Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Color Coordination

When buying a new sweater or jacket, I always think about how the color will fit in with a certain skirt or pair of slacks. In order to look good, a certain degree of color engineering is desirable in one’s attire. However, I must admit, I’ve never felt the need to coordinate my car with my house as this homeowner has done.

So, what do you think? Was the house painted to match the car or was the car painted to match the house?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Chatham’s Fine Chocolates

Whenever I’m in the mood for something truly decadent I head over to Chatham's Fine Chocolates. This amazing little shop carries over 250 individual pieces of chocolate made by over a dozen different artisan chocolatiers. You select each piece for the size box you want to purchase and then they are presented in this lovely blue box that includes a descriptive card for every piece.

They make a wonderful gift for someone special or a special treat to enjoy all by myself. What is even more fun, are the Chocolate and Wine tastings that the shop hosts from time to time. That might be the ultimate decadence. The next time I go to one, I’ll have to snap some photos for Phoenix Daily Photo.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tools for Art

Near the entrance to The Construction Zone, featured yesterday, is this sculpture made from all kinds of construction tools. There are wrenches, saw blades, axes, cable, and hundreds of other things that I couldn’t begin to name, all welded together to form this fascinating sculpture. This piece is completely hidden from the street so I never would have seen it if I hadn’t been pulled in by the reflections that I featured yesterday and the day before.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Construction Zone

This building stands out among the more traditional structures along Osborn Road. Its modern construction makes a striking contrast to the red brick office buildings that it is wedged between. I pass this building quite frequently and I have always admired it, but the image of those clouds reflected in the glass pulled me in to investigate more closely. It is the home of a General Contractor whose name is simply The Construction Zone. (Take a look at their site, they have another stunning picture of the building on their home page.)

The building sits lengthwise on the narrow lot and it appears to be constructed of glass, steel, and concrete. The small picture shows the end of the building that faces the street and the unique landscaping in front.Tomorrow I’ll show you a piece of art that is attached to a wall next to the building’s entrance.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Driving down a familiar street last Saturday, I was struck by the reflections of the clouds in this building. I was so taken with the site that I had to make a U-turn and go back. The entire office site is quite striking. Tomorrow, I’ll post a picture of the full building and tell you a little about the company who owns it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Light Rail is coming

It won’t be long now before the brand new Valley Metro light rail system will be launched. The opening celebration is scheduled for December 27th and 28th. In the spring I had an opportunity to tour the maintenance facility where the cars are being assembled. In the picture above you can see the workers and equipment and some of the cars in different stages of construction.

I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to this long overdue service. I spent a lot of time a few years back advocating this kind of service and running up against unwavering opposition from political leaders who were short-sighted and parochial in their thinking. They argued that there were not enough people in the valley to support it even though the express bus from Mesa to Phoenix was standing room only every morning while moving at a snail’s pace along the freeway. And, that was a long time before gas was $4.00 a gallon. We are very fortunate that we have new leaders who saw the need and were able to convey the urgency.

Everywhere I travel that offers light rail or ‘subway’ service, I jump at the chance to use it. You can bet that I will be celebrating on December 27th.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Central Avenue Medallions

The Central Avenue Medallions is a Phoenix Public Art project designed to contribute to the unique character and identity of Central Avenue. Four artists, Juan and Patricia Navarrete of Taos New Mexico, Doug Weigel of Scottsdale, and Howard Sice of Tucson were asked to collaborate on the forms using Native American petroglyph images as the basis for their design but to elaborate on them through their own imaginations.

