ArtDetour 29 kicks off with a call from Stanton to protect federal arts funding

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Attendees walk through several different rooms of Warehouse215 looking at art. (Nicole Neri/DD)

Both 3-D and 2-D art were displayed in the many rooms of Warehouse215. (Nicole Neri/DD)

Attendees read a poem called "Fundamental," a poem about public art, aloud, led by poet Leah Marche. (Nicole Neri/DD)

Mayor Greg Stanton calls for "every single"attendee to talk to their representatives about funding for the National Endowment for the Arts in an unexpected political statement, to the enthusiastic applause of attendees. (Nicole Neri/DD)

Dana Lee, president of Alwun House's board of directors, socializes with gala attendees. (Kara Carlson/DD)

Gala attendees discuss a collection of photographs of sculptures. (Nicole Neri/DD)

Artists and community members helped kick off ArtDetour 29 at the Art D’Core Gala with art, dancing and celebration Thursday night.

ArtDetour will showcase 16 galleries, 12 studios, 26 art spaces/cultural venues, and a collection of pop-up exhibitions, as well as retail and dining in the downtown area from March 16-19. The Art D’Core Gala, hosted in Warehouse215 at Bentley Projects, featured the work of painters, photographers and sculptors.

Mayor Greg Stanton, who was scheduled to help open the event, unexpectedly made a passionate political statement regarding the importance of public art.

“I’m not supposed to get political, but … earlier today, unfortunately and sadly, our president put forward a budget that zeroed out the National Endowment for the Arts,” Stanton said, to loud booing from gala attendees.

The federal budget blueprint released today proposed completely cutting funding to the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, among other programs.

“They don’t think art has a political voice, and you’re going to prove them otherwise,” Stanton said. “Every single person in this room, contact your member of Congress or United States Senate and tell them, ‘don’t you dare (allow) $0 for the arts.’”

Stanton went on to stress the importance of artists in bringing downtown Phoenix the success he said it experiences today.

“Art is a gift,” Stanton said. “We wouldn’t have the momentum that we have, the other good things we have, (without) the artists.”

He praised artists for helping make downtown what it is today and seeing potential in areas others did not, including himself.

“Anytime you see me at a groundbreaking for some new development, be clear: I’m thinking about the artists that help find the beautiful nooks and crannies in our town … you are our eyes and ears, and as we look at these pioneers — Dana and Kim, I see you right there,” Stanton said, gesturing to Alwun House owners Kim Moody and his partner Dana Lee. “You were here first, and everything else we’ve done is on your shoulders.”

The crowd of attendees applauded loudly, and Moody raised his glass appreciatively. Stanton posed for photographs in front of a Brady Bunch painting with Moody and Lee.

“I was stunned, appreciative … It’s been a long time since anyone ever acknowledged that we were the first,” Moody said. “That’s the first time it was a whole-hearted, forward, heartfelt, serious thank you.”

David Krietor, president and CEO of Downtown Phoenix Inc., said the ArtDetour event showcases the changes in downtown Phoenix. He said downtown used to be a place people came to see a game or the opera and then left, but “now people are staying.”

“During the years when downtown was struggling, it was really the artists that stuck with downtown and provided the base,” Krietor said. “So ArtDetour is a way to celebrate the downtown artist community.”

Local artist Robert Mahler said he has been involved with ArtLink since 1964, and that he is impressed with the growth of ArtDetour. His metal sculptures are on display at Unexpected Art Gallery, which is part of this year’s ArtDetour.

“We were considered a bunch of idiots, hippies … and now look, everyone’s behind us,” Mahler said.

Contact the reporter at nhneri@asu.edu.

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