Third Friday Closing Reception 2/19

Please join us for the Closing Reception this Friday, February 19th from 6-10pm featuring an intimate evening with the artists and an opportunity to hear the artists speak about their artwork and creative process. Currently we are featuring two new exhibitions: People, Place and State the solo exhibition and 10 year retrospective of Chris Maker in Shade Gallery. While Bokeh Gallery features Conjuring the Consecrated the solo exhibition of Cherie Buck- Hutchison. Both exhibitions will be on display at the monOrchid until February 28th, 2016.

Marriage Proposal @ Monorchid

This story pre-dates my employment at Monorchid. And I'm lucky, because the story has already been written by the most qualified person to recall such an event.

Jordan and Jason got engaged at the Monorchid on a First Friday. Monorchid's Ashton Brown worked with Jason to help pull everything together, I was lucky to be there that night, and witness the occasion.

Jordan relates the entire experience in a beautiful piece of writing on the How He Asked website, replete with gorgeous pictures of the happy couple and our space.

Cool side note: Jason actually made that hanging structure himself. Kudos to him! And congratulations to the two of them.

It's one-of-a-kind experiences like this that make the Monorchid so interesting. (This stuff happens all the time!) It's being a part of helping someone's ordinary day become an absolutely unforgettable one that makes working here so rewarding.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE WHOLE STORY

Dance.

I did it. Lived up to my end of the bargain. If you recall, I described this bargain in my very first post to this blog more than a month ago. I promised to take a dance class if Savage Rhythm would bring their inspiring business to The Monorchid. Since then I have been very busy (read: strategically otherwise-involved).

I’ve never danced before in my life - definitely not in front of a class full of people. I've always wanted to, but it's terribly intimidating to me for some reason. This past Wednesday, however, I made good on my word.

I decided to wear my red Toms Brand shoes. Red: because there’s got to be some extra magic in bright red shoes, right? As it turned out, it didn’t really matter what shoes I wore. I was still a sitting duck in the crosshairs of this particular lesson in humility. Allow me to explain.

I’ve always been the kind of guy to learn things on my own, in the quiet (and the privacy) of my own space. I don’t prefer to look foolish in front of others. I prefer to practice and practice and practice on my own until I'm a BOSS at whatever it is that I'm doing. Only THEN do I feel comfortable showing it off to others.

So taking this class was a big step for me - literally something I’ve been hiding from my entire adult life. I've known this as a battle between my right brain and my left brain all along: the ego informing the artist in me to sit still and shut up. It can be very difficult overriding that imperative.

But back to the dance class.

What I must have looked like to everyone around me was a guy learning to dance for the first time ever. What I felt like was the unfortunate effect of some mad scientist’s splicing of the Tin Man and Pinocchio. That’s right, folks - I felt like a rusty wooden malfunction with a big heart. Here’s a picture:

Notice the complete lack of ease in the tension of my arms. I appear almost paralyzed by ineptitude. (I was.) Here’s another:

Look at my face. Note the RAPT attention. I couldn’t be more concentrated if this were the first moon landing and my direct responsibility to land the ship. Here’s one where I look like I’m doing something:

And here’s one where I stand and look confused while all the others do something:

But it wasn’t all bad. Look, here’s one where I’m both smiling and doing something:

The point of the matter is that I got to experience firsthand a really unique and exciting addition to our weekly schedule. Jonathan Lindsey and Tressa Steele are two of the coolest, most genuine and caring people you’ll ever meet. They’re also outstanding teachers.

To be honest, if it were just me and my ego alone on an island, I’d never do this again. EVER. But Jonathan and Tressa were so helpful and so encouraging that I actually think I will be attending this class again despite my insecurities.

I don’t like to be defeated by any thing, so I’m going to have to figure this dance thing out. Who better to learn from than my two new friends?

Next time, I’ll hope to see you there. Come tap me on the shoulder and let me know you read this - we can look foolish and get a good workout and have a little fun together.

- Tim

The Monorchid - A Place of Hope

We were privileged to host an event this past Tuesday (3/17) for the RadiatePHX crowd, including many of the City's business and community leaders.  The Downtown Phoenix Journal was kind enough to write a pretty outstanding article describing not only the event, but also the heart of The Monorchid set within this beautiful community.

