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From Arizonan Hands

Author: Rebecca L. Rhoades
Issue: February, 2018, Page 76
With a nod to our state’s rich history and cultural traditions, these eight local artists and companies prove that every craft tells a story

Photography by David Moore

Above left: A large version of “Moon Dancer” welcomes guests to a Beadle-designed home.

Above right: “Ziggy’s Sister” (pictured) and “Sunset” display two of the four painted colors allowed by Beadle, the others being black and white. “My dad would say, ‘You’ll see reds and yellows when the desert is happy,’” says his daughter Gerri of his color palette.
   
With no formal training in architecture—and not even a high school diploma—Alfred Newman Beadle became the Valley’s preeminent Modernist architect.
A LEGACY IN SCULPTURE
“If you look at all the work my father did—his houses and his commercial and multifamily buildings—each is a piece of art,” says Gerri Beadle, daughter of legendary Modernist architect Alfred (Al) Newman Beadle, a 1993 Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award winner. From the fanciful African motif of the now-demolished 1956 Safari Hotel to the minimalist glass-and-steel Novak and Gruber residences, completed in 1994 and 1998 respectively, “they’re livable art,” she adds. “They’re all sculptures.”

Sometimes, the designer would even create one-of-a-kind steel abstract forms for his buildings. If you’ve ever driven down North 12th Street in Phoenix, you’ve probably seen his large, red, circular creation just south of the Campbell Street intersection.

So it should come as no surprise to learn that during his final months, Beadle, who passed away in 1998 at age 71, chose to create a line of sculptures that would provide a continuing source of income for his wife of 50 years, Nancy.

The architect spent many a day  in his garage studio in Carefree creating 43 maquettes out of cardstock. These miniature models are still used today as templates for his steel artworks, which are made mostly on a custom basis.

“Dad always said, ‘When I’m gone, I’ll be famous,’” notes his daughter. “These sculptures keep him alive. He’s still here.”

“Holyman” and “Woman” are two of Beadle’s better-known sculptures.





 

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Artist Jon Arvizu’s limited-edition mono screen prints are inspired by the Valley’s midcentury architecture
Preservation on Paper

Not long after moving into his central Scottsdale neighborhood, graphic artist Jon Arvizu noticed that many of the houses sported what are known as “Haver Block”—decorative breeze blocks with distinct designs created by famed architect Ralph Haver. His interest piqued, he began to be more aware of the homes’ overall designs.

“I noticed a few structures in the area that were a little different, and those bright spots kind of excited me,” he says.

Arvizu began drawing images featuring the city’s midcentury buildings—from beloved structures that no longer exist, such as the tropical-themed Kon Tiki Hotel, to his own interpretations of historic homes—and creating handmade mono screen prints that have captured the attention of Modernism fans.

Based on photographs, the boldly
hued prints showcase the best details for which the Valley’s celebrated architects are known. Arvizu
explains, “Ralph Haver’s houses feature low-slung roofs; they’re very unassuming from the outside. And a Beadle facade is total block grid work. So I have to find good angles that capture the architecture and enhance it.”

Whether it’s a private commission or a limited-edition print, Arvizu’s work is keeping alive an era when Phoenix was filled with innovation and experimentation in design. “People will say, ‘Oh, I remember that from when I was a kid,’” the artist says. “I just love the response to it. For me, it’s all about what it means to them.”

Using photographs as a starting point, he modifies and refines the image until it is ready to be printed in bright colors that are indicative of the era.







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Daehee Park (left) and
JT Marino’s innovative designs and service have changed the mattress industry.
A Penchant for Pima

When JT Marino and Daehee Park, the creative minds behind Phoenix-based mattress company Tuft & Needle, decided to expand their product line, they looked to their customers for suggestions.

 “Sheets are one of those things people have been asking about for a long time,” says Marino, who notes that it was important to him and Park to support the local economy and use U.S. materials. “But we didn’t want to simply source a product from another company and put our name on it. We wanted to offer something that is new and unique that caters to our customers’ needs. And if we could keep it local, that was even better.”

As the pair searched for just the right materials, they learned that one of world’s highest quality cottons is grown right in their backyard. Developed around 1910 in Pinal County, southeast of Phoenix, Pima cotton—also known as Supima, a portmanteau of “superior” and “Pima,” for the Pima Indians who cultivated and introduced it—is renowned for its extra-long strands that produce exceedingly soft yet durable textiles.

“Supima is, in a lot of cases, better than Egyptian cotton,” Marino explains. The use of such premium fibers also means that the thread count can be lower, resulting in linens that are silky yet breathable.

 Today, only 3 percent of American-grown cotton is Pima, “so to use a product from our region and also have an exceptional fiber is a win-win,” adds Marino. “It was sort of like a serendipitous moment to find out about Supima’s history. How much more perfect can you get?”

