There are plenty of people in Phoenix who would say that Quiñonez has already achieved that higher level of expression. As a drama teacher for at-risk youth at New Carpa Theater (then known as the Colores Actors-Writers Workshop). As the coordinator of the Artist Memorial for Immigrants. As an actor in James Garcia's Voices of Valor, which chronicled the Latino's experience in World War II. And in diverse roles for Arizona Jewish Theatre Company, Teatro Bravo, and at ASU, where he majored in theater and minored in Chicano studies.

"Still, I sometimes feel like I'm just getting started," Quiñonez shrugs.

The oldest of five siblings, Quiñonez was born in Durango, Mexico, but grew up in San Jose, California, and moved to Phoenix when he was 13. "My mom came out here in 1994 and she really liked it," he recalls. "So she went home and told my dad, 'We're moving to Phoenix.'"

Light Rail Blogger Tony Arranaga
Jamie Peachey
Light Rail Blogger Tony Arranaga
CenPho.TV's Jacqui Johnson and Dave Brookhouser
Jamie Peachey
CenPho.TV's Jacqui Johnson and Dave Brookhouser

While he was finishing his degree, Quiñonez, who's 26, taught at the behavioral health facility TERROS, where he produced a play called I Don't Get Anything Out of School. "I like plays that challenge racial stereotypes and attitudes about how learning is never any fun," he says. "You can change the equation for kids if you understand your audience."

Today, he teaches English and drama at a charter high school in South Phoenix. "I have a chance to really motivate these kids, most of whom are Latino," he says, "because I look like them. So I can use myself as an example and no one is thinking it's easy for me because I'm white."

When he's not teaching, he's looking for ways to impact the community with his art. Among his projects is the Artist Memorial for Immigrants, an annual event that honors immigrants who've died trying to cross the border. Quiñonez assembles a group of thespians and visual artists at César Chávez Park in Berkeley, California, and has them create art in honor of those immigrants who died trying to better their lives.

"It's an opportunity to use art to benefit another soul," Quinones says, "and not to gain anything superficial like fame or admiration."

Still, it's hard not to admire Quiñonez for creating art that gives disadvantaged youth a leg up and that memorializes those who've gone before us. He has, he says, more memorializing to do.

"I know there's another soul out there who will find a way to tell me, 'Marcelino, look at me. I am gone, but you must tell my story.' And then I'll start studying up to put his life up on the stage." — Robrt L. Pela

Kara Roschi
Five years ago, if you'd told artist Kara Roschi that she'd be giving away hand massages and getting lip-prints from strangers on her undergarments in the name of art, she'd have laughed at the joke. In fact, when ASU instructor Angela Ellsworth announced that the mixed-media class Roschi signed up for back in her undergrad days would heavily focus on performance art, this budding artist seriously considered dropping. She opted to stick it out and embraced her newfound performance skills, literally taking her show on the road with interactive shows on intimacy at First Friday in downtown Phoenix.

"I always used my art as personal therapy. I got into work about intimacy because I was dealing with a long-term relationship when I moved into the downtown area," Roschi says. Her "Intimacy" series featured eight live performances, including the aforementioned panty-kissing project and one in which ink-stained swatches of fabric were sewed onto willing participants' clothing. Roschi is quick to correct viewers on the meaning of the word "intimacy" as it relates to her work. Yes, there's a sensual component to a few of her performance pieces, but she's more interested in exploring human connection than sexuality. Sorry, boys!

Roschi's "Intimacy" performances are over; however, she plans to start a new series at First Fridays this summer. Many of the participating galleries have lost patrons since organizers started blocking off Roosevelt Street during the art walk. Roschi's off-the-wall solution is the Ridiculous Red Dress Tour, in which she and other local artists will parade through a different section of the art walk each First Friday clothed in poufy red gowns salvaged from local thrift shops. Anyone who wants to take the tour will be encouraged to strap on a red corsage or don a red tie as a display of unity.

The idea, Roschi says, is that people will spot the gaudy garments and follow the parade, thus touring galleries they might otherwise have neglected. Clever, right? We're guessing all of the non-Roosevelt Row galleries will be the first on board with her plan. Roschi's also considering writing for Friday Night Live, a new sketch comedy show premièring this fall at The Firehouse.

This up-and-comer is so addicted to audience participation that even her visual art has a performance component. For her April exhibit, "Complicit," with Nicole Dunlap at Practical Art (where she works part time), Roschi designed wood and metal structures containing fragile eggs that broke unexpectedly as visitors came through. The eggs that didn't break were destroyed by Roschi in an egg-smashing extravaganza at the closing reception.

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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!


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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