Tara Logsdon’s ‘BEARial Ground’ at Frontal Lobe Gallery presents things to ‘beary’

Tara Logsdon believes values and practices such as slavery, torture, money and gender should be eliminated from society. She’s conveying that belief by using teddy bears at her current BEARial Ground Frontal Lobe Gallery show in Phoenix.

Bearial Ground at Frontal Lobe Gallery

The multimedia artist assembled colorful bears on crucifixes with shovels attached, covered in symbols relating to their ideologies.

Bearial Ground

The result is a thought-provoking exhibit, complete with a meditative center visitors can enter after they’ve made the gallery rounds, to contemplate how they can speak up against negative issues in their own lives.

Bearial Ground  at Frontal Lobe Gallery in Phoenix

I love seeing local artists who use innovative methods to promote a positive agenda. Logsdon is an amazingly creative visionary who founded DIE Bearmy, where she “rehabs” forgotten bears from places such as thrift stores and garage sales and turns them into unique new stuffed animals for loving homes. Learn all about her cause here.

Nicki Escudero Tara Logsdon Bearial Ground

Check out BEARial Ground through this Friday, Feburary 20. The third Friday reception goes from 6-10 p.m.

Insider’s Point of View at Different Pointe of View a delicious wine-paired dinner

Last night, I had one of the most delicious meals of my life at Different Pointe of View in Phoenix. I’ve never been to this gorgeous AAA Four Diamond restaurant overlooking Phoenix, part of the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort, and we were immediately treated to beautiful skies and glittering city lights.

Different Pointe of View in PhoenixDifferent Pointe of View in PhoenixI went there for the Insider’s Point of View dinner, where Chef Anthony DeMuro prepares a four-course dinner tableside for only 12 guests. Attendees are treated to a wine reception with appetizers out at that breathtaking patio before heading in to the chef’s table, with each course paired with a complementary wine. The dinner is held every month besides summer months, and this season goes through May 1. Every featured winemaker is different depending on the dinner, and last night, we were treated to the delicious J. Hofstätter wine from Italy, a winery dating back four generations.

Different Pointe of View in PhoenixWe started out with Pinot Grigio out of the patio with an artichoke appetizer (Different Pointe of View was kind enough to offer vegetarian alternatives for me outside the regular menu — they’ll work with any dietary needs.) The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly, with lots of room for guests to spread out and take in the view.

As an introvert who gets nervous at group dinners, the chef’s dinner was so much fun and low-stress. Diners are spread out around the makeshift kitchen, and Chef Anthony lets diners know exactly how he’s cooking dishes — it’s like a live cooking show in such a romantic setting overlooking the city.

Chef Anthony DeMuro Different Pointe of ViewI love cooking but definitely can use all the tips I can get, and I learned a ton from Chef Anthony, especially in regards to risotto, a difficult dish to perfect, even for the pros. He advised to aim to get the rice crackling when it hits the oil-filled pan, and to treat it like pasta — get it to the consistency you desire in the broth you’re simmering it in, then drain it.

As someone who regularly botches any type of rice, I appreciated his tips. I also had purple cauliflower for the first time, in the absolutely amazing course featuring a spinach polenta cake, abalone and yellowfeet mushrooms, and a smoked tomato sauce. It was paired with a great Pinot Noir that was devoid of a heavy oak-y flavor, because J. Hofstätter wine is housed in stainless steel, not wooden barrels.

Spinach polenta Different Pointe of ViewOur first course was light and refreshing but still really flavorful. My seafood-eating companion had lobster tail with a frisée salad with lemon zest, herbs, roasted garlic oil and garlic chips, while I had mine sans lobster.

Frisse with lobster tail at Different Pointe of ViewFrisse at Different Pointe of ViewI loved the crunchy texture, and it paired wonderfully with the J. Hofstätter Pinot Bianco, a crisp white wine. My companion doesn’t normally prefer white over red wine, but he loved the Pinot Bianco.

