Artist Saskia Jordá Creates Migration for Canal Convergence in Scottsdale

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Saskia Jordá
Saskia Jordá's Migration is part of this weekend's Canal Convergence in Scottsdale.
We headed to the Scottsdale Waterfront at Marshall Way Bridge a couple of days ago, eager to catch Saskia Jordá in the act of art-making. We'd heard installation was well underway for her large-scale piece called Migration, which is one of several temporary art works featured in the four-day Canal Convergence event presented by Scottsdale Public Art. It started Thursday, February 26, and continues through Sunday, March 1.

We'd made plans to meet the artist at one of two bridges where most of the wooden birds comprising Migration were being installed. While walking towards the Marshall Way Bridge, we spotted a couple sitting with several cardboard boxes filled with the birds. Turns out they were Jordá's parents, who were lacing together pairs of flat wooden bird shapes to create the three-dimensional pieces on view during the event.


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Maysoon Zayid on Turning to Comedy, Loving Bob's Burgers, and Returning to ASU

Categories: Comedy, Interviews

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Image courtesy Maysoon Zayid.
Maysoon Zayid comes to ASU's Galvin Playhouse this Friday, February 27.

Maysoon Zayid is becoming a master a getting the last laugh.

As a woman of Palestinian descent with cerebral palsy who lives in New Jersey and works in show business, Zayid has managed to spin day-to-day challenges into comedic material on her own terms. Since earning a BFA in acting at Arizona State University, the writer, performer, and activist has landed appearances on major television networks, including MSNBC as a once regular contributor to Countdown Keith Olbermann, and co-founded the New York Arab-American Comedy Festival, now in its 12th year. Perhaps her most recognizable role to date however is her 2013 TedWomen talk, "I Got 99 Problems and Cerebral Palsy is Just One," which currently has over six million views.

Zayid talked with Jackalope Ranch via e-mail about comedy, mentors, and returning to her alma mater for a special performance on Friday, February 27.

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Artist Samantha Lyn Aasen on Vajazzling, the Absurd Expectations of Womanhood (NSFW)

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Mikey Estes
Samantha Lyn Aasen wearing her princess crown in her Phoenix studio

What happens in the studio shouldn't always stay in the studio. Studio Visit is a weekly series that profiles artists in their studios. We ask them questions, they provide answers, and then we have a nice discussion about their work. This week: Samantha Lyn Aasen, current MFA candidate in the Intermedia program at ASU.

The studio of Samantha Lyn Aasen may resemble the messy room of an adolescent girl, but rest assured there's more going on here than just that. Aasen is about to wrap up her studies at ASU with "Sparkle Baby," her MFA thesis show at Step Gallery in April. The photographs that she is currently producing use cheap craft and beauty supplies along with her own body in order to examine girlhood and womanhood. We sat own with Aasen in her studio and chatted about girlhood and womanhood, the cultural phenomenon known as vajazzling, and aspiration resulting in failure.

Editor's note: Images that follow are NSFW.

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Steve Rannazzisi Wants You to Know He Is Not Actually Kevin MacArthur from The League

Categories: Comedy, Interviews

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Jason Merritt
Steve Rannazzisi will be at Stand Up Live this weekend.

Steve Rannazzisi is not Kevin MacArthur from FX's The League. He's certainly not the complete opposite, but he's definitely not the character he portrays on television's top fantasy football-themed comedy series.

"I'm not that different from Kevin, but some of the fans of The League have trouble differentiating," Rannazzisi says. "They don't always realize that's not me. They'll call me 'Brian' while I'm on stage or yell out 'Shiva.'"


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Phoenix Playwright Beth May's Poetry Album, The Family Arsonist, Explores Bipolar Disorder and Feminism

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Image courtesy Beth May
Beth May's second spoken work album, The Family Arsonist, is out now.
Beth May has a way with words. And having just graduated from Arizona State University's screenwriting program, there's no telling where or in what medium those words might land her.

At 23, May has already sold her first screenplay, a possible movie adaptation of her end-of-days play, Earthlings, which she wrote, co-directed, and debuted at Binary Theatre Company in April 2014. But it's not just plot lines that are propelling her career forward. May is also making a name for herself as a poet, having just released her second spoken word album, The Family Arsonist.


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Angela Ellsworth on Her Ongoing Plural Wife Project, New Work, and the Museum of Walking

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Eliza Woloson
Angela Ellsworth's interdisciplinary art practice encompasses performance, sculpture, drawing, and much more.

