PechaKucha Night 3 Blends Passion, Art, and Booze

Last Friday, artists, designers and hipster types gathered at Bragg's Pie Factory in downtown Phoenix for PechaKucha Night 3, the third in a series of local events featuring short presentations from local designers.

Each of the ten presenters was allowed twenty slides that automatically advance every
twenty seconds
, making for a quick-fire evening that didn't bore.

Presentations aside, the $10 ticket included drinks, catered food, and a DJ.

"How much is the wine?" one guest in a trendy military-style jacket and scarf asked. "It's free," was the response. By the time the presentations started, the room was buzzing with creative energy -- and the guests (and in some cases, presenters) were suitably buzzed.

PechaKucha (pronounced "pet-chotsh-kuh") originators Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham were brilliant in devising the event's format. Frankly, our attention spans don't hold out much longer than six minutes. If you're bored during one talk, quietly read a few text messages on your phone until the next speaker heads up to the mic. I noticed several audience members opting for this tactic during slower presentations, such as "Drawings are Dead" by Building Information Specialist Liz Chodosh.

Chodosh was extremely animated about her subject (some sort of CAD-type design program) but took our understanding of her technical terms for granted. Only her inclusion of humorous graphics saved her from the "text-to-avoid" method mentioned above.

Taliesin West graduate Daniel Dillow eagerly presented a plan for new types of urban housing, while artist Ryan Peter Miller challenged our assumptions about paint. A highlight was final presenter Ann Morton's discussion of the "13 Fridays" art/community project, where she and fellow volunteers knitted warm wool hats for the homeless

One major concern with this type of event is that presenters will use their time to spin a sales pitch. Good news: it wasn't common.

Carol Panaro-Smith's photos of an artist's gathering in Europe were fascinating, including a bit on her current Arts Intersection gallery space in Gilbert.

SouthBridge developer Bret Sassenberg, on the other hand, used his six minutes to basically present a combination resume and dating video.

The audience gathered that Sassenberg rock climbs, races motorcycles and develops multi-million dollar properties. He's fairly good-looking! A rotating portrait of Sassenberg even stuck on screen after the next presenter went up, which elicited a few laughs.

The free booze and informal style make PechaKucha Night more of a social event, with networking opportunities as an added bonus.

And the slideshows are just a taste of what each presenter has to offer. Your best bet is to relax with a beer (but not five, please!), listen up, and approach individual designers after the talk if you want to learn more.