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In a city that defines a style iconoclast as a woman who dares to mix separates from Banana Republic with accessories from Forever 21, Beatrice Moore is a true original. I doubt she's ever been in a mall or had her hair done, but you would not believe the cool shit she finds in Sun City West thrift stores. And if you don't like her plastic beaded necklace or her perfectly mismatched floral ensemble or her penchant for vintage craft supplies, she truly does not care.
She is my hero.
Moore's been snatching up properties along Grand Avenue for years, but I'm less interested in what she's done as a landlord (which is somewhat contentious, depending on which member of the arts community you ask) than the vibrant colors she's painted her buildings.
If you've never seen them, get yourself over to Grand and Seventh avenues during daylight hours, and head northwest on that oddly diagonal street. Pass La Melgosa (1023 Grand), Bragg's Pie Factory (1301 Grand), and, finally, hit the piece de resistance, Kooky Krafts (1500 Grand).
Kooky Krafts is no paint-by-numbers kit. Moore is an accomplished "fine artist" — a painter. But her crafts are just as important, she says, and she considers them art. It's easy to see why when you peruse the dozens of bump chenille wreaths lining the pastel-striped walls of her craft store. For the uninitiated, bump chenille looks like thick, bumpy pipe cleaners, in colors no longer manufactured, much to Moore's chagrin. She sells the wreaths for a lot of money, mainly because she hates to see them go out the door.
There's a nook with vintage craft books that Moore intends as a library for patrons, and bags of supplies for sale — everything from plastic clown faces to vintage pompons to German painted mushrooms — much of the wares from two recently defunct old-school craft warehouses, Diane Ribbon and Notion in Phoenix and Zim's in Salt Lake City.
In the back of the store, Moore's set up shop to make "cakes" — intricate, multi-stacked fake confections made of modeling supplies, festooned with vintage plastic clowns and other party decorations. Years ago, she obsessed over the cake creations — showed them in the Stop 'n' Look storefront at La Melgosa — and lately she's had the urge to pick up the faux icing bag again.
Perfect timing! I tell her — cake is huge right now. I mention the cake shows on cable TV, the bakeries popping up around town, the decorating classes being offered.
Moore just looks at me. She has no idea what I'm talking about, and that is why I love her. — Amy Silverman
New Times managing editor Amy Silverman, who shares Beatrice Moore's love for pastel colors, vintage pompons and your grandma's cast-off furniture, interviewed Moore on August 19 at Kooky Krafts in Phoenix.
I live in Phoenix because it's somewhat isolated from, like, the hip scene — and I've always liked that. And it's in the desert and it's got sort of this isolation and it's different than anywhere else.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be an artist and be in the art scene . . . I was always drawing or painting, working with chalk, making things out of clay.
When I'm driving, I want to get from one place to the other.
Phoenix could use more historic buildings that have been preserved and adaptively reused.
Phoenix could use less of the high-rise kind of development — for instance, what we're seeing with Cityscape going in downtown right now. When I saw that project, I was totally shocked at how bad it is.
I like to paint in the privacy of my own studio, and I don't even really like showing my work so much.
My color palate is inspired by my early years in Mexico.
My hero is . . . I don't really walk around thinking that I have a hero in my life, but I do respect and admire a lot of people, including my partner, Tony.
Before bed I always read the paper.