Kimber Lanning of Local First Arizona: 2014 Urban Legend Award, Urban Vision
In honor of the fifth annual Big Brain Awards, New Times is recognizing five Urban Legends, established creative pioneers who have made Phoenix a better, cooler place.
Evie Carpenter Kimber Lanning stands in the doorway of Stinkweeds.
Leading up to the Big Brain Award announcement and Artopia on April 25, Jackalope Ranch, Chow Bella, and Up on the Sun will profile the legends. Up today: Kimber Lanning, who is receiving the award for Urban Vision.
Kimber Lanning has always looked at Phoenix through rose-colored glasses. And that is a very good thing. From her earliest days as a record store owner, Lanning wanted more for this place, looking to the urban core while others focused on strip malls and little pink houses stretching past the city's limits.
But that doesn't mean Lanning hasn't stretched -- particularly when it comes to bringing her urban vision into sharp focus. In her early 20s, she says, she got sick of driving to LA to see her favorite bands. So she decided to figure out how to get them to come here.
Evie Carpenter Lanning owns Roosevelt Row staple Modified Arts.
"So many people were leaving and they were all saying this place has no culture, this place has no soul," she says.
But she liked it here. She stayed. Today, Lanning runs three businesses: Stinkweeds, an indie record store in central Phoenix; Modified Arts , a gallery space on Roosevelt Row; and Local First Arizona, a non-profit that aims to empower independent local businesses in myriad ways.
Lanning's an extraordinary multi-tasker. She began Modified Arts as not just a gallery but also a small music and performance space that encouraged indie bands to stop in Phoenix instead of bypassing us for Tucson or other more obvious spots. Modified hosted bands like Arcade Fire before they were huge; Lanning has a knack for spotting talent early. Ditto for her visual art space, which serves as an incubator of sorts for emerging artists. (Modified no longer hosts music.)
And speaking of space, the multi-tasking took on a whole new meaning last year when Lanning turned Modified Arts' physical space into Local First Arizona's office. She bought tables and computers that are easily stored on weekends to bring Modified back to its original gallery space. On a recent Wednesday morning, a handful of Local First Arizona staffers kept busy at keyboards in the main gallery space, surrounded by -- among other things -- a display of bras and panties hung from the ceiling, part of a show by Chelsea Pace called "Asking for It: The Consent Project."
Talk about adaptive reuse.