JAVA June 2019

javamag

280 •JUNE 2019

NYLA LEE

ESAO ANDREWS • PALABRAS BOOKSTORE • LOS ESPLIFS • KENAIM AL-SHATTI


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TRANSCENDENTAL

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SATURDAY, JUNE 15 | 1 PM

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SOUNDS THAT EASE THE

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ON VIEW NOW THROUGH SEPTEMBER 8

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Agnes Pelton: Desert Transcendentalist is organized by Phoenix Art Museum. It is made possible through the generosity of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and SRP.

IMAGE CREDIT: Agnes Pelton, The Ray Serene, 1925. Oil on canvas. Collection of Lynda and Stewart Resnick. Photo: Jairo Ramirez.


NOVALIMA

Fri., June 28 | 7:30 p.m.

$28.50–$38.50

Afro-Peruvian funk bridging

the past and the future with

tradition and innovation.

“. . . unafraid to experiment with

Latin funk and electronica.”

—NPR, Alt Latino

Upcoming Concerts

Arturo O’Farrill and the

Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble

June 16

Crystal Bowersox

June 19

Orquesta Akokán

June 24

Joe Robinson

June 30

The Huntertones

July 10

And many more!

2019 Concert Series sponsored by

MIM.org | 480.478.6000 | 4725 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix, AZ


CONTENTS

8

12

22

30

34

FEATURES

ESAO ANDREWS

Homecoming

By Morgan Moore p. 8

NYLA LEE

Emerging Hues

By Jack Cavanaugh p. 12

Cover: Nyla Lee

Photo by: Enrique Garcia

8 12 22

34

MITCHELL ST.

Photographer: Orlando Pelagio

Styling: Alejandra Inzunza

PALABRAS BILINGUAL

BOOKSTORE

Words, Herbs, and Art

By Jeff Kronenfeld p. 30

LOS ESPLIFS

Cumbia, Community, and Psychedelia

By Kevin Hanlon p. 34

COLUMNS

7

16

20

38

40

BUZZ

Walls and Bridges

By Robert Sentinery

ARTS

Kenaim Al-Shatti

Motion Fantasy Art at Biltmore Fashion Park

By Rembrandt Quiballo

Witness Me!

By Justen Siyuan Waterhouse

FOOD FETISH

Anhelo in Heritage Square

By Sloane Burwell

GIRL ON FARMER

Bathroom Envy

By Celia Beresford

NIGHT GALLERY

Photos by Robert Sentinery

JAVA MAGAZINE

EDITOR & PUBLISHER

Robert Sentinery

ART DIRECTOR

Victor Vasquez

ARTS EDITOR

Rembrandt Quiballo

FOOD EDITOR

Sloane Burwell

CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

Jenna Duncan

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

Celia Beresford

Mikey Foster Estes

Kevin Hanlon

Jeff Kronenfeld

Ashley Naftule

Matthew Villar Miranda

Morgan Moore

Tom Reardon

Justen Siyuan Waterhouse

PROOFREADER

Patricia Sanders

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS

Enrique Garcia

Orlando Pelagio

Johnny Jaffe

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4 JAVA

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FIRST FRIDAY AT THE HEARD

KEEP CALM AND HAVE PRIDE

Celebrate National LGBTQ Pride Month with our partner

Organization Native PFLAG (https://www.nativepflag.org/)

for music and a film screening of Sweetheart Dancers at

7 p.m. The director and producer Ben-Alex Dupris will stay

for a Q & A after the screening.

OPEN FOR FIRST FRIDAY, JUNE 7 FROM 6-10 P.M.

FREE GENERAL ADMISSION

Heard Museum | 2301 N. Central Ave. Phoenix, AZ 85004 | heard.org


BUZZ

WALLS AND BRIDGES

By Robert Sentinery

Esao Andrews grew up in one of the bleakest neighborhoods in the far East

Valley, next to the rez, on a county island with unpaved roads and ramshackle

houses. Despite the tough setting, Andrews found a way to experience normalcy,

even if it meant walking for blocks with his skateboard to find pavement. He also

dealt with the challenges of being half-and-half and always feeling different –

his mother was an immigrant from Japan.

Fortunately, Andrews’ artistic talent flourished in high school, and his work

ethic earned him a scholarship to the prestigious School of Visual Arts in New

York, where competition pushed him to new heights. Besides being featured in

numerous art publications, like Juxtapoz and Hi-Fructose, Andrews has shown

his work internationally and is represented by several top galleries, including

Thinkspace in Los Angeles and Jonathan LeVine in New York.

Andrews’ mid-career retrospective Petrichor, up through August 4 at Mesa

Contemporary Arts Museum, is a true homecoming for the East Valley native and

a cause for celebration (see “Esao Andrews: Homecoming,” p. 8).

Nyla Lee is an emerging artist who has been making a splash lately. Her bold,

colorful murals have been showing up on prominent walls all over town. She just

completed one at the Churchill in downtown that features one of her signature

aura-radiating femmes along with a beautifully rendered tiger.

Nyla’s big break came when she landed a commission to do a mural at the P.F.

Chang’s location on Mill Ave. in Tempe. That led to a series of four installations

at the company’s corporate office in Scottsdale. Keep an eye out for Nyla’s new

series on Valley Metro light rail trains, along with an installation at the Central

and Roosevelt station. Kudos to Nyla for literally being an artist on the move (see

“Nyla Lee: Emerging Hues,” p. 12).

Despite one-third of Valley residents being native Spanish speakers, we didn’t

get our first Spanish-language bookstore until late 2016. Palabras Bilingual

Bookstore is the brainchild of Rosaura “Chawa” Magaña, who has joined forces

with her life partner, Native American artist Jeff Slim, to create a space that

extends far beyond the printed word.

Palabras hosts First Friday art openings, along with numerous events and

workshops, especially catering to people of color. There is also a small plant-medicine

store for those looking for alternative treatments. Palabras is a true community

resource that creates bridges between cultures and offers a place to heal and

restore (see “Palabras Bilingual Bookstore: Words, Herbs, and Art,” p. 30).

Finally, as the weather is heating up, so is the Valley’s music scene. Los Esplifs

is on fire, with a sound that fuses cumbia and Southwestern psychedelia from

the wilds of the Sonoran desert. In February, the band traveled to Mexico City to

record first their EP. The fruit of that labor has just been released, and with its

cumbia rhythms, meandering accordion, and electric guitar crunch, it promises to

be the perfect danceable soundtrack for the summer (see “Los Esplifs: Cumbia,

Community, and Psychedelia,” p. 34).

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8 JAVA

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By Morgan Moore


Esao Andrews’ mid-career retrospective at Mesa Contemporary Art Museum, Petrichor, evokes a lot

of feelings and questions about the artist’s process and connections developed throughout his life.

Viewers can easily find themselves trapped in one of the paintings, such as “Mortal Coil,” for ages –

finding new characters and meanings missed at first glance.

Shifting over to a wall full of skateboard decks will have viewers looking for different things. Detailed

paintings are rendered equal alongside cartoony pinups and printed photos with minimal graphic design

elements, and viewers may spend less time absorbing a piece’s complexity and more time connecting each pro

skater with the presented deck designs. A miniature swimming pool skull mural, journalistic sketchbook pages,

and painted skateboard wheels – there is a lot to take in within Petrichor.

Though this show is considered a mid-career retrospective, there is also a lot of Andrews’ work you won’t

find in the show, like his many comic book covers or web-animated pieces. For this show, he focuses on his oil

paintings and skateboard deck designs, two of his stronger ties to home.

Hints of Andrews’ childhood in Arizona run through the gallery. Growing up in east Mesa on a county island,

Andrews had to walk down dirt roads with his skateboard to reach some pavement. His dad, who had been in

the Air Force, moved his family near the now-closed Williams Air Force Base and became a first grade teacher

for the Gila River Indian Community.

Andrews spent his youngest years combing through his family’s backyard shed full of craft supplies and a room

full of kids’ activity and learning books, all left over from his father’s classes. From that point on, he has spent

next to no time thinking about a future without art.

His pathway to becoming an accomplished art

professional was not a smooth one – it was more

reminiscent of the bumpy dirt roads of his childhood.

