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Last Thursday I had the pleasure of attending SCOPE, a showcase of local art, music and fashion hosted by RAW Natural Born Artists. This bimonthly event at Monarch Theater has become a staple for up and coming artists to see and be seen in the Valley’s art community. Last week was no exception. Walking through the venue it was clear to see the art community here is alive and thriving.Event Director, Laura Fischer said “The turn was great and the crowd had so much energy.”

So what is RAW? This was the first time I had heard about this non-profit artist collective. It is a community that supports budding local and national artists by featuring them in galleries and shows. “Artists submit their work via the RAW website. Our RAW team reviews these submissions and selects the artists we feel are the very best at their craft.” -Laura Fischer.

I’ll admit, when I first walked in, I didn’t know what to expect. I figured it would be a fashion show, some music, and maybe a few paintings on the wall. I was blown away at the diverse display of art in the gallery above as well as the main floor. I stepped into the Monarch theater and was greeted with a full fashion runway and main stage. Tucked to the side were the fashion vendors that were throughout the night. One of my favorites was 4GivenLove, a clothing brand based on the concept of forgiveness through love. The fashion show kicked off and the models stomped that runway. A highlight for me was the Candi! accessory collection by Cheryl Dent. Each bead on her necklaces is hand wrapped in different textiles, creating jewelry that pops.

As I moved upstairs, the mixture of art was palpable. Drew Siciliano from Ink Therapy, pulled out the tattoo machine and completed a full section of new style ink on a client. It was memorizing to watch and his portfolio and artwork cried out to my morbid sense of humor. Just around the corner from Drew was Cassandra Rounds and her etherial display of feline portraits. The watercolor technique was simply stunning. Around the other side was a clever use of found objects. Greg Frederick’s Vinyl Pop Art is a series of canvases that utilizes old vinyl records and their sleeves to create portraits of musicians and artist. It’s a vibrant collect of silhouettes that just put a smile on my face. When I stepped into the second smaller gallery, hanging to one side was a huge canvas from Richmond Art Studio. Mark Richmond creates Japanese inspired paintings that are colorful and finely detailed. I drooled over his recent piece that featured the soul piercing gaze of an owl. Some day, that will be mine.

One of the surprising things for me at this event was the number of new artists on display. Several of the artists I met are fresh onto the art scene. One to note was Geremy Cites, who paints morbid depictions of cartoon characters and monsters. I loved his featured work of an alien monster holding a birthday cupcake looking forlorn. It was sad and amusing and really showed the young artists capabilities. Geremy is the creator of Hythe Brand clothing, street inspired apparel that incorporate some of his works. Some of the younger artists also included photographers displaying their latest works. It was a breath of fresh air to see photographic media in a sea of oil and acrylic.

The event kept things fresh as a musicians played through the night. iAmJones came on set and laid down some groove and funk. I will admit, that I had missed most of the performances since I was so preoccupied upstairs. I’m especially bummed that I missed the sultry sounds of Cherice Love. There’s always next time I guess.  Now that I know the type of event I’m getting into, I’ll remember to stick around longer for the music.

In short the evening was a kaleidoscope of the senses. RAW has created something here in the Valley that cultivates creativity and talent. “Phoenix has grown to be one of the strongest RAW cities in the country! The artists are extremely high quality and the community is amazing at supporting them.  I also see RAW artists network and connect at every show, the new artists and past artists who come out to support, and they are making very successful collaborations together and supporting each other.” -Laura Fischer. 

The next RAW event is in November, date TBA. To check out other RAW artists and get info on all of their upcoming events check out their website HERE.

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