Pinot BiancoLike Chef Anthony did a wonderful job at explaining the cooking process, winemaker Martin Foradori talked about the winemaking process and reminded diners how important acidity is when pairing wines with food. His vineyard has altitudes up to 6,000 feet, and it was really neat to hear about making wine in Italy while we sipped his vino.

Anthony DeMuro and Martin Foradori at Different Pointe of ViewWhile we noshed on the veggie polenta dish, our companions enjoyed wild boar.

Wild boar Different Pointe of ViewMy favorite dish of the night was the herb risotto with golden beets, artichoke hearts and a broccoli rabe sauce — meat-eaters got short ribs braised in veal stock. It was paired with J. Hofstätter’s Lagrein red wine, which is generally related to a Syrah, compared to the elegant Pinot Noir. Foradori described this wine as fresh and fruity, and it was a great addition to the tasty dish.

Herb rissoto with truffle shavings, golden beets, artichoke hearts and broccoli rabe sauce at Different Pointe of ViewOf course, dessert was a treat, a chocolate cherry balsamic cake with chocolate ganache and a chocolate balsamic sauce. The texture was moist and creamy, and I tried to get every last drop of sauce to cover the cake. I loved the cherry flavor, which related well to the red wines, too.

Different Pointe of View dessertThe dining experience was more than a two-hour feast, and it was so much fun, in addition to making my stomach so happy. The wine dinner is a great value at $99 a person, because you get unique one-on-one time with the chef and so many tasty glasses of wine in addition to the farm-fresh dishes that are incredibly healthy.

Anthony DeMuroThe next dinner is Friday, March 6, with wine’s from Italy’s Tedeschi Wines. Reservations can be made by calling (602) 866-6350, and you can learn all about the gem of a restaurant here.

Brewer’s Bowl in Old Town Scottsdale features all-local beer line-up

Last night, I headed to Bad Water Brewing in Old Town Scottsdale to check out the Brewer’s Bowl, an event featuring 15 Arizona breweries where attendees could taste samples galore in mini-mugs, plus food trucks, corn hole and live music.

Brewers Bowl in Old Town Scottsdale

Tickets were wicked inexpensive, only $25 for 20 tasting tickets (I was full after 10 mini-mugs), and the atmosphere was lively and friendly. The crowd was chatty and loved discussing the beers, and there was such a great variety, everyone could find a new favorite.

I especially liked the light Oak Creek Hefeweizen from Oak Creek Brewing in Sedona (my companion enjoyed the Nimbus Rillito Red Ale from Nimbus Brewing Company), and I really enjoyed the chocolaty Piehole Porter from Historic Brewing Company in Flagstaff. If you ever go up north and love beer, try the Flagstaff-Grand Canyon Ale Trail — it features Historic Brewing Company and is a lot of fun. I did the tour a few years ago, and you can read about my experience here.

The Brewer’s Bowl was deemed the “first annual” event, and hopefully it will indeed continue in the future. Find out more about organizer Bad Water Brewing here in my blog review, and visit their website here.

Burst of Butterflies art studio in Chandler has all things crafty

I love personalizing functional items by hand-painting them at pottery studios. Burst of Butterflies recently opened in downtown Chandler, and the space is a charming spot featuring affordable pieces you can make your own however you’d like.

Burst of Butterflies in downtown Chandler

I made salt and pepper shakers ($16 for the set), while my companion made a one-of-a-kind mug. You’ll pay a nominal painting fee, but in January, it’s waived.

Burst of Butterflies in downtown Chandler

The atmosphere was relaxed, the staff was friendly and helpful, and we had a great time painting.

Burst of Butterflies also has canvas painting, ceramics, soapmaking, glass fusing, drawing, jewelry, scrapbooking, quilting, needlepoint, crochet, sewing, metalwork and candlemaking offerings. No matter what type of arts and crafts interest you have, there’s something for everyone.

Burst of Butterflies in downtown Chandler

Burst of Butterflies in downtown Chandler

Burst of Butterflies in downtown Chandler

Burst of Butterflies in downtown Chandler

Learn more about the studio here.