Angela Ellsworth is nothing short of an art celebrity here in Phoenix.

She's represented by Lisa Sette Gallery and is associate professor of Intermedia at Arizona State University, where The Museum of Walking (MoW), one of her current projects with Steve Yazzie, is based. Along with the launching of MoW last year, Ellsworth was named a recipient of the prestigious Art Matters Foundation Grant for Soundproofed, a solo performance that's part of her larger Plural Wife Project. And, to top it all off, an exhibition of Ellsworth's new work, "Volume I," recently opened at the Joseph Gross Gallery at University of Arizona in Tucson. Though these various projects and bodies of work are vast in the way they engage with history, movement, and space, there is a larger dialogue there -- a thread that runs throughout her artistic practice.

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Phoenix Artist Erika Lynne Hanson on Loving Failure, Obstruction, and Richard T. Walker

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Courtesy of the artist
Erika Lynne Hanson with one of her woven works

What happens in the studio shouldn't always stay in the studio. Studio Visit is a weekly series that profiles artists in their studios. We ask them questions, they provide answers, and then we have a nice discussion about their work. This week: Erika Lynne Hanson, assistant professor of Fibers and Socially-Engaged Practice at ASU.

Erika Lynne Hanson is an artist who's relatively new to Phoenix. In 2013, she relocated from the Midwest and was appointed assistant professor at Arizona State University. Her first exhibition in Phoenix, "Walk quietly, keep looking.," took place in Halt Gallery's shipping container on Roosevelt Row from November 21 through December 7, 2014. Hanson creates installations that explore landscape by incorporating weavings, videos, and webcam screengrabs.

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Greg Sestero on The Room and His Book About Making the Now-Infamous Movie

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Image courtesy Greg Sestero
Sestero will be at Filmbar on Friday, February 31, to talk about his book, The Disaster Artist
Hollywood has produced many great cinematic works.

Tommy Wiseau's The Room is not one of them. "It's a perfect train wreck," says Greg Sestero, one of the film's stars. But the emphasis here is perfect. The film's so-bad-it's-good charm has given rise to a cult following over the years, setting the stage for film discussions, special screenings, and the successful release of Sestero's first book. The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room recounts the bizarre and often hard-to-believe behind-the-scenes stories of Wiseau's egregious 2003 masterpiece. It's a book that Sestero claims even Wiseau himself can tolerate, calling it the "red bible," and one that James Franco has recently decided to turn into movie. Talk about full circle.

Before Sestero comes to FilmBar on Friday, February 13, to discuss The Disaster Artist and to screen a documentary about the making of The Room, Jackalope Ranch caught up with him over the phone to discuss the success of a film and book that even he didn't see coming.


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Phoenix Artist Joseph Shetler on Minimalism, James Turrell, and Mennonite Culture

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Joseph Shetler standing in front of "Defining Ethos," his MFA Thesis Exhibition in Drawing.

What happens in the studio, shouldn't always stay in the studio. Studio Visit is a weekly series that profiles artists in their studios. Up today: Recent graduate from ASU's MFA Drawing program, Joseph Shetler.

Joseph Shetler, a 30-year old artist currently based in Phoenix, comes from a fairly diverse background. He was raised locally in a Mennonite family, worked in construction over his summer breaks from school, and held a position as a guard for a private art collection in Washington, D.C. Most recently, he presented his MFA Thesis Exhibition, "Defining Ethos," which ran in early of December 2014 at ASU's Step Gallery. For this current body of work, all of these defining characteristics, the artist's ethos, coalesce and inform the work itself. He walked us through his exhibition while it was still up and we chatted about the work back in his studio at Grant Street Studios.

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WWE Legend Mick Foley on Getting Disqualified from the Wing Bowl and Why He Treats Storytelling Like Wrestling

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Courtesy of Standup Live
WWE Hall of Famer and storyteller Mick Foley.
Mick Foley lives for entertaining a crowd, and it's something he's been doing for most of his life.

For almost three decades, the now-retired pro wrestler was a star of the ring in the WWE and other notable promotions. He also has been a best-selling author, made several appearances on Comedy Central's The Daily Show (sometimes as the program's "resident ass-kicker") and even shown up in a College Humor video. These days, Foley tours the world as a storyteller, appearing in comedy clubs and other venues and sharing his oftentimes humorous and captivating tales of his wrestling career and other misadventures.


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