Arts & Culture Featured Music & Events Travel, Shopping & Leisure Fara Illich March 18, 2010

This Saturday, some of Downtown’s brightest creative talents will strut their stuff at the Downtown Phoenix Festival of the Arts. This first-ever celebration of Downtown’s burgeoning arts scene is loaded with offbeat and exciting performers and artists. In fact, it’s one of the most interesting line-ups of artists and events yet presented, with everything from a short film festival to an epic painting duel.
But first, I can’t resist a shout-out to one of the participants, fashion designer Xoe McAleece, who came up with a wildly clever idea. Her brainstorm – that sewing machines have a beat – led to the creation of her own sewing machine orchestra, which will click away in unison as the soundtrack for her runway show. I’m betting she beat Project Runway to the punch on that one. Kudos, Xoe. Her line of couture fashion, Vintage Mama, will take to the catwalk along with garments from Las Otras Hermanas.
Chris_Burton_Jacome-In another creative move by the festival, four local artists will engage in a showdown on canvas. Kyle Jordre, Ken Peloke, Taylor Swick and Gabe Sandoval – all of whom work on large-scale paintings – will showcase their very different techniques. As an attendee, you get the final say: a chance to vote on the painting you like best.
If you’re a film buff, check out the short film festival, which includes several films produced by ASU students. The movies run the gamut, from documentaries and comedies to dramas and avant-garde works.
The list of performing artists is equally eclectic. Acroyoga Electra will demonstrate their how-did-they-do-that fusion of gymnastics and yoga, live bands programmed by The Shizz will entertain all night, and DJ Benni Beatnik will showcase dubstep, a cross between techno and hip-hop. Local artists will display their work and attendees can show off their own creative gifts on a public art canvas that will be donated to the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department.
I can’t resist a final shout-out to other participants, in this case two talented locals, flamenco performers Lena and Chris Jacome. If you’ve been watching too much (or any) “Dancing with the Stars,” you might think flamenco is some outmoded art form involving costumes with way too much glitter and velvet. The truth is, flamenco is a passionate, deeply sensual art form invented by gypsies, and I was lucky enough to see live performances of it years ago in a smoky bar in Seville, Spain. When it’s good, it’s as thrilling and rhythmic as anything you’ll ever see.
The Festival runs from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. this Saturday at Heritage Square. To add to the buzz – your own, in this case – a beer and wine garden will serve beer from local brewer Four Peaks and wine from Barefoot Wine and Bubbly.
Admission is $10 presale and $15 at the door. You can purchase tickets in advance through the Downtown Phoenix Festival of the Arts site.