novelist and teacher
James Sallis is a Renaissance man. Over the years, he’s worked as a musician, poet, translator, biographer, essayist, critic, magazine editor, creative writing teacher at Phoenix College and ASU, licensed respiratory therapist and science-fiction writer. For decades, he was also the best-kept secret in crime fiction – until his 2005 novel Drive was adapted into the acclaimed 2011 noir flick starring Ryan Gosling. Set in Phoenix, Sallis’ latest novel, The Killer Is Dying, is an oddly moving page-turner about a hit man’s last days. Driven, his sequel to Drive, will be published by Scottsdale’s Poisoned Pen Press in April. We caught up with the Arkansas-born Sallis, 66, at a favorite coffeehouse, across a battered wooden table obviously AWOL from an interrogation room.
ARTIST OF THE MONTH
Richard B. Hall is an artist with a sense of humor. Case in point: The oil can. While returning from a long road trip to Texas one day, the Mesa artist pulled over to the side of the road to relieve himself. Standing there, he spotted an old oil can beside a tree. That unassuming piece of refuse instantly captured his imagination and later became a prop for a painting.
When Phoenix artist and preservation advocate Michael Levine shelled out $5,500 for 890 highway signs at a state surplus auction in 1999, he wasn’t sure what he was going to do with them. Call it venture capitalism.
But as Arizona’s Centennial drew near, the investment paid off: In August, Levine took about 450 of the signs and, over six days, fastened them to the wall of his warehouse near Grant and Seventh streets, creating a gigantic 1912-2012 mural.
As Shahla Talebi prepared her undergraduate honors thesis at the University of California, Berkeley, she realized she could draw much of what she needed from personal experience. The topic of that thesis? Madness and death in prison.
A new documentary explores the 2001 murder that rocked Arizona.
As a man fascinated by true crime, it’s no wonder director Charlie Minn is interested in Robert Fisher, the Scottsdale man who allegedly murdered his wife and two children, blew up his home, escaped to the Tonto National Forest near Payson and disappeared for more than 10 years, never to be found. Minn’s new documentary, Where Is Robert Fisher?, explores the man who shook Scottsdale forever.
ARTIST OF THE MONTH
In some ways, there’s nothing simpler than a skeleton. But Patrick Murillo’s skeletons go beyond bare bones. The Dia de Los Muertos artist imbues them with humor, feeling and, yes, even sex appeal. “I’ve learned to inject emotion into a skeleton without a caption, which isn’t easy,” says Murillo, 46. “I even make skeleton girls sexy with boobs. I challenge anyone to do that.”
People’s Biennial redefines ‘artist’ by highlighting work from regular people in the neighborhood. Scottsdale is the next stop on the exhibit’s national tour.
David Hoelzinger, a Phoenix doctor, spent 20 years documenting his life with detailed cartoons he drew each day in his calendar.
Passionate art collectors have created a mobile art institute to showcase under-appreciated local and international talent.
The idea for the Phoenix Institute of Contemporary Art (phICA) came up one afternoon when Phoenix art collector Ted Decker was eating beef tacos with his art-loving pals Eddie Shea and Greg Esser outside of Rito’s Mexican Food restaurant in Downtown Phoenix.
A new, two-month-long celebration highlighting Latino arts and heritage could put Phoenix on the country’s cultural festival map.
Let’s play a game. We’ll say the festival, you name its city. 1) South by Southwest. 2) Sundance. 3) CALA.
SEEING IS BELIEVING
A new exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum explores two artists' Mormon roots.
Growing up with a polygamous family is a lot less glamorous than HBO's Big Love series makes it seem, and Phoenix artist Angela Ellsworth proves it through her eye-catching artwork. Beginning September 3, Ellsworth’s controversial art will be exhibited alongside Rebecca Campbell’s work at the Phoenix Art Museum to show the multi-dimensional nature of growing up Mormon.
ARTIST OF THE MONTH
When photos of Lee Harvey Oswald’s arrest were plastered across newspapers in 1963, most Americans felt anger and outrage. Paul Wilson’s reaction was very different: “He’s cute,” thought Wilson, who later produced more than 100 videos starring “Wee Harvey Oddball,” a Mini-Me version John F. Kennedy’s assassin.
*Warning: This story contains harsh and profane language. The fearless founder of Phoenix-based pirate radio station KWFUCC goes global online while hijacking Valley airwaves. ...
Carefree Desert Gardens goes wild for sculptor Ray Villafane's life-size sand sculpture of an elephant. ...
Arizona Country Roads
From the White Mountains to Willcox, Duane Eddy to Dierks Bentley, we take a journey through the Western music of the Grand Canyon State. ...
Artist Neil Logan creates a Wallace and Ladmo bronze sculpture in public, for the public. ...
ARTIST OF THE MONTH:“What's my favorite piece?” Lalo Cota repeats, settling in at Jobot coffeehouse in Downtown Phoenix. “The next one.” ...