Orange Theatre: 2014 Big Brain Awards Finalist, Performing Arts (VIDEO)

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Katie Johnson
The Orange Theatre group attending an evening rehearsal at Phoenix Center for the Arts.
You submitted nominations for awards given to the Valley's emerging creatives, and the results are in. Introducing our 2014 Big Brain finalists.

Leading up to the Big Brain Award announcement and Artopia on April 25, Jackalope Ranch and Chow Bella will introduce the finalists. Up today: Orange Theatre.

Describing Orange Theatre is a bit difficult.

"It's cross-disciplinary," says artistic director Matt Watkins. "It's multimedia. It incorporates film and TV. It incorporates computers, technology, the Internet, dance, visual art . . ."

Orange Theatre can't be confined to a single genre of theater -- or even a single space for that matter. The troupe had lacked a permanent home for rehearsals and performances up until April 1, when it announced via Facebook that it had finally found a new downtown Phoenix home off of Grand Avenue at 1711 West Culver Street, suite 15.


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Mary Stephens of Phoenix Hostel: 2014 Big Brain Awards Finalist, Urban Vision (VIDEO)

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Becky Bartkowski
Mary Stephens sits in the common room of Phoenix Hostel.
You submitted nominations for awards given to the Valley's emerging creatives, and the results are in. Introducing our 2014 Big Brain finalists.

Leading up to the Big Brain Award announcement and Artopia on April 25, Jackalope Ranch and Chow Bella will introduce the finalists. Up today: Mary Stephens.

For Mary Stephens, it's all about intersections.

Walking through the ever-changing courtyard of Phoenix Hostel & Cultural Center in the Garfield District, she meets a Peruvian jeweler staying the night. He's on his way to Los Angeles to sell his wares. "Mucho gusto," she says, as he wheels his suitcase around the incense-scented historic bungalow to get settled in his room.

Stephens, a Phoenix native who bought the 25-bed hostel from her mother in 2010, says she's passionate about "connecting things that don't necessarily go together."

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Alexandra Bowers: 2014 Big Brain Awards Finalist, Visual Art (VIDEO)

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Heather Hoch
Alexandra Bowers shows off the coyote skull that has inspired many of her pieces.
You submitted nominations for awards given to the Valley's emerging creatives and the results are in. Introducing our 2014 Big Brain finalists.

Leading up to the Big Brain Award announcement and Artopia on April 25, Jackalope Ranch and Chow Bella will introduce the finalists. Up today: Alexandra Bowers.

Alexandra Bowers stands on the back balcony of the north Scottsdale house she grew up in, a house that she moved back into after graduating from Arizona State University with an art degree in 2012. The house now serves as her studio and command station for her clothing and art brand Iron Root. She points out to the neighboring housing development behind the yard's fence.

"This all used to be expansive desert land when I was growing up and it's been paved over," she says. "It's kind of sad."


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Manny Mares: 2014 Big Brain Awards Finalist, Design (VIDEO)

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Janessa Hilliard
Mesa-based photographer Manny Mares.

You submitted nominations for awards given to the Valley's emerging creatives, and the results are in. Introducing our 2014 Big Brain finalists.

Leading up to the Big Brain Award announcement and Artopia on April 25, Jackalope Ranch and Chow Bella will introduce the finalists. Up today: Manny Mares.

The one-story house is on the corner of a suburban neighborhood of south Mesa. The window is open slightly to let in a spring breeze, carrying with it the voices of neighborhood children playing outside. He has a radio on -- top 40 hits -- but the room is thick with concentration, and no one is really listening.

"Can you --," He gestures to a brightly lit stool in front of a white backdrop. The small room, otherwise barren, is bright with Christmas bulbs strung on the ceiling. "I want to test the light."


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Becky Nahom: 2014 Big Brain Awards Finalist, Visual Art (VIDEO)

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Katrina Montgomery
Becky Nahom hopes to create shows that the public will enjoy
You submitted nominations for awards given to the Valley's emerging creatives, and the results are in. Introducing our 2014 Big Brain finalists.