“It was very raw desert,” Andrews recalls. Though

worse now in spots than it had been, the rough

environment seemed normal to him. “Growing up, it

was just your typical desert. Practically every adult is

riding a bicycle because they got a DUI.”

He compares his mother’s neighborhood, even

today, to scenes in “Breaking Bad,” with frightening

similarities. “The house across the street has car

hoods for the roof, and shopping carts tied together

to keep the dogs in. It was like a meth lab – and it

exploded. On the front of my mom’s house, all the

windows broke. My mom couldn’t have a porch light

because they would steal the lightbulb.”

Andrews’ mother, an immigrant from Okinawa,

Japan, worked odd jobs, as many migrants do,

and shielded Andrews and his siblings from their

heritage. For all intents and purposes, Andrews grew

up white. He found his place within the Valley’s

white-dominated skater community. He felt little

to no permission to make art about the side of his

identity that he “lost.”

“Being half was a very weird identity thing growing

up. There weren’t any, like, real Asians out there. So

my identity, the way I looked [stood out] until I moved

to New York,” Andrews says. “My mom’s Japanese,

so that’s my makeup, but I feel pretty foreign to it. It

does [bother me]. That’s probably why I don’t do any

kind of thing that seems like it’s Japanese-based. I

think I’d be a fraud or something. But at the same

time, I’m doing the same thing: I’m still pulling from

all sorts of different cultures. I feel ambiguous.”

Andrews read JAVA as a teenager, “when it was

bigger – I mean bigger in size,” and enjoyed learning

about the artist community in and around Tempe and

Phoenix. He reminisces about looking through the

photos of people attending events and shows in the

back pages, exploring the subcultures between the

pages, and, in the late’90s, reading an issue whose

cover featured his friend Bevin McNamara.

Andrews spent his days away from painting

connecting with friends spider-webbed throughout

the metro Phoenix area, converging at Fiesta Mall.

Later, at the coffee-art-house Java Road in Tempe,

they would skate in the parking lot or drive to a

different spot. Andrews favored the Wedge the most,

well before it became the Wedge it is today.

His friends in that community also connected him to

some of his first jobs in the arts sector. He designed

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his first skateboard deck in high school, for local

skate shop Turtle and Balance. Erik Ellington, who

spent his teen years in Tempe, had Andrews design

his first pro model on Zero Skateboards. Ellington then

hired him in the years following high school and through

college to design a heavy amount of decks for his own

skateboard companies, Baker and Deathwish.

Andrews achieved his success through tremendous

work throughout high school, building his portfolio.

He convinced his art teacher to let him use art class

to finish his homework from earlier periods so he

could spend every minute after school working on

oil paintings. Whereas most college prospectives

are expected to have 12 to 16 pieces in their

portfolio, Andrews was well past the 100 mark upon

graduation. His future was spurred on by a recruiter’s

visit to his school early on, with whom he stayed

in touch. This led to a scholarship at the School of

Visual Arts in New York.

Andrews had never visited New York or the East

Coast before, and the culture shock turned into a

benefit. The community of artists he spent time with

in college was a dramatic turn from the skaters in

Arizona. Though he holds deep connections with

Ellington and others from his childhood to this day,

the artists he met in New York pushed him to a

level of competitive motivation that hasn’t been

matched anywhere else. Contemporaries and fellow

classmates, like James Jean, served as influencers

who pushed Andrews to refine and hone his process.

“There was a renaissance going on at my school.

There were a lot of really, really good students, and

it was like steel sharpening steel. We were all really

competitive against each other, but we were all friends.”

While pursuing his BFA, Andrews also extended his

professional portfolio with illustration jobs. Though

still designing skateboard decks, Andrews also

picked up computer illustration jobs towards the

beginning of the digital wave, mastering Adobe Flash

to animate stories and characters on educational

websites for kids.

His online portfolio reflected these skills. “My

website would check the time of day of where you

were at and change based on your time. If you went

there at nighttime you’d have to use a flashlight to

navigate. There were landscapes and interiors that

would lead to secret rooms,” mixed in with his actual

work. “Easter eggs” were littered throughout his

page much like in his recent paintings.

Andrews made his mark in several commercial

realms, but often at the cost of following a direction

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that wasn’t his own. He struggled with compromising

in order to maintain a separate career of artistic

freedom. But while he prefers to execute his own

ideas and work for himself, his fine art and commercial

illustration both strive for approval from others. Andrews

believes much of his drive in both freelance illustration

and personal art-making stems from a deep-rooted

wish to please his parents and family.

“I’m doing it for an audience,” he confirms. “I want

people to have some kind of reaction to what I’m

doing and feel something.”

Andrews was glad to have the opportunity for a

homecoming exhibition, and dedicated this chapter

of work on display to his desert upbringing. While

carrying many connotations, Petrichor suggests the

smell of rain, which reminds him of the desert.

Andrews’ older work frequently featured oceans,

deciduous vegetation, and structures representative

of the East Coast, often Victorian in style, illustrating

his break with Arizona and pining for the unfamiliar.

He describes his newer work as “Southwestern

escapism,” and he spends more time exploring motifs

that remind him of where he grew up. The desert

has become romanticized again, and his longing

manifests in pigment and narratives.

Elements of Andrews’ work always bring him back

home, to heavy metal music and the horror movies

his mom would watch. Meanwhile, other elements

are prompted from his contemporaries, influences,

and his everyday environment. Images and feelings

are collaged together and presented to viewers as an

open-ended puzzle.

Andrews is more interested in letting others discover

meaning from his work than deciding it for them.

Whether it is a firefighter extending a hand through

dense smoke or a man eating a Big Mac, Andrews

seems equipped to combine visuals and familiar

archetypes and turn them into chimeras of questions.

(Those who want only a single meaning from Andrews’

work can visit his Instagram account, @esao, where he

designs rebus puzzles that are not open-ended.)

That is not to say he doesn’t spend a fair amount

of his time creating work outside of ambiguity. An

example of work with a specific concept in mind is

a small but powerful piece presented in a display

case in Petrichor titled “The Waiting Game.” In

the piece, exposed remains of a genie rest inside

a bottle. Andrews discloses his inclination toward

scientific reasoning when exploring the realities

behind fantasy, while dissecting a common storyline

to reveal the fate of a supernatural deity whose

dependence on a mortal being proves fatal.

“What if nobody came? How long does magic last?

From a scientific point of view, what if so much time

passed – we’re not talking thousands of years, but

if millions of years passed – if the sun turned into a

super-giant, and if Earth just didn’t exist anymore, it

was just a rock, dead of life – is he still waiting? Is

he waiting for eternity? What if he waits so long that

the magic is gone?” He quiets, and then reasserts his

point. “It’s beautiful, tragic, and very real.”

Romantic abandonment, which Andrews draws as a

storyline of “The Waiting Game,” is found throughout

Petrichor, in his brushwork and his eye for detail

in storytelling that provokes a second, third, or

sixth look at the work. The moods within the show,

coupled with Andrews’ Poisonous Birds book release

on the night of the opening, mix sentiments of

coming home with saying goodbye and letting go.

After wrapping up a major chapter, Andrews looks

forward to taking people from the gallery and

bringing them into his surreal narratives within a

real-world setting. He is preparing to take on larger

projects, both three-dimensional and functional, and

enter the realm of public spaces. He aims to manifest

his storytelling in public art projects and is readying

himself to dive back into computer-rendered art, for

3D modeling this time around.

Perhaps it is the idea of a greater impact that

motivates him in this direction, or reminiscing about

systems in which people choose to lose themselves.

Or maybe it’s his desire to break beyond a canvas,

a phone screen, or an inauthentic reaction, to form

deeper and more sincere connections with people.

Petrichor

Through August 4

Mesa Contemporary Art Museum

esao.net

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Photo by Kayla Clancy


Photos by Kayla Clancy

A

bright and prolific artist who has become a figure in the Phoenix

art scene seemingly overnight, Nyla Lee has been adding her

colorful portraits to the scenery around metro Phoenix for the past

two years. Her striking pieces have only recently started appearing

on walls, but they’re already becoming as recognizable as longer-standing

public art pieces. At this pace and with this skill level, it’s only a matter of

time before her art career is launched to new heights.

