my ears, but I just couldn’t find the muscle. I never could figure it out, and it frustrated me. Songwriting was similar. Then, freshman year of high school, one of my friends chose to end his life. I wasn’t really sure how to deal with those emotions, and one night I just sat down and wrote a song about how I felt. It came together so quickly and naturally. The song was terrible, but Paul McCartney’s first song was terrible. That’s just how it is. But I found the muscle, and it’s been this incredible way to express how I’m feeling ever since. I never felt good with my words, when I’m interacting socially. So songwriting is a cool way to set things straight about who I am and what’s going on in my head.

SR: As music lovers listened to your completed album and support its release; is traveling back and forth between Nebraska and Arizona possible? If not, how do your propose to connect your audience to who you are?

KH: There won’t be much traveling back and forth, except maybe for winter and summer break. But Arizona really isn’t missing much in that sense. I haven’t played live in years. It became this incredibly stressful thing for me. I would have a bad taste in my mouth for weeks just because I sang one note a little off or forgot part of a verse. And live sets will never be perfect, so there’s really no escaping that. I haven’t found a way to escape the self-hatred, so I just stopped playing live. That’s why I could not have recorded my album with anyone but Dan. He knows how to talk me off a ledge, when I want to trash a song or a part because I don’t feel like it’s perfect. He’s given me a lot of confidence through the years. It also helps working closely with musicians like Timothy O’Brien and Alex Dorr, who basically wrote the record alongside my heavy hand. Every part they write is mind-blowing good. It gives me something to like about the songs, even when I dislike my contributions.

How will I connect with audiences? The Internet. This would have been the case in AZ, just as it is in Nebraska. What that’s going to look like? I’m not really sure. I’m hoping to gauge the response to my album first. I don’t have the time to be making YouTube videos that get ten views. At the same time, music is my favorite way to interact with people, so I really want to have an opportunity to reach out to listeners and interact. I want to hear what they’re getting out of the lyrics, and see if they notice all the goofy “Easter Eggs” I’ve hidden in the album for my own amusement.

SR: Eventual long-term goal. As your hobby of songwriting is obviously a part of your passion, how are you planning on combining both entities of writing and math?

KH: I already mentioned some ways I incorporated math into the album, in terms of composition and production. I also use a lot of math and science terms in the lyrics. Part of the beauty of math is the precision of language used. I feel like there are ways I can really use this to my advantage as a songwriter. There are a lot of really cool concepts that I can relate to feelings and situations in life. The song “Isaac Newton on the Human Condition” is definitely the best example of this. I take concepts from physics and mathematics and apply it to relationships. I was especially excited to reference the “Coastline Paradox” in that song. It’s a really cool thing. I suggest looking it up. Math heavy lyrics are new to me, but I really liked it. I’d like to continue to play with that.

I know if UNL ever trusts me with a differential equations class, I’ll be bringing in my guitar to explain beating and resonance. One of my advisors, Dr. Richard Rebarber, is also a super talented musician. He has a great band called Floating Opera. So I’m sure there will be ample opportunities to think about how I might further combine math and music. It may be to educate and it may be to make my music more awesome. Maybe both.

SR: Never stop learning, never stop growing. Are we looking down the road at Professor Holmes… mathematician and songwriter by chance…Watson?

KH: That describes Dr. Rebarber pretty well. I would be proud to stand in his shoes one day. We’ll see if I’m really smart and diligent enough to earn a mathematics PhD. It’s no small thing. But I’ll be teaching starting this fall, so I already feel like this weird blend of academic and entertainer. It’s not all that unusual of a thing. Brian May, the guitarist for Queen, has a PhD in astrophysics. John Urschel is a lineman for the Ravens and publishes math papers in the offseason. Mathematics seems to be a welcoming place for those who want to live a double life.

SR: In truth, Kody, are you an optimist?

KH: I think so. I tend to think very highly of people. I think people are very smart and are full of kindness. Sometimes I’m disappointed, but I think high expectations bring a lot out of people. They bring a lot out of me.

The new release – Oh, Odonata – will be available on Aug. 18th. Until then, you can preview tracks here

Follow The Brave Optimistic on Facebook here

YabYum Seven: Emmanuel “Manny” Tripodis of Rogue Bar

rogue 01
Photo provided by Manny Tripodis

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Manny and I make dreams come true. Just kidding. My real name is Emmanuel.

How did you get your start?

Either by necessity or forced attrition. I bought a bar 8 years ago that was a hipster night club and we had capacity turnouts every Friday and Saturday for two years. I thought I was a genius. Then the economy dried up and we had to change things up or shut things down. The crowds stopped coming out for weekend dance nights. We focused on building up our Sunday thru Thursday nights and now we do live music 7 days a week. We’ve had our ups and downs, but the doors are still open.