Leading up to the Big Brain Award announcement and Artopia on April 25, Jackalope Ranch and Chow Bella will introduce the finalists. Up today: Becky Nahom.

Becky Nahom puts people first. The 23-year-old curator who co-founded Halt Gallery last fall spends her time creating shows that encourage connections between both visitors and artists in hopes of bolstering the art community and bridging the divide between high art and the public at large.

"It would break my heart to see people walk into a gallery and then turn around and walk away because they felt that they didn't belong there," she says.


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El Peezo: 2014 Big Brain Awards Finalist, Visual Art (VIDEO)

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Janessa Hilliard
El Peezo's version of Jack Skellington from Nightmare Before Christmas at Phoenix Public Market in downtown Phoenix.
You submitted nominations for awards given to the Valley's emerging creatives, and the results are in. Introducing our 2014 Big Brain finalists.

Leading up to the Big Brain Award announcement and Artopia on April 25, Jackalope Ranch and Chow Bella will introduce the finalists. Up today: El Peezo.

For a guy who craves anonymity, El Peezo certainly is on a lot of street corners.

And walls of abandoned buildings, as well as occupied ones. And in parking lots and alongside bustling restaurants.

Since first surfacing on the street art scene by appearing on the concrete of downtown Phoenix, El Peezo has brought an increasingly popular and accessible form of public art to the Valley: wheat paste.


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Phoenix Spokes People: 2014 Big Brain Awards Finalist, Urban Vision (VIDEO)

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Heather Hoch
Libby Coyner, Lisa Parks, and Anna Allebach-Warble pose with their bikes outside of PHX Bike Lab.
You submitted nominations for awards given to the Valley's emerging creatives and the results are in. Introducing our 2014 Big Brain finalists.

Leading up to the Big Brain Award announcement and Artopia on April 25, Jackalope Ranch and Chow Bella will introduce the finalists. Up today: Phoenix Spokes People.

Anna Allebach-Warble started Phoenix Spokes People thanks to a car accident.

After totaling her car in fall 2011, she decided to use her two perfectly good bicycles to get around town. And she hasn't looked back since. She quickly found that poor cycling conditions made her commute tough. Almost every day, she arrived at work angry about the state of biking in Phoenix. That is, until one day she decided to "stop complaining and start talking to like-minded people about how to make it better."


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Mike Kennedy: 2014 Big Brain Awards Finalist, Performing Arts (VIDEO)

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Katie Johnson
Mike Kennedy performing at Stand Up Scottsdale in March.
You submitted nominations for awards given to the Valley's emerging creatives and the results are in. Introducing our 2014 Big Brain finalists.

Leading up to the Big Brain Award announcement and Artopia on April 25, Jackalope Ranch and Chow Bella will introduce the finalists. Up today: Mike Kennedy.

Mike Kennedy is too pretty for Tent City. At least, that's how sells it on stage, in between telling tales of ecstasy-fueled orgies in Reno, getting a DUI on national television, and relating to his half-Hispanic teenage daughter.

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Scott Biersack: 2014 Big Brain Awards Finalist, Design (VIDEO)

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Katrina Montgomery
Skateboards are just one of the many places Scott Biersack leaves his mark
You submitted nominations for awards given to the Valley's emerging creatives, and the results are in. Introducing our 2014 Big Brain finalists.

Leading up to the Big Brain Award announcement and Artopia on April 25, Jackalope Ranch and Chow Bella will introduce the finalists. Up today: Scott Biersack.

Scott Biersack's unbridled enthusiasm for the world is contagious. He says his work is a reflection of himself, and with the gushing positivity inherent in the painted and chalked phrases that adorn the walls of his small apartment in South Phoenix, we are inclined to believe him.


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Tickets on Sale Now for New Times' Artopia at Phoenix's Bentley Projects

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Andrew Pielage
A scene from Artopia 2013.

It's gonna be big.

Artopia, we mean. It's New Times annual arty bash where winners of the Big Brain Awards are announced.

And tickets to this year's party are on sale now.

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