Best Of :: Shopping & Services
Farming in Phoenix is surely a labor of love. From the inescapable heat to the lack of rain, the deck is stacked against anyone who might dare to coax food or flowers from our desert soil. Maya Dailey does just that. From her 1.5-acre Maya's Farm at The Farm at South Mountain, Maya's hard work has turned her well-tended rows into some of the most beautiful, sustainable, and enviable produce in town.
Farming is backbreaking work, and at Maya's Farm everything is cut by hand and grown without the use of chemicals and pesticides. The diminutive Maya, a garden sprite if ever there was one, makes it look easy. From digging her irrigation system to hand-turning the soil, there isn't a square inch of land on her farm that hasn't been worked by her. It shows, too, because her produce is sought after at Phoenix and Scottsdale farmers markets, as well as several restaurants in town.
It's not just the produce, either. Maya's flowers, with their beautiful colors and names like Zulu Prince, make heady bouquets. And we adore her tall sunflowers, whose blooms bob up and down like happy, smiling faces.
You'd have to be tenacious, daring, and perhaps a little bit crazy to think about starting a farm in Phoenix. So many family farms are disappearing, and with them seems to go most of our rainy season. And when fewer and fewer people cook at home, or even know where a carrot comes from, affixing the title "farmer" in front of your name might seem like a losing prospect. With the spirit of the pioneers who came before them, a love for the land, and a belief that basil is beautiful, Maya Dailey has turned dirt into soil, and doubt into dinner. She's tenacious, and daring, and maybe even a little bit crazy. That's all part of being a farmer in Phoenix, Arizona.
Now that Phoenix has "made it," we're all searching for the little things to help round out our city's Mid-Century Modern aesthetic. And See Saw is here to deliver. Run by six young and talented designers and boasting two massive old-school letterpresses, See Saw is more than an Urban Outfitters-style paper factory. Its cards and calendars capture a clean, minimalist design that stands out in a very powerful but understated way. And it's a heavy hitter, to boot. Boasting a client list that includes the much missed Palatte restaurant and Mayor Phil Gordon, these designers are quickly establishing themselves as the people to go to in Phoenix for hip and unique cards, invitations, or branding. Their blog is pretty cool, too.
So you've run out of gouache and if you don't get some fast, your artistic muse will leave you. No worries. Head to Ash Avenue in Tempe and talk to the good people at Wet Paint. Whether you're in need of blue Prismacolor pencils to lay down the sketches for your next Web comic or bamboo brushes to practice Japanese calligraphy, you'll find Wet Paint well stocked. Also check out the posters and fliers near the store's entrance for events around town targeting art enthusiasts. As for that muse, it comes and goes, but maybe a few peeks at the art mags on display at Wet Paint will give you a jolt of inspiration.
Painters have it easy when it comes to sourcing materials. Paints and canvases are available at art shops, craft stores, even Wal-Mart. On the other hand, if you specialize in "found object" or recycled art, you'll likely be stuck scouring back alleys and diving through smelly dumpsters, unless you're in the know about The Town Dump, a funky backwoods store hidden in Cave Creek. The dilapidated red shack is chock-full of treasures, from cowhides and bear pelts to printed textiles, antique hardware, and vintage tin ceiling tiles. Need an authentic lasso for a Wild West-themed project? Castoff rebar bits or iron scrollwork for welding? A 7-foot-tall wooden cross for your giant Piss Christ knockoff? Yeah, it's all here. Grab some funky estate sale castoff and display it in a gallery, à la Marcel Duchamp's Fountain — just don't expect us to buy it (literally or figuratively) as fine art.
For those who lust after art and craft supplies, there is only one place you need to visit to completely load up. Sorry, but it ain't fancy. The good news, though, is that there's likely one in your neighborhood. Dollar Tree dollar stores (and we're not talking about just any dollar store; it's gotta be a Dollar Tree) are the absolute best for basic art supplies. They have paint, markers, poof balls, and stickers as well as pads of paper, rulers, scissors, tissue paper, crayons — you get the idea. And it's all dirt-cheap. If you have an art studio or just a kitchen table, run out and stock up so you're ready when the creative spirit strikes you next.
Ready yourself for Project Runway status by learning how to sew at this cute-as-a-button shop in Phoenix. Bernina Connection offers "bring your own project" open sessions on nights and weekends; just bring snacks to share and come ready to giggle with the local gals. Don't worry about the fact that you can't find a Jo-Ann Fabric in central Phoenix to save your life — Bernina sells all the fabric and notions you'll need. Classes for all skill levels are offered, so get on down there and sew yourself a vintage apron or a recycled T-shirt quilt.