What inspires you?

Seeing people take the stage. Watching these kids write down their most personal, intimate thoughts and feelings, put it to music and sing it in front of a room full of strangers. That’s vulnerability. All the while hoping that no one boos or laughs at a song about how their dad abandoned them or how their girlfriend is a tramp. I’m also inspired by the journey. Banana Gun played their 2nd show ever on our stage and now they’re superstars. That’s probably not why they’re superstars, but sometimes I tell myself that’s exactly why they are. We’ve had other acts that have either played their first show here or got started at our open mic. Then they eventually put out a record and do a record release show. I get to watch these bands cut their teeth and find their identity. Fast forward a few months and they do a release show to a capacity crowd and I sit back like a doting father.

What do you like about AZ?

From October to about May, there really isn’t anyplace better. I’m originally from the Midwest. I read these reports about record cold or snowfall and I get confused because I don’t remember what that feels like.

Where can we see you(r) work?

I used to bartend at the Rogue Bar. I have since removed myself from those duties. I can still be seen walking thru the premises with several days of hair growth on my face and I’m usually carrying a computer bag. I’m the guy that looks like a transient, a secret shopper or Serpico.

What would you like to accomplish before you die?

I used to joke about being 8 years into my 5 year plan. I guess it’s really not a joke. Personally, I’d like to live on a remote island in the Aegean Sea for half the year and come back and run things at the Rogue the other half. Hopefully that will happen sooner than later. Professionally, I’ve talked with friends about possibly moving things downtown or creating a touring circuit in the Southwest or even starting a label. This talk usually stops once the alcohol wears off.

What is your mantra?

I have a John Lennon quote on my Facebook profile. I think it makes me sound smart. The quote is “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” That’s not really a mantra though, it’s more of an observation. My mantra would be “Just shut up and do it already.” Six months after I bought the Rogue, I realized I could have done this five or ten years earlier. That would have put me that much closer to the remote island scenario. Figure out what makes you happy and then do that. Figure out what doesn’t make you happy and avoid doing that or do the opposite of it.


rogue card

YabYum Seven: Josh Louchheim

Josh Louchheim 09
All photos courtesy of Josh Louchheim

1. Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Josh Louchheim and I’m an artist living and working in Scottsdale. I am a disciplined painter working strictly with oil. My paintings are a combination of the natural world and the world within my head. Essentially I am a landscapist and when I begin a piece the first thing I paint is the sky. The sky is what sets the tone for the story that each painting tells. I then block in the lay of the land adding mountains, trees and anything else I feel the landscape needs. Next I begin to add the figures, whether they are animals or people, and the objects they are manipulating. Though each painting tells a story, the story I envision may not be the same as the viewers. Therefore I give each one a title that acts as a guideline for its true meaning.

2. How did you get your start?

I started writing music years ago and put together a band which performed locally. The band eventually ran its course and we broke up; which is the case for most bands. Shorty after this is when I made the decision to focus on an aspect of art I could do souly alone without having to rely on the creativity of others to fulfil my vision. Oil painting was something I had always admired so the decision was an easy one. I dedicated myself to it and I have now been painting consistently for the past six years; the past three of which have been my most disciplined in keeping to a schedule as opposed to just painting when I felt inspired. I first started exhibiting four years ago at Art One Gallery and then branched out to Phoenix where I have shown at MonOrchid Gallery as well as Herberger Theater Art Gallery. My work currently hangs in the homes and offices of various collectors from Arizona to New York.

Josh Louchheim 04
“Elephants Searching Shadows of Spheres III” Oil on 35.5″ x 21.25″ panel

3. What inspires you?

I am inspired by the natural world as well as by life and experience; where you come from and what you’ve been through is an intricate part of a person. Without experience we aren’t much at all. I try and use my life experiences combined with the emotions associated with those experiences in every piece I create.

4. What do you like about AZ?

I’ve been here the majority of my life so this is my home. I enjoy the harsh desert landscapes; I find it fascinating how life doesn’t just exist here but actually flourishes. Monsoon season is my absolute favorite part of desert life which is one of the reasons I paint so many clouds. And there is nothing as beautiful as the sunsets we have here in the valley.

5. Where can we see you(r) work?

I will be having a solo exhibition at MonOrchid Gallery in May of 2015; opening night being May 1st. Then the following month at Willo North Gallery where I will be exhibiting in a group portrait show. You can also view some of my work on my Facebook page.

6. What would you like to accomplish before you die?

I can only hope that my talent and the body of work I leave behind will allow me to live far past my death. While I’m still here I plan on expanding my resume and exhibiting across the country eventually making my way overseas. I also plan on continuing to write music as well as exploring other creative avenues.

