Beth May: 2015 Big Brain Awards Finalist, Performing Art

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Katie Johnson
At only 23, Beth May is making a name for herself both on and off the stage.
You submitted nominations for the best and brightest emerging Valley creatives, and the results are in. Presenting the 2015 Big Brain finalists.

Leading up to the announcement of winners at Artopia on May 9, Jackalope Ranch, Chow Bella, and Up on the Sun will introduce the finalists. Up today is Beth May.

Beth May is all about the show and tell.

When she's not making revisions to screenplays -- she's currently in the middle of a story involving a man who writes eulogies for a living -- or driving across the desert for a chance to compete in poetry slams, the Tucson-raised playwright and Arizona State University grad can often be found performing her written works on Phoenix's more progressive stages, making her mark at venues like Space 55 and Lawn Gnome Publishing.


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Jorge Ignacio Torres: 2015 Big Brain Awards Finalist, Visual Art

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Katie Johnson
Jorge Ignacio Torres is always on the hunt for new and emerging talent.
You submitted nominations for the best and brightest emerging Valley creatives, and the results are in. Presenting the 2015 Big Brain finalists.

Leading up to the announcement of winners at Artopia on May 9, Jackalope Ranch, Chow Bella, and Up on the Sun will introduce the finalists. Up today is Jorge Ignacio Torres.

"I never want art to be an accessory."

Jorge Ignacio Torres stands in his well-lit downtown Phoenix workspace hovering intently over a young man with a pair of fine scissors. In the background, you can hear friends chatting on the turquoise couch in the middle of the room and the sound of rush-hour traffic filling the streets outside.


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Leonor Aispuro: 2015 Big Brain Awards Finalist, Design

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Becky Bartkowski
Fashion designer Leonor Aispuro is a finalist in the 2015 Big Brain Awards.

You submitted nominations for the best and brightest emerging Valley creatives, and the results are in. Presenting the 2015 Big Brain finalists.

Leading up to the announcement of winners at Artopia on May 9, Jackalope Ranch, Chow Bella, and Up on the Sun will introduce the finalists. Up today is Leonor Aispuro.

Tears stream down Leonor Aispuro's face.

She's so lucky, she says, patting her eyes. Sitting behind the counter with her Pomeranian, Nosferatu, at downtown Phoenix fashion boutique Nostra Style House, she's dressed in a thrifted little black dress that looks anything but secondhand and wears simple gold jewelry and rich red lipstick and nails. A mannequin wears a sheer red dress the fashion designer has been constructing. A selection of her airy designs are for sale. Her name's in gold thread on each label.

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Angel Castro: 2015 Big Brain Awards Finalist, Performing Art

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Evie Carpenter
Angel Castro will always be a dancer first, but he has embraced the role of creator to combine dance, fashion, and art.
You submitted nominations for the best and brightest emerging Valley creatives, and the results are in. Presenting the 2015 BigBrain finalists.

Leading up to the announcement of winners at Artopia on May 9, Jackalope Ranch, Chow Bella, and Up on the Sun will introduce the finalists. Up today is Angel Castro.

Angel Castro's hands flex and glide through the air as he explains that he doesn't feel he has to catch up anymore.

Castro decided to go against his parents' wishes and focus on dancing at 18, a late age for the art. Even though he came from a family of singers and actors, he had to convince his family that he could do it.

Six years after making the decision, he has earned a dance degree from Arizona State University, danced with most of the established companies in the Valley, created several of his own shows, and secured a job at Celebrity & Company.


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Sophie May Hook: 2015 Big Brain Awards Finalist, Visual Art

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Evie Carpenter
Sophie May Hook wants to help artists with the professional and business side of the art world.
You submitted nominations for the best and brightest emerging Valley creatives, and the results are in. Presenting the 2015 BigBrain finalists.

Leading up to the announcement of winners at Artopia on May 9, Jackalope Ranch, Chow Bella, and Up on the Sun will introduce the finalists. Up today is Sophie May Hook.

Sophie May Hook is the kind of person who makes lemonade when life hands her lemons. Literally.

After finding that someone had vandalized a half-built installation piece designed to be part of Scottsdale Public Art's Canal Convergence 2014 event, Hook got some lemons and sugar, borrowed a friend's hand-juicer, and got to work lifting the spirits of volunteers who had worked to meticulously build the piece.

For the Phoenix-based independent events and projects manager, it's as much about the people behind the scenes as it is about the art and artists being presented.


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Announcing the 2015 Big Brain Finalists

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It's time for some well-deserved applause, Phoenix. Today we're announcing the 2015 Big Brain Award finalists.

Each spring, these awards put the spotlight on emerging creatives and give them cash to keep up the good work. After sifting through a long list of Big Brain nominees, we've narrowed the field to 15 finalists.

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Big Brain Awards 2015: Nominate Emerging Phoenix Creatives for Cash Prizes

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Whom will you nominate for the 2015 Big Brain Awards?

We dig you, Phoenix.

That's why every spring we hunt for emerging creatives doing exceptional things in metro Phoenix and award the best and brightest with Big Brain Awards and cash prizes. They're gems, these up-and-coming sculptors, dancers, musicians, and chefs. It's what makes them Big Brains.

For the 2015 awards, we've created a new category, music, to recognize creative types working to make Phoenix sound better. Big Brain nominations are open now through Monday, March 16, for Valley residents who deserve to win $500 in the following categories: visual art, performing art, design, culinary art, and music.


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Downtown Phoenix Hostel Announces New Residency Program

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Connor Descheemaker
ASU students participate in a daytime program at the Hostel

Fresh off her Big Brain award for Urban Vision, Mary Stephens and the Phoenix Youth Hostel and Cultural Center have already put their prize to good use.

Using its Big Brain winnings as a foundation, the Garfield Neighborhood hostel last week announced its newest initiative, an artist residency program offering housing, production assistance, and monetary support to artists in all media looking to visit Arizona from across the world.

Following the Hostel's addition of "Cultural Center" to its name a year-and-a-half ago, the converted historic home has become a hub for cultural events incorporating theater, poetry, live music, and more, all tied back to the idea of creating a substantive dialogue about politics and social justice in Phoenix.

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2014 Big Brain Award Winners Announced

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We are proud to present the recipients of the New Times' 2014 Big Brain Awards.

The five winners were announced and each received $500 to further their creative endeavors at Artopia on Friday, April 25, at Bentley Projects.

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Lisa Sette: 2014 Urban Legend Award, Visual Art

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Andrew Pielage
Lisa Sette shows the raw space that will soon house her gallery.
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.

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: Lisa Sette, Visual Art.

From its earliest days, Lisa Sette Gallery has always been a grown-up -- even when its proprietor and namesake was still a kid.


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