Top Phoenix Arts and Culture Stories of the Week

If Bob Ross were alive today, he'd be painting happy little trees all over the place in ecstatic fervor for all the arts and culture happenings in Phoenix. To help you see the forest for the trees, here's a recap of the top arts and culture stories of the week.

Former New Times Writer Martin Cizmar Returns Eagle Scout Badge to Boy Scouts of America Over Anti-Gay Policy

Long before Martin Cizmar, the current Arts & Culture Editor at Willamette Week, was the music editor at Phoenix New Times, he was an Eagle Scout under Boy Scouts of America.

On Thursday, he sent his badge back to the organization along with a letter of resignation over the Boy Scouts of America's decision to uphold its anti-gay policy.

"A national policy on sexuality forces good, principled people from scouting," Cizmar writes in his letter to BSA's . "I can only hope that someone inside the BSA has the courage to fix this policy before the organization withers into irrelevance."

We spoke to him about his letter, which he explains as a hard, but important decision ...

--Claire Lawton

A Look Inside Phoenix Painter Lee Davis' Art Lab

Most Phoenicians face a frustrating commute to and from work, but artist Lee Davis accesses his workplace with a shuffle from his bedroom to the kitchen (can't bypass the coffee) and a couple paces to the front entrance room of his home.

The cookie-cutter orderliness of his neighborhood makes for an unusual home for Lee's bold designs and out-of-the-box creations. Just a few steps into his home, these are brought to life in his relaxed and comfortable studio.

Functionality and flexibility were what Davis and his wife most looked for when they originally searched for a house. "When we looked for a place, we were also looking for a space where I can do my artwork," he explains. "So, it's a little bigger than what I would actually want in a house, but it's nice because I don't have to keep looking for a place to do art. Now it's just one big roof."

Check out our full tour through Lee Davis's personal space.

--Mary Richardson

Behind the Scenes of Scottsdale's Hatuma African Gallery with Hatuma Sissoko (VIDEO)

We're on a mission to highlight ethnic shops in Phoenix. Every week, we'll bring our notebooks and cameras into local boutiques and specialty stores to talk to the characters who own them. Who says Phoenix has no culture? Not us.

Location: Hatuma African Gallery, 7033 E Main St. # 104, Scottsdale

Since Hatuma African Gallery is located in Scottsdale's arts district, you can easily make it one of many stops when you visit the surrounding boutiques and galleries.

The space is packed with history and all items are in plain sight -- no digging or perusing necessary. The problem beauty of the shop is that everything is so visually stimulating, we didn't know where to start.

--Evelyn Ngugi

Can/Should Anyone Curate an Art Exhibition?

Curators are responsible for most of the artwork we're exposed to on a daily basis, and while their titles carry different weights and responsibilities, their role is universal. In town, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art just hired a new curator while ASU Art Museum is still looking to fill the spot left by John Spiak last year, and Artlink just posted an "open call" for it's AE England Gallery in downtown Phoenix.

Most galleries around Phoenix have curators, though the term is a bit looser, as many are co-ops and exhibitions are solo shows decided upon by the artists. And local coffee shop have jumped on the bandwagon, welcoming curators at Cartel Coffee Lab's Tempe and Phoenix locations, and Echo Coffee in Scottsdale.

"Curator" was once used only to describe a knowledgeable arts person employed to conceptualize, organize, and install an exhibition. In the past decade, the word's become a noun used to describe a person with good taste, or anyone who decides what stays and what goes, and as a verb to capture the simple action of organizing and selecting -- oftentimes completely unrelated to artwork.

So what does the word mean now? We asked a few people around town -- from museum directors and curators to independent curators and arts writers -- how the job has changed and whether or not anyone/everyone has the chops to pull it off ...

--Claire Lawton

7 Favorite Comic Book Shops in Phoenix

San Diego Comic-Con is over and the latest adventures of Batman have just hit the silver screen. So Jackalope Ranch figured it was time to explore the local comic book scene. Here are our picks to help you get an illustrated fix.

--Claire Lawton

Don't forget to check out Jackalope Ranch's continuing series, 100 Creatives.

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Eric Tsetsi
Contact: Eric Tsetsi