We meet at a downtown café a few days before First Friday. Nyla manages

to squeeze in a small amount of time to talk before heading back to her

current work in progress, a tall mural featuring a young woman cradling

a tiger and a bouquet of flowers, all in bright, almost neon colors. Located

on a large outer wall of the Churchill, a multi-business, primarily dining

space made mostly of shipping containers, hers is one of several murals

that have appeared over the past week. “It’s called 1½ Street, and it opens

on this First Friday – ten artists with ten new murals. I’m so happy to be a

part of that, and I got one of the tallest walls! I’m next to Breeze and Lalo.

It’s crazy.”

A couple of years ago, Lee’s work was virtually unknown to the public.

Shortly after a mural went up on the side of Tacos de Juarez on 7th Street

and Roosevelt, her brightly colored faces started appearing on more and

more walls around downtown. Lee insists that her very swift transition was

an organic process. “Last year was the first that I started making money

doing walls, and this year, my income has been just this. I talk to a lot of

people, and I’m always telling them what I do and that I’d be down to paint

their wall. It’s happened so organically that now I can just do this full-time.”

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Her pieces almost always feature close-ups of

serene and surreal humans, typically female faces on

psychedelic backdrops. Lee insists that her process

is less structured and more spontaneous. “I draw

more by intuition and feelings than for a set purpose

or intention. I aim for a unique color palette that

creates a mood and emotion. I explained to someone

the other day, it’s kind of like an aura of a person.

You meet someone and you can feel what they’re

giving off, if they’re sad and upset or if they’re happy

and glowing from within. You meet someone who’s

glowing and say, ‘I feel like you’re smiling all the

time.’ I try to capture that through colors. It sounds

so hippie, but it makes sense. It makes you feel good

when you see it. I want to make ‘feel good’ art.”

Nyla had a very early introduction to the art world,

including familial inspirations. “My grandpa was

an artist. His pieces were these big black-velvet oil

paintings. I saw those and his pencil drawings, and

I just started wanting to learn how to draw. I also

had teachers who drew portraits of me when I was

in first or second grade, and seeing myself drawn,

I was like, ‘Wow, you can do this? You can draw

someone’s face?!’

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“I went to school a block away from Fremont Street. I

felt like I was in a movie when I’d go there. Vegas is

very bright lights and neon central. After school, we’d

go to this place called the Emergency Room. It was a

café and gallery, and seeing that, I thought, ‘People

can have a studio here and have shows?!’ I didn’t

know that was possible. It was awesome going to

school down there and being a part of the weirdness

of Fremont Street. I think that’s why I draw women,

too, because it’s so focused on women.”

One of Nyla’s first large commissions came from

the P.F. Chang’s restaurant chain, headquartered in

Scottsdale. The creative director of P.F. Chang’s found

Lee through social media and approached her for the

commission. “I did the Tempe location on Mill Ave.,

two 20-foot murals. I had seven days to both, and I

did the first one in three days. After I finished them,

they hired me to do their corporate office, where I did

four large mural installations. I only had a month and

a half to do all of them, and I got pretty burnt out. I

painted for nine days straight and I was like, ‘Can I

take a day off?’ By the ninth day, I was falling asleep

on the scaffolding.”

For those who may not have seen her murals

downtown or visited the P.F. Chang’s on Mill Avenue

lately, Nyla’s work can also be seen on the cover of

DTPHX’s 2019 map and directory. The cover features

a female half-face with a nocturnal backdrop and a

corresponding male face on the back. Her work will

also soon be visible on Valley Metro light rail trains

and at the light rail station on Central Avenue and

Roosevelt. “I’m gonna be everywhere, and I feel

so selfish right now. I’m like, ‘Someone take some,

please!’ I definitely feel like I’m gonna get annoyed

seeing my name.”

While she may have had a sudden burst of success,

Nyla has no plans to rest on her laurels. She is

as ambitious as ever in moving forward with her

abilities. “I’m getting to really understand the

medium, and now it’s like, ‘How can I elevate my

story for a viewer?’ Street art is all for the public.

It’s not just for the artist. It doesn’t need to be

political or tell a story, it can just be something

that creates an emotion, like, ‘Wow, that’s

beautiful.’ Female portraits are where I’m most

comfortable. I can do them in my head. Now I’m

starting to really understand what I want to say

and where I’m going with the pieces. I’m trying to

reach this point with my art where it feels more

abstract, where you can look at it and get lost inside

it forever.”


Photo: Enrique Garcia

Nyla has found plenty of friends and inspiration in

the local community of artists, including collaborators

and mentors. I asked her to name a few inspirations,

and several came to mind. “Antoinette (Cauley), she’s

a hustler. I really appreciate the effort she puts into

it, and she’s a great artist. Her last show definitely

pushed an idea that no one else would touch. Breeze

(Thomas “Breeze” Marcus). His work ethic and his

style is so precise. He’s helped me out so much

and given me so much advice throughout my art

endeavors, and is always a great friend.

Lauren Lee has always been an amazing help. I

worked with her on a solo show she was doing a

while back. She’s given me so much business advice

and helped me understand what I need to do to

move my career along. This is the first time in my

life where I’ve known this many people, and I feel

very accepted. I’ve always been the only artist in my

friend group, and now I have so many art friends. It

makes me really think about art all the time since my

friends are all artists, and I never get tired of it.”

While change has become a fact of life for the

downtown arts community, with mixed reactions,

Lee’s excited about the future, especially with

Meow Wolf moving in. “It’s super dope to say, ‘Yeah,

the Meow Wolf in Phoenix.’ It’s saying Phoenix is

becoming an art hub. I was definitely not part of the

beginning, but I’ve seen the progress from it being

kinda chill and now it’s like, Meow Wolf!”

“True North is giving so many grants and

commissions to artists. I’ve worked with Jonathan

(Vento). Breeze and I did a piece (Pemberton House

mural) for True North. Getting to know all of them

was great. They took care of us the entire time, and

after working with them, I’m so down for anything

they have going on. These type of projects bring

people and money into this community. I can see

Phoenix becoming a bigger art hub, for sure.”

While painting public walls has been lucrative for Lee

so far, her vision for the future also includes other

types of artistic work. “I want to start focusing on

solo shows and getting a body of work together for

galleries. I also want to start doing installation stuff

in my studio and creating immersive experiences. I

have it, I want to be able to use it. Also, I just bought

a podcast mic. So podcasts, stuff like that, too. I want

to create more content about art and be more than

just an artist.”

With this kind of brightness and momentum, it only

seems a matter of time before we see more of Nyla’s

vibrant creations in multiple forms inside galleries

and around the city.

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ARTS

KENAIM AL-SHATTI

Motion Fantasy Art at Biltmore Fashion Park

By Rembrandt Quiballo

The most compelling art project in the metro Phoenix

area in recent months is a site-specific installation

located in the former Apple Store at Biltmore Fashion

Park. Kenaim Al-Shatti utilizes the expansive glass

storefront to project a panorama of abstract, ultrasaturated

dreamscapes. The resulting imagery

provides respite from the deluge of visual information

we process every day.

The fact that his artwork is located at a shopping

mall, the bastion of Western commerce, is not lost

on Al-Shatti. He studied visual communications at

ASU and is sensitive to the amount of advertising

out there in the world. “My background is in viscom

Photo: Gabriel Hernandez

and design,” he said. “I’m aware of where that takes

people, and I’m also aware that I can’t be a part of

putting more shit into the world. “

What Al-Shatti puts into the world is digital virtual

bliss that can evoke wonder, unencumbered by

everyday reality and market forces. The forms he

creates are abstract in the sense that they have no

reference to the physical world and are seemingly

born from digital ether, yet the work also feels like

the most human experience one can have. His use of

drenched colors that undulate and meander through

a surreal digital space with just a touch of analog

warmth has the potential to heighten whatever the

viewer is subjectively feeling at the time.

Al-Shatti first caught our attention when he played

with GLOB at FORM Arcosanti last year. The

memorable set was a contemplative audiovisual

experience performed in a cavernous throughway

under the looming architecture. The artists’ sense of

experimentation and expansive use of old and new

technology distinguished them from more customary

festival acts. Made up of Al-Shatti, M. Dean Bridges,

and Benj Braman, the trio defies genres, having

opened for touring musical acts as well as performing

at the Phoenix Art Museum.

