Letters from the week of September 18, 2003

Marvin Clark

Art Attack

When it Raineys, it pours: Regarding The Spike's "Artistic Discord" in the September 4 issue of New Times, a sizable group of artists and non-artists very vocally opposed the Arizona Cardinals' downtown stadium site. Wayne Rainey took no active role in speaking out against the stadium at any crucial neighborhood planning, zoning or council meetings. He did work actively behind the scenes with the Downtown Phoenix Partnership, the Phoenix Community Alliance and the city to save his Holga's complex (to hell with the rest of the neighborhood) and to leverage himself into a position to develop a subsidized live/work project for artists -- without including other artists/arts groups in the neighborhood in that dialogue, until confronted about his deviousness.

Distrust of Rainey goes way beyond jealousy. What conclusion can one come to regarding someone who moves into an interesting, multicultural inner-city neighborhood, pays three times too much for his property (monOrchid), immediately has huge portraits of himself and his white buddies painted on the exterior, and within a couple of years sneakily backs a project (the stadium) that will eliminate a fourth of his new neighborhood (both historic properties and longtime residents)?

Thirty years ago, that approach would have been called white imperialism; today it is merely considered good-ol'-boy ingenuity.

Shade magazine has continued in this tradition by primarily serving as a vehicle to further Rainey's downtown agenda and to repair the damage done to his "rep" during the stadium brouhaha, including self-promoting editorials accompanied by embarrassing self-portraits. Also, it's a bit difficult to support an arts publication whose founder was not even willing to stand up for freedom of expression when Artfit Gallery was censored several times as his tenant because of very tame "controversial" exhibits, one of which "smelled bad"!

Some in the local arts community have bought into this charade because they don't know any better or because they are hoping to 1) get into print, 2) get invited to the parties, 3) get free drinks and free food, 4) to hobnob with other arty social climbers, or 5) all of the above. However, there is a diverse group of folks "that ain't going for that." When we see the Wayne Raineys of the world coming, we run for cover and lament "there goes the neighborhood!"

Name withheld by request

That DAM Rainey: I just read your article "Artistic Discord" and the two-faced, weaseling behavior of Wayne Rainey.

You couldn't be more right. He is all that DAM thinks he is and worse. He is personally and professionally corrupt and self-interested. I know about this from personal and professional experience, so please withhold my name.

Name withheld by request

Feeling cocky: In response to the recent Spiked column debunking the flower theory of monOrchid, I would ask: How should I be less of "a dick"?

Although my aspirations to be a savior are dampened, I am concerned that the window of time when artists' housing is financially possible downtown is quickly closing and would like to hear ideas from New Times and perhaps even DAM (if only we knew who they were) on how we might plan for the future.

Also, it would be a huge step forward for Phoenix in general if New Times began to take its responsibility more seriously in regard to coverage of the arts and good journalism in general.

Wayne Rainey

Nattering nabobs of negativism: I just wanted to say that I find it very odd that you would publish something about the DAM report which is just so negative and so hateful when it comes to art and downtown artists. The anonymous cowards behind this rag say they want to publish something that is more than just "frosting on the cake," but what they really want to do is say horrible things about other people, which is something that some artists in this town seem to find tremendously appealing.

Envy is a horrible thing. I continually struggle with the reality that it is such a frequent motivator in creative fields and why it seems to have such a hold over some people. But for you to give credence to such pettiness and to publicize it even more is simply absurd. If you love artists as much as you say you do in the article, then why don't you write about them? Go review one of the many exhibits that artists put up each month a block away from your building. Go interview Beatrice Moore or many of the other artists who have moved to Grand Avenue, cleaned it up and made it a viable location after decades of blight. Go talk to gallery owners who are risking their own personal financial future for the cultural future of this city. Do something!

Being Jewish, I was incredibly offended that an image like Hitler's would be used so irresponsibly and for something that is so petty and personal. It was disgusting and hateful and I find it hard to believe that responsible journalists would think it newsworthy. How does making a cool art space and opening it, free of charge, to artists to show their work each month and renovating a torn-down eyesore hotel and making it affordable live/work spaces for artists translate to Hitler? I think if Wayne was truly an investment-happy capitalist dead set on pulling in stacks of cash, he would've picked a field other than art and artist housing to do so.

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