Visual Arts

Training Day

The front door to my very first apartment sat a whopping 70 feet away from the train tracks, on the west side of ASU not far from the neighborhood bar Casey Moore's. A half-dozen times a day, my walls would vibrate and my cat would hide under the couch as a damn train blasted past. Often, the horn was so loud I would have to pause a telephone conversation to wait for it to stop screaming. One small perk I discovered was that as the cars endlessly clanked and rolled by, I saw my fair share of graffiti art. Most of it was relatively lame — some kid with spray paint scribbling "eat my shit" on the side of the car. No originality.

I couldn't help but remember my little ghetto apartment with fondness when I walked into Pravus on September's First Friday. Inside, a series of two-dimensional sculptures, made to look like mini-train cars, are affixed to the walls, floor to ceiling. Alone, they are rad enough. But the kicker is that each was given to a graffiti or fine artist to paint. Ste Duggins, an ASU art student who designed and sculpted the trains, collaborated with the show's curators, our local Molten Brothers (Ken Richardson and Mike Goodwin) on the project. This smart little crew handed out the train cars to some killer Phoenix-area artists.

Initially, the Molten Brothers hooked up with a friend in California and exhibited the show at Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana. Lucky for us, they were pleased with the response and decided to show it at Pravus.

The decorated cars range from highly stylized graffiti writing to fine art paintings. One car by Glen Allen shows two giant larvae covering the surface; another by The Mac shows a hot naked chick lying on her stomach. Wes Cleveland's car, covered with a crowd of menacing Fisher-Price-like characters (they look like plastic Little People), is definitely a favorite. As is Ester Sanchez, who paints aquamarine cascading waves surrounding a bikini-clad blue-haired babe. Each artist approached the project with a unique style to create a successful show that offers visual variety kept consistent by the string of cars.

I've gotta say, if the trains passing through Tempe looked like this, I probably would've stayed in that dumpy little apartment.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Lilia Menconi
Contact: Lilia Menconi