Misha Mendicino Designs flattering for any body type

From the moment I saw Misha Mendicino Designs’ dresses hit the 2014 Phoenix Fashion Week runway, I instantly fell in love with the resort wear line by designer Misha Mendicino for its bright and unique prints, flowing fabrics that draped so flatteringly on the models, and worthy cause five percent of the line’s sales go toward: elephant conservation through The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

It’s no surprise Mendicino won the coveted Designer of the Year title at Phoenix Fashion Week, as every look was beautiful and seemed comfortable. I ordered one of Mendicino’s dresses, the Downtown Dress, in blue and green since the orange and blue was no longer available in my size.

Misha Mendicino Designs Downtown Dress

She was kind enough to send me the orange and blue in a size larger, which ended up working quite well when I cinched it with a belt.

Misha Mendicino Downtown Dress

Not only do I love the dresses because the rayon material is so soft and comfy, the patterns are standouts that always score compliments from people. Whether you wear the garment loose as it’s intended or give it more shape with a skinny belt, the dress is versatile and perfect for day to night. Get it here, and learn more about Mendicino here on Phoenix People.

Sidepony Express Music Festival in Bisbee shows off Phoenix talent (VIDEO)

This past weekend, I went to one of the coolest Arizona music events I’ve ever experienced: the Sidepony Express Music Festival in Bisbee, Arizona.

I had never been to Bisbee, which is a little more than three hours away from Phoenix. The artsy town has a population of around 6,000 people, with an Old Bisbee historic center featuring art galleries galore, independent restaurants, and historic ghost-filled hotels. I stayed at the Copper Queen Hotel, which was super-charming, and (sadly) I have no ghost encounters to report.

The Sidepony Express Music Festival featured more than 60 musical acts in more than a dozen venues, ranging from a coffeehouse, to a dive bar, to a tiny single room in one of those historic hotels. It provided an opportunity for Phoenix music lovers to check out impressive acts from the state and beyond in super-intimate settings, and the fact the festival was free should make it an annual destination to put on your calendars now.

Festival organizer Anamieke Quinn, whom you can learn more about here on Phoenix People, played in several acts, from the band she fronts, Treasurefruit, to playing in Scattered Melodies and Sara McAllister Duo, pictured below.

SaraMcAllisterDuo

Check out videos from all three of those bands below:

I was really impressed with Melissa Reaves, a singer-songwriter who came all the way from North Carolina to perform. See a couple of her performances below:

WuT from Phoenix was also a lot of fun to watch.

Wut

He was soulful and had really meaningful lyrics, including a touching song dedicated to his mother. See a video of his performance below:

Here’s a clip of indie band Where Are All the Buffalo?:

And one of Paper Foxes:

And finally, an artist who brought me to tears when I heard her perform, the uber-amazing Korbe Canida.

Korbe Canida at the Sidepony Express Music Festival

Her songwriting is better than famous pop stars, and her voice is angelic. Check out a clip of her here:

Besides taking in all the great music, walking around Bisbee was a trip in itself. The town is the quirkiest I’ve ever experienced. Shops commemorate the ban of plastic bags in the area by adding them to the doorway:

Bisbee, AZ

A free store is in the middle of town, where people can drop off unwanted goods and pick up ones they need, surrounded by resident-art-covered walls like these:

Bisbee, AZ

Bisbee2

Empty storefronts retain life, by keeping things like these in their windows:

Bisbee, AZ

People dance in the streets. A lot of the people you encounter seem a little high — or, at least, like they used to get really high at some point in their lives.

I loved the galleries in Bisbee. I purchased a print of In the Club by Howard Kline, whose bright and colorful watercolors are incredibly appealing to me. I love that he integrates his musician history into his paintings by showing off musical themes in a lot of his works.

'In the Club,' by Howard Kline in Bisbee, AZ

I also loved Vixen Fine Art Metal Gallery, run by, indeed a vixen, Breanna Curry. Curry creates striking, colorful metal art, including really cute mirrors using reclaimed bottles. One of her works is pictured below, and you can learn more about her here.