There are over 300 solid copper medallions that cover a 3.75 mile section of Central Avenue. They are mounted on pedestrian light poles along the street.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


This is a large pile of jalapeno peppers that I photographed when I visited Ranch Market featured on September 8th. Jalapeno peppers are used in Spanish as well as Asian cooking and I’m sure most of my readers have experienced them in some form; maybe as the ubiquitous Jalapeno Popper.
A few years ago, I decided to make some Asian style stuffed jalapenos for a dinner party and was preparing them a day ahead. I knew all the precautions about handling them such as not touching your face or eyes. I am a decent cook and I've used many types of chilies in cooking before. However, I had never processed so many at one time and I foolishly did the stem removal and seeding with bare hands. It took about 15 minutes into the job for the pain to set in and a full 10 hours for the pain to subside. My hands quite literally felt as though they were on fire. The story gets even funnier since I was going out to dinner with friends that same night. I had to dine while alternating wet towels over each hand. The chef in the restaurant felt sorry for me and had the waiter bring me a bowl of milk to soak my hands in while I ate. I might not have been the life of the party that night, but I certainly gave the group much to laugh about. I’ll never do that again. I now keep a box of latex gloves in the kitchen cupboard and use them when ever chopping or seeding any kind of chili.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Arizona Kitch

A good way to beat the heat on a Sunday afternoon is to browse a couple of antique stores and that is exactly what I did this afternoon. One of the vendor's stalls in this local shop was chock-full of the sort of southwestern objet d'art that you might see in a chain Mexican food restaurant. You know the kind, with clutter everywhere and Mexican license plate tacked to the walls. I couldn't resist taking a photo to share with my readers.
That Arizona "Grand Canyon State" Jim Beam bottle is a true collector's item. And, that hand-tooled leather, steer head adorned glass topped table is a must for any southwestern home. But, best of all is the cow-hide cowboy hat. Now that is something I could wear with pride.
In case you are wondering, I didn't buy any of them. Although I did look longingly at that hat once or twice. :-)
Do you see anything there you would like me to pick up for you?

Sunday, September 21, 2008


I found this beautiful mural on the side of the Thai Elephant café in downtown Phoenix and wondered why a Thai restaurant would have a mural of Cuba on their building. I asked a friend who is “in the know” and discovered that the premises once housed a Cuban restaurant. Then I thought about the Asia de Cuba restaurants in London, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Scottsdale and thought maybe this isn’t such an odd combination after all. I’ve eaten at the San Francisco location and loved everything I tried. Maybe I’ll check out the new Scottsdale location soon.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


I just thought this made a nice contrast between the modern glass building and the Spanish tiled church steeple. The splash of green from the palm trees are the exclamation points.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Camelback Corridor, Part 5

This is the tunnel under Camelback Road that connects the Biltmore Fashion Park Shopping Center with The Esplanade Complex and the Ritz Carlton Hotel. This tunnel was built as a step to help solve the problem of people dangerously crossing busy Camelback Road in places not meant for pedestrians.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Camelback Corridor, Part 4

Another picture from the Camelback Corridor. This photo is on the south side of Camelback Road one block west of the intersection with 24th street that I featured over the past three days. The two buildings on either side are office buildings and the tall building in the middle is yet another luxury condominium building. One note of interest: the center condominium building is the Phoenix home of John McCain, Republican Presidential candidate. Presumably it's one of the homes that he remembers he owns.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Camelback Corridor, Part 3

In this photo, we are looking north toward Camelback Road (at the traffic light). The building in the foreground with the red trim is Optima Biltmore Towers, a luxury (is there any other kind) condominiums that opened in 2006. I like the look of this building. I think it’s the red and glass that makes it stand out from other more monotone buildings. The furthest building is where I was when I took the pictures from yesterday and the day before. It is a financial center complex that is home to several banks and investment companies.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Camelback Corridor, Part 2

I took this photo from the same vantage point as yesterday’s, but this time I pointed my camera south instead of east. We are looking at the Esplanade Complex which consists of the office buildings we saw in yesterday’s photo and the Ritz-Carlton Hotel (in the foreground with no windows on the end), another office building behind the hotel, and to the right, Esplanade Place, an upscale condominium building. This photo and yesterday’s photo were taken from another high-rise office complex on the opposite corner. You will see it in tomorrow’s photo.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Camelback Corridor