This article appears to be based upon Wayne's speech presented the night-of. You can read the full article HERE or by clicking on the picture above, but this is my personal favorite part:

"This building that is monOrchid is much like downtown Phoenix in many ways. Not that many years ago it was a broken and under-utilized place – a warehouse for forgotten things. It was inefficient and expensive to refit but its history and authenticity were still mostly intact, and that authenticity was an absolutely essential component for it – and its neighborhood’s – revival.

The investment was worth it.

Today we gather here and celebrate the many future possibilities that are Phoenix."

Beautifully done, Downtown Phoenix Journal! We at The Monorchid are very grateful for the wonderful relationship we share, and we're especially proud to be a contributing part of this City's exciting evolution.

Arizona Doesn't Need to Lose Out on the Film Industry

THE SET-UP

It was 6:00am on the nose when I rolled into the parking lot at Monorchid yesterday. Already, a large truck was parked just outside our garage door, and a couple of people I’d never met before were waiting excitedly in the lot.

The day was to be all about Jordon Davis-Foss and his 12-hour marathon film shoot (as I liked to call it). Jordon had described a little of his vision to me when we first met only a couple of weeks earlier after he came by for a surprise tour of the space.

What I remember of this initial interaction was Jordon’s quiet confidence. He didn’t brag about himself or his “years of experience in film”, and yet he carried himself with a gentle authority that somehow still commanded respect. He was quick to smile, quick to laugh, and quick to compliment the space.

What I took away was this: that he was filming a video for his senior thesis at ASU, that the video would include a gallery heist in an art museum, and that he planned, ambitiously, to complete a whole sequence of scenes in a single day here at The Monorchid.

I also knew that he was planning to shoot across each of our spaces, moving from the Main Gallery to the North Studio into our Bokeh Gallery, and even out the back door onto the patio. He also liked the idea of using our rolling gallery walls to create a dynamic, modular set.

But all of these were just ideas and plans - his mind engaging the potential of our space to create the set he had envisioned for his film. Oftentimes, ideas can become lost in the shuffle of practical action and the needs of a pressing schedule, so it remained to be seen just how exactly his ideas would play out.

THE STORY

But Jordon and his team never ceased to impress, from the moment he and Marlon (the assistant director) entered through our garage door lugging bags full of breakfast burritos for cast and crew.

Over the course of the first hour or two, cast continued to trickle in and help themselves to food, exploring the newly installed artwork while Jordon and Marlon worked with Alex Miller (owner of Thunder Grip and Electric and the 3-ton truck parked outside) to begin converting the Main Gallery for their first scene.

As Jordon and his team went about their work over the next several hours, I couldn’t help but be impressed with the complete lack of havoc. These guys were on a schedule, but they weren’t hurried, they weren’t flustered. Most of them were college aged, but they consistently handled themselves like seasoned professionals.

I went about my own work with the door to my office open wide, smiling quietly to myself at the sound of Marlon’s voice commanding the set. Over and over again, this sequence:

“QUIET ON THE SET!”
“SOUND?”
“Set.”
“CAMERA?”
“Set.”
“ROLL SOUND!”
“HOLD POSITION… ROLL CAMERA!”
“Scene Alpha Beta, Take One.”
“MARK!”
“ROLLING!"
"AAAAAAAAND - ACTION!”


“IT’S A TAKE!”
“RESET!”

Around 11:00am, I’m on one of my routine check-ins to make sure everything’s continuing to progress smoothly, and one of the guys mentions how great it would be to have some press around this shoot. The idea’s a good one. I don’t make any promises, but I do commit to pulling what strings I can.

I contact two local newspapers, call Wayne and work with him to develop a list of news anchors across multiple local news stations, call and email every one of them I can, then I wait.

It’s not until after 2:30pm that I finally receive an affirmative response, but I do receive the response. It’s a voicemail from Channel 12 News informing me that a photographer is on the way and should arrive within 30 or 40 minutes.

Obviously, I’m ecstatic. (As are Jordon and Marlon when I tell them.) The timing is perfect, because we’re just beginning to shoot the final sequences. I say “we”, because Jordon invites me to be an extra in the final scene. Naturally, I am more than happy to comply.

THE LARGER STORY

Enough about me, though. Let’s bring this to a finer point. There’s a reason this particular film shoot is relevant (and it’s why Channel 12 was so quick to bite). It just so happens that Arizona is one of only 11 states that continues to refuse tax incentives to production companies.

