Built to Last: Meet the Wedge Family

2016-07-29 | ImagesAZ | Community

Photo Credit: Loralei Lazurek
Writer Grace Hill   The Wedge family loves to build. It’s in their blood.   A resident of Arizona for nearly 40 years, Greg Wedge Jr., the patriarch of the family, currently lives in North Scottsdale with his wife, Kathleen. Not too far away from them live their three children: twin sons, Greg III and Josh, and daughter, Sydney.   While the family loves the outdoors and spends that time mountain biking, camping or fishing, it is the indoor spaces they have created that set them apart. The need to create homes first began when the elder Greg was just a young man, and decided to follow a similar path as his father.   “I love building and working with wood,” he says. “When I graduated from high school, I started working with my dad doing basically the same stuff that I do now.”   He never stopped building. For more than 32 years, the elder Greg worked as a framer. But about five years ago, after some restructuring of the company he worked for, he was let go. Instead of... More

Saguaro Splendor

2016-07-29 | ImagesAZ | Community

Photo Credit: Aimée Madsen
Writer Grace Hill   Amidst the sprawling Sonoran Desert, the saguaro cactus makes its exclusive home. It is here, and only here, that the largest and perhaps most treasured cactus in the United States finds living conditions required for its survival: a hot, dry climate located between sea level and 4,000 feet in elevation. The summer monsoon season is also vitally important, as it supplies the rainfall that hydrates the saguaro all year long.     The saguaro’s scientific name is Carnegiea gigantea. It is not a coincidence that the name Carnegiea sounds similar to the last name of the famous philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. It was given in honor of Carnegie for his generous support in the research of desert plants.     The quintessential saguaro is often depicted as having two arms growing upward out of its trunk. While an accurate portrayal for some, this form is not considered the standard. In fact, it is possible for a saguaro to produce as many as 50 arms. Those arms do not... More

Born to be Wild

2016-07-29 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

Photo Credit: Painting by Marless Fellows
Writer Amanda Christmann   In the searing heat of summer, brittlebush and cholla take long pauses, scorched and tested by unforgiving rays of the desert sun. Whiptail and earless lizards scurry from the sparse shade of one parched palo verde to the next, and families of Harris’s hawks perch tiredly atop the spiny tops of saguaros.   Desert cicadas break the silence, their rattling screams seeming to come from the mesquites and prickly pear cacti themselves. The swish of a tail, barely visible from behind a crop of mesquites, shatters the stillness, followed by an unmistakable snort. A sturdy white stallion rises like a mirage out of the waves of heat that dance above the desert floor. Alert, he glances sideways from a dark eye, one ear perked high as he listens to the sound of approaching visitors.   Only mildly cautious — for he has seen many visitors in recent years — he steps toward a striking chestnut mare with white socks and a white blaze, softly snorting to prompt her... More

Tuft & Needle

2016-07-29 | ImagesAZ | Lifestyle

Photo Credit: Submitted
Writer Shannon Severson   Young, successful innovators use their software development backgrounds to take a startup from problem-solving idea to multimillion dollar industry breakthrough. It sounds like a Silicon Valley Cinderella story, but it’s happening right here in Phoenix at online mattress retailer Tuft & Needle.   John-Thomas “JT” Marino and Daehee Park were longtime friends who met at Penn State University and were burning the candle at both ends at an early stage, heavily financed Palo Alto, California software company. They had tossed around the idea of starting their own company for a long time, but didn’t want to follow the same old formula: become a founder, then find an idea to build a company around, followed by collecting massive amounts of investors’ cash to get things going, all while working endless hours until a buyout makes everyone involved massively wealthy.   “We wanted to do it differently,” says Marino. “We wanted to look at our own... More

Behind the Scenes: Four Phantoms

2016-07-29 | ImagesAZ | Lifestyle

Photo Credit: Submitted
Writer Rebecca Zaner   “Softly, deftly, music shall surround you …”   On August 12-13, the music of the night at Scottsdale’s Talking Stick Resort will feature “The Four Phantoms,” a brand new national tour featuring four of the most iconic stars of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, “The Phantom of the Opera”: Brent Barrett, Franc D’Ambrosio, Davis Gaines and Marcus Lovett. Each of these actors have performed the role of Phantom in professional venues on and off Broadway during their careers.   The new concert will include beloved songs from the show, as well as other Broadway favorites from “Les Miserables,” “Cats,” “Miss Saigon,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Evita,” “West Side Story” and more. The four artists will also be joined by Kaley Ann Voorhees, the youngest female performer to play the role of Christine in “Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway.   Brent Barrett performed in the Las Vegas production of... More

