Herberger Institute faculty recognized at 2021 Phoenix Mayor’s Arts Awards

December 7, 2021

Two faculty members in Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts won in their categories at the 2021 Phoenix Mayor’s Arts Awards.  

Jorge “House” Magana, clinical assistant professor of dance in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre, was named the 2021 Jerry Lawson Memorial Performing Artist, and Danielle Foushee, assistant professor in The Design School, was named the 2021 Lou & Evelyn Grubb Community Innovator at this year’s ceremony Photo of Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and Jorge Edson Magana. Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and Jorge Edson Magana. Photo by Fernando Hernandez/Courtesy of Phoenix Center for the Arts Download Full Image

The annual event recognizes outstanding leaders in Phoenix’s arts community, and the funds raised benefit the Phoenix Center for the Arts. 

When Magana heard the news, he was in the middle of coordinating the Sol Power hip-hop festival at ASU’s Tempe campus and said he was surprised to be named a finalist.

“This is a big deal in Arizona,” he said. “It made me grateful that I was nominated. I was glad to be there and to bring a different perspective.”

Through his courses at ASU, the Sol Power festival and other community engagement, Magana has been promoting hip-hop culture in the Phoenix area for years. He said he is happy to see hip-hop honored in this way and that he envisions a future where arts organizations more fully recognize street artists. 

“With this award, I am representing not just myself, people of color and hip-hop,” he said, “but also the program here at ASU. I am hoping it will continue to open some doors.”

Julia Chacón, ASU MFA student in dance and flamenco instructor, and the Phoenix Boys Choir were the other nominees in the performing artist category. 

Photo of Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and Danielle Foushee

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego (left) and Danielle Foushee. Photo by Fernando Hernandez/Courtesy of Phoenix Center for the Arts

For the Community Innovator award, Foushee won, and Taylor Buttrey and Clottee Angela Hammons were nominated. 

Foushee founded and directs the Phoenix Mural Project to document the city’s street art culture, enhance its vitality and expand public support for design and the arts in public places. She helps organize the Phoenix Mural Fest and is a member of the Phoenix Arts and Culture Commission. 

"The Mayor's Arts Award was extra meaningful to me," Foushee said. "Over five weekends in February and March 2021, Phoenix Mural Festival brought people from all over the city to revitalize what had been an underappreciated public space and — despite the pandemic — provided a safe, outdoor space where Phoenicians were able to recharge in nature and nurture social connections. More than 80 Arizona-based artists created 68 new murals along the Grand Canalscape in midtown Phoenix, and their demographics matched the city's population. I'm most proud of all the people who came together to help pull it all off, and especially want to acknowledge the tireless work of my volunteer festival co-chair Alexia Bednarz, an alumna from the School of Sustainability."

In addition to the Young Artist Award, which went to Shaeleigh O’Brien, the Mayor’s Arts Award also presented the Dr. Eugene Grigsby Visual Artist Award, named after the ASU professor emeritus of art. Grigsby served as an art professor at ASU from 1966 to 1988, and his artwork and contributions to African American art have been recognized by royalty and dignitaries worldwide. The 2021 award went to Lucretia Torva, and Joanne L. Gallery and Kathryn Russum were nominated. 

Lacy Chaffee contributed to this story.  

Sarah A. McCarty

Marketing and communications coordinator, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts


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Alumni, student entrepreneurs win investment cash at Demo Day

Demo Day funding brings tears of joy to ASU student, alumni entrepreneurs.
December 7, 2021

Venture Devils competition returns to in-person pitching at SkySong

Entrepreneurship is all about solving problems, and Arizona State University student Jordan Fourcher won $15,000 on Friday for his solution to a common problem in Arizona — overheated mobile phones.

Fourcher, who is majoring in technological entrepreneurship and management, won the funding in the Edson Student Entrepreneurship Initiative at the Demo Day pitch event.

His company, Fourcher Technologies — which previously won $15,000 at the spring Demo Day — specializes in thermal-management solutions for mobile electronics.

“How many of you ever had your phones overheat? I thought, ‘How do we fix that?’” he asked the crowd during the awards celebration at SkySong on Friday night.

“Right now I’m working on a wireless charger that actively cools your phone, and I’m also working on a phone case that gets colder without electricity.”

