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Big Brain Awards 2014: Meet the Finalists and Our First Urban Legend Winners

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90s. Instead, several venues around town are destinations. He says that Last Exit Live is one of his favorite places to see a show and he wishes the scene had more all-ages places like the Trunk Space to accommodate the state's restrictive liquor laws at venues. These laws require mid-level venues (those where maximum capacity is less than 1,000 people) to separate the drinking crowd from under-agers, which means extra cost and complication for venues looking to include younger audiences.

Despite being credited with breathing much-needed life into downtown Phoenix with Crescent, Levy doesn't have a master plan for the city's music scene. He's focused right now on taking it easy after the extensive planning and coordinating that went into huge multi-venue festival Viva PHX. The event featured such local and national acts as YACHT, Sir-Mix-A-Lot, and Wooden Indian and took over downtown Phoenix for one night with a crowd of more than 8,000 people.

Of course, he won't be taking it easy for long. Levy already is planning for next year's festival, slated for March 14, and he knows the ways he wants to expand it and streamline it to improve the experience. His ideas include everything from hosting live classical music in an old church to making ticketing lines more efficient and limiting the distance between stages for a more walkable festival. While he hopes it gets "bigger and better" next year, he says his main goal isn't to have the festival grow out of control like South by Southwest has.

Instead, he says he's trying to make something "special for Phoenix, uniquely Phoenix."

He adds, "I was just like, 'Oh, we should do this,' and I had no idea if we could pull it off and we did. As far as what it becomes, who knows?" — Heather Hoch


Mookesh Patel | Design
When Mookesh Patel was growing up in India, a career in graphic design was unheard of. There were only three choices when it came to work for young men.

"Medicine, medicine, medicine," he says with a laugh.

Raised by his maternal grandparents, he lived with an uncle who pushed him toward a career as a doctor. After two years in medical school (during which time, he says, he never cut open animals for practice, choosing instead to draw the practicals so accurately that his teachers didn't discover until his sophomore year that he wasn't participating), he'd had enough.

"I broke the news at our New Year's party. There was pin-drop silence," he says. "My uncle didn't say anything for about five minutes. At the end of those five minutes, he said, 'Do what you want!' and got up and left the table. He was furious."

But Patel took that advice. He boarded a train the following day, headed first for architecture school and then, when he realized the admissions deadline had passed, the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, Gujarat — the first of its kind in the country. He graduated in 1975, though he would return as a teacher only a few years later. That position eventually moved him to the United States in the mid-'80s, first to the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design for graduate school and then to the Valley for a job at Arizona State University.

His lengthy résumé grew to include consulting for Phoenix Art Museum and his alma maters. His work with both the Metropolitan Boston Transit Authority, as an employed designer for Malcolm Grear Designers, and the government of India for a major traveling exhibition to Russia, "My Land, My People," sparked his interest in visual communication — a departure from the commercial design, chiefly for area hotels, that made him successful in his first business ventures.

Part of his work with the Phoenix Art Museum consisted of designing collections of books related to exhibits. Book design, from cover to cover, quickly became a passion project. He continues creating print formats for everything from academic papers to anthologies related to the design field.

The designer will present his own paper, titled "What Does It Mean? Sense Making of Contemporary Information Transmission," in China this June, as information design is a topic he has recently become devoted to. Computer programs, like Excel, are useful for data collection but lack accessibility. Through controlling what seem like incidental components, like color and typeface, one is able "to give a visual form to complicated data," he says. "[But] I love print more because I can control a lot of things."

Patel, one of one of only two tenured professors in ASU's Department of Visual Communication Design, found himself the subject of breaking news articles in 2009 when his office was the scene of the suicide of a graduate student. The harrowing event shook the College of Design, but Patel never stopped teaching.

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