Arizona Artbeat: 26 Blocks Photography Exhibit

More from this show

We’ll take you to a photography exhibit that has an out-of-the-box approach in portraying 26 randomly selected Phoenix city blocks.

TED SIMONS: Tonight's edition of Arizona Artbeat highlights an exhibit at the Renaissance Hotel that allows for a look at Phoenix in a whole new light. Producer Shana Fischer and photographer Kyle Mounce take us on a tour of 26 Blocks.

SHANA FISCHER: On the lower level of the Renaissance Hotel is an exhibit that's a road map of Phoenix's history and its future.

JOEY PARKS: 26 blocks is a collaborative art project. It's 26 writers, 26 photographers all teamed up into 26 teams and put on 26 city blocks.

SHANA FISCHER: The end result is an unflinching look at the city that has grown for good or bad into what it is today. The photographs and accompanying essays focus on 26 random blocks in downtown Phoenix. The photographers and writers collaborated on what to shoot and what to write to best represent their block.

WAYNE RAINEY: You're loving this aren't you?

SHANA FISCHER: Wayne owns a downtown art gallery and Megan were assigned the block that was occupied by the Renaissance Hotel. Rainey wanted to photograph the bartender.

WAYNE RAINEY: I don't think it took us any time at all to come to the decision that it would be Ronda. I mean, she not only is symbolic of the history here but she participated in it as well and she really created a lot of it.

SHANA FISCHER: And Ronda does have a long history with the hotel. Her first day on the job was July 3rd, 1975. Back then, the Renaissance was known as the Adams.

RHONDA BESTON: Oh, downtown has changed. When I first started working here in 1975, there was still the stores, Newberry's and Woolworth's and through those years, it started kind of going down and businesses were moving out of the city. And now in the last 10 years with ASU and with light rail, downtown Phoenix is becoming a big city now. You're proud to be down here because there's things, the theater, restaurants, bars to go to so it's changed, unbelievable.

SHANA FISCHER: For Rainey, the challenge proved to be where to photograph Ronda.

WAYNE RAINEY: We thought about shooting her in the environment where she's most comfortable, which is behind the bar but that just seemed too... I don't know it seemed a little bit too plain. It seemed not to pack any of the metaphorical punch we were looking for. So we just looked around the block a bit and eventually, we ended up on the roof.

RHONDA BESTON: It was incredible. I mean, you could see for miles and miles and I was like oh, my god! Here I am, 40 years I'm on top of the hotel. It doesn't get any better than that.

SHANA FISCHER: For Finnerty, writing about Ronda was like writing a master's thesis. She used to be on the night life and events beat at the newspaper.

MEGAN FINNERTY: One of my big curiosities is how do we combat loneliness in our culture? That's her full-time job. She's not a person who makes drinks. She makes people feel welcome and ergo less lonely even if they're far from home or they don't know anyone in town. I can't think of a more important job, okay baby brain surgeon but other than that.

SHANA FISCHER: 26 Blocks is the brain child of ghost writer Joey Robert Parks. He wanted to find a way to draw people to the burgeoning metropolis, but in a way that also made people think.

JOEY PARKS: The whole idea of the project was to show different perspectives and so they had to think of a way to celebrate the city, right? Celebrate creatives and the city as a whole.

SHANA FICHSER: Parks also brought on a sculptor Raphael Navaro. He took small blocks of wood and created tableaus to go with the photos and essays.

RAPHAEL NAVARO: It was kind of difficult because some were empty lots so from that I had to look at the writing or the photography and come up with an idea. A lot of times there were details on the architecture so I used those details on the sculptures.

SHANA FISCHER: The details captured by all the creatives is the glue that holds the exhibit together, an exhibit that is a labor of love, an ode to the city they call home, a city you'll never look at the same way again.

MEGAN FINNERTY: This is a window into a reality or a part of the city's reality that you don't have access to until this art project opens that door for you.

TED SIMONS: And that is it for now. I'm Ted Simons, thanks for joining us. You have a great evening.

VIDEO: "Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the Friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you. "Artbeat Nation" is made possible in part by the Flynn foundation, supporting the advancement of arts and culture in Arizona.

When you want to be more informed, eight delivers news and analysis with multiple perspectives, thanks to financial support from you and...

Document solutions of the valley, since 1984 providing managed print and I.T. services, printer cartridges, copier leasing and more. Featuring Konica Minolta copiers. Information at document solutions of the valley dot com.

8-HD, Eight Life and Eight World. This is Arizona PBS, supported by viewers like you. Thank you.

Later on 8-HD...

So let's talk about food!

It was perfectly cooked and a lot of flavor. And it really does have an island feel.

It was simple, clean and light.

The mushrooms were delicious. They were gone in two seconds.

The outside was very unassuming but when you walk in that front door you see it's a huge dining room.

Bring it out to the table, and it's sizzling and hissing everywhere.

They had been rolled in a cinnamon sugar.

Tonight at 7:00 on 8-HD.

Arizona PBS provides great musical performances all year long, and now we have some of the best seats to see your favorite acts live and in concert. Arizona PBS box office presents a back stage pass to meet world class performers. Arizona PBS box office presents a chance to see exciting performances before they sell out. This month, Arizona PBS box office presents... International Irish dance phenomenon river dance performs at Mesa arts center January 12th through 17th, 2016.

Coming up on 8-HD, Eight Life and Eight World...

At ASU, we believe the most important semester is the one that starts after you get your diploma, the one called life so we work hard to help our alumni thrive, teaching them the importance of not only achieving their goals but exceeding them with innovative programs that embrace hands-on learning, that encourages real world growth. Our alumni know it can be the education of a lifetime for a lifetime. For more information,

Coming soon to 8-HD...

Next time on the guilty.

I'm so sorry.

Local police have confirmed that the body found --

The question is where were you?

Find him and bring him home.

We're trying to find your son.

Sunday night at 9:00 on 8-HD.

Lisa lynch had everything to look forward to until her diagnosis.

Breast cancer.

Your wife has started a blog.

The true story that inspired millions. The C. word.

Sunday night at 10:00 on 8-HD.

Support for eight comes from viewers like you and from...

The Persian Room, travel to another world, to a land of exotic aromas and period decor, for a fine dining experience. The Persian Room, in north Scottsdale on Scottsdale road one light north of Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard. Gourmet exotic cuisine at its best.

I'm David Goldstein, owner of Biltmore Loan and Jewelry. We buy or loan on upscale assets, we have over 30 years of experience in determining values of automobiles, jewelry, art, collectibles and antiques. For more information and appointments,

Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers specialize in prostate cancer treatment, and is a proud member of the association of community cancer centers. Patients have access to robotic surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and clinical trials.

Illustration of columns of a capitol building with text reading: Arizona PBS AZ Votes 2024
airs April 18

Arizona PBS presents candidate debates as part of ‘AZ Votes 2024’

Earth Day Challenge graphic with the Arizona PBS logo and an illustration of the earth

Help us meet the Earth Day Challenge!

Graphic for the AZPBS kids LEARN! Writing Contest with a child sitting in a chair writing on a table and text reading: The Ultimate Field Trip
May 12

Submit your entry for the 2024 Writing Contest

The Capital building with text reading: Circle on Circle: Robert Lowell's D.C.
May 2

An evening with ‘Poetry in America’

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: