Art in the 48

S2 E7 | FULL EPISODE

Art in the 48 207

Two Arizona basketball legends talk with host Alberto Rios about their adventure into the art arena, an improv show developed out of the pandemic, keeping traditional Native American dance alive with the help of social media and we visit with the Phoenix Art Museum’s chief curator.

AIRED: December 31, 2020 | 0:25:49
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
TRANSCRIPT

- [Narrator] And now an Arizona PBS Original Production.

(upbeat music)

- [Narrator] Coming up on "Art in the 48",

two former basketball legends are making their mark

in a new arena.

- We love literature.

We love art, we love music.

And we think those three aspects of our lives

are extremely important for not only our happiness

but our health.

- [Narrator] An improv duo uses the pandemic

to spur a creative endeavor.

- The result is just a delightful and fun evening's

worth of entertainment.

- [Narrator] How social media has helped

Native American tribes to keep dancing.

- It's helped people throughout the world

because it's uplifted them and brought them joy.

- [Narrator] And the Phoenix Art Museum

is changing the way we look at art.

All next on "Art in the 48".

- [Female Narrator] AJ's Fine Foods,

offering gourmet appetizers, fine wines for entertaining,

and decadent desserts for all your special occasions.

Find 10 Valley locations at ajsfinefoods.com.

AJ's purveyors of fine foods.

- [Narrator] Ironwood Cancer and Research Centers,

personalized cancer care through medical oncology,

radiation oncology, and radiology services.

Focusing on emotional, physical, and social support.

Outsmarting cancer, one patient at a time.

- [Narrator] Hospice of the Valley,

medical, social and spiritual care

for patients nearing end of life

and support for their families.

A not-for-profit community hospice.

hov.org.

Support comes from Copenhagen

featuring contemporary furniture

from around the world.

Copenhagen is dedicated to providing comfort,

craftsmanship, and customer service,

located in Copenhagen living.com.

- [Narrator] "Art in the 48" is made possible, in part

by a gift from the Ottosen Family Foundation.

(upbeat music)

- Welcome to "Art in the 48".

(speaking foreign language)

I'm your host, Alberto Rios.

Dick Van Arsdale is best known

to Arizonans as the original Phoenix Sun.

In 2005, he suffered a stroke

and began painting as part of his recovery.

Now, he and his twin brother and former teammate, Tom,

have teamed up once again and opened a studio.

(upbeat music)

We're joined today by Dick and Tom Van Arsdale.

Many people know you two as basketball legends

but we're not here to talk about basketball today.

We're here to talk about your latest passion, art.

Welcome.

- Thank you, Alberto.

It's great to be here with you.

- Thank you.

- Well, Tom, tell us about your gallery,

in old town, Scottsdale, Van Arsdale Art.

You went from real estate to art.

So this is quite a change.

- Well, Dick and I had been in the business world together

for a number of years since we retired playing

and we were in the real estate business

and Dick worked part-time time in the real estate business

and part-time, a long time with the Phoenix Suns.

Dick and I had always had a desire

to have a little art studio someplace.

And where could we do that?

And to make that decision,

it was easy but it wasn't easy 'cause where would we go?

And all of a sudden,

a little art studio opened up down on main street.

It's a very small, large studio

and we're down there with a bunch of other artists.

And so we signed a lease, moved in there,

about two and a half years ago and started doing our arts.

Dick does pen and pencil and I do oils.

- We should mention that for people who don't know,

Dick had a stroke in 2005,

and it was after that that he started drawing.

Talk about that and how you help out.

- Dick can talk.

He had a stroke, as you said.

And it was a very serious though.

He has been very fortunate

in that he didn't lose any of his motor skills.

It was all with the cognitive processing in his brain.

And he's been blessed because he can still drive a car,

and he could still fly fish and he can still draw and--

- I'm good.

- He's amazing actually,

because he sits down there with his pen and pencil

and he just gets mesmerized in it and just pumps out art.

- Let me ask you first, how did you get involved in art?

- We love literature.

We love art.

We love music.

And we think those three aspects

of our lives are extremely important

for not only our happiness but our health.

And Dick and I just, somehow we're drawn to art.

He started doing pen and pencil things

even when he was playing for the New York Knickerbockers

back in New York, he had started doing some drawings

and so finally we said,

"Hey, why don't we just do some art?"

- You've chosen oils.

That's not an easy medium.

Tell us a little bit about what drew you to oils.

- I thought, you know, all oils would be fun

and the thing is out they're messy

I don't mind the messiness.

I liked the ability to do something that

if I wanna change it, I can.

Acrylics dry too fast for me and I like to mix colors

and I really am kind of a sloppy mixture of paints.

