The Spike loves the arts, loves artists, loves to tour the galleries on First Fridays, sipping wine and watching the young and hip watch each other. So it comes as no surprise that there's a bit of bickering going on within the community. After all, artists, like most creative types, are plagued by neuroses and the need for attention. But lately, it seems some downtown artists are getting downright mean.
On a recent trip to The Spike's trusted hair stylist (it's not just gel and hairspray that gives The Spike its edge), The Spike was handed an interesting bit of subversive propaganda to peruse under the dryer. Distributed just before last month's First Friday, the Downtown Arts Movement Report is a newsletter anonymously written by a gaggle of shadowy contributors . . . unless The Spike is to believe that Demand Arta Munghstus, Despumating Admonishing Muse, or Mary Anne Davis are anything more than noms de plume in compliance with the art rag's appropriate acronym, DAM.
The six-page paper mysteriously appeared outside galleries and businesses in the downtown area and caused quite a stir among local artists. Now, DAM is not the only critical voice in this community of egos, but it does have a clear target in its sights -- the man DAM calls Mr. One Testicle, gallery owner and Shade publisher Wayne Rainey.
A DAM representative tells The Spike the impetus behind the newsletter comes mainly from a desire to dig deeper into the arts scene than what usually appears in print -- superficial puff pieces he calls "icing on the cake." One of the key ingredients in this cake, the DAM man says, is dirt, promising the best is yet to come.
Could it be that the other artists are simply jealous of Rainey's success and increasing celebrity? Maybe.
DAM claims Rainey would like to push out some artists who are moving to downtown Phoenix, noting that Rainey was the only member of the artistic community supportive of Phil Gordon's effort to locate the Arizona Cardinals stadium downtown. DAM faults Rainey because he stood to make a profit.
"After reaping government programs to create his benevolent Holga's, and all the glorifying publicity labeling him the savior' arts advocate, it simply wasn't enough. If he could sell the land to the Cardinals that would be akin to winning the lottery. Sell out!" DAM rants.
Is Rainey really a trust-fund-fueled dictator more interested in promoting his own glory than working hand in hand with the rest of the arts community? Word on the street is yes, where Rainey's reputation as a dick has even inspired a covert band of detractors who have delighted in shooting paint balls at the murals along Rainey's Roosevelt Street gallery in recent months.
The Spike hears that Rainey has drawn resentment from other gallery owners because of his lack of support for ArtLink and First Friday. Other galleries pay to have their stops listed, they say, accusing monOrchid of benefiting from the service without contributing, or "scabbing," as DAM terms Rainey's lack of participation.
"To be a savior you need to support the community," writes DAM. "As far as I am aware the only support he gives is to himself."
Rainey, for his part, dismisses the DAM folks as uninformed rabble-rousers. "People will think (and write) whatever they like and often will twist the truth to suit their agenda," he says in an e-mail to The Spike.
Rainey says he did work to get new affordable artists housing downtown as part of a proposed Cardinals stadium, but that was only when the project seemed inevitable. "I have never agreed with the idea of state subsidies for the NFL and would rather see the Cards go somewhere else, but I did feel there was a unique opportunity to get housing that might otherwise never be funded," he says.
He says he has supported ArtLink for years and is still a member.
DAM did get one fact right: It turns out the word "monorchid" is Latin and means "having but one testicle."
"When we named the studio after the defunct punk band we thought it meant one flower," Rainey says. "The premise was that many artists would come together like petals. We have. I found out months afterward, and it makes a good anecdote (but a news story?)."
The Spike was sorry to hear that Phoenix City Council candidate Jessica Florez didn't like New Times' recent cover story on her. In an e-mail to a veritable Who's Who of the Latino community (plus a few other select power brokers), Florez called the August 28 piece by Susy Buchanan "unfortunate" and deemed parts of the story "ludicrous."
You'd think Florez would be happy that more than 100,000 copies of her smiling mug are adorning newsstands during the last week of the election. But no.
And although Florez felt the need to set the record straight with her pals (read: campaign contributors), she has not contacted New Times to complain of any factual inaccuracies, misrepresentations or unfair treatment. Hmmm. The Spike can only assume Jessica was perhaps a little embarrassed at the way she was -- accurately -- portrayed after letting a reporter spend substantial time interviewing her and examining her campaign practices as well as her public policy proposals.
The Spike thinks most people will agree Florez's plan to fight crime by having people adopt dogs is just plain stupid. Surely there must be more significant measures a council member can get behind. And Florez didn't bother to defend that in her e-mail.
Instead, as she told her electronic pen pals (including, interestingly, Hispanic business bigwig Ray Arvizu, who she pointedly trashed in comments to Buchanan), the article "was yet another opportunity for an alternative media outlet to position my candidacy in a negative light and tout that of my opponent Tom Simplot." Guess she doesn't read the Arizona Republic -- certainly no bastion of alternative journalism -- which has heartily endorsed Simplot for the job.
She accused Buchanan of "attempting to capitalize on the Gay vs. Hispanic issue," which Florez believes is not an issue at all in District 4. Again, another sign that Jessica is not paying attention or is in denial. As Buchanan pointed out in this story (and other media have as well), District 4 is a hugely interesting mix of Hispanics and gays, with Hispanic families and gay families increasingly occupying the same real estate, particularly along the Central Avenue corridor.
Florez also took exception to Buchanan's revelation that the council candidate, in an interview, took great pains to distance herself from the Mexican-American community by making a big point out of the fact that she is descended from Spaniards, not Mexicans. Her e-mail purports that Buchanan came up with that notion "simply because of the spelling of my last name." Come on, Jessica. Read the story.
Still, despite all her posturing aimed at appeasing the Latino community, The Spike had to laugh when, at the end of the e-mail, Florez invited Hispanic supporters to an "outreach luncheon" -- at the Matador Restaurant in downtown Phoenix. The Matador is the longtime haunt not of the Hispanic community but of the Phoenix firefighters, so much so that one section is known as "The Bruno Wing" because longtime Fire Chief Alan Brunacini eats there so often (he favors the special soup they make for him and others, off the menu).
But then, it's becoming more and more clear that the politically influential firefighters are really the masters that Florez is happily serving.
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 602-229-8451.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.