Vixen Fine Art Metal Gallery in Bisbee, AZ

I am so happy I finally checked out Bisbee and would highly recommend it for a fun get-out-of-town trip. Fine more things to do in the town here.

Paper Clouds Apparel: make your clothing matter

I’ve been a huge fan of Paper Clouds Apparel for years now, as it’s one of the coolest T-shirt companies I know — and it’s based in Phoenix!

Paper Clouds Apparel

Every two weeks, four new designs are introduced, and they’re all made by individuals with special needs. Half the profits from the company go back to special needs charities — founder Robert Thornton has helped raised more than $27,000 this year, which I love! This new campaign features art by Logan, a special needs teen, and profits benefit a scholarship fund the teen has helped create, to benefit special needs individuals who need education assistance. Check out the designs here.

Here are some designs I’ve loved wearing recently.

This world peace shirt was created by Heather, a Special Olympics participant with Pradar Willi Syndrome:

Paper Clouds Apparel

This hilarious dinosaur shirt is by Bronson, with autism:

Paper Clouds Apparel

This owl design is by 12-year-old Zoey, with autism:

Paper Clouds Apparel

This butterfly top was designed by McKenna, who lost her battle to brain cancer when she was 7 years old:

Paper Clouds Apparel

Have you bought something from Paper Clouds Apparel? Tweet me @nickialanoche with a pic of your gear!

Phoenix Fashion Week features standout designers

Every year, Phoenix Fashion Week brings more than 20 emerging and established designers to the runway, and I checked out some new fashion this past Thursday and Friday at Scottsdale’s Talking Stick Resort.

Phoenix Fashion Week

Phoenix Fashion Week

There were definitely some standouts. I’ve already been a fan of local casualwear line State Forty Eight for about the past year. The line features hoodies, polos, off-the-shoulder long sleeve shirts, hats and more, all donning a cool Arizona-branded, “State Forty Eight” logo. Check out some styles below, get to know founder and designer Nicholas Polando here, and find their styles, starting at $22 for adult garments, here.

State Forty Eight

StateFortyEight1

I was really impressed with Scottsdale-based designer Misha Mendicino, a designer with a great cause. Her resortwear line heavily features elephant prints, and 5 percent of the profits go towards David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which focuses on wildlife preservation and anti-poaching efforts.

Her colorful styles were beachy and breezy, looking oh-so-comfortable while making a statement with bold patterns. I would have worn any of her garments and am excited there’s such great talent right here in Scottsdale. Check out some of her styles, with sales starting at $35, below, and purchase here.

Misha Mendicino

Misha Mendicino

Misha Mendicino

Albert Andrada brought stunning couture gowns. His works were ornate, one featuring feathery shoulder pads, and many Asian-inspired styles with bold sleeves. There were studded jackets, 3D skirts, sequins and toga-like styles. It was a beautiful show to watch and included dresses perfect for a red carpet affair. See some styles below, and visit his collections here.

Albert Andrada

Albert Andrada

Albert Andrada

Bri Seeley, from Los Angeles, brought soft and feminine styles. Many of her dresses reminded me of something Florence Welch from Florence and the Machine would wear. While some styles were a little conservative, most of the pieces seemed like they could fit in perfectly in any woman’s closet. Find her here, and check out some styles below.

Bri Seeley

Bri Seeley

Bri Seeley

Dolcessa, from Las Vegas, brought sexy swimwear to the catwalk. The wraps and bikinis were gorgeous — it’s easy to see why they’ve been featured extensively in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue for the past four years. See some below, and purchase here.

Dolcessa

Dolcessa

Dolcessa

Phoenix Fashion Week concludes tonight. Find more information here.

Scandalesque performs Sexy Sci-Fi at Phoenix Center for the Arts

Local burlesque troupe Scandalesque created nerdvana heaven this past weekend when they took the Phoenix Center for the Arts stage for their Sexy Sci-Fi show. Characters such as Yoda, Flash Gordon and Barbarella came back to life in a very sexy style, as Scandalesque’s talented troupe of dancers, aerialists and singers donned provocative costumes to give sexy twists to beloved names in science fiction.

