100 Creatives

Michael Lanier of The Bosque in Downtown Phoenix on His Favorite Plants

Every other year, New Times puts the spotlight on Phoenix's creative forces — painters, dancers, designers, and actors. Leading up to the release of Best of Phoenix, we're taking a closer look at 100 more. Welcome to the 2016 edition of 100 Creatives. Up today is 66. Michael Lanier.

Glamour and passion have yet to intersect for Michael Lanier. And the owner of Roosevelt Row's go-to plant shop, The Bosque, is perfectly fine with that. 

"I've never sold out," he says. "I've been poor and uncomfortable for the last three years now, but I get to create and meet and explore so much with so many great people."

The 23-year-old Valley native has found a community in downtown Phoenix, where he's "currently restoring an 86-year-old forgotten little bungalow in a neighborhood that was also forgotten," referring to the Garfield neighborhood. He adds, "I'm living the life, a life I never really wanted, and I couldn't be happier for it."

Over on Roosevelt Street, Lanier's built his own little world, one where he can arrive a little late, bring along his dog, and spend hours in conversation with his customers. "I run a business of, as my grandmother calls it, unnecessary, needed goods," he says. "Meaning, people don't need what I sell. It's not necessary, and truthfully, you could go a few other places farther from downtown to save a few dollars on certain things, but people come in and I remember their names; we talk about dogs and life and growing up and being adults now."

It helps that Lanier is both knowledgable and passionate about what he's selling. "I love helping people use plants to find some peace and sincerity and help them realize that everything in life is just a little imperfect," he says, "but those faults and imperfections are what makes life so incredible."

And, yeah. He has a favorite plant — okay, maybe two.

"I love Staghorn ferns and carnivorous plants," Lanier says. "They're so highly evolved, perfect at what they do. The amount of years and generations it took for them to find their perfect niche and their perfect space; it's really incredible."

I was born in Mesa and raised in Queen Creek, but I moved into Garfield with just a few clothes, some old books, and a patio full of plants...

I make art because I can't stand to dilly-dally my time and I hate tediousness; art is a good expression of non-wasted time.

I'm most productive when I'm around other creatives and just after a road trip. It's easiest to be active after you realize you've been missing what once seemed routine.

I don't really have an inspiration wall anymore. I used to just wander into the desert and observe and think alone for a few hours a week ... I find that I let myself down with expectations that don't come to fruition exactly the way I was hoping, so anymore I just try to live in the moment and surround myself with other artists, friends, creatives, and good energy in a creative part of town.

I've learned most from my closest friends, family, and my own failures, I guess ... Every time I've done something that doesn't work out the way I'd planned, I try to learn exactly what I can from that. I usually sit down, smoke a little, and try to come up with the reasons I failed, why and how I can move forward from that. 

Good work should always come after a fair amount of anxiety and enjoyment, but I'm always anxious, so maybe that's just part of my routine.

The Phoenix creative scene could use a little more support and understanding that what we do is our income. We can't just exist on exposure and a mural every few years. In a sterile, beige, washed-out metro, the color and oddity and sincerity artists create is ever more important. We need art anywhere we can get it. Art is emotion, physically.

The 2016 Creatives so far:

100. Nicole Olson
99. Andrew Pielage
98. Jessica Rowe
97. Danny Neumann
96. Beth Cato
95. Jessie Balli
94. Ron May
93. Leonor Aispuro
92. Sarah Waite
91. Christina "Xappa" Franco
90. Christian Adame
89. Tara Sharpe
88. Patricia Sannit
87. Brian Klein
86. Dennita Sewell
85. Garth Johnson
84. Charissa Lucille
83. Ryan Downey
82. Samantha Thompson
81. Cherie Buck-Hutchison
80. Freddie Paull
79. Jennifer Campbell
78. Dwayne Hartford
77. Shaliyah Ben
76. Kym Ventola
75. Matthew Watkins
74. Tom Budzak
73. Rachel Egboro
72. Rosemary Close
71. Ally Haynes-Hamblen
70. Alex Ozers
69. Fawn DeViney
68. Laura Dragon
67. Stephanie Neiheisel