7. What is your mantra?

You’re either living or you’re dying. So work hard at what you love while continuing to grow and everything else will fall into place.


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“Old-Timer and a Penny-Farthing” Oil on 28″ x 22″ panel
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“Caboose” Oil on 20″ x 16″ panel
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“Ornaments” Oil on 36″ x 24″ canvas
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“Desert Oasis” Oil on 19″ x 39″ panel
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“The Greatest Performance Never Seen” Oil on 25″ x 42.5″ panel
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“A Room with a View” Oil on 20″ x 26″ panel

YabYum Seven: Lexie Bowers

1. Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Alexandra Bowers, people who know me call me “Lexie.” I am an Arizona native, born and raised in Scottsdale (not that many of us out there). I am a pyrographer, or wood burning artist. I like to work on red birch, which is a light wood, with a pinkish hue that allows for the type of contrast that helps me render my subject matter. With my artwork I’m trying to push the pre-conceived ideas of wood burning being thought of as a “craft-based” form of art making, into a high-brow technique.

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Coyote Skull (Posterior Cranium), 2012, Wood Burning 20″ x 26 “

2. How did you get your start?

I grew up loving to create. Whether it was drawing, painting, or experimenting with other mediums, I could sit for hours in my room and just make. I don’t think I ever made anything when I was young that would have my teachers or parents thinking I would grow up to be in artist, but I knew deep down that’s what I wanted to do with my life. A semester in at ASU I switched from sociology to the art program on a whim. It started with me wanting to take a drawing class, and at the time not being allowed because I wasn’t an art student. So I switched majors to take that one specific class. Thank God I did, I found my calling and never once regretted the decision.
I fell into wood burning about 6 years ago when I was meandering through the aisles at Home Depot. I stumbled upon a soldering iron, and by shear randomness an employee told me I could wood burn with it. So I left the store that day with an iron and some scrap wood. About a year later I was walking through an outdoor market in Italy and saw a gal with an entire kit, she was wood burning these ornate boxes. I thought man I could do that, but not with the shitty tool I have at home. So I skyped my parents and told them about what I had seen. With their undying support and awesomeness I acquired a professional wood burning kit for Christmas that year, and still use that same kit to this day.

3. What inspires you?

I get inspired by being outdoors. I grew up hiking and camping. My parents would take my siblings and I out of town for the weekend and we’d get a chance to see Arizona, beyond suburbia. That curiosity towards nature has continued with me into adulthood and is the inspiration for my work. I’m 25, so I’ve seen over the last couple of decades the exponential growth that’s occurred around the greater Phoenix area. With that growth what’s affected me the most is the destruction of the natural surrounding environment. So I think it’s important to leave the city and be surrounded by nature instead of concrete and cookie cutter developments.

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Hawk Moth, 2014, Wood Burning 8″ x 16″

4. What do you like most about AZ?

What I love most about Arizona is its expansiveness. I love being able to see hundreds of miles of open land while on road trips. I love how drastic the topography of this state is. I love monsoon season, especially the smell of creosote after a huge rain storm. I love watching thunderheads rise above the McDowell mountains before an epic storm. I love that Phoenix has an art scene that caters to up and coming artists. It’s a city where you can make a mistake, experiment, and not have to worry about it ruining your career. You can make a name for yourself here.

5. Where can we see you(r) work?

You can check out my work on April 17th in the middle “hot box” (shipping container art gallery) on Roosevelt Row. The show is all about moths from North America. It’s been in the works for quite some time, I’m really pleased I’ve had an opportunity to work with phICA, the ASU Frank Hasbrouck Entomology Collection and some other amazing valley residents to make this show happen. To see other work check out my website.

6. What would you like to accomplish before you die?

I was bitten with the travel bug a long time ago. My list of places to visit is always growing (and may never be completed) but I’d like to check off most of it before I die. Even though my work revolves around AZ flora and fauna I’d like the opportunity to live elsewhere for awhile, possibly abroad, to help grow as a person and see how it influences and changes my work.

7. What is your mantra?

I try to “live in the moment.” I’m really bad at it, like most people my mind is stuck a lot of the time thinking about the future… worrying about finances, if I’m pursuing the right path in life. Being in my mid-twenties I feel like I’m just now beginning to understand who I am as a person and where I’d like to see myself in the next 10 years. It’s really hard to just be present. So I’m hoping I can get better at that.


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Crossed Paths (Eye Lounge Solo Exhibition Install Shot) 5×5 inch panel grid
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Sonoran Javelina, 2013, Wood Burning 24″ x 28″
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Crossed Paths (Eye Lounge Solo Exhibition Install Shot) Birds of Prey Feathers
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Datura Moon Flower, 2014, Wood Burning 12″ x 60″