Thursday, October 16, 2014

PSA Art Awakenings and Warehouse 1005 offer help, healing through artistic expression - Sneak Peek

By Matt Marn

Published by

Warehouse 1005 artist Barbara Proctor
From the moment you walk in, colors and sounds seem to surround you. Everyone is busy; artists are deep into their easels and paintings, canvases and sculptures fill every wall. In the middle of the main hall, a group of musicians practice. The acoustic guitar player works through his chords while the woman on the microphone sings the words, and the drummer keeps the beat on time. The three are surrounded by spare guitars, maracas, and you guessed it – more artwork. And despite their music filling the room, the painters and sculptors at their workstations are not bothered in the slightest – they concentrate on every stroke. It almost seems like the music helps them, even encourages them to push on.

And maybe then you consider why each artist is here at Warehouse 1005, that encouragement they feel from one another is not that hard to understand.

Organizers describe PSA Art Awakenings as a program seeking to promote empowerment and recovery through the power of creative expression with children and adults who face behavioral health changes. Whether the individual is challenged by serious mental health, general mental health, or substance abuse conditions, PSA Art Awakenings provides safe and supportive environments that foster exploration and development of artistic skills.

In late fall 2000, PSA Art Awakenings was born out of PSA Behavioral Health Agency, a local non-profit organization. From Phoenix to Tucson to Bisbee, these Art Awakenings studios are a new kind of assistance – they help participants deal with issues through artistic expression and art.

“PSA Art Awakenings helps community members deal with serious mental health issues through art,” said David Reno, Director of Marketing and Community Relations. “We always encourage our artists to seek medication and counseling, but for some, that alone won’t work. This program is a kind of ‘psycho-social’ rehabilitation: unlike conventional therapy or counseling, this form of rehabilitation doesn’t just encourage a person to keep moving on, but it gives the person a reason to keep going, to keep fighting.”

Read the rest of the article on PSA Art Awakenings and Warehouse 1005 at!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Individual World Poetry Slam headed for Phoenix - YabYum Music and Arts Sneak Peek

By Matt Marn
Aaron Hopkins-Johnson

Published by YabYum Music and Arts

The Individual World Poetry Slam is a chance for poets the world over to meet and compete with their original work in a respected competition of peers. And soon, Phoenix will get a chance to host this historic event.

Aaron Hopkins-Johnson, the owner of Lawn Gnome Publishing in Phoenix, is thrilled by the news the Individual World Poetry Slam (iWPS) is coming to town. A former slam poet himself, Hopkins-Johnson was the one who submitted Phoenix into the running for host city of this year's competition.

Hopkins-Johnson got into performing slam poetry during a speech and debate class at NAU. After graduating, he felt he had gained enough experience studying and performing some of the best slam poets that it was time to start composing and performing his own works.

Read more about Aaron and his bid to bring the iWPS to Phoenix, and learn more about how to see the competition in Phoenix, at YabYum Music and Arts!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Diana Lee releases debut jazz album "Mentor," thanks her teachers by making the music her own - YabYum Music and Arts Sneak Peek

Diana Lee performing during her album release party
By Matt Marn

Published by YabYum Music and Arts

So often someone comes into our lives to help teach us something that shapes our lives forever, and so often we never get to thank them. Phoenix singer Diana Lee has managed to pay homage to her mentors, and in a big way.

Lee has recently released her debut jazz album, "Mentor," in which she paid tribute to all the great musicians around the Valley who helped her grow into the great performer she is today.

"I can't explain it to you - to have these amazing people in my life at those exact times," Lee said of her many instructors and mentors. "I remember their names, what they taught me... It was huge to be able to say thank you. Art is very difficult. Music is very difficult. Somebody should say thank you. I really am so happy, so glad I got this opportunity to thank these people, these guides."

Read the rest of this article at YabYum Music and Arts!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Four Chambers Press, Spreading the Love of Writing Throughout Phoenix - YabYum Sneak Peek

By Matt Marn

Published by YabYum Music and Arts

Photo credit: John Haas
You may have seen it in storefronts around Phoenix, or at a booth off Roosevelt and Fifth Street one First Friday. You may have come across pages and pages of stories, prose, and artwork from hundreds of contributors. Some contributors are experienced writers, some are just having fun. But many of them are local, from right here in the Valley. And if you haven't seen Four Chambers Magazine yet... you will.

And who knows - you may be one of the authors published inside the pages.

Jake Friedman, founder and Editor-in-Chief of Four Chambers Magazine, didn't start meeting people right away when he moved to the Phoenix area almost 3 years ago. He didn't feel truly at home until he started attending local poetry readings and open mic nights.

"The interaction you have with people at those types of events - you get such a strong bond interacting with them; a bond you don't get from walking down the other side of the street," Friedman said. "Literature is how I met my friends here. Creating a bigger variety of events, a bigger physical existence of literature... we really are trying to build a community here, where people can come together and share something substantial and meaningful."

Read the rest of the article on Four Chambers Magazine at YabYum Music and Arts!

Jazz Vocalist Holly Pyle sings to her own beat - Sneak Peek

By Matt Marn

Photo credit: Bill Goodman
Singer Holly Pyle walked into an open mic one Friday night with a set of cables, a microphone, and a loop pedal. When her turn to take the stage arrived, she stood silent before the room, focusing on the beat in her mind. One hand ready on the pedal, the other hand began to wave back and forth, her head nodding to her own beat. She sings the beginning of a rhythm and loops her own voice with the loop pedal, each measure adding another layer of her voice to her track. Her stylish, improvisational jazz captivates the room, and the crowd applauds at the end, pleading her to stay for another.

"The loop pedal is a brand-new adventure," Pyle said. "Growing up, I recorded my voice into the computer, and I loved harmonizing with myself. In college, I used Garage Band. I had the idea of using a loop pedal, but I just didn't take the leap. But once those kids encouraged me, I went for it and bought a loop pedal. I went to an open mike in Tempe. I messed up the first time, but they loved it. They invited me to do an artist spotlight - that day."

A complex relationship with music

Pyle has had a complex relationship with music for many years. She calls it just that - a relationship - because it has ran through a wide range of emotions, from love to hate, and everything in between. But she loves that it takes work to nurture her craft.

"There are those points in music, in the relationship, where I have a great moment, where it is all bright and happy, and I think I'll love it forever," Pyle said. "And then there are moments when everyone critiques and gives their own opinion, influenced by their own relationship with music. I tried to conform to other people's wishes, so my own love with music started to feel less real."

Check out the rest of this article at!