Scandalesque at Phoenix Center for the Arts

With sassy drag queen hostess Aimee Justice, the troupe, which also featured some studly guys, powered through two hours of song-and-dance performances, showing off why the art of the tease is so scintillating and giving a diverse audience glimpses of pasties, tummies and fishnet stockings throughout.

Scandalesque at Phoenix Center for the Arts

I love how the burlesque troupe reinvents classics in a hip way, and the acrobatics and fire play are always impressive. They’re a hard-working group who strives to put on a professional, well-rounded show, so check them out if you never have for a unique form of entertainment in the Valley.

Scandalesque at Phoenix Center for the Arts

See more photos from the show below. The troupe performs in Vegas for the October 31 Fetish & Fantasy Halloween Ball. Learn more here.

Scandalesque performs at Phoenix Center for the Arts

Scandalesque at Phoenix Center for the Arts

Scandalesque at the Phoenix Center for the Arts

Scandalesque at the Phoenix Center for the Arts

Bad Water Brewing Tap Room in Scottsdale serves exclusive beers

There’s a new bar with a speakeasy feel in Old Town Scottsdale.

Bad Water Brewing  in Old Town ScottsdaleWalk along Brown Avenue and peek in the salon-filled street to find Bad Water Brewing, a bar that balances its beers with fancy charcuterie boards and sleek, masculine furnishings that are part upscale sports bar, part minimalist hangout for those simply looking for a tasty brewskie.

Bad Water Brewing  in Old Town ScottsdaleThe spot serves three craft beers, only distributed in Arizona: a lighter-than-usual IPA; a strong in alcohol, light-in-taste saison; and a caramely Western lager that was probably my favorite of the three (all $5 each). IPAs usually scare me because of their strong taste, though I’m attracted to the high alcohol content, so it’s great this fruit-forward IPA went down smoothly and still hit the spot at 5.5 percent alcohol. The saison, with an orange spice tinge, had a whopping 6 percent alcohol percentage, while the lager with a smooth finish had 5 percent. I was impressed with all these local brews, and our knowledgeable server did a great job at explaining the nuances.

Bad Water Brewing  in Old Town ScottsdaleWe ordered a vegetarian Noble Stave charcuterie board (there’s also a vegan one, sans meats and cheeses), normally $15. It came with a scrumptious blueberry goat cheese, brie, gorgonzola, pistachios, almonds, olives, peppers, artichokes and more. It was definitely artfully presented and included some fancy cheeses, but I was disappointed there were only three flat lavash crackers. It came with three long, hard grissini crackers that were difficult to spread anything on, and overall, the offerings were a little sparser than I’d expect for the price.

Bad Water Brewing  in Old Town ScottsdaleMy favorite part of the board was definitely the blueberry goat cheese. I’ve never had anything like it and would have enjoyed an appetizer featuring just that. The ingredients all went well together, though I would have loved more lavash.

As for atmosphere, the vibe was relaxed and would make for a great spot for industry folk looking to unwind after working in the area. I just wish there were some purse hooks on the high-tops, since there was nowhere to put mine except for on my lap, on the floor or on the table.

Bad Water Brewing  in Old Town ScottsdaleI wouldn’t say I would go there just for the appetizers, but the cheap-in-price, high-in-quality local brews are attractive, and it’s nice to have the charcuterie boards (six to choose from, starting at $11), to whet your palate before heading to dinner.

The spot features a 16-seater private room that will be used for educational beer events and that can be reserved for parties, a cool aspect to the venue.

Bad Water Brewing  in Old Town ScottsdaleThe thing I enjoyed most about Bad Water was its unique beer selection, also including seven drafts and 10 bottled beers from guest breweries, including a favorite of mine, the Lumberyard Pale Ale from Lumberyard Brewing Company in Flagstaff ($6.) Learn more about Bad Water Brewing here.