Graduates Ready to Tackle the World from Arizona!

A Claire Slattery holds her degree.

There’s always a little apprehension as graduation day approaches. So many young upstarts capture our attention while in college. Then they graduate. And, sometimes they leave. Or, worse, they put their art on the back-burner so they can focus their attention on earning their white picket fence. Excuse me while I vomit. No, really, to each her own, but what I really love are the artists who emerge from academia committed to their creative vision. I say fucking go for it. Live fiercely and make art everywhere… especially here. Arizona can be changed for the better. Such a beautiful weird visionary place deserves beautiful weird visionary people. Stake your claim.

This year, I was particularly excited to hear that many graduates are doing just that: continuing to make art right here in Arizona. Every year it seems as if our arts community grows a little bit more and a little bit more. Direction is everything and we are definitely moving in the right one. I am very excited to see what some of this year’s graduates will do over a lifetime of artistic endeavors. Sometimes, it takes an entire lifetime, but for these graduates in particular, the potential is there and we should all be watching… not to add to the already debilitating sense of pressure in the face of the almost-inevitable post-graduate depression. It’s why the film is called The Graduate. We’ve all been there. Persevere. We’re all with you.


Graduate: Robbie Pfeffer
Degree: Global Studies with a focus on community development in post-conflict regions
Everyone’s favorite junior art crusader is setting up his game and going pro now that he has that degree in hand. We’ve been following Robbie since forever (or, a while, if you take issue with specificity). This young man upheld so many projects while pursuing that fancy degree, I can’t even imagine what he’ll be able to do without school to interrupt his other endeavors. To begin, he’s starting his own record label featuring “weird desert art” called Rubber Brother Records and he’ll be interning with Burger Records out of California. Add to that two bands, Playboy Manbaby and Fun Dungeon, and this kid has overachiever written all over him. We love it. 
Mo Neuharth
Graduate: Mo Neuharth
Degree: Photography
Whatever she’s working on, whether in photography or music or whatever, chances are I’m going to be impressed. She’s just one of those people. You know, they have that ineffable quality that knows good art. They might not even realize they have it. They just think they like what they like but they always veer toward the intrinsically artistic. They see the special in the sea of ordinary and point it out to others, the coolhunters, if you’ll forgive the term. Mo does that with her photography which can be seen here. She also nails that same quality in her music, both with the NUMB BATS and North Dakota. And, if that wasn’t enough, she has sick fashion sense she extends to others through her vintage resale shop SOUTH DIAMOND. If I didn’t think she was awesome, I might be hostile.

Graduate: Daniel Mills
Degree: English Literature & a Certificate in the Environmental Humanities

Daniel photographed by Niba Del Castillo, an amazing
AZ artist we discovered through PhxTaco!

The graduation of the man behind Phoenix Taco, one of our favorite blogs around town, might have us in a tizzy if we were more concerned about being the best blog in town and less concerned with helping to make Arizona the place to be for art. Thankfully, we have our priorities straight so we can celebrate with Daniel Mills as he embarks on new projects post-graduation. Phoenix Taco is one of  the best places to learn about the art that happens around the state. Most of you out there have no idea what goes into making a successful and informative blog. We do. For years now, Daniel has managed to keep up with art and artists scattered throughout the state and, in doing so, he has proven himself an invaluable resource to the AZ arts community. Phoenix Taco is not just about gallery shows or who’s at First Friday either. Daniel digs up the artists obscured from the vision of mainstream media and brings those folks to light. Whether an artists’ work appears in galleries, on city walls, or even wheat-pasted to the side of trailer on the Navajo Nation in Tuba City, he will find you if your work merits attention. With classes over and the world waiting, Daniel plans to begin a new online publication focusing on Arizona arts and culture with the addition of sustainability-related issues. We can’t wait for the unveiling.

Graduate: A Claire Slattery

Degree: English (Creative Writing)
A Claire Slattery doesn’t necessarily make art, she is art. A living, walking, breathing, ever-changing amalgamation of strange and strangely artistic ideas sun-brewed with a hefty scoop of sugary pop culture  kitsch. What’s not to love? I first encountered the workings of A Claire when I was walking my dog around the Mitchell Park neighborhood in Tempe. Stickers that simply read “A Claire Slattery” were here and there. At first, I thought it might be some local band but then, to my confusion and ultimate fascination, I found out it was a person. I saw her name everywhere. At the places I went to hear bands, at the places I went to eat dinner, everywhere. She was a fan to many and she left her name behind where she went. It became a follow-along-adventure. She addresses such looming present-day concepts as fan-adoration, self-creation, and the nature of art in the hyper self-conscious era just by being herself. I’m not sure how to tell you how to check out her work, even though I have word that her recent graduation means that more social projects/experiments are about to get underway. In the meantime, you can always check her out performing with Treasure MammaL. And, I suggest following her on faceyspace or tumblr just to keep tabs on what she’s up to. You’ll probably learn about something interesting going on around you.
Evan Bisbee (left) at the School of Public Performance.
Graduate: Evan Bisbee
Degree: English Literature (with a certificate in writing)
I don’t know what’s more exciting: that Evan Bisbee’s graduation means he’ll be able to focus more on making music or that by including him in this post I get to take a break from listening to the albums I’m actually reviewing this week to listen to Good Friends Great Enemies’ self-titled debut named YabYum’s Best Album of 2012 once again. It seems as if most contemporary artists choose to diversify their efforts rather than committing to a singular enterprise. Sorta like the more lines you have in the water, the more likely you are to catch that proverbial fish. Heidegger, however, said think one thought and one thought only. If we distribute ourselves among several projects, it becomes all the harder to achieve real greatness of any one thing. Evan Bisbee ascribes to this philosophy and is a one-band-man. Perhaps for this reason, and many many others, Good Friends Great Enemies stands out above many other local acts, musically and lyrically. Just listen to “Forgotten Offspring” or “Darkness” or any of the other tracks on their album here.
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