Al-Shatti’s work comes from a post-Internet world,

where all our experiences are filtered through the

“net,” regardless of its molecular composition. He

has been actively posting GIFs on Tumblr for years;

his earlier work consisted of recognizable detritus

from visual culture. However, his recent and most

developed work completely distills his source

material to its most elegiac qualities, resulting in a

unique visual language.

The Biltmore project comes on the heels of a similar

light-based installation Al-Shatti created at Cityscape

in downtown Phoenix. The current project is bigger

and even more complex, as he combines multiple

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projections into one panoramic image. Al-Shatti

continuously experiments and tweaks the work

almost daily. “It’s a combination of multiple pieces

that I’ve made for this window so far,” Al-Shatti said.

“That’s where I’m coming from right now. I like this

idea of making this ever-long kind of branching thing.

If I make another piece tomorrow, I can add it in right

away. It keeps getting longer and longer. I sit back

with my sketchbook just seeing what works and what

doesn’t work. This is also exploration of some of the

more recent stuff I’ve been making in general.”

Al-Shatti, who has always been forward thinking,

envisions his moving images in large-scale immersive

environments. Although he is at times physically

limited in how he can present his work, Al-Shatti

is optimistic that as more people see his work, it will

become easier to convince institutions and other nontraditional

venues to host his art. “It’s fine that Phoenix

doesn’t have all the tools for all these things yet. It will

get them. I love the idea of this place being so fertile.

We can take all this stuff and just build with it.”

Along with his ongoing collaborative work with

GLOB, which includes performing at music festivals

and creating an anthology film, Al-Shatti is preparing

for an upcoming two-person show at Trans Am Cafe

with his mother, an interesting artist in her own right.

He plans to focus on motion pieces and possibly

some painting and illustration work.

Al-Shatti’s trademark visuals were seen by thousands

of people when Drake incorporated them into his

recent European tour. Al-Shatti has been providing

visuals for musical artists for several years now,

including Shawn Mendes, Juanes, and 6lack. With

such a robust national and international presence,

the possibility of going to a city with access to more

resources and larger audiences seems to always be a

question for Al-Shatti.

“People used to ask me if I was going to move away

from Phoenix,” he said. “Are you going to do this

or that? I don’t understand why, as an artist, you’d

want to move away from this place. It seems so ripe

for experimentation and for just being able to do

really interesting stuff. There’s already such a solid

infrastructure of artists doing cool things.”

Motion Fantasy Art by Kenaim Al-Shatti

Biltmore Fashion Park Mall

Through June 30

Daily 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

www.kenaim.com

@keniamx

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WITNESS ME!

Justen Siyuan Waterhouse

It’s disorienting to read political news more than a

month old. The further back we look, the more foreign

our own attitudes about national politics appear. We

have trouble recalling contemporary American politics

in a straightforward manner. We remember recent

history like unremarkable prestige TV episodes: linear

progression of plot is replaced by character thematics.

Our politicians argue which “Game of Thrones”

characters they most resemble. Our collective sense

of reality blurs with fiction, and our identification

of historical continuity is subverted by a 24-hour

media cycle. Attitudes older than a few months feel out

of step with our accelerating political drama.

A Matter of Public Record: Art in the Age of Mass

Surveillance is the current exhibition at Fine Arts

Complex 1101 (FAC) in Tempe. It was collaboratively

curated by Brian Thomas Jones (Los Angeles) and

Grant Vetter (Tempe). Viewing this show feels like a

journey through a distinctly earlier political moment,

although this is mainly an effect of our media

environment, as the concerns raised here remain

vital. The show was conceived in 2018 and debuted

at the artist co-op space Durden and Ray in Los

Angeles in September. The current show at FAC is

substantially similar to the Durden and Ray show. It

includes all but one of the same thirteen artists and

many of the same works.

There are, however, some notable differences.

Durden and Ray’s space – with higher ceilings

and expansive rooms – was more generous to the

artworks and allowed them to breathe. The events

of 2018 were also closely aligned with the show’s

concerns about surveillance technologies. In April

2018, Mark Zuckerberg was asked to explain why

Cambridge Analytica had access to 87 million

Facebook users’ data during the 2016 election.

Now, in 2019, presented in a different city and a

much smaller gallery, the same show in Tempe feels

cramped for space and temporally out of step.

The works of some artists transform images from

news media through painting. Chris Vena’s painting

“Friday, July 8th, Campaigns V” (2017) describes

masked protestors with Baroque theatricality. A

glaring light source implies violence – perhaps from

a Molotov cocktail? Steve Hampton’s paintings make

parallels between contemporary and archaic forms

of power as shown in portraiture. His painting of

Trump in repose, “The Bather” (2018), recalls an older

icon of wealth and domination: the odalisque. These

works confront state power by calling it out and

dramatizing it.

Other works indulge moral anxieties about

dehumanizing social technologies. Sean Noyce’s

video “A Sunday Afternoon Redaction” (2019) offers

an homage to Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the

Island,” with individual human subjects covered by

identity-obscuring pixel blobs. Rembrandt Quiballo’s

prints, such as “Radicalism of Dog on Leash” (2018),

sanitize and aestheticize found stills of disaster

footage by selectively glitching out the scary parts.

These techniques create a totalizing effect, like a

stylistic filter on a photograph. Noyce and Quiballo’s

transformations call attention to something important

but are not meant to inspire action in response.

So where does action lie in this show? Adriene

Jenik’s video “THE SKY IS FALLING…” (2016)

provides a fraught answer. In a ritualistic

performance, Jenik excavates rocks and soil, using

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each shovelful to bury a square of cloth. Each burial

represents a civilian killed by a U.S. military drone,

up to the estimated 2016 total of 616. Jenik’s project

is to humanize the consequences of warfare made

abstract by remote-controlled violence.

A parallel moral project is enacted alongside this

conceptual conceit, whereby Jenik’s ritual seeks

spiritual absolution through repetitive labor and

intertitles entreating to be forgiven for what is done

“in my name.” Although Jenik’s stated project is

to confront the impersonal, near-ambient violence

of American foreign policy, the moral locus is

definitively in the individual subject. What we then

contemplate is not a structural entanglement with

imperialism and state violence, but rather whether

you, or I, or the artist, is personally equipped to

reconcile the abstract statistics of suffering. In trying

to describe an oppressive infrastructure, Jenik’s work,

like much of this show, ends up creating an aesthetic

of witnessing, sited nearly exclusively within an

individual’s subjective morality.

These aesthetic products of visibility politics have

been largely ineffectual as political interventions.

Bad people and bad governments are immune

to naming-and-shaming, immune to nude Trump

statues and pussy hats. Art metabolizes at a slower

pace than politics and outlasts the accelerating

pace of media. Works such as Jenik’s, and others

in this show, linger on a locus of suffering long

after it is fashionable. While this diminishes their

tactical value, they do serve a role in disrupting our

learned cycles of attention. We can read them as

documenting mid-Trump-regime fears, as well as the

recognition that the surveillance state still endures

while the media cycle moves on.

A Matter of Public Record: Art in the Age of Mass

Surveillance

May 4 – June 1, 2019

Fine Art Complex 1101

1101 West University Drive #103, Tempe

fineartcomplex1101.com

Micah White, head of Occupy Wall Street, founder of

the Activist Graduate School, and author of The End

of Protest: A New Playbook for Revolution, will speak

at Fine Art Complex 1101 at noon, June 1. Admission

and books are free, but seating is limited.

Fine Art Complex 1101 will also screen the film

Stingray on Saturday, June 1, at 2 p.m. – a

documentary about an invasive surveillance technology

called a cell site simulator. Filmmaker Jerod McDonald-

Enoy will be available for a Q&A immediately following

the screening, around 3 p.m. The film is free and open

to the public, but seating is limited.

Chris Vena, Friday, July 8th, Campaigns V (2017), oil on canvas, 48 x 60 in.

Installation view of Steve Hampton, from left to right: The Ornithologist (2019),

The Uniform (2017), The Equestrian 2 (2017), The Rancher (2017), The Bather

(2019), oil on canvas. Foreground: Nathaniel Lewis, Playland Security (2016),

wood, plastic, and fabric, 4 x 8 x 4 ft.

