Their work, like monstercommute.com, manages to be both witty and approachable. (One example: The Davis' designed a T-shirt proclaiming "Miso Hungry," showing a bowl of the Japanese soup. After that took off, they launched a shirt declaring "Miso Angry" — in which the soup in question manages to appear downright pissed.)

Jason Kiningham, the owner of Red Hot Robot, calls monstercommute.com "brilliant." He praises the couple's distinctive sensibility.

"There's a deceptively simple aspect to their art," he says. "But even though it looks cute on the exterior, there's this little bit of evil lurking behind that. There's something else there."

Davis, 41, dabbled in art for years, but it was only after having a son and moving to Phoenix that he really felt the need to hunker down and get to work.

"I'd been a graphic designer for 11 years, and all I could show for it is I did these banking banners that aren't even up online anymore," he says. "Or I designed a Web site for a dentist. It paid the bills at the time, but it had no lasting value. Having him forced me to finish my projects. I needed a body of work to be a legacy for him."

Being in Phoenix, he adds, really brought everything together.

The Davises have been shocked by the popularity of Steam Crow and the many, many fans who regularly log in to monstercommute.com. The couple had originally intended to work here for a while and then "get the heck out," Davis says. "But we've gotten all this support from this city."

And the one thing that was killing Davis' quality of life here has changed. He no longer makes the three-hour-plus daily pilgrimage to and from work — he's working for a new firm now, and they let him work remotely.

But Monster Commute fans needn't worry that the well of inspiration will run dry.

"If I never drove again for the rest of my life, I'd still be angry about all that driving," Davis says. Lucky for us. — Sarah Fenske


PERFORMING ARTS

Tricia Moore
www.myspace.com/trishnamurti
When performance artist Tricia Moore saw her big sister twirling flaming batons at age 9, little did she know it was foreshadowing a hobby that was to become her own life's work. Moore grew up in northern Arizona before moving to Phoenix 20 years ago in search of a better life. She went to school at Arizona State University and took a rewarding job as a special education teacher. It was every parent's dream for their kid — minus the 2.5 kids and dog. But even then, Moore was different. "I picked up some martial arts weapons but never saw it going anywhere," she says. "It was just fun to pull out at parties — something to do to get people excited."

Things changed a decade ago when Moore spotted Stephen Strange's now-defunct fire-arts troupe, Culte De Feu, spinning fire at a First Friday performance. "I saw little balls of fire in the distance and I just started heading toward them," she says. "I watched their entire show." Moore was entranced by the performance but too shy to approach the group and ask questions. Several years later, she signed up for a fire-spinning class on a whim and was soon performing with Culte de Feu and other fire-spinning groups. "It was the best time of my life," she says.

Though the 40-year-old artist enjoys performing, her legacy is the hundreds of students who've come through her classes and the hundreds more she'll help teach over a lifetime. In 2005, she began teaching fire-spinning classes at Domba dance studio in Tempe (now Plaza de Anaya). Moore also spent several summers teaching at a circus camp for kids in Boston. Kids playing with fire? Don't let your imagination run wild — these aren't pyromaniacs in training. "For me, it's not about fire," Moore tells New Times. "I think about it like teaching kids how to twirl staves and how to spin poi. I just happen to add fire to all of the props I use."

Moore also has opened her house for mutual teaching sessions where performers of various skill levels share their secrets. Every major city has a circus house, she says, "and in Phoenix, it's my house. It's been nicknamed the circus house because when circus performers and prop artists come to town they look each other up, and for some reason they would always be referred to me!"

If you think it's unusual to have circus performers sleeping on your pullout couch, just wait until you hear about Moore's most ambitious project to date: The Circus Farm. She recently purchased a farm in Mesa that she plans to turn into a unique gathering place for circus performers. Think trampoline in the backyard, unicyclists in the driveway — maybe even a clown or two on a high-wire (eek!). That may not be everyone's idea of utopia, but for this quirky fire performer and the community she serves, it's a dream come true. Wynter Holden

Marcelino Quiñonez
Last year, during a visit to New York's Museum of Modern Art, Marcelino Quiñonez saw Vincent van Gogh's Starry Night for the first time. "I was overwhelmed," Quiñonez says. "It was the work of someone who had completely immersed himself in his art. And I started to think, What kind of artist am I? When am I going to reach that level of expression?"

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3 comments
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Terra
Terra

Ewww, the last comment did not like my punctuation. I am sorry if it is difficult to read. But I hope it still makes the point and can be taken in a constructive manner. Thank you!

Terra
Terra

I found the article about "Robert Kilman and Safwat Saleem" to be incredibly insulting. As an active member of the local film community, I had never heard of these two before the Big Brain nominations. I came to NewTimes expecting to learn something more about them, and their up-and-coming talents.

Instead, I read nothing but insults towards our city. I have traveled across the country, but in Phoenix found a WONDERFULLY talented and visionary community. So I have to ask, “Kilman, are you kidding me?” Have you been to a recent A3F screening? (If not, many of the films can be found online now.) Have you ever watched the Media Guys? SyntheticHuman Pictures? N'Raged? Junk Draw? They all make incredibly good films, not to mention the films by your fellow nominee from Squishy Studios. And if comedy isn’t your style? You'll find no lack of drama, horror, action or suspense here. "Leashed" is the name of one short I really enjoyed, but I don't recall who made it.

If you want to “improve the standard of creativity in… local filmmaking”, let me give you some sincere advice:

First, find out what that standard already is. Sure, there's dozens of amateur films for each one that is note-worthy. But every filmmaker has to start somewhere, and I believe in encouraging the students & beginners. I don’t use them to set the standard when organizing a competition, however.

Second, leave your over-inflated ego in LA, and start networking here. We are a young, but rapidly growing city. It has been said that Phoenix will be the "Next Hollywood" and for good reason. Let’s work together and make that happen (without the pollution and corporate crap please. Indie ftw!)

All filming aside, we have a vast and wide-spread variety of artistic attractions. Have you visited The Lost Leaf? Been to many First Friday events? I can't list everything going on in this city. It's literally an everyday, ongoing, kaleidoscope of creativity.

Congrats on your nomination! But as you continue improving your art and gaining recognition, please remember - before YOU question "whether or not Phoenix is attractive to creative types." You should realize we are already here.

Nicholas DiBiase
Nicholas DiBiase

With all due respect to Atherton and Keener, Dudlik takes this one by a mile. That little whippersnapper has reanimated th' mummy of Phoenix functional and aesthetic design culture. What one year ago seemed like a battlefield populated by a scattering of wounded ronin now feels like an unstoppable polycerebral juggernaut of radness. Kind of like "Oogy Boogy" from "Nightmare Before Christmas."

 
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