ARTELPHX, a three night festival that transforms The Clarendon Hotel and Spa into an immersive visual and performing arts experience, housed 25 artists this weekend. Participants wander the hotel’s exterior corridors to seek out the next installation or performance interlude. ARTELPHX feels like a fun house for adults and art lovers, not to mention watching other visitors is amusing in itself. The Clarendon is the perfect location to execute this creative adventure with its brightly colored Oasis Pool and mid-size contemporary rooms, and the rooftop deck that overlooks Downtown Phoenix.
The art was engaging and thought proving, but my attention was caught by the strong presence of dance performances that were sprinkled through the hotel. Walking in, I was pleasantly greeted by a poolside solo performed by Carley Conder of CONDER/Dance. Although she was lit by spotlight and surrounded by a crowd, the performance seemed internal as she was bound to dancing in a confined space, and the focus never wandered outside her limitations. However, one of the greatest elements of ARTEL was the sense of community. I looked up from Conder’s piece and saw Candy Jimenez of Dulce Dance Company being projected onto the North wall of the Oasis pool. The video projection was a pre-recorded solo that seamlessly juxtaposed the live performance through pedestrian and gestural movement.
There were several other dance performances, but the most notable performance was by Ryan Donovan – Schager. She successfully created an intimate and sensitive performance space through the use of lighting and mirrors. All props aside, her commitment to the dance was most intriguing. I was blown away by her authenticity and passion, something rarely seen in a young dancer.
Just as ARTEL started to seem a bit overwhelming, I stumbled upon room 315 where I saw a performance by Hannah Cooper with creative direction from Alyssa Brown. The environment was quiet and soft and the entrance was lined with white fabric that smelled sweet as it blew about. At the end of the fabric hallway, Hannah Cooper danced in a 3’x3’x7’ space. The calm nature of the room and the rhythm of her movement provided the perfect gateway from the clumps of people that had started to form around the hotel.
ARTEL is one of my favorite events to attend, the “choose your own adventure” feel is exciting and the installations are eclectic and interactive. My one complaint is the lack of information about the artists. The only information provided was a small slip of paper (similar to what you would see in a gallery) but it was often hard to find and was easily overlooked. Regardless, I’m already looking forward to the next ARTEL and the possibilities the festival provides for local artists of all sorts.
Photography by Evie Carpenter and Michaela Konzal
Review by Michaela Konozal
September 27, 2014