Still from Sean Noyce, A Sunday Afternoon Redaction (2019), single-channel

video, custom code, dimensions variable.

Rembrandt Quiballo, Radicalism of Dog on Leash (2018), inkjet print on metal,

11 x 14 in.

Still from Adriene Jenik, THE SKY IS FALLING… (2016), single-channel video,

13 min.

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Anhelo in Heritage Square

Anhelo is an adorable restaurant tucked inside the historic home in Heritage

Square that was once The Rose & Crown. It’s a bit of a mystery, too, since

it appears to be the restaurant formerly known as Hidden Kitchen, sharing

the same executive chef, Ivan Jacobo. Unfortunately, I never made it to Hidden

Kitchen, so I can’t comment on the switch-up. But as to Anhelo, I can tell you what

I liked, what I loved, and what might benefit from a wee bit of tweaking.

Anhelo, loosely translated from Spanish, means longing or desire. I do find

myself longing for some spare time so I can partake in another of their splendid

cocktails. Their outside tables make a wonderful place to watch the world go by.

I particularly enjoyed giggling at the Lyft traffic jam that ensued on a Friday night

as all of the patrons were getting dropped off near Pizzeria Bianco. Situated next

to Noubu at Teeter House, this little corner has enormous culinary potential, since

two of the three restaurants in Heritage Square boast chefs with prestigious

James Beard awards, the Olympic gold of the culinary world.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. As of today, Anhelo doesn’t host lunch, which

makes its rather large black-and-white striped shade umbrellas a bit of a

mystery. On our visit, all of the umbrellas were closed, and the large central pole

made seeing my dining companions impossible. We watched people at every

other outside table play the same peekaboo game with their friends, as we all

attempted to flag down some help (more on that later).

Back to the cocktails. Anhelo has strong talent in the drink department, and I

adored the Daquiri, ($10), which comes in a retro-feeling round champagne glass.

Whipped egg whites give the drink body and heft and provide balance for the

cheek-smackingly tart lime juice and Luxardo folded inside. We watched our

charming server, who also appeared to be the bartender, whip back and forth,

serving the handful of tables outside as well as tables inside. While I admire his

impressive hustle, it also meant things took a while. I get it – quality takes time.

But we would have enjoyed more cocktails if it hadn’t taken so long. Anhelo could

benefit from another server in the evenings.

The bartender/server hustle also meant our appetizer came at the same time

as our dinner. Small quibble, until the amount of table space is factored into

the equation. Glasses of Scottsdale Blonde ($5), a couple of cocktails, water

glasses, water carafe (I love this touch – you don’t have to wait for refills), plus

plates equals an overfilled table. We tried the Shrimp Ceviche ($16) – a generous

serving of large shrimp poached in lime juice with cucumbers and avocado, served

in a bowl. Tender, sweet shrimp are the star of this dish. However, the rather

enormous slices of shrimp made them almost impossible to scoop onto the salty,

crisp tortilla chips. The only way to eat this dish effectively was to it scoop onto a

plate, slice the shrimp further, and then foist it onto a chip. Indelicate? Absolutely.

But it was scrumptious.

On this particular visit, the House Special Pasta ($14) was fettucine with

guanciale, which is essentially smoked or cured pig jowl – or, as my rather quirky

friends called it, pigface bacon. It’s fabulous. Well-made fresh pasta is a thing

of beauty when done correctly, and this was. Lashings of cream and grated

parmesan added flavor and highlighted the crunchy bits of guanciale. The huge

portion guarantees leftovers.

The Sweet Pea Risotto ($16) could use a little tweaking. This classic spring dish

comes topped with shavings of asparagus and microgreens. Despite being clearly

well-made, it lacked texture and felt like it was missing something. To me, that

could have been some fresh herbs. A smattering of fresh parsley and tarragon would

have elevated the dish. While it was made with care and with quality ingredients,

the lack of texture made it seem closer to cheesy oatmeal than risotto.

Our clear dinner winner was the Scallop ($29). I love that the menu refers to it in the

singular form, even though there were a half dozen perfectly cooked scallops on the

plate. One of my dining companions commented that someone loved that scallop

to death. Probably literally – it had the perfect sear and slightly sweet meaty flavor

you’d expect at a nice restaurant. Served over a sweet potato puree and lardon

hash, it’s presented in such a way that the shape looks like a crab. And it’s texturally

perfect, with the fine dice of lardons (more bacon!). We made loud scraping sounds

with our forks on the plate just so we knew nothing could possibly be left.

While Anhelo isn’t open for lunch, they are open for brunch. Their Eggs Benedict

($16) might be described as à la carte, as it comes on a long oval wooden tray. In

lieu of sides, three half English muffins arrive, supporting perfectly poached eggs

and a silky, lemony hollandaise. I adored their eggs benedict, and I would happily

skip sides for another half-muffin/egg/sauce combo, especially when it is this tasty.

Interestingly, at brunch we noticed the same bartender who had served us dinner.

Sitting inside, we were able to watch him practice his craft. He worked with care

to craft a Bloody Mary, using small straws to extract samples, with no cross germs

in play, until he gave a thumbs-up and we heard him say, “It’s perfect.” I believe it

was. I also believe having him only tend bar at brunch makes sense and allows the

meal to flow much more smoothly. I wish this could happen at dinner. I’m hopeful as

time progresses, they’ll add more staff.

If you love shrimp, please order their Prawns ($18). A half dozen or so enormous

shrimp are cooked in a spicy chipotle rub. And they’re perfectly cooked – these were

just spicy enough to wake your taste buds but not hot enough to cause culinary

regret. This large of a serving seems like a steal at the price, especially when you

consider the well-dressed arugula salad and the excellent scrambled eggs (French

style, my favorite: extra creamy and soft. Some might consider them underdone, but

no – this is the perfect execution of the style).

I’ll confess, I will always miss The Rose & Crown – it filled a niche and had its day

in the sun. It’s a huge gamble to follow a spot so well loved, especially when the

folks at the helm shake things up and go in an entirely new direction. Anhelo is

adorable and uses great ingredients to make tasty food that is clearly crafted with

love. I’m longing for more pasta already.

Anhelo

628 E. Adams, Phoenix

hiddenkitchenrestaurant.com

By Sloane Burwell

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Mitchell St.

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Photographer: Orlando Pelagio

Jewelry: Mitchell Street Metal

Styling: Alejandra Inzunza

Model: Jess Lawrie

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Palabras Bilingual Bookstore

Words, Herbs, and Art • By Jeff Kronenfeld

From Miguel de Cervantes’ more than

400-year-old comedy Don Quixote, to

the more recent brooding meditations

of Roberto Bolaño, Spanish-language

literature inspires readers and influences culture

across the globe. Despite the rich and growing

canon of Spanish letters, for the roughly one-third

of Valley residents who speak Spanish as their

first language, finding books in their native tongue

was almost impossible – until Palabras Bilingual

Bookstore opened in late 2016.

Now hosting a slew of events such as “POC It To

Me,” Cartonera Collective gatherings, and First

Friday art shows, Palabras is a perfect example of

how art can change the world. Rosaura “Chawa”

Magaña was inspired to establish the bookstore

after visiting Librería Donceles, a travelling exhibit

by artist and educator Pablo Helguera. Named

after a street in Mexico City

famous for its many used booksellers, the

installation is a pop-up Spanish-language

bookstore meant to expose the gap in the literary

landscapes of major US cities. Magaña’s visit left

her scratching her head, asking why a city as large

and diverse as Phoenix didn’t have a Spanish or

bilingual bookstore.

“The concept started out initially about

language,” Magaña explained, “but has become

much more than that; now it’s more about

cultural representation.” As Magaña reached out

to people, she heard over and over that Hispanics,

Native Americans, and other communities

of color in Phoenix felt underrepresented,

especially in the literary scene. More than just

a repository for books, Magaña wanted to create

a platform for marginalized voices to gather and

share their stories.