Over the next few days, I’m going to show you another part of Phoenix known as the Camelback Corridor. Phoenix has three main areas where business in concentrated, the downtown, mid-town or the Central Corridor and the Camelback Corridor centered around the corner of 24th Street and Camelback Road. This photo looks east along Camelback Road. Camelback Road gets its name from the mountain that you see in the distance. If you look at it with an artistic eye, you can see that it resembles the two humps and head of a camel. In the foreground below us is the south side of the Biltmore Fashion Park shopping center, an upscale shopping complex that houses the likes of Saks Fifth Avenue, Escada, Tommy Bahama, and Ralph Lauren. To the right, on the other side of Camelback Road, are the buildings of the Esplanade Office complex.

Another view tomorrow.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Frank Lloyd Wright….again

Today I am featuring another Frank Lloyd Wright design, the First Christian Church in north central Phoenix. This church was built in 1973 using plans created by Wright for the Southwest Christian Seminary, an organization that ceased operating before the plans could be used. Administrators of the First Christian Church knew of the plans and asked Wright’s widow for permission to use them. Permission was granted and this lovely church building was built to the accolades of the Church Architects Guild of America calling it one of the 10 best church buildings in America.

The walls of the church are made of native stone set in coarse concrete. Supporting the building are 23 triangular pillars designed to represent desert trees. There is a 77-foot, three sided spire rising up from the center of the roof and mirrored by the 120-foot free standing bell tower located a little way from the building.
You can read more about this beautiful church here.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Arizona State Fair….coming soon

Many of our Eastern and Midwestern photo bloggers have been posting great photos and stories about their state fairs. While most states have their fairs during the late summer months, Arizonans have to wait a little while for the opportunity to pet a pot-bellied pig and eat a fried Twinkie. We don’t really mind. The triple digit heat of summer will be a thing of the past and we should be able to enjoy the food, rides, animals, concerts, and crafts without the fear of sunstroke.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Reach for the sky

Reaching for the sky, I seek adventure and excitement. While soaring on high, I seek the solid ground of home.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remnant of an Arts debacle

This photo is of one of the few remaining signs of a public art project that caused so much controversy that it has slowly disappeared from site. In the mid-80’s while building a new freeway in the heart of Phoenix, a public art project was envisioned as a way to diminish the bland ugliness of noise-abatement walls slicing through neighborhoods as the freeway snaked north. The firestorm that ensued was fueled by a local media woefully naive about the value of art, who pushed the public ire from civil dialogue to rant and tirade. Further stoking the fires were irritated local artists upset that the project was awarded to out of state artists. Interestingly, the project was lauded by the rest of the world and harvested awards and admirers. The original project was called Wall Cycle to Ocotillo and was to consist of a series of vessels made from concrete and steel, some attached to the wall like this one, some sitting on top of the wall, and some beside the wall at exit and entrance points. They soon became known, somewhat disparagingly as the Squaw Peak Pots taking the name from the former name of the highway. Over the years, most of the pots have been removed to make room for expansions to the freeway.

At the time this was going on, I was living in Mesa (neighboring city) and was very active in the arts community there. The thunderous controversy over this particular project made it difficult for all of us involved in art projects to get anything done. Thank heavens the years have made the community wiser and art is now huge part of all aspects of life in Phoenix and the surrounding cities.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pyramid Central

When I photographed this building, I foolishly thought it would be easy to locate information about its architect and why this design was chosen. After an exhausting search, I have not been able to find any information on this structure. I do know that the building is occupied by the Clancy Real Estate Group, that much is obvious from the sign outside. Since there is another inverted pyramid building located in Tempe Arizona I assumed (again foolishly) there might be several of these types of structures located around the world. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I found one housing Slovak Radio located in Bratislava Slovakia, one that forms the pier in St. Petersburg Florida, the familiar Tempe City Hall in Tempe Arizona and this one.

Thanks to Dan Brown and “The Da Vinci Code”, internet searches about inverted pyramids are dominated by references to the book, movie, and the myth his imagination created.

