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Updated Jan 16, 2014 - 6:33 am

'American Pop' set for Friday opening in Tempe

TEMPE, Ariz. -- A tribute to American pop culture is coming to Tempe.

The Gallery at the Tempe Center for the Arts is getting ready for "American Pop," an art exhibit that is a salute to popular things that people love and collect. Everything from photographs to statues to comic books will be there when the exhibit opens Friday night.

Gallery coordinator Michelle Nichols Dock said Valley business and art leaders were asked what they loved as a kid and what they love today.

"What we heard was that they grew up watching 'Star Trek' episodes, 'Looney Tunes,' Marvin the Martian, and Batman," said Dock. "Today, they still collect Batman toys and still go to Batman movies."

In fact, an entire wall of the exhibit is dedicated to the 1960's "Batman" TV show, with autographed pictures of Adam West, Burt Ward, Burgess Meredith and other stars of the popular show. The Batmobile that was sold at last year's Barrett-Jackson auto auction will also be on display for Friday's opening night.

Dock said there are lots of other things to see.

"We've got moon images, Marvin Martian, Fantastic Four, and all of these things," said Dock. "What brings it together is that we've got little vignettes in the exhibition."

Each vignette represents the particular interests of one of the people who responded to Dock's survey. One of them is Tempe librarian Ralph Brown.

"He's an avid collector of comic books," Dock said. "He grew up on them and is an avid collector. He's also writing us a really nice essay on the love of popular culture and comic books," Dock said.

The exhibit runs through June 8th and admission is free. For more information, go to

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I live in north Phoenix with my wife Rene' and my son Devin.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: My Dad took me to see Jimmy Dean at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in the 1960's. It was before the Coliseum was built. The only thing I remember is Jimmy Dean singing his big hit "Big Bad John."

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Shiloh Community Church in Phoenix. Devin is a high school student at Scottsdale Christian Academy. He plays on the baseball, football, and basketball teams and sings in the choir. Obviously, we keep busy trying to go to all his events! We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and long road trips. We like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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