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Best of Phoenix 2015: Painted Desert

From the sky, Phoenix is brown and cracked, lifeless, a desert wasteland. But the bird's-eye view does not do justice to this metropolis.

Hit the streets, the trails, and the summits and this place reveals itself, slowly, as an oasis. Against odds and for decades, modern pioneers have painted, planted, played, cooked, designed, built, and scavenged to make Phoenix a quirky mecca, and for those with the guts to stick around, the rewards are many. This place is not for the faint of heart, but it's our place.

In the 37th annual Best of Phoenix, we're showcasing the ways this city's dwellers have painted the desert, making it their own and creating a city unlike any other.

The rest of the world should be green with envy.

The Grand Canals by Robrt L. Pela

As Told To: Paper artist Karla Elling is a former manager of ASU’s creative writing program.

As Told To: Laura Spalding Best is a painter best-known for landscapes featuring utility poles and traffic signage.

As Told To: Renowned dancer and choreographer Ib Anderson is the artistic director of Ballet Arizona. His recent Topia was a site-specific performance piece at the Desert Botanical Garden. 

As Told To: A landscape architect at ASU, Rebecca Fish Ewan teaches seminars on walking in the desert.

As Told To: Multimedia artist Steve Yazzie's newest work is a series of films about indigenous people.

As Told To: One of our best-known artists, Ed Mell depicts the desert in his paintings, prints, and sculpture.

Best of Phoenix 2015 Megalopolitan Life awards

Some Like It Hot by Katie Johnson

As Told To: Rose Ann Mulville Appleby grew up in Buckeye, and she and her siblings
used to surf the canals.

Best of Phoenix 2015 Fun & Games awards

A Succulent Grows in Brooklyn by Claire Lawton

As Told To: Landscape designer Steve Martino emphasizes unfamiliar plants, calling his creations “garden architecture.”

As Told To: Ashley Weber is a visual artist who casts succulents and other desert plants in metal, then paints them with enamel.

Best of Phoenix 2015 Goods & Services awards

The Crossing by Valeria Fernàndez

As Told To: Arizona’s first poet laureate, Alberto Ríos has published 10 acclaimed books of poetry. 

As Told To: A chef whose focus is plant-based nutrition that tastes good, Felicia Cocotzin Ruiz teaches cooking classes at the Desert Botanical Garden.

Best of Phoenix 2015 La Vida awards

A Pizza Bakes in the Desert by Zaida Dedolph

As Told To: Arizona native Lori Hashimoto brings sushi to the desert.

As Told To: Rancho Pinot Grill owner Chrysa Robertson is among the first Arizona restaurateurs to grow the herbs used in her restaurant's cooking.

Best of Phoenix 2015 Food awards

To the Bat Cave by Jason P. Woodbury

As Told To: The owner of Crescent Ballroom and Valley Bar, Charlie Levy fills his businesses with his own love of the city.

Best of Phoenix 2015 Nightlife awards

Best of Phoenix 2015 Readers Choice awards

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