So here it is, an interesting building situated in the mid-town business area of Phoenix right on Central Avenue. The reason for its shape, unknown at this time.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Harkins Theatres

One of the things I enjoy the most about hosting this site, is the fascinating things I learn about my community and the people in it. I’ve known for a long time that Harkins Theatres was a locally owned business, but I didn’t know it had such a rich history of entrepreneurship and determination. The first theatre was opened in 1933 by Red Harkins, an 18 year old dreamer who was good looking enough to compete with the likes of Clark Gabel and Gary Cooper. He ran out of money on his way to Hollywood and lucky for us, settled in Arizona to start his theatre empire. The company passed to his son Dan upon his death in 1974 and using his sheer determination and innovative thinking, Dan turned it into the small empire that it is today. The company owns 31 theatres in Arizona, most of them in the Phoenix metro-area. In the past few years, new theatres have been opened in California, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas. My favorite Harkins Theatre is Camelview in Scottsdale because if features all the independent and documentary films and those that you just don’t see in the big multi-plexes.
If you’d like to read the story of Red Harkins and his son Dan, follow this link.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ranch Market

Yesterday I mentioned that I had an interesting lunch at the restaurant associated with Ranch Market. Today I’ll show you the inside of the grocery portion of the business. The produce is amazing. The bins are always piled way higher than my 5 foot 2 inches and seem to be overflowing with lemons, limes, avocados, tomatoes, and pineapples to name just a few. There is also an abundance of every type of chili you can imagine and not just a dozen as in most stores, but hundreds and hundreds. The bakery is huge and serves up everything from Tres Leches cakes to sweet Empanadas.

The meat counter is the longest I’ve seen in a grocery store displaying cuts of meat that you would never see in other markets. The supply of canned and packaged Hispanic foods spans whole aisles as evidenced by the small picture. When I was there on Saturday afternoon, the place was full of shoppers many with children immersed in their slushy fruit drinks and frozen fruit bars. All in all, it’s a happy place, frantically busy, but always happy.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

To satisfy a craving

Saturday afternoon I was craving Mexican food, but wasn’t really in the mood for my regular venues. I hadn’t been to Tradiciones, the restaurant that is part of the Ranch Market chain in a while so I decided to go there. I was surprised to find they were filming a commercial inside the restaurant, but were welcoming guests in anyway.

They seated me right behind where the filming was taking place so it was a convenient opportunity take a few pictures. Ranch Market is a Hispanic concept market that is very popular in the Southwest. They have stores in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Tomorrow I’ll post some pictures from inside the market.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

“Resistance is futile”

Only readers who are fans of Star Trek will understand the reference of my title. This sculpture is located inside the main entrance to the Burton Barr Central Library and I have to admit the first thing I thought of when I saw it was “The Borg”. This sculpture is actually by the very well know Italian artist Arnaldo Pomodoro and there is a reason it has a science fiction look. At the start of the age of space exploration, Pomodoro became preoccupied with the advance of technology. Of this sculpture and others like it he says “in these sculptures I sense the discovery and the drama of technological exploration and its powers. I interpret my surface erosions and irregularities as symbols of the destructive impulse.” His sculptures can be seen all over the world including the Vatican Museums, which somehow seems out of place to me.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Burton Barr Central Library Part 3

The inside of the library is very modern covering 280,000 square feet of space accommodating over a million volumes of books. As you can see from the photo, the book topics in each section are displayed in neon lights at the end of the row of shelves. The fifth floor of the library is the Great Reading Room which is the largest reading room in North America even bigger than the New York Public Library (not as charming, though) or the Library of Congress.
Tomorrow: one more picture from the Library.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Burton Barr Central Library Part 2

Continuing with the tour of the Burton Barr Central Library, a center atrium of the building called The Crystal Canyon is open the full 5 floors and topped with nine skylights that track the sun and focusing it's light into the center where it moves throughout the interior during the day. Glass enclosed elevators transport readers to the various floors. In the forefront of this photo you can see a collection of Paolo Solari wind bells displayed against the Crystal Canyon glass wall in one of the reading rooms. Paulo Solari is an Italian born architect who came to the United States in 1947 where he spent a fellowship with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West here in Arizona. He settled in Scottsdale in 1956. His famous Cosanti Bells have been sold all over the world.

