“Unbelievable, a must see! This is just what we needed to highlight downtown Phoenix.” ~ Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon
Since 26 Blocks unveiled in May, the Arizona Republic, Phoenix New Times, Phoenix Magazine, College Times, Tram Mai, Inside Creative Minds and cyberspace have all been buzzing about it.
26 Blocks was created by Joey Robert Parks, a local ghostwriter who was tired of the bad reputation Phoenix holds for many people inside and outside Arizona. Parks says comparing Phoenix to other big cities like Portland, Seattle or New York City, is like comparing your wife or girlfriend to another woman.
“You’d never tell your wife she’s beautiful, but not as pretty or exciting to be around as some other woman. A big part of 26 Blocks is showing people how awesome and unique Phoenix is in its own right,” says Parks.
Like the 26 alphabet blocks a child uses to stack or build words at playtime, Parks chose 26 city blocks as the foundation of the exhibit. 26 Blocks features 26 of the most celebrated photographers in Phoenix, 26 of the most talented writers in Phoenix and one of the best sculptor/painters in Phoenix.
26 teams (created by pairing the writers and photographers) were sent to 26 randomly selected city blocks in downtown Phoenix, then asked to produce one photograph and up to 500 words, in any genre, that expressed the past, present or imagined future of their city block. They had one month to complete their work. Sculptor/painter, Rafael Navarro, had four months to craft the most interesting aspect of every city blocks on twenty-six 4×4 wood cubes.
“The show opened at After Hours Gallery on May 7th this year. I wasn’t sure what the public would think of it, ” says Parks. “But we had more than 1000 people in attendance! We had one semi-booked tour venue that night and now (three months later) we’re booked until April 2011 with venues like Phoenix City Hall, CityScape, Phoenix Public Library, Phoenix Urban Research Lab, and Civic Space Park. And the tour around Phoenix wraps up in a big way in January 2012.” Other venues are clamoring to get 26 Blocks into their venue: including the Sky Harbor Airport Museum, which may feature the exhibit in December 2011.
Because of the mass attention, Parks hired After Hours Gallery owner Russ Haan (who also owns/runs After Hours Creative) to take all 83 pieces of photography, writing and sculpture and create the world’s first art exhibit in an iPad application. PCA has partnered with Parks to secure sponsors for the iPad app.
Says Russ Haan, “An iPad application of 26 Blocks makes it possible for the entire world to see our Phoenix, through our eyes—not the tinted prism of outsider media or negative commentary based on politics. In addition, we would be among the first (if not the first) art exhibition to integrate the iPad platform directly into the show itself. Furthermore, we would become the first city to share a show about itself on this exciting and paradigm-changing device.”
Top-level sponsors will be embedded into the iPad application (like the art itself), highlighted on all introductory pages (with the ability for users to visit each sponsors website directly from the app), and listed in the app right alongside the photographers, writers and sculptor (complete with their own bio, logo/photo, website link).
If you are interested in supporting the tour or being featured as a sponsor on the iPad application, contact JoMarie McDonald at (602) 254-7477. Because the app will be free, it will spread very quickly across the country and the globe, celebrating Phoenix in a way that it deserves.
This is the first such show of its kind in the world and Joey Robert Parks plans to expand the concept to other cities. “In 2012, I hope to create a 26 Blocks show for New Orleans. I’ll be visiting the city this December to take a closer look. It’d be easy to go to New York or California, but I’d rather create a 26 Blocks show for cities that need this kind of attention the most. A hard-cover coffee table book of the exhibit is also planned, as well as other innovative additions.”
The 26 Blocks concept, as simple as children’s alphabet blocks, has grown to a phenomenon that will soon be worldwide. Joey, we want to thank you for highlighting the artists and the creativity that truly defines Phoenix.
PCA Staff Enjoys 26 Blocks