Luxury Urban Living

2016-07-29 | ImagesAZ | Lifestyle

Photo Credit: Submitted
Writer Grace Hill   A new era in luxury home development has emerged in Arizona. Homebuyers are being seduced by a more upscale, urban lifestyle — one where they are in the heart of the city, with easy access to high-end shopping, trendsetting dining destinations, art districts and local music venues.   In order to meet this lifestyle demand, a slew of impressive homes are being built as close to main streets as possible. These homes are masterfully designed and full of modern luxury. Resort-style features permeate throughout, including concierge services; gorgeous rooftop and courtyard gardens; sophisticated and upscale interior amenities; one-of-a-kind mountain and city views; secure indoor parking; sprawling entertainment spaces; and so much more.   No detail has been overlooked and no expense has been spared. Luxury living is now possible in areas bursting with life.   Contour on Campbell Avenue Located in Phoenix’s character-rich Campbell Avenue, Contour offers more than... More

Going with the Grain: Daniel Germani Designs

2016-07-29 | ImagesAZ | Lifestyle

Photo Credit: Michael Woodall
Writer Shannon Severson   For Daniel Germani, furniture design began as a creative outlet, not as something he thought would become his livelihood. Today, his furniture; residential and commercial interior design; and skilled architectural renovation are in demand, drawing attention both here in Phoenix and around the world.   Originally from Argentina, Germani first studied architecture at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, then spent the next eight years pursuing entrepreneurial and creative projects in Rome, Madrid, Brussels, London and Amsterdam. In 1998, he landed in Phoenix to pursue his master’s in international management from Thunderbird. His now uber-successful career as a furniture designer began simply, as a way to reconnect with his passion for design.   “I decided to return to it slowly, designing small furniture pieces that would give me a flavor of seeing and touching something I created and built,” says Germani. “More commissions started coming my way, and... More

Baroque Beauty: The Orpheum Theatre

2016-07-29 | ImagesAZ | Community

Photo Credit: Fred Urlich Photography
Writer Paula Theotocatos   The year was 1929. The madcap era of the Roaring ‘20s was over and the country plunged into the Great Depression with the Wall Street stock market crash. The first Academy Awards ceremony was held in Los Angeles and the Museum of Modern Art opened in New York.   Across the country in Phoenix, another prestigious opening for the benefit of the arts occurred that year: the beautiful Orpheum Theatre.   The Orpheum has a rich history and Anthem resident Fay Giordano, who is a docent at the theater, will be glad to tell you all about it. Fay first became a docent in 1994 when the theater was in the middle of its 12-year renovation.   “We did hard hat tours of the empty theater, telling its history and the plans for its future,” Fay explains. “It reopened in January of 1997 after a $14.5 million restoration.”   Fay has had an interesting history of her own.   “Although I was born in Duluth, I was raised on a farm near the small town of Upsala in... More

One Plate at a Time

2016-07-29 | ImagesAZ | Lifestyle

Photo Credit: Loralei Lazurek
Writer Katherine Braden   I follow Christiane Barbato across her backyard and into a small white hut. Inside, dozens of unglazed clay pots and bowls rest upside-down on shelves, waiting. It’s bright and dusty, and the air smells earthy, like dirt and sunshine. A long table stands in the middle. Christiane turns to me, smiling.   “This is my studio,” she says.   For Christiane, it all officially started a few years ago. Unhappy with the plates she had at home, she decided to make her own. She’d been making pottery since high school, but it had always been a hobby. Once friends saw her homemade plates, however, they asked if they could order some for themselves.   With a bachelor’s and master’s degree in business, Christiane sensed an opportunity. She sold to her friends and started a website, putting her work online. In 2013, she relocated to a house in Phoenix. But there was a problem: The door of her new home was a nasty shade of green. Undeterred, Christiane painted... More

Bow, Barn and Brush: Alex Bauwens

2016-06-30 | ImagesAZ | Lifestyle

Photo Credit: Bryan Black
Writer Shannon Severson   There’s never been a time when art and horses haven’t been defining elements in the life of Alex Bauwens. An accomplished professional artist, the 27-year-old has found her true home in Arizona, a place where she can paint and pursue her passion for horses, mounted archery and competitive reining — and be part of a thriving community of creatives.   Bauwens is constantly on the move, yet nothing she does centers on immediate gratification. It’s antithetical to today’s fast-paced, wait-for-nothing mentality. Each accomplishment has been carefully prepared for, studied, shaped and earned.   “I started riding and drawing when I was 3 or 4,” says Bauwens. “My mom is an artist and she rode horses. Riding was my reward. If I could sit at the barn and draw while she was riding, I would get to ride after she was finished.”   In fact, there wasn’t much young Alex wouldn’t do to get the chance to be on a horse. She pulled weeds, mucked stalls,... More