When her friend Elizabeth Kennedy Bayer, founder

of music non-profit Oh My Ears, approached

Magaña about sharing a space in the turquoisehued

La Melgosa building on Grand Avenue, she

didn’t hesitate. With a location secured and clear

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goals, Magaña was only missing one element

necessary for any successful bookstore:

books. With just a dozen or so titles on hand,

including Love in the Time of Cholera and a

text on herbs, Magaña reached out to friends

and community members for donations to help

build the store’s collection. With the help of

local media, the word spread. People came

out of the woodwork to donate books, express

support, and inquire about hosting events in the

space. From the very beginning, Palabras has truly

been a community effort.

A visit by Diné artist Jeff Slim proved particularly

fortuitous, garnering the store – and Magaña

herself – a new partner. It was the classic tale

of artist meets independent bookstore owner –

and cute enough to be worthy of a John Green

romcom. Slim has been making art since he was a

kid dreaming of becoming a comic book illustrator,

while learning the creation stories of his people

from his father and other family members.

Like many artists, Slim started out by going into

coffee shops, bars, and restaurants to ask who

curates the art. He also obtained some early

shows by slightly more subversive means, like

the time he got into a gallery on Roosevelt after

someone noticed his hand-painted flyers wheatpasted

around town. At 21 (he is now 33), Slim

was invited to join Black Sheep Art Collective,

a group of multiple generations of Native

artists collaborating on workshops and public art

projects and creating art for groups such as the

Black Mesa Water Coalition. Traveling across

the Navajo Nation one summer and into the

fall, Slim had the chance to work on numerous

murals. “That’s when I learned how to paint on a

larger scale,” he explained.

By the time Palabras moved into La Melgosa’s

storefront, Slim was already an established artist

with a studio in the back of the same building.

Wanting to support Magaña’s work in the

community, Slim offered to paint a mural for the

store. At least, that is how he recalls it. Magaña’s

account is slightly different, with her proposing

the mural. But regardless, Slim painted his first –

but far from last – mural for Palabras. Though he

refused to accept payment, wanting to donate his

time to what he saw as a worthy cause, he did

accept Magaña’s offers to share meals. “Because

we were spending all this extra time with each

other, eventually we became really good friends,”

Magaña recalled, as she began to blush.

“We realized we really liked each other more than

friends, so here we are, years later, and now we

share two cats.”

Partners in life and business, the two are now

Palabras co-owners, which – after a move to

a larger location on McDowell Road in 2017

– continues to expand its inventory, events,

workshops, and other activities. One of their most

successful events has been “POC It To Me,” a

monthly open mic showcasing a variety of works

from people of color (POC), everything from

storytelling, poetry, and stand-up, to music. The

only rule is no hate speech allowed.

The idea emerged from those early discussions

Magaña had with people who felt alienated from

and undervalued by the wider artistic community.

She wanted to create a safe space for people

of color to share their stories. Magaña initially

cohosted the event with her friend Amber

McCrary, a Diné writer and zine maker. When


McCrary headed out of state to pursue her MFA at

Mills College, poet Yolatl Perez served as cohost

for a time, though now Magaña mostly hosts on

her own. “It’s helped people be more open and

share their work and get out of their shells,”

Magaña said. “It’s the same thing for me too,

because I’m totally an introvert. It’s helped us all

grow as a community.”

Palabras also hosts art shows for First Friday,

with Slim taking the lead on these. Slim usually

integrates music and other performances into his

art openings, a tradition he continues at Palabras.

For June’s First Friday, they will be hosting a

show of photography and a series of musical

performances honoring the memory of Jake

Hoyungowa, a filmmaker and photographer.

Slim first met Hoyungowa, who was of Hopi and

Diné descent, while the two were growing up in

northern Arizona. While Slim made his name as

a visual artist and muralist, Hoyungowa pursued

photography and worked on films focusing on the

life and rights of indigenous people, with his film

The Rocket Boy premiering at Sundance in 2011.

Having recently reconnected, the two had planned

to showcase Hoyungowa’s photography before a

sudden tragedy last month took his life. However,

the show will go on, as a memorial honoring

Hoyungowa’s work and memory.

Truly a third space, Palabras hosts a dizzying array

of events organized by nonprofits or community

members – such as Cardboard House Press, which

publishes bilingual collections of writing, art, and

contemporary thought from the Spanish-speaking

world. They assemble their books in the store

through their Cartonera Collective.

Trans Queer Pueblo, an organization that provides

a range of vital services to LGBTQ+ migrants of

color, hosts a writing group called Creatures of

Our Dreams. Last Valentine’s Day, they held an

event where they wrote letters to incarcerated

individuals. William Ross, whose company Ashe

International provides immersive tours of Cuba,

hosts a number of events, such as a discussion of

mental health in communities of color, as well as a

monthly book club reading featuring the anthology

Boricuas: Influential Puerto Rican Writings. The list

goes on, including book launches, a Meet-up group

for people interested in learning Spanish, and even

self-defense classes. “We’re providing a platform

for people,” Magaña said.

Palabras also helps Magaña share her other

passion in life – plant medicine – through a small

but growing wellness section. Her company,

called SANA SANA Curandera Care, sells a range

of physical and spiritual plant-based healing

products such as a creosote salve, essential-oil

sprays, and a range of dried botanicals. Magaña

uses knowledge gained from studying herbalism

at the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts as well

as the teachings of her mother, who learned the

folk plant-based healing known as curandero from

her own mother and from nuns she lived with in

a convent in Mexico. “It sounds sort of bizarre, I

know, but it’s a true story,” Magaña explains with

a laugh. “Growing up, it was really normal to have

my mom take us out to the fields to gather malva

plants for a stomach flu, especially in the winter.

We’d harvest its roots and boil it for tea or put the

root on a towel on our stomachs.”

Much like the paintings by Slim adorning the

bookstore’s interior – featuring the artist wearing

a coyote mask while bathed in prisms of light,

perhaps chimerically paying homage to David

Bowie – everything Palabras does weaves

together the ancestral, traditional, and modern.

Whether through words, herbs, or art, Magaña

and Slim work tirelessly to foster a space where

people of diverse backgrounds gather to learn,

create, and heal together.

palabrasbookstore.com

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Photos: Maria Ramirez Echavarria

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Remember that night you had a little too

much of whatever and stumbled off your

friends’ path and down toward that inviting

lighted entry into Pan’s Woods? You were

off to a place in space and time offered only to the

mystically initiated and hermetically indoctrinated,

someplace far away from home, and someplace new

and exciting.

In those woods, you happened upon a carnival tent

that leaked heavy drum music and accordion sounds.

Voices shouted in English and Spanish. Hugs were

shared all around. There were sweet, dangerous men,

and lovely, far more dangerous women. The carnival

tent was full of barkers, freaks, contortionists,

jugglers, sword swallowers, fire breathers, popcorn

carts, liquor bottles, beer tubs, jokes, love, smiles,

and joy. Lovers grinded against each other, lottery

winners danced in jubilation, craps table roared in

the heat of play – and all the while, the band never

stopped playing. That band is Los Esplifs.

Los Esplifs play a unique cumbia-based sound

blended with Southwest psychedelia. Their music is

energized and communal – traditionally based and

undoubtedly mind opening, grinning, and ecstatic.

Their shows are lively – the group’s February show at

Last Exit Live was packed with people dancing and

smiling. The band has already played many shows

throughout the Southwest and Mexico, but they are

at home as a Phoenix band.

Saul Millan and Caleb Michel are the masterminds

behind the group. Los Esplifs are a collection of

some of the best and most inventive musicians in

Arizona. Hailing from areas of funk, punk, reggae,

cumbia, jazz, and other genres, it can be said that

the band comprises an all-star lineup pulled from

the Arizona music scene. On drums is Casey Hadland

of Mesquite and Vox Urbana, on guitars is Zack

Parker of Pro Teens, Chris Del Favero of Jerusafunk

holds it down on bass, Gus Woodrow of Mesquite

plays the guira, and the group is often joined by

saxophonist Alan Acosta.

The band is named after, well… “Listen, I don’t want

anyone to think we’re just a pot band or anything,”

Caleb Michel says with lighthearted concern. “I don’t

even smoke pot.”