This unfortunate reality has been strangling the state’s true potential for big-budget film opportunities. In fact, when the news piece runs on Channel 12 at 10:00pm, it’s rife with headlines like “Arizona Loses Out in Film Industry” and “Film Industry Dwindles in Arizona”.

(You can watch it HERE.)

Turns out, incentives are so steep in places like New Mexico that production companies are willing to rewrite entire scripts to accommodate the lower cost of location. Because of this, two Arizona house bills are being proposed to help attract the movie industry back to Arizona - HB2621 and HB2144.

In his interview with Channel 12, Jordon speaks to the freshly budding economy in his home state of Michigan, describing the billions of dollars Detroit has seen as a result of its interaction with the movie industry. Here’s the direct quote:

"I wish Arizona had a deeper film experience. I come from Detroit. We've got a lot of jobs, created billions of dollars in revenue for Detroit and the State of Michigan out of our film program and I wish the same could come out of Arizona.”

(You can read the whole article HERE.)

This is a real issue for our beautiful state: movies want to shoot here. They want the context of our landscapes, of our culture. And the groundwork has been laid! The Monorchid isn’t the only studio fully prepared to handle an influx of serious film projects; but like the others, it’s a local business that would benefit greatly from the passing of these bills, along with the rest of the state.

Job creation, an influx of big money, much-deserved exposure for one of this country’s most magnificent states - there’s much to look forward to if we can take these small steps toward immense gain.

CONCLUSION

But I’ll get off my soapbox now. Let’s jump back to yesterday. Yesterday was a day unlike any I have ever had before. I was lucky to assist in a really interesting film project; I was able to play a part in a serious movie for the first time in my life; and I even ended up on the news for a split second of time: also a first. I made friends and connections that won’t soon be forgotten. I’d call that an exceptionally productive day.

So much thanks go out to Jordon Davis-Foss for bringing his film, The Take, to The Monorchid. To Marlon Hawkins for his careful direction of cast and crew. To the whole lot of these wonderful people who were so respectful of our space. To Wayne for providing solid contacts. To Delbert Vega, the photographer who came out to get our story; and to Channel 12 for creating a place for us in their coverage and for speaking out in response to this important state matter.

And thanks to you, as always, for reading.

- Tim

 

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Nude

I went on my first nude shoot this past week. Talk about diving in headfirst: my second professional photo excursion of all time, and it’s a nude shoot. When Wayne asked me to assist, my initial reaction was a polite-as-possible “no thanks”. But I knew better. There’s no part of my personality that will allow an opportunity to learn something new pass unconsidered. When he told me that he had decided to involve me on purpose so I could experience the nuances of working with this type of subject, I was sold.

As was the case on our first shoot, there was much time spent in gathering and positioning gear. Lights and lights and lights - so many lights. Cables, stands, cameras, computers - cases and cases filled with gear. Every time I’ve ever taken a picture, it’s been a simple matter of pushing a button on my camera or my cell phone, then dropping it back into my pocket and moving on. Not so with Wayne. With Wayne it’s a production. (This must be the difference between the pros and guys like me.)

The shoot took place at the subject’s house. The subject’s name is Troy*. We roll up - we being Wayne, myself, and ‘Boats’ - and it’s my job to begin unloading the (two!) vehicles bursting full of gear. I line the lights and accessories side by side along the walkway leading callers to the porch. On one of my trips, Wayne introduces me to Troy, an unassuming young guy, likely even younger than myself. He seems quiet, and kind, and intelligent. I don’t know what about him informs me of these qualities, it’s just a feeling in my gut.

Wayne is preparing a series.  I don’t have all the details, but from what I’ve been able to gather, he hopes to portray a relationship between the artist and his or her own living space. The nudity will not be gratuitous; it’s meant to expose something of the artists’ vulnerability in self-expression. It’s a metaphor to describe the way the true artist is stripped of everything when fully invested in his or her work, the way the individual ego dissolves into something more visceral, more universal, less manufactured - the creation superseding the creator.

