Letters From the Issue of Thursday, January 19, 2006

Artists in Residences

Capital "A"-holes: There are Artists (with a capital A), and then there are artists. Unfortunately, The Bird paints them all with a very broad brush ("Those Crazy Artists," The Bird, Robrt L. Pela, December 29).

Everyone has to start somewhere, but in every vocation there is a time where you're simply paying your dues.

The supposed artists living at Holgas and other upscale downtown "lofts" may be artists in the technical sense, but they seem to be trying to buy their way into a scene. Some of them are even selling their now-valuable downtown spaces.

They are not paying their dues to be part of the scene. The sad thing is, this will probably work, as the real Artists continue to starve.

As always, Artists like Michael23 and his crew, who lived in their work area downtown (a real loft that truly exhibited their creativity), have been kicked to the curb, partly because they couldn't afford to buy their place.

Unfortunately, most of the people of the Phoenix area will never know what they've lost and will instead embrace the trendy people who replace the real Artists.
Andrew Ayers, Glendale

Downtown is unsafe -- for the crazy people: Now, isn't that just peachy that the Roosevelt Row artists don't have any concept of what a real downtown is all about, when they've been glorying in living in downtown Phoenix for all these years?

These guys love to criticize anybody who lives anywhere else in town as un-hip because these downtown denizens manage to brave the mean streets of the big city while the rest of us lounge in suburbia.

First of all, Phoenix barely has a downtown. And, secondly, now The Bird tells us what these poseurs are all about. Many of them are railing because it's supposedly unsafe to have so-called crazy people walking around in their midst.

Are these mamas' boys and girls naive, or what?! As The Bird said, all big cities have crazies walking around. That's one of the things that make the so-called mean streets interesting. Try walking around downtown San Francisco, Los Angeles or in Manhattan.

And the lack of compassion for people who are truly less fortunate is staggering.

These mentally disturbed people aren't walking around Roosevelt Row because they want to be there (like the so-called artists in question). They're not that crazy! They're doing it because they have no place else to go, because there's not much of a safety net to catch them anymore.

I remember that great story by Paul Rubin about the jazz saxophonist who wound up dead in the hot Phoenix summer sun ("Crying Shame," October 6, 2005). He just fell through the pitiful mental-health safety net here in Arizona. This guy was more of an artist than many of these people who hawk their shit on First Friday will ever be.

But a guy like him would've been the object of these artists' scorn because he was crazy.
Seth Best, Phoenix

An ear for talent: Boy, was The Bird right on the money when it said that some of the faux artists of First Friday would try to run Vincent Van Gogh out of the neighborhood.

I proffer that that's for two reasons: He'd be too crazy for these pampered little kids who pass themselves off as "artists" to tolerate, and he had real talent -- which is something you don't see much of on Roosevelt Row.
Martina Paul, Phoenix

Money for nothing: It was great to hear that someone agrees with me and my friends who work for a living that much of the crap shown on First Friday downtown is pure garbage.

It's the obvious reason they serve cheap wine, or even let you bring your own bottle down there so that you will buy some of their garbage they call "art." Then you wake up the next day and say, "Oh my God, what is it?!" And, "Can I get my money back 'cause it's all I've got left for food for the week?!"

At least some of us work and don't expect people to pay for whatever we do in our spare time to entertain ourselves -- which is what these artists do.

Most of what I've seen at First Friday borders on tasteless, and some of it is even vulgar. But most of it, to be honest with you, you can't tell what it is!

You're right that these artists quoted wouldn't want Vincent Van Gogh in their midst. Why? Because he was pure talent. His artwork was truly that of a gifted person. Their crap is the expression of their motto: I don't want a real job because I hate the four-letter word "w-o-r-k."
Roberta Bade, via the Internet