100 Creatives

Michelle and Melanie Craven of Scottsdale's Tilt Gallery on Wine-Enhanced Productivity

Every other year, New Times puts the spotlight on Phoenix's creative forces — painters, dancers, designers, and actors. Leading up to the release of Best of Phoenix, we're taking a closer look at 100 more. Welcome to the 2016 edition of 100 Creatives. Up today is 17. Michelle and Melanie Craven.

Michelle and Melanie Craven deal in duality.

The twin sisters, 47, are the gallerists behind Scottsdale art space Tilt. And their joint art practice intertwines, too. 

For more than a decade, the pair has balanced working in traditional photography, collaborating on a series called “identical otherness" that examines their similarities and differences as twins, and running contemporary photography exhibition space Tilt Gallery as co-owners. 

"Celebrating Tilt’s 11-year anniversary has been a milestone for us," the duo says of the space, which they founded in downtown Phoenix's Grand Avenue district and relocated to Old Town a couple years ago. "Our personal work, the series 'identical otherness,' is a body of work that will never get old and will continue to grow and expand with us throughout our lives."

The Cravens stay inspired by observing the working process of artists — and vintage photography that reveals stories from the past. "We find energy not only in the process of creating an image, but also the ‘process’ the artist goes through to become inspired," they say. "When we hear artists experiences, that excites us and inspires us to share with the community."

Finding new works, often created using historical processes, and bringing them to an audience helps the sisters stay motivated, too, because people from all over the world come to their gallery to engage with them. 

Working with their associate director, Ellee Bokharachi, the Cravens continue striving to bring new, exciting art to the Valley and to create new opportunities to socialize around art. Their Nightcap and Nightrise events offer opportunities to talk (and imbibe) with local luminaries and renowned creative types.

Art with wine? Another perfectly on-brand pairing.

Our family came to Phoenix when we were 10 years old from Ellwood City, Pennsylvania. We drove across the country, our parents, sister Tanya, and us — each with one suitcase. The only thing missing was green grass!

We make art because we couldn’t imagine a world with out it. We see art around us everywhere, everyday, we need to just take a moment to stop and see it.

We are most productive when it’s quiet and we have the gallery to ourselves, after hours with a glass of wine.

My inspiration wall is full of artists who express themselves and create their own style. People like Rothko, Picasso, and women artists like Romaine Brooks, Margrethe Mather, and Tina Modotti.

We’ve learned most from thinking outside of the box, watching things come together when we have an idea and have not held back, giving 150 percent of ourselves to our passion. Pursuing our dreams and never letting the word “can’t” be in our vocabulary.

Good work should always speak to you because they either evoke memories or dreams of places you want to experience. Making an emotional connection with the art work, provoking thought.

The Phoenix creative scene could use more diversity, more people who contribute to the art community and stay, but also draw more creatives into the Valley. Having more of an openness to support all methods of art and creative expression.

The 2016 Creatives so far:

100. Nicole Olson
99. Andrew Pielage
98. Jessica Rowe
97. Danny Neumann
96. Beth Cato
95. Jessie Balli
94. Ron May
93. Leonor Aispuro
92. Sarah Waite
91. Christina "Xappa" Franco
90. Christian Adame
89. Tara Sharpe
88. Patricia Sannit
87. Brian Klein
86. Dennita Sewell
85. Garth Johnson
84. Charissa Lucille
83. Ryan Downey
82. Samantha Thompson
81. Cherie Buck-Hutchison
80. Freddie Paull
79. Jennifer Campbell
78. Dwayne Hartford
77. Shaliyah Ben
76. Kym Ventola
75. Matthew Watkins
74. Tom Budzak
73. Rachel Egboro
72. Rosemary Close
71. Ally Haynes-Hamblen
70. Alex Ozers
69. Fawn DeViney
68. Laura Dragon
67. Stephanie Neiheisel
66. Michael Lanier
65. Jessica Rajko
64. Velma Kee Craig
63. Oliver Hibert
62. Joya Scott
61. Raji Ganesan
60. Ashlee Molina
59. Myrlin Hepworth
58. Amy Ettinger
57. Sheila Grinell
56. Forrest Solis
55. Mary Meyer
54. Robert Hoekman Jr.
53. Joan Waters
52. Gabriela Muñoz
51. ColorOrgy
50. Liz Magura
49. Anita and Sam Means
48. Liz Ann Hewett
47. Tiffany Fairall
46. Vanessa Davidson
45. Michelle Dock
44. Nia Witherspoon
43. Monique Sandoval
42. Nayon Iovino
41. Daniel Davisson
40. Andrew King
39. Michelle Moyer
38. Jimmy Nguyen
37. Tiffany Lopez
36. Kristin Bauer
35. Donna Isaac
34. Douglas Miles
33. Sierra Joy
32. Francisco Flores
31. Amy Robinson
30. Julio Cesar Morales
29. Duane Daniels
28. Kelsey Pinckney
27. Ben Smith
26. Rembrandt Quiballo
25. Corinne Geertsen
24. Tess Mosko Scherer
23. Slawomir Wozniak
22. Elly Finzer
21. Josh Brizuela
20. Amy K. Nichols
19. Angela Johnson
18. Grant Vetter
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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski

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