I don’t know anything about Troy or even whether he himself is an artist, but by the stacks of books, half-completed drawings, discarded canvases and scraps of paper scattered everywhere across the house, I’m confident he matches Wayne’s direction. For some reason, I’m surprised that Troy doesn’t answer the door naked. I don’t know what my pea-brain expected, but to find someone normal, even very similar to myself, volunteering for this shoot still catches me by surprise. Troy quietly sits on his couch rifling through a magazine while the three of us position lights and cameras all around him.

I don’t want to go into detail about the specifics of this shoot. For that, you’ll have to wait until the showing. But at one point, Wayne invites Troy to come and see a set of shots. Troy pulls on a pair of jeans and stands beside me at the computer. The pictures are good. Very good. Troy turns to Wayne, surprised. “I’ve never done this sort of thing before, you know,” he says. “I’ve never even taken a picture of my dick before.” We all laugh. But this is all the more telling: the truest possible impression of the image Wayne’s envisioned. This young man - modest in his own way yet unflagging in the face of such exposure. There’s an absolute honesty to it. I am impressed.

After a multitude of photos and poses and lighting adjustments, Wayne calls it a wrap. “We’re out!” he says. The three of us unload Troy’s house of all our gear. Thirty minutes later, the vehicles are packed and we’re shaking Troy’s hand to say our thank-yous and good-byes.

Back at the Monorchid, we unload the gear one last time. I can’t remember when I last felt quite so tired. Back at Troy’s house, Wayne made a point of saying that, despite all the many times he’s done this work before, it never fails to sap him of his strength. Everything he has goes into this: the act of attaining in his mind an original vision, the backbreaking work of re-creation.

I can’t speak for Wayne; but whatever this series portrays, it will inevitably carry the weight of his own courageous exposure. I have felt that, and seen it, and feel it even as I write this little story. This series will describe something inherent to each of us. I’m excited for you to see it once it’s done.

- Tim

*Troy Farah is a talented local writer, and we were very pleased to collaborate with him on this project.

Inspiration, Sip & Twirl, and BIG Plans @ Monorchid

So it’s hard to believe that less than two weeks ago, I was employed as a Scheduling Manager at an Aerospace Machine Shop. We make these small turns in life, sometimes out of boredom, sometimes for the adventure of it or out of basic need, and we find ourselves somewhere altogether new. That’s kind of what it’s been like here: and every single day is something new and unexpected.

Today it’s the buzz of a message from Wayne, linking me to a new story blogged by one of our favorite wedding planners, Sip & Twirl. Sip & Twirl recently planned a truly outstanding wedding here at the Monorchid for Brandy and Kristie. This was only a couple of weeks before my time, but the write-up and the photography turned out to be almost as impressive as the event itself.

Photo by Brittany Janelle Photography

Photo by Brittany Janelle Photography

You can see it for yourself HERE.

The cool thing about this wedding was the way it portrayed the forward direction of our community. Brandy and Kristie were Sip & Twirl’s first gay wedding recognized by the state, and they did an absolutely fantastic job of creating a moment that will hold in their memory (and each of their guests’ memories) forever. And we got to be a part of that.

Photo by Brittany Janelle Photography

Photo by Brittany Janelle Photography

Photo by Brittany Janelle Photography

Photo by Brittany Janelle Photography

Wayne was as pleased by the article as Ashton and I were and has decided to work with us to put together a Summer Special Wedding Package. We’ll be posting that as soon as we can work out a truly enticing deal for whichever of you has been catching the bouquets of flowers at all these past weddings.

Keep an eye out over the course of the next week or so - we’ll be posting to this blog and also to our Facebook Page HERE (if you haven’t already “Liked” us, I don’t know what you’re waiting for).

As always, thanks for reading.

- Tim

P.S. - we shamelessly utilized photos from the Sip & Twirl article; they were too good not to pass along. All props for photos go to Brittany Janelle Photography.

Documenting the DeGrazia Works @ GreenHaus

Yesterday I got to assist on my first professional photo shoot, directed by MonOrchid/Rainey Studios owner, Wayne Rainey. The plan was to archive some artwork from the walls of our immediate neighbor, GreenHaus. The owners moved out earlier this month, leaving the building empty once again, and ready for the demolition crews.

The artwork inside includes a 48’ long mural spanning the east wall and a smaller piece on the north wall. An original estimate quotes the cost of saving these paintings at over $250K, so the developer has asked us to archive the work with ultra high res photography instead.