Go Beyond Off the Shelf: Patrick Gibbons Handmade

2016-06-30 | ImagesAZ | Lifestyle

Photo Credit: Patrick Gibbons Handmade
Writer Lara Piu   Whether it seems like yesterday or decades ago, in 2008 you were likely affected by the housing collapse and economic recession. For North Scottsdale resident Patrick Gibbons, it marked the end of a flourishing business and successful career in land development, but it was also a chance to shake things up.   “I thought, here’s an opportunity to do something different with my life,” Patrick recalls. “So I asked myself, ‘What would you do tomorrow if you could do anything?’”   The answer came quick and easy: golf. Patrick was not on track to be a professional golfer, but he had an appreciation for high-quality golf accessories, thanks to his grandfather. In fact, at the end of his life, Patrick asked his grandfather to leave him one thing: his golf bag.   “It was an old bag that he had for decades, but I liked that it was made in the U.S., and that it had a quality that had nothing to do with today’s disposable society,” he says.   Starting with... More

An Ode to Whiskey

2016-06-29 | ImagesAZ | Lifestyle

Photo Credit: Brandon Tigrett
Writer Amanda Christmann   Lance Carver leans back in his chair, happily worn from a good day’s work. Pausing for a moment, he raises a tulip-shaped glass to his nose and takes a hearty whiff.   “The first thing is the scent,” he explains, then holds the amber liquid under his nose once again, taking a calm, deep breath.   “That first sniff clears your nostrils. It’s the second and third sniffs that give you some of the true flavors of a good whiskey.”   With that, he takes a small sip and rolls it around his tongue, then swallows and smiles. Whiskey is a drink that has personality and distinction of its own. It defines its enthusiasts as much as they define it, and Carver seems to fit the image.   By day, the longtime Arizona resident can be found outdoors, hiking, biking and enjoying all that the desert foothills have to offer. As hard as he plays, he works even harder. By evening, he manages Cartwright’s Sonoran Ranch House, one of the busiest restaurants in the... More

Meet the Saunders Family

2016-06-29 | ImagesAZ | Community

Photo Credit: Submitted by Saunders Family
Writer Grace Hill   “There are 160 million orphans in the world,” says Linny Saunders. “I can’t adopt them all, but by golly, I want to give it a shot!”   It is with that enthusiastic determination that Linny and her husband, Dwight, have maneuvered through life. During their 37 years of marriage, they have had the honor of being called Mom and Dad not just once, but 14 times. Their family consists of eight girls, six boys and a lot of love. While not many couples set out on having so many children, Linny always knew a large family was in her future.   “I spent my growing up years dreaming of someday being a mom of many — even dreaming that they would be lovingly gathered from around the world,” she says.   Yet when the time came for Linny to start her family, she discovered that bringing a child home was not happening the way she expected. Instead of allowing frustration to enter her heart, Linny decided to see the silver lining in that moment.   “We were unable... More

Weekend Warriors: Team Anthem

2016-06-10 | ImagesAZ | Inspiration

Photo Credit: Bryan Black
Writer Tom Scanlon   Saturdays and Sundays are the unofficial “sleep in” days across America. Yet around Anthem, long before dawn on most weekends, alarm clocks are going off and a group of men and women, exhausted from another week’s work, are snapping out of deep sleep and climbing out of bed.   As the first light of day is rising over the desert hills, two dozen adults ranging in age from late 30s to early 60s are already burning calories like barbecues burn coal. They might be running down the road, they might be cycling steep hills, they might even be swimming in a choppy lake — whatever it takes to train for races that test their breaking points.   For many people, training for marathons, triathlons and Ironman competitions is a solitary, even lonely pursuit. Here in the North Valley, extreme athletes have gravitated toward one another, creating a super-fit pod.   This is Team Anthem, and this is the place, if you’re looking for a group not just to help you get into... More

Sculpting Space: Elizabeth Rosensteel

2016-06-08 | ImagesAZ | Lifestyle

Photo Credit: Submitted by Elizabeth Rosensteel
Writer Shannon Severson   Resourcefulness and reinvention is in Elizabeth Rosensteel’s DNA. Her interior design firm, Rosensteel Design Studio, is the culmination of many years — and careers — that have molded who she is today: an artist, furniture designer, sculptor, art director, inventor. Even further back, Rosensteel recalls stories of her maternal grandfather, an artist and organic gardener (before sustainability was a “thing”), and her industrious grandmother, who supported the family by weaving, making lace and working as a furrier — anything to keep her family afloat on the sparse income of an artist.   This combination of hard work and creative talent lives on in Rosensteel, but did draw concern from her mother, who feared her daughter would encounter the same hardships she had as a girl.   “I don’t think my grandparents even had running water until 1972,” says Rosensteel. “My mother said to me as I was growing up, ‘If you go into any form of the arts,... More