I like to do experimental mixing of colors

and so that's why oils worked for me.

- We heard that oils served Tom,

how does drawings serve you?

- I do

big colors, a lot of colors on those with pans and colors.

- And he can just meticulous, he's detailed work,

on his painting is just unbelievable.

So he can get down on pen and pencil

and I think his brain is very focused on the detail.

Everybody that comes by the art studios,

says to my guy Dick,

"Your detail is unbelievable."

And he can do that with pen and pencil.

And I think because of the fact that he had stroke

that fits his capabilities just perfect.

So I think that's the reason when you say dear,

- [Dick] Tom you're right?

- You've said you don't have any particularly

formal training.

You've taken some classes.

What is it that helps you get better?

How do you get better?

- But we gradually get a little bit better out there

until when Dick's gotten so much better.

I've gotten better.

We're not great artists by any stretch of the imagination.

We've got our own style and--

- We're different. - We're different.

But I think it's just practice out there, which is practice.

You don't know what you can do until you get in the ring.

You get in the ring and then do it

but if you wanna do it, try it.

- It sounds like for both of you now

art is in some ways the only choice.

It's that important to you.

- Yeah, we are committed to it

and we're committed to the things we're working on.

- You've come in from, in your lives,

a very competitive environment to now a very

meshed (laughs) environment.

- All through,

we were so competitive and it's just different.

I mean, I look at other people's art and Dick does too.

We appreciate other people's art.

I get goosebumps thinking about it.

It's such a loving profession.

We artists love each other.

And we're all different.

- Dick, you originally got into art

to help with your recovery.

What else did it provide for in your life?

I mean, it perhaps helped you with some motor skills.

- No, I couldn't speak, do nothing.

Nothing, I could do speaking, none of that.

And I had to do something in my life.

I start the arts.

And while I was at the Scottsdale Hospital

and I, "Dick, what are you going to do to your life?"

And I do my arts.

I start all the time every day, every day.

And it got better and better and better.

And if I can't do that now, I don't know what I would do.

- [Tom] It's been a blessing for him.

There's no doubt about that.

- My brother is great with me.

Tom is great with me on that.

He's a good person.

I tell we're so close together.

- Tom, what inspires your actual art?

Not, not the compulsion to make art

but what do you want to paint?

- [Tom] We're kind of a collective

because we have a variety of arts that we do.

We're pretty good at geometry.

So we like to do geometric things.

A lot of things Dick does have geometry behind them.

I like peaceful things.

I enjoy doing faces.

I enjoy doing dogs.

Now Dick does a lot of the same thing.

He'll do country scenes

but he has an eclectic part and more.

He does some Zuni characters being from Indiana

and Southern Indiana.

I always liked the streams

and the covered bridges and the bars.

- [Alberto] It also sounds like both of you

are still compelled by childhood

by how you grew up in Indiana,

the influence that had on you.

So childhood sounds like a pretty big influence

on what you're doing.

- [Tom] Alberto, there's a huge influence.

- Well, and you two have each other.

That's a wonderful statement regarding family as well.

- It is, yeah.

- It was really good for me.

He speaks well,

he's a good person.

I like him so much

- But you two work together in your studio, side-by-side,

can you tell us how that works?

- [Tom] We seat about 10 feet apart.

Dick's working on his pen and pencil.

I'm working on my oils and play the music all the time.

'Cause we like music.

- When you criticize each other's works,

how do you each take that?

- I'll be working on an oil,

Dick will come over and say,

"Tom", he stands back and,

"Tom, that's not right."

And I look at it and he's right.

I take his suggestions very seriously

and he takes mine seriously.

So we had no problem with that.

I appreciate that he does that.

And I do the same thing with him.

He's working on something, he'll say,

"Tom what do you think about this?"

And I go over.

So we critique each other and it's very helpful.

We're always on each other's case.

I mean, we yell at each other.

I tell him--

- [Dick] It's good.

- We're together all the time during the day.

And we never have a problem with a subject.

We can talk about anything.

I mean, it can be sports, it could be music, it can be art.

And then we could sit there

for half hour and not say anything.

- You have a new project now

that combines basketball with your art in some way.

Would you like to talk about that a little?

- We still consider ourselves to be athletes

and I've talked to other, my friends, like it,

we'll always be basketball players.

And we liked that.

And Dick and I don't like what we're seeing

with some of the things that are going on in the NBA.

So we have taken some of our artwork

and we have turned it into something

that could go on a t-shirt

that will send a message.

The Van Arsdale collection is an effort to promote

harmony and respect for all people

through the sport of basketball and all sports,

help us spread the hope.

We're very, very committed to this message.

And we're gonna continue promoting

this love and hope and peace and inclusion among us.