The murals are by renowned artist Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia, dated at some 60+ years ago. The building was a bar at the time, and legend has it that DeGrazia agreed to creation of these works in order to cover the cost of an unpaid bar tab.

Since I now work for Wayne, I get to enjoy the happy circumstance of assisting on the project.

IMG_2425.JPG

So we meet up at 8:30am and get to work. In addition to Wayne and myself, we have recruited help from Christopher ‘Boats’ OShana and Chadwick Fowler. Boats has an office here at the MonOrchid and has a lot of experience in photography. Chadwick is a local pro photographer, and it's his rig we're using today (the Phase One camera we're using is valued at around $40,000!); he and Wayne have worked together many times before.

First, we assemble equipment. Fortunately, the murals are on interior walls, so we will have much greater control of lighting compared with an outdoor shoot.  We grab Wayne's hefty Speedotron equipment, a grip of stands, light modifiers, flash heads and cables, measuring tapes, computers, the camera, a hand-sketched plan, and of course, coffee.

Wayne has made it clear that in order for this shoot to finish a success, we will need to be exceptionally cognizant of precision in our set-ups. Because the mural is 48’ long, we will need to capture segmented frames and stitch them together in post-production. Each frame will need to be carefully planned so that it overlaps both the frame before it and the next frame in line. Lighting, camera angle, camera height, distance from the subject - all these factors and more will need to be strategically accounted for. Consistency across the work is key for ultimate integrity of the original and will be a necessity for post-production, too.

Wayne's Hand-Sketched Plans for the Newbie Assistant (Me)

Wayne's Hand-Sketched Plans for the Newbie Assistant (Me)

Once the camera’s up on the stand and we’ve got lights, we begin my measuring the height of the mural, finding its center point, then matching the center of the camera lens to that exact height. We position the camera at a distance from the wall that frames the work the way Wayne needs it. It happens to be exactly 12’ from the painting. Wayne and I walk to the opposite end of the mural, measure 12’ out from the wall, then draw a line of blue tape along the empty concrete floor to mark the distance.

Next, we need to position and direct the lights. We do this at first by eye, one light to either side of the camera, one large black barrier (called a flag) to each light. The flag blocks the light from hitting the camera, eliminating lens flair. While Boats helps Wayne set the lights, Chadwick levels the camera stand and the camera, and I take careful notes of all measurements (now we’ve added: distance of each light from the wall, distance of each light from the center of the camera stand, direction of each light with relation to the center of the frame).

Before we can take our first test shot, we need to measure light at multiple points within the frame. This is done by connecting the camera to the Speedotron pack and the lights via radio slave (radio slave: I tell Wayne this would make a really good band name), then calibrating the light at each point with a flash meter.

This is how we do it: Wayne stands at the mural with the flash meter, holds it to the top left of the frame. Chadwick flashes the lights from the radio slave, then Wayne checks the meter’s reading. Again at the lower left of frame. Center of frame, top right, bottom right and so on until there’s consistency across the frame. There’s much talk of “hot” and “cold” and “spectrals” and “flares” - all of which is new to me.

Finally we’re ready to shoot the first frame. It’s been well over an hour of preparation. Chadwick hits the shutter release. There’s a click and a flash, a few more clicks and adjustments, and finally a very good image populates the computer screen to his left. Wayne walks over for a look while Chadwick confirms focus. Wayne nods, grunts a simple, “Looks good,” then it’s over just like that. And we’re on to the next frame.

Measure four feet from every point (center of camera frame, center of each light frame, etc.) and shift to the right for frame two. Confirm all measurements, then retest the light. Adjust and reshoot. Confirm overlap and consistency, confirm focus, then shift.

IMG_2424.JPG

We move in a pretty steady rhythm until we get to the end of the mural, which extends into the very corner of the south and east walls. This is where lighting becomes a real trick, because we’ve lost the space required to set a light to right-of-camera.

Wayne and Boats tinker with light positioning, then meter points in the frame. Over and over again the left-of-frame meters significantly hotter than the right. Over and over again we readjust the lights, then test again. Eventually, we all decide to break. It’s been several hours on this shoot and it’s time to clear our heads.

