"Seven," the latest exhibition in Phoenix Art Museum's Fashion Design Gallery, includes fashions so avant-garde that they are scarcely available outside of the Manhattan boutique that is the show's namesake. The group of seven featured designers - Bernard Wilhelm, Bless, As Four, Boudicca, Cosmic Wonder, Imitation of Christ and Preen -- represents the extreme cutting edge of design, where art and fashion become a blur. For example, the design collective As Four is esteemed not only in style circles but also among the art world's elite; The Cooper Hewitt Museum includes the group's work in the current "National Design Triennial."
Behind As Four are Gabi, Adi, Ange and Kai, who live and work together in New York's Chinatown. They contributed a mural to the exhibition. German-born Kai explains the organic process for As Four's installations. "We always work with the individual spaces. Here, we tried to keep it in the feeling of the gold frames of the paintings in the museum," he says. "We decided to make it a bridge from that to fashion."
Viewing the pieces in the gallery as a whole, fashion curator Dennita Sewell emphasizes how important individuality is to these young visionaries. "By the time these designers were growing up, in the '70s and '80s, the days of a single fashion dictator were gone," she says. A proliferation of the Internet and print media has only fueled the diversity of visual references.
Sewell notes that by the time "Seven" closes in November, the now-current garments will be last season's. "But they'll still be very forward. It takes awhile for it to reach the mainstream." - Michele Laudig
Poker Face Off
Placing stakes to save animals
Charity is in the cards this Sunday, June 29, when big-hearted bikers hit the road for the Thunder Pass Poker Run, benefiting the Valley's Friends for Life no-kill animal shelter. After signing in between 8 and 10 a.m. at Thunder Pass Lounge, 9303 East Apache Trail in Mesa, riders pick up playing cards at designated bars in Fountain Hills, Scottsdale and Chandler. Back at Thunder Pass, the top three hands win -- and a bike show, live music, happy hour specials and door prizes round out the day's activities. Entry is $15 per person, $25 per couple. See www.F4L.org or call 480-497-8296 for more information. - Jill Koch
On a Roll
Aspiring filmmakers show their goods
The Valley has, at times, been compared to a cultural wasteland, and many individuals in the community are working hard to revamp this bad rap. Fred Linch is one such person who has made it his mission to bring young, burgeoning filmmakers into the public eye. The local film buff hosts the Movie Tuesdays Shorts Festival, a film discussion series held in Burton Barr Library's Pulliam Auditorium. Resident high schoolers and college students screen their original works and then field responses from audience members. The lights go down on Tuesday, July 1, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the library, 1221 North Central. For details call 602-262-4636. - Eric Schandel
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Cold front moves into the Valley
Let there be no doubt: This is the ice cream of the crop. Boasting Mobil's Five Star Award for culinary distinction, the Phoenician puts the "class" in Summer Ice Cream Making Classes.
On Saturday afternoons through September 13, life is just a bowl of dairy at the swanky Scottsdale resort, 6000 East Camelback. From 12:30 to 2 p.m., freeze whiz Markus Bohr, executive pasty chef, invites families into the kitchen of Windows on the Green for sundae schooling. After cranking out several flavors, participants build ice cream sandwiches and sugar cones. The ice cream headache is so worth it. The $25 per-person fee includes aprons and chefs hats; call 480-423-2530 for reservations. - Jill Koch