Bienvenidos here! at the Welcome Diner, 2009

In bringing together Garfield neighborhood residents, the local arts crowd, and the university community Bienvenidos here! at the Welcome Diner helped codify the Welcome Diner as a new public venue for connection through food, art, and community. The event featured a local church youth band singing in Spanish, a DJ dubbed “DJentrification,” a Latina DJ with a distinctive Norteño flair, a live video feed installation, a series of simple interventions and performances, and a screening of the 1974 Gordon Matta-Clark film “Food.” The film underscored historical precedent for artist-created food/restaurant projects.

Against a backdrop of growing tensions in Arizona towards immigrant communities, guests were welcomed by neighborhood children, who prepared nametags and encouraged them to enjoy themselves, have a bite to eat, and meet three people they didn’t know. The Garfield neighborhood in downtown Phoenix is adjacent to a quickly expanding hip arts scene. During two months of research and engagement, the neighborhood residents (80% Mexican/Mexican-American) expressed that they had never frequented the Welcome Diner. In this temporarily shared space of different cultures and personal experiences, 350 meals were served from the 1940’s trailer that seats nine.

The project was created by Cathy Akins, Jennifer Campbell, Peter Christenson, Matthew Garcia, Schuyler Graham, Pattie Harmdierks, Emily Hartley, Natalia Jaeger, Braden Kay, Robert Madera, Sloane McFarland, Matthew Mosher, Brennan O’Mara, Ellie Richards, Gregory Sale, Lauren Strohacker, Alfredo Tarango, Brett Thomas, Doug Waitrovich, and Nic Wiesinger. Bienvenidos here! at the Welcome Diner, was produced in conjunction with Art & Community 494/598, a social art practice course lead by Gregory Sale at Arizona State University, with the support from the School of Art, Herberger Institute for the Design and the Arts, and Sloane McFarland of the Welcome Diner.

Collaborative community-based social art project (five-hour finale event, two-month neighborhood research/engagement), Welcome Diner, Phoenix, AZ