- Well, these are honorable, admirable,

and timely intentions.

So I thank you for doing that.

- Well, we're all way.

We're going for it, it's not...

(laughs).

- Well, we've been joined today by Dick and Tom,

Van Arsdale artists.

Thank you for joining us.

- Thank you very much. - Thank you for having us.

We appreciate it.

- Comedians, Marlene Strang and Leanne Schmitt,

are used to performing in some pretty unexpected places,

but they had to get creative

when social distancing became the norm.

So they've taken their two-woman improv show

on the road to a parking lot near you.

(upbeat music)

- I'm Leanne Schmidt.

And I'm the co-creator of The Ladies.

- I'm Marlene Strang

and I am a co-creator of The Ladies.

The Ladies are a pair of awkward lazy moms

who are actually stuck in the '90s

and are so bogged down with mundane life,

from laundry to meal prep to children

that they never get out.

So they've emerged, in 2020

The Ladies have been producing

immersive style performances since 2016.

Our first full length performance was in 2018

at the Clarendon Hotel and Spa.

Our second full length show was at Changing Hands Bookstore.

That show was called, Let Your Lady Out.

- [Marlene] Our ladies in the headlights came about

right as the pandemic hit.

- [Leanne] We were in rehearsal for about six months

planning material for our show that was canceled.

- So the pandemic hits

and then everything goes onto the screen.

And we were like, we cannot take any more screens, right?

We have to find a way to bring the ladies to people live.

And I actually had this dream

and in the dream

these cars are calling up to us like in the back alley.

What if we do a show where the cars headlights light us

and that's the concept.

- I actually live right near Costco.

And so when the pandemic hit,

I could see everybody lining up for their toilet paper

and bleach and chicken stock

starting way early in the morning.

So we thought, well, maybe the ladies could be waiting,

just like those that are waiting at Costco.

- [Marlene] The ladies communicate in ways

that we don't even understand.

We do a lot of gesturing.

There's always music.

And so we do some times let the audience

in on what we're thinking and in our subconscious as well,

we played with that in headlights,

kind of what are we thinking about during the pandemic

and waiting in line at Costco?

So we try to have some hands of how,

what's going on in the show.

(upbeat music)

- When people arrive to our show,

they are instructed to stay in their cars

with their windows rolled up.

They tune into the radio station

that we're transmitting our music through

and just instructed to safely stay in the car.

They're instructed to put on their high beams as well.

We've also asked the audience to participate

whether it be by beeping their horn, flashing their lights

or turning on their windshields as well.

- [Marlene] We use a lot of improvisation.

We did one show and there was, it was a monsoon.

At the monsoon was happening upon us.

The wind was blowing so hard.

My hair was just completely in my face

and I go up to the car window

my hair was blowing in my face and they're all laughing.

And then I turn

so the wind is now blowing my hair out of my face.

And they're like playing off of this energy.

- We have a section in the show that we called Sneaky Peaky

and we run around

and peer into the audience's windows.

And oftentimes they don't know we're there

until they happen to look

and they scream and jump and freak out.

- We want our audience, first of all, to have fun.

It's gotta be about the joy.

It's gotta be about being shocked sometimes

like memorable experiences.

And we want them to be a part of the evening

that's essential to us.

- [Leanne] Well, much of our lives

have turned to the screen.

It provides such an opportunity to feel normal,

to feel alive again, to have some places to go,

something to do, somewhere to be.

- [Marlene] I think people really want to get out right now.

They need an escape and something to laugh about

and this show gives them the opportunity.

15 minutes, they can just think about something else,

have an absurd experience.

(upbeat music)

- [Narrator] If you'd like more information

on any of the stories featured on "Art in The 48"

visit our website.

(upbeat music)

- Powwows are a sacred part

of many Native American communities.

When the pandemic threatened

to stop these long held traditions,

Native American dancer, Tiny Rosellas

found a modern day way to bring indigenous people together.

(upbeat music)

- A powwow is a social gathering.

We dance, we sing, we eat, we meet new friends.

We hang out with our current friends.

I dance women's old style jingle and it's a healing dance.

And it originated with the Ojibwe people.

When the pandemic hit and we were getting shut down

I thought this is the time

where the world needs our prayers the most.

No one's gonna be dancing

and we need to find a way to keep dancing.

I decided to create the page

and I named it Quarantine Dance Specials 2020.

So how I was there's contests

in different age groups and especial is say, for instance

a family or a lady who has had women for that powwow

they wanna throw a special.

So it's their type of special, how they wanna throw it

their prize money, whatever gifts they wanna give away

however they wanna conduct the dance.

So that's what a special is

and I just kind of converted it into the Facebook.

So we had our first two specials

with men's grass and men's bouncy.

