Arizona PBS highlights work of nine local artists & organizations on ‘ArtBeat Nation’

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PHOENIX – (Sept. 8, 2016)

As part of the PBS Arts Fall Festival, Arizona PBS takes viewers inside the thriving local arts scene with a special presentation of locally produced segments of “ArtBeat Nation,” highlighting the diverse work of artists from across the Valley.

The weekly series airs on Arizona PBS in a new timeslot beginning Sept. 9, with episodes each Friday at 7:30 p.m., profiling locally-based artists, sculptors and artisans.

“Arizona has a flourishing arts community, and we’re excited to share these gifted artists’ stories with our viewers,” said Jen Burke, Emmy-winning producer of “ArtBeat Nation” at Arizona PBS.  “Thanks to our Curate donors and other local viewers who financially support arts and culture content, we are able to spotlight the exceptional work of some of Arizona’s most unique creative talents.”

Mesa artist Steve Gompf showcases the mixed-media works he calls “televisors” in a local “ArtBeat Nation” segment airing Oct. 14. According to Gompf, televisors are fictional machines that he imagined as a precursor to television. Each device is equipped with a video that plays in a loop, utilizing elements of stop-motion and digital manipulations to give the contraptions an authentic yet antiquated edge. Gompf even created a fictional history for these devices based on factual records, lending historic credibility to his narrative.

“Television was the first device to come along that most people really don’t know who actually invented it. After that, invention became corporatized,” said Gompf. “What amazed me was when people see the televisors in front of them, they actually say things like, ‘Oh I remember those,’ even though these didn’t actually exist. Somehow amazingly people make up fake memories about them.”

Gompf makes these machines using a variety of knick-knacks and items he picks up at thrift stores, including candlesticks, bookends, drawer pulls and doorknobs. These unique works of art were on display in the exhibit, “Distant Visions: Apparatus and Ephemera from the Televisor Era 1884-1928” at Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum.

The Arizona-centric fall season of “ArtBeat Nation” also includes the Rocky Mountain Emmy and Telly Award-winning segment “Alabaster Stone Carver.” Airing Sept. 16, the segment follows the story of Susan Zalkind, an Arizona woman who worked with her husband to discover innovative ways to create artwork out of raw alabaster stone. Zalkind mines the alabaster from areas throughout the Southwest, and uses homemade tools to carve one-of-a-kind sculptures at her home studio.

Kicking off the lineup Sept. 9 is the Emmy-nominated story of local artist Robert Miley, who unveiled his signature sculpture, “Release the Fear,” in Downtown Phoenix nearly a decade ago. The sculpture was fabricated entirely from melted down weapons used in violent crime to symbolize how negatives can be transformed into positives by simply changing perspectives.

This sculpture inspired Miley to fuse his passions for art and activism, launching the Release the Fear organization, which works to inspire young people to pursue their passions instead of giving in to destructive temptations. The segment explores how the organization helps troubled youth change the way they view the world through artistic endeavors and creative expression.

On Oct. 7, the Emmy Award-winning “ArtBeat Nation” segment “Tin Can Art” tells the story of Arizona local Alexi Devilliers who creates sculptures out of tin cans. Devilliers prepares meals each week for elderly homeless veterans in Phoenix and uses the leftover cans as the foundation for his sculptures. He then sells his sculptures, using the proceeds to buy more food for the homeless, and in turn, create more artwork. This segment was also honored with a 2016 Bronze Telly Award for an outstanding portrayal of social responsibility.

This fall, “ArtBeat Nation” also revisits the story of the seamstresses and designers behind the couture costumes featured in the Arizona Opera, the murals of artist Hugo Medina during his years in Phoenix, a tour of Arizona’s Musical Instrument Museum, the poetry behind Phonetic Spit and robot art.

A chronological listing of locally produced “ArtBeat Nation” segments follows:

Release The Fear

Friday, Sept. 9, at 7:30 p.m.

Meet Arizona artist Robert Miley. A decade ago, Miley unveiled a sculpture titled “Release the Fear” in the Downtown Phoenix Arizona Arts District. The sculpture was made entirely from melted down weapons used in violent crimes. Inspired, Miley founded “Release the Fear,” an organization that offers creative workshops for at-risk youth.

 Alabaster Stone Carver

Friday, Sept. 16, at 7:30 p.m.

Over a prolific career spanning nearly four decades, Susan Zalkind and her late husband Paul Hawkins are recognized as pioneers of contemporary American, abstract and functional alabaster sculpture. Known for hand gathering the rarest of colored and translucent alabasters from the deserts of the American Southwest, their sculpture honors the shape and beauty of each stone.

Hugo Medina  

Friday, Sept. 23, at 7:30 p.m.

Hugo Medina reflects upon his fifteen years in Phoenix as he explores the idea of old versus new through the changing landscape, architecture and politics. “Home” is a showcase of Medina’s engaging portraits and dramatic landscapes. His love of Phoenix, the community and its people are the focal point of this project.

Arizona Opera Costume Shop 

Friday, Sept. 30, at 7:30 p.m.

The Arizona Opera Costume shop in Phoenix is home to extravagant costumes that help tell stories through clothing. Viewers go behind-the-scenes with shop manager Kathleen Trott as she explains the costume creation process and demonstrates how costumes make the journey from ideas to period-correct couture that hits the right note on stage.

Tin Can Art

Friday, Oct. 7, at 7:30 p.m.

Arizona artist Alexi Devilliers constructs sculptures, robots and other creatures out of recycled tin cans. The tin cans he uses for his projects come from ingredients in meals he cooks up every week and donates to elderly homeless in Phoenix. He proves that one man’s trash is indeed another man’s treasure. 


Friday, Oct. 14, at 7:30 p.m.

Steve Gompf is an Arizona-based artist who makes technical creations he calls televisors. Gompf assembles his televisors by repurposing common objects such as jewelry boxes, curtain finials, door knobs, lighting fixtures and drawer pulls. This segment also brings viewers into the fictional world Gompf created for his creations to live in.

Musical Instrument Museum

Friday, Oct. 21, at 7:30 p.m.

The Musical Instrument Museum is the only museum in the world devoted to global musical instruments. MIM opened in 2010, and immediately became recognized as a fun, family-friendly, worldwide tourist destination. It includes exhibits for every country in the world, along with an insider’s view of how some instruments are made, how they are played, or the varied contexts in which they are used. Exhibits are enhanced by state-of-the art audio and video that bring to life the sounds and sights of the instruments on display.

Phonetic Spit

Friday, Oct. 28, at 7:30 p.m.

Phonetic Spit turns a quiet classroom into a safe-haven for students to speak their mind and express themselves freely. The program focuses on teaching the importance of emotional and cultural literacy while maintaining and upholding the values of traditional literacy. By way of spoken word, students enter the program as aspiring poets and leave as agents of social change.

Robot Art             

Friday, Nov. 4, at 7:30 p.m.

A decade after Phoenix sculptor Bobby Zokaites embarked on a project challenging common ideas about painting, human-technology collaboration, creative expression, and artistic identity, researchers at Arizona State University invited the creator to revisit his creation, during the bicentennial of the novel Frankenstein.

“ArtBeat Nation” is a weekly arts series highlighting the rich tapestry of arts stories from across the country, featuring artists, writers, composers and performers setting the pulse of the arts in America now. Past episodes are available for online viewing along with additional information at

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