Best Graffiti Artist 2014 | El Peezo | People & Places | Phoenix

Now you see them, now you don't. The wheat paste works of graffiti artist and 2014 Big Brain finalist El Peezo are like the Houdinis of 'hood art. Adorning the walls of abandoned buildings and occupied structures, down secluded side streets and major public access roads, these colorful yet easily corroded composites of starch and water add a much appreciated vitality to downtown living. Whether it's Nightmare Before Christmas' Jack Skellington hanging out on the side of the Phoenix Public Market Cafe, the now removed Charlie Chaplin posing outside of Bentley Projects, or the creatures of Where the Wild Things Are creeping behind the scenes of the Palabra Collective (those are gone now, too), Phoenix locals love to pause and pay tribute to the anonymous artists' work with the always welcome Instagram post. Seriously, take a picture. It will last longer.

Arizona is rich in the traditions of poetry. Local poets who keep the art of verse alive include Alison Hawthorne Deming, Norman Dubie, and N. Scott Momaday, but none are so celebrated as Alberto Álvaro Ríos, our own State Poet Laureate. The author of ten books of poetry, three collections of short stories, and a memoir, Ríos writes beautifully of life and death and "this hour of ourselves," as he famously wrote in "Who Has Need, I Stand With You" in 2010. His books of poems include The Theater of Night, winner of the 2007 PEN/Beyond Margins Award, The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body, finalist for the National Book Award, and Whispering to Fool the Wind, which won the Walt Whitman Award for poetry. His memoir, Capirotada, may be written in prose, but its stories of growing up on the Mexico-Arizona border sang with poetry and passion. Alberto Ríos does us proud.

Angels Trumpet Ale House

It's hard to miss JBAK's six-story mural on Thomas and Central. Though Berlin-based artists Karl Addison and James Bullough, who together make up JBAK, are accustomed to doing large-scale work, Generations marked the first mural of this magnitude in Phoenix. But the piece isn't earning accolades for size alone. Generations is a beautifully vibrant portrait of Chris Nieto, a major developer in the downtown area, and Addison's own grandmother. The mural is a nice blend of Bullough's photorealism and Addison's hatching techniques, which you might recognize from another piece he completed on the back of Giant Coffee. Though he's now an internationally recognized street artist, Addison did grow up in Phoenix. Lucky for us, he still makes time to share his talents with his desert home.

Chances are, right now in the back room of her Pinterest-perfect boutique, Cleo & Clementine, Monique Sandoval is creating something beautiful. The fashion designer, whose label is called Ouma, has garnered quite the reputation as a go-to wedding dressmaker for the Etsy set, with airy bridal gowns and delicate party dresses any gal would be happy to get gussied up in. Sandoval makes said frocks by hand in her Melrose District shop, where her designs line the racks. In addition to purchasing pieces off the rack, Sandoval also makes custom dresses for shoppers on the hunt for one-of-a-kind garments that fit as nicely as they look.

Arizona Democrat Steve Muratore doesn't suffer fools gladly, whether he's wondering whether Attorney General Tom Horne is a "psychopath," accusing a spokeswoman for schools Superintendent John Huppenthal of polishing a piece of merde, or calling out the Capitol Times for kissing up to pro-plutocrat legislators. What makes him different from some online blowhard on a blog like, say, the Daily Kos is that he does a lot of his own reporting and research and offers unique analysis, not just fighting words. He's also fiercely local, focusing on issues such as redistricting that in these days of strained newspaper budgets, do not receive the attention they deserve. Cantankerous and principled, Muratore is a fighter whose motto "The KEYBOARD is mightier than the sword" is especially true when he's typing his latest entry.

Seeing Red AZ is the blog to go to if you want to explore the bizarro-world mind of the average Republican activist in Maricopa County. Granted, it's a journey into darkness, but one where you will make some astonishing discoveries. For instance, so-called "Common Core" is not a matter of higher standards for school kids, but rather a commie plot to force all Arizona students to read Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals. Attorney General Tom Horne? He's the best politician ever, and if he wants to hire his mistress with taxpayer money, that's his business. Senator John McCain is the spawn of Satan. (Okay, we'll give them that one.) And Sheriff Joe Arpaio should be worshiped like Jesus Christ come to dinner.

Don't bother arguing with the commenters, because opposing views are not welcome and will be deleted. But the blog's opinions are true to the kind of folk you'll find over-populating any mandatory meeting of the Maricopa County GOP. And visiting Seeing Red's website is much less scary than attending one of those conservative confabs. Hence, the site's value for reporters and researchers.

Ashley Eaton, she of mobile vintage boutique Merry May Handmade, got married. Now she goes by Ashley Eaton Denton. And in chronicling her wedding to Trevor Denton, he of local band Sun Ghost, the duo created our new favorite locally run lifestyle blog. Field & Fellow follows the newlyweds as they decorate their home, take a stab at gardening, look through their wedding pictures, try out new recipes, and practice yoga — among other things. With beautiful photos, great stories, and a compelling couple at the helm, the blog's worth a check-in every once in a while.

If you thought you would never get to see the inside of an adult video arcade, think again. Photographer Michael Max McLeod has been documenting these ever-disappearing establishments across the country for the past few years. Beginning in Phoenix, McLeod eventually branched out; after a summer trip through The Lone Star State, Texas Porno Roadtrip was born. The zine is ingeniously divided into sections signaled by different paper size and texture — it's a small detail, but one that really sets the book apart. Texas Porno Roadtrip puts you right there in the arcade, dick pics and all, but the quality of McLeod's photos is what legitimizes the book, making it a true work of art.

This award-winning library serves the residents of Cave Creek and Carefree and surrounding areas, and it serves them awfully well. When's the last time you visited a library with its own grand piano? Desert Foothills has one, and it uses it, too, for its live music events. The library also hosts monthly art openings, because the place is lousy with gorgeous work — paintings, sculpture, photography — by local artists. And if you've never been to a library where the staff is not only friendly but smiles at you and engages you in conversation, head to this giant book nook at once. While you're there, stop in for a long look at the library's used-book store, the largest one in the North Valley, with over 15,000 hardcover and paperback books in all genres. You'll find mind-blowing deals on special books, CDs, and DVDs. After you find a book, settle in for a cozy stretch on the long, wide patio out back. If you can tear your eyes from the amazing desert views, you might even get some relaxing reading done.

Three words regarding Alexis Hamilton: Girl. Can. Walk. Not in the everyday, putting-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other sort of way. No, it's more of a pretty-sure-she-could-win-Top Model type of vibe. And Phoenix's fashion scene is all the better for it. When Hamilton powers down the catwalk, it's damn near impossible to not think of Naomi Campbell. Named Phoenix Fashion Week's model of the year in 2011, Hamilton continues bringing garments to life on the runway. Doesn't matter if they're impeccably crafted gowns or poorly executed pieces, Hamilton's look and energy are immutable.

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