Big Brain Awards 2013

The company, officially founded in 2006, took its time finding its proper audience. "When we first opened, people would walk in and say, 'Oh, take me back to Scottsdale!' But eventually, the people who love a writers' theater, and who really want to see original and contemporary work, were showing up and saying, 'Oh, this is just the thing I've been looking for!'"

That's been Space 55's agenda from the start, Franks says. "If we've been successful — and sometimes I don't know where we find the funds to go on, but we always do — it's because we're offering the kind of theater that wasn't here before." That includes the company's popular Second Friday comedy series, and its signature Seven Minutes in Heaven program, which finds performers of all stripes taking the stage to present seven minutes of entertainment. Sometimes, Franks admits, those seven minutes aren't strictly heavenly. "Occasionally, it can be just awful," she says, laughing. "But often, there's real brilliance up on stage. There are so many bizarre performers here, that's part of why I created that series — to give them a place to shine."

Franks insists that Space 55's success has little to do with her, yet she admits she keeps her hand in every facet of the business. "I do everything!" she says. "But the artists who work here have really taken ownership of the work, and it shows. We've got a place now where everyone can find their own vision, including the audience that has found us, acting and writing our hearts out down here." — Robrt L. Pela


Location Info


The Monarch Theatre

122 E. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Category: Dance Clubs

Region: Central Phoenix

Visual Art


An artist is not someone who sits in cafes sipping lattes and sketching. Photographer David Emitt Adams is sure of this.

Adams is sitting in a coffee shop, but he's not sketching or sipping on anything. He's talking about his art.

"My life is art," Adams says. "That's what I do."

Adams, 33, was born in Yuma, but he wasn't there for long. His parents worked for the State Department when he was a kid. That meant moving every three years. He lived in Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Jakarta, New York, and California.

Adams is moving constantly still.

He's wrapping up a one-year artist residency at Gilbert's Art Intersection, a gallery and workspace that has served as his studio and a venue for teaching. He's commuting to Tucson two days a week as an adjunct professor teaching experimental photo techniques at the University of Arizona. He's going to the New York Portfolio Review later in the week to make new connections in the art world and get feedback from industry folks. Then he's off to Léhon, France, for the summer as an artist resident in the Alfred and Trafford Klots International Program for Artists, supported by the Maryland Institute College of Art.

Despite all the globetrotting, there has been a constant in the artist's life: his late grandfather's farm in Southington, Ohio. Adams visited the 50-acre apple farm every summer during his childhood. Now Adams' father runs the farm, and Adams says that someday it will be his.

The proximity to the farm is why he attended Ohio's Bowling Green State University for his undergrad degree in photography. The time he spent on the farm instilled in Adams an awareness of and respect for history, reflected in his photography and desire to create physical objects.

Adams works primarily with a Civil War-era photography process called wet plate collodion.

He began using the vintage method while completing his master's in fine arts at Arizona State University. Adams set up a recycling bin for his students to dispose their film canisters. Those became surfaces for his photos.

That led to his most recently completed body of work, "Conversations with History." Adams collected rusty metal cans discarded in the Sonoran Desert and printed onto them photos of desert scenery. The works explore the cans' displacement, impact on nature, and connection to the landscape around them. The process required that Adams transport a mobile darkroom with him on his adventures into the wilderness.

Currently, Adams is working on a series he calls "Power," for which he's printing images of oil refineries and power plants onto lids of discarded 55-gallon steel oil drums. To create the images, Adams uses a 24-by-29-inch ultra-large-format camera.

He plans on traveling around the country — Texas is next on the itinerary — collecting images for the barrel lids and creating the new works. He's not sure how long the project will take. So far, he's made four pieces for the series, using lids found in a junkyard.

He has other big ideas in the works but isn't ready to discuss them quite yet.

"As we move forward into digital technology, people are going to want to go back," Adams says.

Wherever his work takes him next, David Emitt Adams knows where he'll end up. And it won't be a coffee house. — Becky Bartkowski


Kelsey Dake can remember who beat her in a coloring competition in second grade, and though she won't name any names, she says it was a pivotal moment in her creative career.

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OK wow, lets roll that beautiful bean footage!


He sounds like a future famous designer.  I liked reading about him.  Much luck and success to him in his future in design and hopefully I'll see his clothes in the best shops in the future.

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