In the small picture you see a photo of the crystal canyon and the elevators that travel to the 5 floors. Each glass elevator has a different color theater light giving the feeling of sudden streaks of lightning as the elevators race up and down.
Tomorrow I'll show another inside view of the library.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Burton Barr Central Library

The Burton Barr Central Library was opened in 1995 and named to honor a well-known political leader in Arizona. Burton Barr served in the Arizona Legislature as House Majority Leader for 20 years and after retirement devoted several years to raising funds to benefit the Phoenix Central Library.
The design of this library was inspired by Monument Valley (on the Arizona-Utah border) with its curving copper mesa split by a stainless steel canyon and an undulating sandstone wall along it’s west side. I like the building, but I have to admit it doesn’t make me think of Monument Valley. It’s modern exterior (as well as the ultra-modern interior) doesn’t seem to fit with an area of the United States dominated by ancient sandstone monoliths. Still, it is an appealing design. The building has design features that harness the sun, with shade sails that were fashioned by sail makers in Maine. They deflect the heat and glare during the hot season while still letting in light and allowing views of the cityscape and mountains beyond.
The library is another Phoenix Point of Pride.
Interesting fact: About 100,000 pounds of copper cover the exterior walls. That’s equivalent to 17,500,000 pennies! Now there is something to contemplate.
Tomorrow, I’ll show you a view on the inside.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Carnegie Library

The Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records is located in this historic 1908 Carnegie Library building near the Capital complex. The agency serves as host for the Arizona Center for the Book an affiliate of the Center for the Book which was established in 1977 to use the resources and prestige of the Library of Congress to promote books, reading, libraries, and literacy.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Theme Day: Sister Cities

Phoenix has a number of sister cities and I am embarrassed to say that as much traveling as I’ve done, I have only visited one of these places, Calgary and that visit was many years ago. I opted to post a picture of this sign post located just outside of the Phoenix “Historic City Hall”. You might recognize the new city hall in the background since I posted a picture of it just yesterday. Since I don’t have pictures from any of the sister cities, I thought I’d list them along with an interesting fact about each location.
  • Ennis Ireland: Every household in this small town is being equipped with and trained to use the latest computer hardware and internet connections making it the most technologically advanced city in Europe.
  • Calgary Canada: Calgary, the city that hosted the winter Olympics in 1988 was ranked by Mercer Quality of Living as the world’s cleanest city in 2007.
  • Catania Italy: Located on the east coast of Sicily, the city has been buried in lava from Mt. Etna a total seven times in recorded history.
  • Chengdu China: A city of 11 million, Chengdu suffered damage in the May 12th earthquake. It is considered the Panda Capital of the world.
  • Grenoble France: Located in the shadow of the Alps, Grenoble is now a major scientific center especially in the fields of physics, computer science and applied mathematics.
  • Hermosillo Mexico: At a mere 313 miles, Hermosillo is the closest sister city to Phoenix. Over 114 companies have plants in Hermosillo employing thousands of workers.
  • Himeji Japan: Himeji is home to Himeji Castle, considered Japan’s most spectacular castle and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Prague Czech Republic: Prague is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world with preserved examples from all periods of history. It’s home to a Frank Gehry building called Dancing House that I would one day like to see.
  • Ramat-Gan Israel: This city borders on Tel Aviv and is home to the largest diamond exchange in the world encompassing 4 high-rise buildings connected by bridges.
  • Taipei Taiwan: Taipei is a major producer of high tech electronic components and is a creditor economy holding one of the world’s largest foreign exchange reserves.