Photos - From left: Migratory cotton pickers in Pinal County, circa mid-1900s.

Supima cotton grown in the Southwest adds strength and breathability to Tuft & Needle’s sheets. ($75-$125)

Courtesy of National Archives & Records Administration/Dorothea Lange

Tuft & Needle’s downtown Phoenix store is located in the historic 1917 O.S Stapley building.


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Beyond Footwear

When Jesus “Jesse” Aguiar first started making moccasins in the late 1960s, he was “just a long-haired hippy guy who wanted to do leather work,” he says with a laugh. Today, his Tucson-based business is the only one in the country that wholesales traditional footwear to Arizona’s
Native American tribes.

“The way I make moccasins is the way they’ve been made for hundreds of years,” Aguiar says. Tanned cowhide soles are hand-sewn to supple yet sturdy chap-weight suede uppers held together with suede laces and conchos. The thick, hard soles—always white—are unique to the region; they protect the wearer’s feet from the rocky soil and prickly plants of the desert.

 “For the tribes, moccasins are not a luxury. They’re a necessity,” Aguiar explains. “They have to have them for ceremonies and when they dress up in their tribal regalia.” His main clients are the trading posts throughout the Northern Arizona nations, as well as the Pueblo tribes of New Mexico. Hopi moccasins are made in three hues of suede: rust, white and turquoise. The Navajo design features a tall shaft wrapped in white deerskin with a suede toe.

While the ceremonial styles remain the same, “We’re getting a lot of Navajos and Pueblo Indians who want color in their everyday moccasins,” says Aguiar, who now makes shoes in such bright shades as lime green, fuchsia, red, purple and even metallics. “Black is also popular,” he adds. “Everyone is adapting to different colors.”

Photos - Clock-wise from top left: Aguiar hand-sews a white leather sole to a suede upper.

The Nine Button style features nickle-plated buttons. The thick leather soles protect the wearer’s feet from the rocky desert ground. ($195)

Aguiar bases most of his moccasin designs on the traditional One Button style, which dates back more than 100 years and was the first type of moccasin to incorporate a blind stitch. The shoes are handmade by Aguiar and his small team of craftspersons. ($105)

A blind, or hidden, stitch is used to attached the sole to the upper. “It helps with the wear, says Jesus “Jessie” Aguiar.


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Working with antique cast-iron machines, such as a blocking pot that uses steam to shape the crown, Watson fashions bespoke hats for men and women. “The best way to make a beautiful hat is with that old equipment,” he says. A collection of wood hat blocks allows him to create whatever his clients can imagine. “We can build styles that haven’t been seen in 100 years,” he adds. Prices begin at $999.
Hats of Yore

The cowboy hat is one of the most iconic symbols of the American West, and a true cowpoke places high value on his hat’s quality and comfort. “A real cowboy knows the real thing,” says master hatter Eric Watson, who, like his many horse-riding customers, takes the business of brims, crowns and creases very seriously.

This passion for headgear surfaced when Watson was just a boy. Unable to find a proper, well-made “Indiana Jones” fedora, the Ohio native began purchasing old hats to restore, and the hobby stuck. But it wasn’t until the recession in the late 2000s that the self-proclaimed “Glad Hatter” decided to turn his pastime into a full-time business. He purchased all of the equipment and tools from one of the country’s oldest hat shops, which operated from 1860 to 1989 in Boston, moved to Arizona, and opened his eponymous store in Cave Creek in 2012.

Eric Watson opened his Cave Creek-based hat business in 2012 and has built a following that includes everyone from hard-working ranch hands to wealthy celebrities.
All of Watson’s hats are crafted from 100 percent beaver felt, which is strong, lightweight and breathable. “The best hats are made out of beaver belly fur,” he says. “It’s been that way for 300 years.” And whether it’s a traditional cowboy hat, a chic fedora or even a dapper derby, with hundreds of hat blocks and brim molds to choose from, Watson can fashion a chapeau to fit any head. “You should see how people light up when they put on their hat. Some people even cry,” he adds. “They literally get emotional about their great new hat because they can’t get this everywhere.

“We’re taking the raw base material and making something beautiful from start to end,” he adds. “That’s what it’s all about: preserving the quality that was found centuries ago.”


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Sebastian (left) and Julian are half of the Sandersius brothers who own and operate Ezra Arthur.
All in the Family

As a collector and seller of antique shaving products, Sebastian Sandersius decided
in the 2000s that he’d like to develop a brand of safety razors; each would be encased in its own leather storage box. While working on the packaging, he had an  epiphany: “I had never been happy with any wallet I’d ever owned,” he says. “So I decided to start designing wallets as well.” High costs put a temporary hold on the razor, but the wallet was a success. So much so that it spawned a leather goods business that has become known for its luxury items that hark back to a time when products weren’t flashy but were created to last a lifetime.   

