Art, Fashion and Music Unite: HeArt of the City PHX

For Executive Director Reginald McKinley, HeArt of the City PHX is everything he loves "all in one place."

As the sixth largest city in the United States, Phoenix is swarmed by tons of artists and art-lovers alike. Whether it is the art of music or visual art, like painting and fashion design, there’s no excuse as to why there hasn’t been much of a cultural imprint made in this metropolis for the world to see.

But, one showcase is surely on its way to making that happen.

“Phoenix is one of the largest cities in the country, but definitely not in its mentality,” said Reginald McKinley, executive director of HeArt of the City PHX, a showcase that brings together talented local artists in all realms to one place every month. McKinley  launched the first HeArt of the City PHX showcase back in June with the hopes to cater to a “culture that’s growing, but hasn’t had the space to,” he said. After graduating from Morehouse University in Atlanta, Georgia, with two degrees, he knew he wanted to pursue social entrepreneurship to culminate all of the event organizing he’s done in the past with his passion for the arts. “I knew I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, and the skill set that I have would never be accepted in a traditional sense,” he said. “I’m a networker, I’m fluid, I’m creative, I’m innovative.” After returning to Arizona post-graduation and determining that an office job was not for him, it became the perfect time for him to go for it.

Surprisingly, HeArt of the City was actually supposed to take place in Hollywood

One element that is always incorporated is fashion, typically with a live runway show for anything from clothing to interesting hair pieces.

each month, highlighting different art forms, such as music and fashion, but after things didn’t come through the way he had hoped, he didn’t give up. “I was like, ‘OK, I know I really want to venture into this, is the space and opportunity available here in Phoenix?’ OK, it does exist,’” McKinley explained. After being active and present in the art and culture realm of Arizona, he was well aware that orchestrating such a showcase was definitely feasible, but it would come with a

lot of hard work.

He spent about a year doing research on locations, logistics and operational aspects of the event, figuring out things like how many artists and participants it would take and what kinds of sounds and lighting would be necessary. “Once we knew that was possible, I followed suit to figure out what the best way was to get people there and how to approach and market to them, especially with something new,” he said. Knowing that people are visual beings, he created a video teaser shot in the desert entitled “The Awakening.” He conceptualized the whole thing—in addition to

Musical performances are a highlight of each showcase. Singer I Am Jones brought soul to the audience as he energetically sang and danced.

finding models, doing the styling and more—as something that would spark interest of Arizona’s art realm that could be comparable to an editorial out of Paris. “It evolved based on the video production team I brought in into something even bigger than that where it became sort of haunting, but interesting, and it just warranted a lot of interest from people,” he said.

After that, as some would say, the rest was history.

As a self-funded showcase, McKinley takes pride in the fact that he was able to do all of the branding and labeling of HeArt of the City PHX himself. “It was just my time and efforts—a lot of late nights, a lot of early mornings, a lot of 12 hour days, but it worked because you guys can now see it,” he said. Along with a team of scouts, he also comes across plenty of talent and artists to be featured each month, allowing them to be seen by the growing HeArt of the

City PHX audience. “The exciting thing is people get the opportunity to be visible.

In the midst of the entertainment, local painters perform their own art form live throughout the location.

So many people will never get the space to be

successful, so I figured if I build the space in for them where they just have to show up, then I’ve taken that sense of ‘I can’t do it’ away and now it’s ‘Just be here,’” he expressed. He hopes that in time, the showcase will help the artists gain national, and even international, attention for their work and get the recognition they deserve.

December will mark the seventh month and show for HeArt of the City PHX, and McKinley says there are great things in store, especially for those who have short attention spans. His goal is to have every art form be represented in one space in a whole new way. “Just watch out for us. What were doing and how were doing it has not ever been done here,” he urged.

The big showcase will occur on December 17, 7 p.m.  at Coach and Willie’s (412 S. 3rd St.)—be sure to mark it with a heart on your calendars.

For more information or how to get involved, look for HeArt of the City PHX on Facebook.

*We love feedback! Post a comment or question about this article and you could win a PHXFW t-shirt! 

Article by Ashley Haines for Phoenix Fashion Week

“The Resource For All Things Fashionable”

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