Caleb is the percussionist and co-leader of Los

Esplifs. He is a master of the skins, and he gained his

rhythmic prowess by drumming with the likes of the

Cuban Afrobeat Allstars, Vox Urbana, Alassane, and

other top people in Phoenix music. His life’s work has

been dedicated to studying percussion, world rhythms,

and what moves the human hips and heart. He’s got

nothing against marijuana, but his concerns are fair

– the band is WAY more than “just a pot band.” The

music is complex, rich in heritage and experience,

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and it tackles controversial life issues and political

subject matter. All that said, the music also goes

great with a little, or a lot, of the band’s namesake.

And so, while Caleb is assuring me of his sobriety

and lack of love for the green stuff, Saul Millan is

grinning as if to say, Hey, on the other hand, and

when it’s his turn to speak he says, “Well, I do.”

To understand the humor that the pair finds in their

name, one must appreciate the anatomy of a spliff.

A spliff is one part headache-relieving, edge-cutting

tobacco and one part mellow-diving, sun-shining

marijuana, rolled into a not-too-tight cigar wrapper

and sparked for user enjoyment.

The pair laughs and explains that the original thought

was that Caleb represented the tobacco half of a

spliff, and Saul represented the greens, at least in spirit.

Their duality makes sense as soon as you see the band

play live. Caleb is tight, intense, and focused, and Saul is

affable, unhinged, and exultant. As a result, the spirit of

the band is a blend of the two forces.

Saul grew up in Nogales, Arizona, listening to all

different kinds of music. He explains that when he

was about 14 years old, he began to hear the seeds

of what he’d later recognize as cumbia rhythms being

used as samples in the music he was listening to. He

went on to perform many types of music, including

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cumbia. He plays multiple instruments, but ultimately

gravitated to the accordion as his main squeeze.

Caleb grew up in the Phoenix area playing percussion

and studying the percussion dialects of American and

African music. His first instrument was the claves.

And while the band certainly holds firm roots in Latin

American music, its ethos is something much larger

than regional classification – it’s something unique,

contemporary, and fun.

Caleb moonlights with Alassane, a project led by

pianist Alassane G. Diarra, and the band’s new

single, “Gabriel,” is an ambient and meandering

art-rock anthem that builds with a bite. Alassane’s

soothing piano work and haunting vocals are a

lullaby before the song explodes to its head-banging

peak. Caleb’s drum work drives the track and helps it

deliver its punch.

In February 2019, Los Esplifs travelled to Mexico City

to stay with a friend and record an EP. They were just

south of the city, in a smaller village, and had been

put up in a “modern art mansion,” as they describe

it. The band recorded outside, in the garden beside

the pool. Their new EP is the fruit of those labors, but

labor is far from how the guys recall their recording

experience. They talk about it as if it were a dream,

as if they were still confirming with each other that their

time in Mexico was real and tangible. Now, with the EP

released, the band is looking forward to spreading their

music as far as possible. It’s cumbia for the people, a

desert illusion, an instant Arizona staple.

The songs come from the band’s own experiences

and stories. “They’re about our friends, smoking

weed, and Phoenix life,” Saul explains. “It’s like if

King Krule made a cumbia record.” The lyrics are

about contemporary life, pulled from the stories of

people who surround the band. The whole group was

born and raised in Arizona. They’re tight-knit, and

their live shows emanate a vibe of community and

togetherness. Caleb and Saul say that they want their

shows to feel like a party, “like everyone’s hanging out.”

Caleb explains that the lyrics and music “are going

to be controversial at times to some people.” But, he

adds, “That’s just part of music. What matters most

is the inclusiveness.” So, while the nucleus of the

band is cumbia, the music expands far beyond its

conceptual foundation. It’s cumbia for a new age.

“This isn’t your parents’ cumbia,” the duo assures me

in recital. And they’re right – but your parents will

most likely want to catch a show and join you on the

floor. Los Esplifs crowds can’t help but dance. Put

quite simply, the band knows how to throw a killer

party. They play high-energy shows peppered with


slow jams for the dancing couples. The shows are reminiscent of block parties

and barbeques – the perfect music for the hazy vitality of a hot Phoenix night.

Los Esplifs released the single and video for “De Rodillas en el Altar” on April

20. The song is on their new EP. In the video, a red-haired, spaghetti-faced

woman dances through a technicolor desert landscape in search of truth,

passion, reality, and cumbia. It’s trippy (certainly), and weird (without a doubt).

The song feels like an exuberant offering to the cumbia gods. In the music, a

traditional cumbia rhythm repeats over the upstrokes of an electric guitar, while

Saul plays a hypnotizing melody on the accordion and calls out over the mic as

if to assemble the disciples of cumbia to join in the dance.

The musicians of Los Esplifs do not limit themselves. At the end of “De Rodillas

en el Altar,” the traditional rhythm escalates to a pounding psychedelic dance

beat capable of moving the mind and spirit of anyone who happens to slip into

the band’s psychic playground.

While Los Esplifs is tight, serious, and real – all good stuff – it’s important to

remember that this is a band of duality. The band’s other side is playful, tonguein-cheek,

and devilishly fun. Tobacco and marijuana. A strong and steady blend

of contrasting strengths that deliver a powerful sound and message for Phoenix

music fans to enjoy.

By the time this article is published, Los Esplifs will have wrapped their May

25 EP release at Valley Bar with Sunn Trio and Sgt. Papers. No doubt, it

was amazing. If you were there – you know. If you weren’t there – now you

know, and you need to grab the EP and get to the next Los Esplifs show as

soon as possible.

@losesplifs

What gets you excited when you look out your

window? This, our apartment community, it is the

heart of the Arts District: in Downtown Phoenix, rich

in character and culture. You are next door to the

Phoenix Art Museum, walking distance to Roosevelt

Row, steps from the light rail, and surrounded by

incredible local restaurants, boutiques and more.

222 E McDowell Road Phoenix, AZ 85004

(833) 266-4072

greenleafartsdistrict.com


GIRL ON FARMER

Bathroom Envy

BY CELIA BERESFORD

Bathrooms have been a real place of learning

and discovery for me. I’ve always wanted to do

a documentary about ladies’ bathrooms in bars,

highlighting the changes in the way people walk and

talk as the evening progresses. Not only how they

talk, but also what they talk about; both undergo

some changes from happy hour to last call. I realize

there would be a lot of privacy and ethics issues to

deal with in a bathroom documentary, so the idea

never went anywhere.

We used to go out to big family dinners a lot when

I was growing up. Once dessert was finished, the

adults at the table would decide it was time to relax.

At the same time me, my brother, and my cousin

were ready to go home, the adults in my family

were moving from wine to cocktails and after-dinner

drinks. We kids knew we had at least another hour

before the check was even brought to the table, so

we amused ourselves ordering virgin cocktails and

daring each other to eat the butter and sugar packets

on the table.

Once that game was over, it was time to head to

the bathrooms for a change of scenery. I don’t know

what happens in New Jersey Italian restaurants

these days, but back then in the ladies’ room, there

was usually a woman attendant, who looked very

bored and tired. She would wipe down the counter

and lay out a selection of prep and perk tools for

bathroom patrons to use: hairspray, a comb, bobby

pins, and perfume, all in hopes of getting a tip. From

what I remember, these things did not look new and

shiny, but instead like they had been pulled from the

attendant’s purse, as if you were acquaintances and

you were just borrowing her things. Because of their

predictable net worth, kids were typically ignored.

But this meant you could hide out in the stall and

listen to what the adults were saying for a long time

without being noticed.

I have to pee so frequently that I’m sure some bored

bar flies are speculating that I have a coke habit.

Actually, it’s just my bladder showing signs of wear

and tear. I’m still seriously considering making the

move to Depends or something similar. I just can’t

be bothered going to the bathroom so many times! I

notice there are a lot of ads for bladder protection, an

advertiser’s euphemism for urine protection. No one

is protecting me from my bladder. It’s the pee I don’t

38 JAVA

MAGAZINE


I have to pee so frequently that I’m sure some bored

bar flies are speculating that I have a coke habit.

Actually, it’s just my bladder showing signs of wear

and tear. I’m still seriously considering making the

move to Depends or something similar.

want an encounter with. In my mind, these products must have come far since

they were first developed. I picture them looking like an oversized maxi-pad, but

to hold pee instead of blood. But I’m wrong about that.

