A rather unique art event is coming to downtown Phoenix in time for February's First Friday, and its likely to be of interest to gamers or anyone who's ever killed an afternoon playing Ms. Pac-Man or Dragon's Lair at a local arcade.
The Artcade Show, an exhibition that will feature around 25 classic quarter-munchers and old school arcade titles that have been adorned with work from two dozen different creatives, is scheduled to take place at Phoenix's Parazol Studios on Friday, February 1. And according to the event's organizers, the show could be a first step towards getting another arcade-themed nightspot in downtown.
Local nightlife/concert promoter Nico Paredes, who is organizing the Artcade show along with his business partner Ariel Bracamonte, says the they came up with the event partly to help give some new life to some classic arcade games they've been collecting over the past year.
"We've acquiring a lot of arcade games from eBay and Craigslist in the past six to eight months and many of them need work because the cabinets -- most of them are over 30 years old -- had wood that's cracking and bottoms that were all rotted out," Paredes says.
As they started refurbishing the cabinets for the games, he says, they were struck by the idea of turning each one into a canvas of sorts for local artists.
"Once they were completely blank on one side and completely restored it kinda looked like a blank canvas to us," Paredes says. "So instead of going online and getting the original decals from the manufacturers for these cabinets, we wanted to artists paint their own rendition of the games."
They then rounded up a group of local artists and have given each of them a specific arcade game. The lineup of artists who will be customize the cabinets of each of the games features many big, er...players on the local level, as well as some nationally known cats as muralist El Mac.
The list includes contributions and creations by Pablo Luna, Ashley Macias, Spencer Hibert, JJ Horner, Colton Brock, Josh Rhodes, Noelle Martinez, and others.
"We dropped these games off at their studios for two or three months so they can play them, get an idea of some kind of art they want to represent the game with on the side of the cabinet, and then go for it," Paredes says.
For instance, Cota was given the 1986 Bally/Williams classic Rampage, while El Mac will be creating art for the 1987 Namco shooter Rolling Thunder and Spencer Hibert will adorn the cabinet of Robotron 2084.
Graphic artist Shaun Cheney, who also DJs as Bigie MeanMugg, is currently busy redesigning the look of an old Neo Geo multi-game cabinet from the 1990s. And from what he told Jackalope Ranch, it sound like he will work plenty of bling to the game.
"[I'm] designing it then printing it," Cheney says. "Like wrapping the full arcade [and] then like putting gold trim and LED buttons. Pimp it out."
Paredes says that he and Bracamonte are hoping to feature the artsy cabinets (as well as a dozen other classic games) at a combination bar and arcade they're planning to open somewhere in the downtown Phoenix area within the next year.
The establishment will differ from other local arcade-themed nightspots, like CityScape's Gypsy Bar, as the focus will be on old school games instead of high-end entertainment and redemption machines. Paredes says they've already secured a liquor license and are scoping out potential locations along both Central and Seventh avenues.
He adds that they're hoping that the Artcade show will help build interest and raise funds for their barcade project. In addition to showing off the two dozen redecorated arcade cabinets, the show's opening reception on February 1 will also feature music from DJ Melo and performances by local bands.
A Street Fighter II tournament is also planned for the opening and will pit 20 competitors against one another in what's sure to involve plenty of hadoken fireballs and dragon punches being unleashed. High score battles on some of the other games will also take place.
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All of the games will be set to free play mode during the event, Paredes says, so those eager to mash some buttons and partake in the thrills of pixilated pwnage can save their spare change or possibly donate it to the barcade project.
"That's one of the main reasons we're doing this art show," Paredes says. "We have all the games and most everything else we need to open the barcade. The only thing we need is some investors and some cash to carry us through the next year once we open."
The opening of The Artcade Show takes place from 7 p.m. to midnight on Friday, February 1, at Parazol Studios. Admission is free. More details can be found on the event's Facebook page.