Less than 10 minutes later, we’re back at it. Strips of gaffer tape hang from the dishes of each light, acting as additional “miniature flags” to lower the heat of the light in certain directions. We’ve tried lighting from multiple positions, we’ve tried reflecting light off portable white walls; we’ve tried flagging both lights, flagging only one light, adding and removing lights.

IMG_2402.JPG

In the end, it’s Boats’ arm that saves us. As a joke, he throws his arm up in front of one light and says, “How ‘bout that? Does that fix it?” As a joke, Wayne snaps a shot. Unbelievably, he notices improvement. Tells Boats to do it again, move his arm just so.

Wayne snaps one more shot. Reviews it at the computer. Compares it to the last several frames. Checks the histogram, then turns and says, “That’s it - we’re done.”

After this it’s just a quick clean-up/set-up at the smaller painting on the north wall, a quick metering, a quick click and a quick flash, and we’re done with shooting for the day. Boats and I clean up while Wayne carries the computer to his desk to start on post-production. It’s been about 5.5 hours since we started.

By the time I leave MonOrchid some 3.5 hours later, Wayne and Boats are still at work on tweaking all the separate frames precisely into place. We may not have saved the painting, but we’ve done the best we can to help it last.

I realize just how fortunate I am - to be a part of this. To be a part of Wayne’s commitment to the people and the ethos here in Phoenix. So much of his effort goes unnoticed. (This time, though, I thought you all should know.)

Thanks for reading, and for caring; and for being a part of our community.

- Tim

 

Art & Advocacy. I Have a Name.

Slow. Stop. Imagine:

Imagine you’re seated in an office, or a bedroom, or at the window of some café. Your cell phone reclines beside you. Maybe it’s snowing outside and the vapor drifts lazy from the surface of your mug. Maybe it’s 95 degrees out and a glass full of tea and ice sweats rings into the wood of a table where you’re seated with a laptop and a friend. There’s the slow cool flow of AC brushing gently across your skin. Music plays softly in the background.

Outside this somewhere, in the same world you have come to know, a mother and her child crouch in rags beneath the shelter of a bridge. 40 mph winds screech and tear against the rashes on their skin. An elderly veteran expires on the sidewalk in the heat of an Arizona day, in plain view of a couple dozen passersby just like you or I.

Slow. Stop. Remember:

Imagine for a moment the version of yourself that recognizes this reality. See yourself rising to the occasion, deciding to help in any way you can. Maybe you take to the streets of downtown Cleveland with $20 in your pocket, find the hunched figure of a homeless man and invite him to share a meal. Perhaps you volunteer at a women’s shelter, or donate to a cause.

The point is, it’s easy to pass our days in the feverish push of a daily existence. Family, profession, bills, advertising - all these rote distractions pull us forward from one moment to the next. It can be hard to remember that much else in this world exists beyond ourselves.

Slow. Stop. Look:

Wayne Rainey, owner of The Monorchid, and Jon Linton, founder of the I Have A Name Project, have teamed up to conceptualize a project which allows us all to become a part of something larger than the individual worlds within which we exist. The project is called Art & Advocacy. I Have a Name. You can read about it HERE.

The project takes place here in Phoenix, but its reach extends all borders; it tells the story of the homeless, but it’s larger than any single demographic.

Art & Advocacy is about raising awareness, it’s about community involvement, it’s about addressing the human element of this daily flow of activity we call Life. It’s about seeing outside of ourselves and touching the heart of something so much more global, so much more rewarding, so much more… enduring.

Slow. Stop. Engage:

Each of us has a story. Each of us has a name. Each of us is only different from the Other by degrees. We are all one family. Art & Advocacy tells the story of you, tells the story of you in action for a cause that helps us all become more beautiful, more conscious, more worthy of the space we co-inhabit.

Join us at the Monorchid as we strive to make a mark that’s truly lasting.

- Tim


AZ Share That You Care & The I Have A Name Project

There is a gentle flood of gallery lights targeting the walls at Bokeh Gallery. Live music throbs through the doorway leading to the patio. Just outside this room filled with moving black-and-white photographs showcasing the stories of our nation’s homeless, a figure gestures against the backdrop of a whitewashed brick wall.

One gloved hand grasps a can of spray paint. The other adjusts and readjusts stencils and props, deftly positioning them against the body of a canvas. One light bows to frame his work; another points at him, casting a dark shadow that flickers against the wall to match his movements.

