RAW Art Events Still a Little Underdone

Last Thursday, RAW: natural born artists presented their second Phoenix-area event, "Artcade," in the swank Ghost Lounge inside the Hotel San Carlos. The event was a multicultural showcase that spotlighted local visual and performing artists. 

So, what exactly is RAW's mission? The California-based arts organization promotes local artists, musicians and designers at monthly events during RAW season, which runs from February to October. At the end of the season, one audience and industry favorite scores a $1,000 grant, plus perks like gallery space or studio time.

It sounds like a pretty sweet deal. The artists get exposure, and guests get an evening of live entertainment and a gallery show for just ten bucks. But while the idea has potential, the execution is still a little... well, raw.

Artist MBSILAO sheds some light on her work.

Silao "paints" with light by manipulating hand-held lights while photographing at night. The lights form patterns in the foreground of the image, capturing various moments in time in a single frame. The mushroom stencils Silao created for the series look a little too reminiscent of a groovy black velvet painting; otherwise her works are sleek, modern and eye-catching. 

Around 8 p.m., after two hours of setup and artist meet-and-greets, performance artist Shaikh Sammad showed up in a shaggy red monster suit, which he (thankfully) ditched to spit some serious rhymes. Later, three amazingly flexible male dancers showcased emotionally-charged choreography set to popular songs including Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars," while the band struggled with sound checks on the main stage.


The cheesy lyrics and rap frontman of Weird Is The New Cool weren't a hit, but I appreciated the band's dedication, and the tongue-in-cheek tune about "shit to do in Arizona." Unfortunately, by the time the band wrapped up their set, the event was four hours in and many guests had to leave before eyeing Provacatease and splatter fashions from Spill Wear.       

To be fair, the Phoenix version of RAW is still in its infancy -- and last month's inaugural "Catalyst" event sold out, which is a huge win for a new weeknight event in downtown Phoenix. If the schedule tightens up and RAW is able to attract more quality artists, it has potential. Otherwise, it might be doomed to stay underdone.