Julian operates a stamp press, which debosses monograms and words into the leather.
Originally called Bison Made, the company was rebranded as Ezra Arthur in 2016 after Sandersius’s grandfather. “We decided to name the company after our grandfather because he was a really incredible person who helped raise us, and we thought it would be the best way to honor him,” says Sandersius, who brought his three younger brothers onboard as co-owners.

Together, they run the business out of a Phoenix warehouse. The majority of work is done on-site, from cutting the leather shapes to hand-stitching the pieces together to die cutting, foiling and embossing the packaging. “If we don’t make it completely in-house, it still passes through our hands many times,” Sandersius notes. “We try to focus on value and quality over luxury. You’ll have one of our wallets for your lifetime.”



A foray into creating a razor brand resulted in a line of men’s luxury leather goods that includes wallets, belts and razor strops. Made of four pieces of durable yet soft leather that are folded together like origami, the wallets are hand-stitched. The model shown left retails for $125.
The Signature Straight Razor features a forged steel blade and a carbon-fiber handle. $895


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Master artist Robert DeArmond hand-paints dishware in HF Coors’ Tucson factory.
A Plateful of Heritage

In the mid-1930s, architect Mary J. Colter, renowned for her works in Grand Canyon National Park, designed a line of dishware based on pottery motifs from the ancient Mimbres people of southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. Created
exclusively for use on the Santa Fe Railway’s luxurious Super Chief, the china was used until the train’s service ended in 1971.

Macaws, seen on this teapot, symbolized part of the Mimbres story of creation. $65
Dirck Schou, president of Tucson-based restaurant dinnerware company HF Coors, recalls years later reading an article in National Geographic about Mimbres culture. “Being a potter, I thought their designs were absolutely gorgeous,” he recalls. “I said that at some point I should make that.”

With encouragement from the folks at Winslow’s La Posada Hotel and the Grand Canyon’s El Tovar, Schou embarked on a years-long journey to acquire the licensing rights, which are now owned by the BNSF Railway. But the wait was worth the reward: In fall 2015, HF Coors sold its first product in the Mimbreño line: a simple coffee mug. Today, the company offers 21 items, including plates, platters, butter chips, sugar bowls and more. “So far, we have tried to stick with every piece they had for the Super Chief,” says Schou.

An ancient Mimbres bowl with a traditional design of four fish in black and white is shown next to its HF Coors reproduction.
The potter worked to develop the precise black and red shades that Colter used. The patterns are created with decals. Schou tracked down the company that made the original decals and was able to get proofs of the designs.

In less than two years, the line has become the company’s best-seller, but Schou’s not surprised. “I expected it,” he says. “It’s an iconic Southwestern Native American design. It’s beautiful.”

Mimbreño dishware is available in Original Maroon and El Tovar Black. Prices average $25 for a coffee mug to $44 for a charger plate.

Archeologists excavate a pithouse in New Mexico’s Mimbres Valley.



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Jeff Zimmerman and his daughter, Emma, moved their popular grain business to Queen Creek in 2014.
The Flavor of Arizona

When Jeff Zimmerman decided to start milling grains as a hobby, little did he know that he would not only revive a name that holds nostalgia for longtime Arizonans, but that he would also lead the way in reintroducing a variety of long-forgotten grains to our tables.

Following a career in the tech industry, he became interested in finding a grain element to the whole food movement. “I was looking for what grew here in Arizona, and the history was all tied up in Hayden Flour Mill. That’s how we got wrapped around it,” he says of the business he now runs with his daughter, Emma.

In the late 1800s, wheat was a staple product of Arizona’s agriculture. In 1874 in Tempe, Charles Hayden founded an eponymous facility where he would mill White Sonora, one of the oldest and most flavorful wheat varietals. By the late 1960s, the Hayden brand had been acquired—and abandoned—by a larger company. When Zimmerman started looking for a company name, he was excited to learn that the Hayden trademark was available. “I could have called it Emma’s Mill, but we knew that Hayden Flour Mill had a really great story,” he says. Zimmerman soon began working with local farmers to spread the word about the quality and flavor found in heirloom grains—just as his predecessor had once done.

“You know, Charles Hayden was a man ahead of his time,” he notes. “He was gracious, and his family believed in education, diversity and sustainable practices. We’re very proud of the mill and to carry on the Hayden name.”
 

In its heyday, Hayden Flour Mill in Tempe, founded in 1874 and seen ;eft in a photo from 1940, was among the most prominent agriculture-based industries in the Valley. It ceased operations in 1998.
Ben Butler, Hayden’s resident master miller, pours grain into a mill.

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