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BEST STOP ON ART DETOUR Phoenix 2007 - Gypsy Village

With apologies to the hard-working artists of the downtown Phoenix scene, the grooviest thing going at this year's Art Detour wasn't found in any of the galleries dotting Roosevelt Street or Grand Avenue. Nope; instead, our favorite place during the annual three-day artwalk was a raucous ramshackle collection of cardboard and wood shacks occupying a garbage-strewn vacant lot next door to the Firehouse art collective on First Street just off Roosevelt Row.

The Gypsy Village, subtitled "Artist Loft: Low Rise, Low Rent," was the bizarre brainchild of agitprop artists C.R. Vavrek and Pete Petrisko, a satirical stab at how the ongoing gentrification is displacing hardscrabble artists like themselves in favor of lofts and multimillion-dollar developments.

Consisting of four hovels, the hipster Hooverville boasted an art gallery, tarot reader, fire pit, sleeping quarters for Vavrek, and a boombox disco blasting music for those who came after dark. In addition to entertaining the hundreds who stopped by, the event reportedly raised the ire of one property owner who threatened to call in the cops and clear the lot. Vavrek and Petrisko managed to defuse the situation, and the derelict domiciles were allowed to remain. It's a good thing, too, since where else could you find grubby artists talking in faux Eastern European accents, à la Borat? Very nice!

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