Fourcher Technologies was one of more than 75 Venture Devils startups that pitched at Demo Day on Friday. Venture Devils is a program to support ASU students, staff, faculty, alumni and community entrepreneurs within the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute at ASU. More than $192,000 was awarded in eight funding tracks. Venture Devils teams also get access to mentorship and space.

Demo Day is held every semester on the last day of classes, and Friday’s pitch event was the first to be in person since fall 2019 — although the awards event also was livestreamed. Fourcher was among many Venture Devils founders who were pitching in person to judges and an audience for the first time instead of submitting a pitch video.

“When I first walked into the building, I told the judges I wasn’t nervous, I was ecstatic,” he said. “I felt like I was at Disneyland!”

Overall, $90,000 was awarded to sports-related ventures.

Charlotte Bowens wept tears of joy when her name was announced for winning $10,000 in the Global Sport Institute Venture Challenge. Bowens founded Conscious Gear, a line of outdoor-activity clothing for larger-sized people.

“My business is really my passion,” said Bowens, a graduate student in the Innovation and Venture Development degree program and a staff member at ASU.

“It’s really about ensuring that bigger-bodied folk can be in the outdoor space and have the outerwear and gear that they need to be endurance athletes or just get out onto the hiking trails.”

The top winner in the Global Sport Institute funding track was Timeout, an app created by Maya McClendon, a star on the Sun Devils volleyball team before she graduated in 2017. She won $15,000 for the app, which creates a personalized mental health program for athletes and connects them to resources.

Also winning funding was Get Gifted, a venture co-founded by MBA student Michael Matus, who plays football for the Sun Devils. The app connects student-athletes to local businesses for brand deals, now allowed under the new Name, Image and Likeness policy by the NCAA. Get Gifted won $5,000.

There were two new funding tracks this semester: Venture Devils Pay It Forward and the Arizona Coyotes Venture Challenge.

Venture Devils Pay It Forward awarded $20,000, with $10,000 coming from Mat Sherman, a 2016 ASU alum. His donation was matched by the Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute.

“I never thought I would be in this position of not accepting a check but giving a check,” said Sherman, who won funding at Demo Day three years ago for his startup Publoft.

“I think there’s an important obligation for founders who get money at Venture Devils that build important companies to stay in Arizona and to give money to programs that build the ecosystem.”

Four ventures won money from Pay It Forward:

  • Bradley Willett, a 2018 graduate of the W. P. Carey School of Business, won $10,000 for ScripGuard, a locking device intended to prevent prescription medication abuse.
  • Three alumni — Parker Barr, Tesher Cohen and Kyle DeSousa — won $5,000 for their app Koko Ni, which caregivers can use to monitor elderly loved ones.
  • Abigael Omijie, a native of Nigeria who is pursuing an MBA at ASU, won $2,500 for her venture, Pot Heads Tea, a loose-leaf tea company.
  • Michael Wang, who graduated from ASU last spring with a degree in finance and computer information systems, won $2,500 for his venture PeerSquared, a peer-tutoring platform.

Twelve ventures pitched to team executives in the Arizona Coyotes Venture Challenge on Thursday, and the winners were announced at the awards ceremony Friday night. Xavier Gutierrez, president and CEO of the Coyotes, appeared via Zoom from his suite at Gila River Arena in Glendale right before game time.

“I’m really excited about this effort to partner with ASU and the Global Sport Institute, and this was very exciting for us,” Gutierrez said. “A key part of our business plan is around innovation and being top-of-mind and best-in-class partners for entrepreneurs.”

The winning ventures were Suji, a Scotland-based venture that makes a compression-training system, which won $30,000; Train Fitness AI, a Canadian venture that created a rep-counting app for Apple Watches, which won $20,000; and Adapt the Game, an app to improve the game-day experience for fans with disabilities, developed by Victor Ocando, a Tempe resident who uses a wheelchair and participates in Devils Adapt. Adapt the Game won $10,000.

Other funding winners were:

Top photo: Charlotte Bowens cried tears of joy after she won $10,000 for her startup Concious Gear, which makes outdoor apparel for larger-sized people. Bowens is a graduate student and a staff member at ASU and won the investment at Demo Day, held Friday at SkySong and sponsored by the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute at ASU. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU News 

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News