And so we asked dancers to upload their videos

and a dancer with the most likes wins.

And so I believe we had like

over a hundred jingle dancers enter.

This Facebook page has allowed dancers

to continue dancing.

It's not a powwow by far

but we still can put our outfits on and dance

and feel good about ourselves and have the encouragement

and the confidence to upload our videos.

I feel it's a good thing and it has been a good thing.

When I first created it,

I really didn't expect it to grow so much

and it grew really fast.

By like the fourth day I had 5,000 members

and they were just coming in

and coming in and coming in.

I think by the first month I might've had maybe 10,000.

It grew really rapidly, really quickly

and that's something like I didn't expect

and I didn't expect to be in the spotlight at all.

It's not something that I was trying to do.

It was just trying to keep dancing.

There's over 500 nations

and so there's quite a bit of dancers

that entered these special sub tribes

that I never even heard of or knew.

Not only is this keeping us as natives dancing and together

but it's helped people throughout the world

because it's uplifted them and brought them joy and hope.

One of the things that will stick with me forever

is a lady messaged me and she told me that

the page saved her life and watching the dances,

that really touched me and when I had gotten that message

and I've gotten a few of them, that's when I realized,

Oh this is why this page was created

and for whatever reason,

the creator put that in my hands to do.

I guess this is our way for now.

We found a way and this is how we have to do it from now on

but hopefully our power has come back soon.

- [Narrator] Do you have a favorite gallery

artist or music venue?

Share them with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram

and use the #Art48.

- In each episode

we're visiting with some of our former guests to see

how they're handling these difficult times.

Like other museums,

the Phoenix Art Museum had to shut down temporarily.

Now open curator, Gilbert Vicario and his team

have had to adjust to life in a pandemic.

(upbeat music)

- I firmly believe that a work of art

really doesn't complete itself

until it is viewed by a spectator.

I'm Gilbert Vicario.

I'm Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs

and the Selig Family Chief Curator

at the Phoenix Art Museum.

The pandemic affected us

just like it did every other institution.

We had to shut down in the beginning of April.

I know there were other institutions in the Valley

that opened up pretty early on in June

but for us, it just made sense to wait for October 1st,

to reopen the museum.

The protocols that we put in place are not any different

than what you see when you go to a supermarket.

Social distancing is encouraged.

We're also asking people to purchase tickets online

so that there's minimal contact with staff at the museum.

And we were requiring people to wear masks indoors.

I think curators in general,

our work and the amount of time

and effort we put into an exhibition, including research

that part hasn't really changed.

What I think has changed and particularly in my case

is I really feel

even more proud and grateful

to be working with art and to be working with objects.

My biggest pleasure is in working in the galleries

and hanging the art

but also in coming back after the show is open

and watching people look at art.

So looking at people look at art, I get such a kick out of

and I can tell you the first day we opened

I raced down to the museum.

People were just so hungry

to be in a different environment,

to be in a quiet contemplative space with art

but I'll tell you it wasn't quiet

because people are also, what I noticed,

were so anxious to have conversations with other people.

And it just was such a relief to have that.

And it was such a wonderful way

of just kind of breathing a sigh of relief

that we can finally be in a social space like a museum

and interact with other like-minded folks.

I'm very optimistic about 2021.

I think the future for the museum is very bright

and I am looking forward to connecting with our community

really in the ways that our community has evolved

culturally and socially.

I think it'll be very interesting

and we'll be working really hand in hand with the community

as we kind of decide the future identity of the museum.

- Thank you for joining us on "Art in the 48",

where we help explore what makes our community beautiful

through art.

See you next time.

- [Narrator] Stay up to date on "Art in the 48".

Sign up for our weekly newsletter at azpbs.org/ insider.

- [Narrator] "Art in the 48" is made possible, in part

by a gift from the Ottosen Family Foundation.

(upbeat music)

- [Narrator] Support comes from Copenhagen,

featuring contemporary furniture from around the world.

Copenhagen is dedicated to providing comfort, craftsmanship,

and customer service located in copenhagenliving.com.

- [Narrator] Hospice of the Valley,

medical, social, and spiritual care

for patients nearing end of life

and support for their families.

A not-for-profit community hospice.

hov.org

- [Narrator] Ironwood Cancer and Research Centers,

personalized cancer care through medical oncology,

radiation oncology and radiology services.

Focusing on emotional, physical and social support.

Outsmarting cancer, one patient at a time.

- [Narrator] AJ's Fine Foods,

offering gourmet appetizers, fine wines for entertaining,

and decadent desserts for all your special occasions.

Find 10 Valley locations at ajsfinefoods.com.

AJ's, purveyors of fine foods.

(upbeat music)

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