My friend Jenn said she had something for me. It was a coupon for “bladder

protection underwear” that claimed to be subtle and, yes, even sexy. Have you

ever seen a pull-up? The diapers kids can pull up and down to pee or just throw

away in case of an accident? The sides are very easy to tear off. This is what

was in the advertisement. Only it was peach colored and had a few flowers on

it, so that should be enough to make an adult feel totally fine wearing one, right?

The woman in the ad was tall and svelte and tried to make it look like she was

wearing lingerie. Call it underwear all you want – we know it’s a diaper. And it

does not look cute.

Since I’m not able to embrace my adult pee pad just yet, I get to spend lots of

time in the bathroom throughout the night conducting research. On a recent trip,

I waited behind a lady who didn’t seem too chatty, but it was early, so this was

normal. A minute later another woman with short red hair came in and stood in

line behind me. “My god! Look at that hair,” Lady 1 said. “It. Is. GORGEOUS!”

She continued to fawn all over the redhead and went on to compliment her

outfit, shoes, and probably how nice her teeth were. When she was done with

her smattering of praise, she turned back to the stall and continued to wait. And

I continued to wait for my turn for a little something. At this point I would have

taken anything and turned it into a compliment. She could have said, “Look, you

have hair too,” and I would have been excited. Jeez, I thought. Sure, she does

have cute hair and everything, but I mean, really.

I had talked myself into getting over it and taken the karmic approach, thinking

maybe it was a sign of being graceful or something deep as hell like that. I tried

thinking the redhead probably was having a bad day or she must have needed

to hear kind words more than I did. Just when I was about to slip into a full

meditation, Lady 3 walks out of the stall. The Complimenter goes f*cking crazy

about her hair and outfit, too. She hyperventilated over her beautiful skin and

turquoise purse. I tried not to take it personally as I waited my turn for the stall,

but deep down I was secretly hoping she’d say just one nice thing to me.

As I grabbed my crotch and crossed my legs in an attempt to quell the pee, the

Complimenter exited the stall. I smiled in anticipation. But she walked to the

sink without a word. I didn’t see her for the rest of the night. Maybe it was a

sign after all, only not as deep as I initially thought. Maybe the sign was: Go get

yourself some diapers. They look cute!


NIGHT

GALLERY

Photos By

Robert Sentinery

1

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10 11

1. Tondra explores the Arcosanti cliffs

2. Mikey B is pirate chic at Runway of Hope 2019

3. Phoenix fashionistas Rielle, Irene and Brian, ROH 2019

4. Checking out the fine art at Found:Re

5. Kristin Bauer is a featured artist at FORM

6. Food Network stars at Nirvana Food & Wine After Party

7. Phoenix beauties at Loop Architectural Materials

8. Chopped champion Nick LaRosa from Nook Kitchen

9. Ashley, Titus and friend working the bars at FORM

10. TV news guy and his lady at Nirvana After Party

11. Star-tender Jason Asher, Nirvana After Party at Fat Ox

VISIT

US

ONLINE

w w w . J A V A M A G A Z . c o m


12 13 14 15 16

17 18 19 20 21

22 23 24 25 26

27 28 29

12. 23rd anniversary of Wendell Burnette Architects 5/23/19

13. Gaeliel and Rani at the Nirvana After Party

14. Hot sax with this French DJ, Nirvana part at Fat Ox

15. Photo pro Debby Wolvos at Fat Ox

16. Peter and pal at Loop Architectural Materials

17. Intergalactic style at Runway of Hope

18. Artist Alana Christine at {9} gallery

19. Faces in the crowd at Nirvana After Party

20. Rockin’ the Liberty style at ROH 2019

21. Double red, or double white?

22. Andrea and Bill at Ocotillo

23. JT from Pour Amor slinging drinks at Loop

24. Chef Christopher and friends at the Nirvana After Party

25. Jillian Vose in town from NYC to mix at Fat Ox

26. Nirvana After Party attendees

27. Lalita and friends, Loop Architectural Materials opening

28. On the ROH 2019 runway

29. Dapper dudes partying at Fat Ox


Register for Summer/Fall

enroll-maricopa.com

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consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or national origin. A lack of English language skills will not be a barrier to admission and

participation in the career and technical education programs of the District.

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30. This mixologist is in town from Miami Beach

31. Celeb chef Bruce Kalman cooks at the Nirvana After Party

32. Becca and friend stop by the Lodge on Grand Ave

33. This trio checks out the art at Found:Re

34. Beauties in black at Fat Ox

35. Rockin’ it ’80s style at the Nirvana party

36. Sylvia Frost is the artist behind the curtain at 515 Arts

37. These guys look pretty dangerous

38. Painting for the crowds at Runway of Hope

39. ROH 2019 styling by Weezy’s Playhouse

40. Tieken Gallery opening with Nicole and Kylie

41. Daniel Joseph Martinez, Lenhardt Lecture at PAM

42. Light a candle for the Runway of Hope

43. Good times, Nirvana After Party at Fat OX

44. Rielle can walk the walk

45. Holly and pal at the Tieken Gallery

46. Snapped these guys at the Loop party

47. Documenting ROH 2019 for Modern Luxury


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48. Pre-runway show fun

49. Oscar and Gary & friend at Runway of Hope

50. Space age chic at ROH

51. Fashion for a great cause

52. Meghan Pearce found of Runway of Hope

53. Campsite neighbors at FORM

54. Styled by Weezy’s Playhouse for ROH

55. Pussy Riot on stage at FORM Arcosanti

56. Lovely Swedes in town for FORM

57. Runway walker at ROH

58. Flower children at FORM

59. Best seat in the house for FORM Arcosanti

60. Another appearance by JT from Pour Amor

61. More ROH 2019 highlights

62. GT’s Kombucha crew at FORM

63. Channel Tres FORM set was super fun

64. Rockin’ the stonewashed

65. Menswear on the runway at ROH


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66. Oscar gets caught in the balloons

67. Mural touch up at FORM Arcosanti

68. Fire-themed segment at ROH

69. Tondra and Adam in the media tent at FORM

70. Fear the glove! ROH 2019

71. Christian’s multi-dimensional paintings at Unexpected

72. Khruangbin jams at FORM

73. FORM people Lani, Mitch and Davina

74. Anna Vivette does an a-cappella opera set at FORM

75. Dirty Drummer partners Andrew, Tom and Dana

76. Mitch and Susan, Dirty Drummer friends & family opening

77. Lauren with Jesse and his bro

78. Cocktail artiste Chadwick and his gal

79. August Manley’s set at the Dirty Drummer private opening

80. Michelle and Lisa check out the Dirty Drummer

81. Dirty Drummer friends & family fete

82. More fun at the Dirty Drummer

83. Celebrating Wendell Burnette Architects 23rd


Enjoy the smooth

sounds of the

SATURDAYS

8 - 11:45pm

HAPPY HOUR 4-7 • CLOSED MONDAYS

5749 N. 7TH ST. PHOENIX, AZ 85014 | THEWOMACK.US


summer @smoca

Visit SMoCA this summer and enjoy three diverse exhibitions: southwestNET I Shizu Saldamando,

Divergent Materiality: Contemporary Glass Art, and Mutual Reality: Art on the Edge of Technology.

Summer Opening Celebration: June 7, 7 p.m., Free

southwestNET I Shizu Saldamando is organized by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Curated by Director and Chief Curator Jennifer McCabe.

Sponsored by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Divergent Materiality: Contemporary Glass Art is organized by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art Lauren

R. O'Connell. Generous support provided by The Arizona Glass Alliance, Judy and Stuart Heller, Linda and Sherman Saperstein, Sharon and Fred Schomer,

Penelope and Richard Post, Gail and Dan Tenn, and Lori and Michael Carmel. Installation design by Jay Atherton, Clay Studio.

Mutual Reality: Art on the Edge of Technology is organized by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Curated by Curator of Programming Julie Ganas.

Image: Shizu Saldamando, Grace and Ira, Golden Hour At and Despite Steele Indian School Park, 2019. Mixed media on wood, 48 × 72 inches. Courtesy of the artist

SMoCA.org I 7374 East Second Street, Scottsdale, Arizona 85251 I 480-874-4666

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