He is surrounded by onlookers. Across the alleyway, a cluster of hungry patrons stand at the window of Sandra Dee’s Creole Kitchen, a food truck serving delicious Louisiana fare. They order their preference, then turn to watch the artist at his work.

His name is Anthony. He was brought here by a stranger (the kind who doesn’t stay a stranger very long). Best we can tell, she met Anthony not too long ago, homeless on the streets - got to know his name, and his story. Upon viewing the I Have A Name Project’s Art and Advocacy exhibit on display here at the monorchid, she made a point of contacting its creator, Jon Linton.

This unexpected confluence of occurrences leads us to where we are tonight: standing in the alleyway just outside the monorchid, surveying the throng of guests moving through the AZ Share That You Care Vendor Market, planned specifically to support Jon’s I Have A Name Project.

The I Have A Name Project seeks to increase awareness of this nation’s homeless, the all-too-easily-overlooked. Jon founded the I Have A Name Project to remind us that, despite the deafening minutia of our own predominantly-comfortable existences, there are thousands of others telling different stories - thousands of others whom many of us breeze past every day.

Every one of these cardboard-signs-on-a-corner has a name. Every one of them has a story. It is interesting to find that many of these stories are not too far distant from our own. Jon has worked tirelessly to promote this awareness, this purposeful sense of the Other, this compassion.

Tonight’s event, including dozens of local vendors, an outstanding musician, and two of our favorite food trucks (Waffle Love and Sandra Dee’s Creole Kitchen), hosted by the monorchid and planned by Pineapple Triangle bears witness to the scope of Jon’s influence.

Each of these vendors is here with an understanding of our purpose. Each visitor has contributed either $5 or 5 hygienic products for their entry, with the understanding that 100% of all proceeds goes directly to support the vision of the I Have A Name Project.

Which brings us back to Anthony - a street artist without a home. He is the flesh-and-blood heart of what Jon’s photos represent. Already, he has made enough money off tonight’s artwork to land him a comfortable bed at a nearby hotel room.

I can hear Anthony tell Jon that this has been the best night of his life. Later, Sandra Dee informs me that she knows Anthony well, and feeds him any chance she gets.

And this is what it’s got to be about: finding that moment of connection with some thing outside ourselves. We at the monorchid couldn’t be prouder. We couldn’t be luckier, either.

If you were here to visit us tonight - THANK you. If you were one of the many here to help us pull this off - thank YOU especially.

A very special thanks goes out to Maggie with Pineapple Triangle for organizing this event, to each of our beautiful vendors, to the food trucks, and of course to Jon Linton.

We can’t wait to see you all again here very soon.

- Tim

Savage Rhythm, Solo Roots Jazz Class

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.

 

That, and the corresponding patter of a couple dozen feet. I’m sitting on the old couch in my little office, listening to the sounds of Savage Rhythm tear it up with a whole class of beautiful people braver than I. They’re learning the basics of jazz dance.

 

Of course, having them here is wonderful for us - the sound of the music they dance to, the ease of banter between Jonathan Lindsey and his rapt observers, the chorus of laughter erupting inevitably every few minutes, the stomping of feet and the snapping of fingers - it all fits so well the spirit of this building, standing as it has the vocal contender for the arts since its inception back at the turn of this millennium.

 

One thing I shouldn’t admit: part of bringing Savage Rhythm to the monOrchid from their previous venue was a pinky-promise, sworn among witnesses. The deal was that I’d learn to dance with Jonathan and his peeps, despite the bug of insecurity buried deep inside my brain.

 

But this is good: I heard a couple of the students talking, one reminding the other to grab some coffee from the coffee shop here in-house. Before and after the class, curious eyes take in the walls filled with this month’s art.

 

Outside, Orion and his starry neighbors look down on all of this. I’ll bet they smile and elbow one another; say things like, “Check it out: remember when they all used to dance the swing?” But this is speculation. The facts are that Savage Rhythm is here, and we hope they’re here to stay awhile.

 

I’ll be facing the question of which pair of shoes best qualifies for this Solo Roots Jazz Dance; you should, too!

 

Come support Jonathan and come engage the arts. Savage Rhythm will be here every Wednesday this month from 6:45-8:15pm. Class cost is only $10. Sounds from here like it’s well worth the money. Let’s find out together, what d’ya say?

 

- Tim