The Cool Index

Phoenix has always been hot. But can it ever be cool?

"I was really interested in pursuing art as a passion, really as a way of life. And when I was out there [in L.A.], I would say life really got in the way of art. It was more about living there," Deise says. "I came back here to nothingness."

Pete Deise is a regular fixture at Lux. He remembers the years when there was one arts venue in town at a time. Now, he says, there are depths, layers.

"Maybe it's just finally happening," he says. "I'm glad I'm here for it."

Deise doesn't like to take commissions. He works alone -- it's not ego, just that life's too short to work on someone else's ideas -- but he liked Bianco and his vision so much he acquiesced, designing the Pane Bianco sign and the interior ironwork.

That turned out to be a good career move for Deise. Bianco doesn't really like to talk about it, but he's pals with Jerry Colangelo. Deise explains that Bianco introduced him to Alvan Adams, who is overseeing the expansion of America West Arena, and Bryan Colangelo, Jerry's son. They asked Deise to design a trophy for the Suns, and offered him the opportunity to be the first to show his large sculptures in gallery space at the arena.

That's cool.

Cool is a tough word. Say it, and whatever you're talking about almost instantly loses cachet. Sloane McFarland doesn't like the word at all.

"Cool is one of those words that means a thousand things," he says.

McFarland prefers to look at it this way: "I think people understand Phoenix is a good place."

E-mail amy.silverman@newtimes.com, or call 602-229-8443.

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