ARTIST, ENTREPRENUER, COMMUNITY BUILDER
Kenny Barrett is an artist, entrepreneur, and a creative-community builder in Phoenix, Arizona, USA.
Barrett's artworks focus on installation, public art, and community interventions. He studied contemporary art at Metáfora International Workshop in Barcelona, Spain. He is most widely known as the artist behind the Valley of the Sunflowers project, an urban agriculture project that activated a 2-acre, vacant, city block in downtown Phoenix and turned it into a field of sunflowers in 2011. The project aimed to go from ‘seed-to-engine’ in the production of sunflower biofuel with neighboring Bioscience High School students’ solar/biofuel-hybrid vehicle project and, while doing so, created a vibrant community gathering space for picnics, drawing classes, and outdoor science & health labs.
Barrett is also the co-owner of Phoenix General Store, voted “Best Clothing Store” in Phoenix every year since it opened in 2016. He was a co-founder for the GROWop handmade+found artist cooperative retail store in 2010-2016 until the opening of Phoenix General. The store has since opened a second location in Phoenix and continues to grow its online presence as well as its in-house line of clothing basics and organic apothecary products inspired by their community garden roots.
Barrett has served as the Program Director for Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation (RRCDC), a nonprofit organization focused on community revitalization through the arts in the internationally-recognized Roosevelt Row Arts District. During that time, he oversaw the First Friday Artwalk (one of the largest monthly artwalks in the country) and founded programs & events such as ARTS (Adaptive Reuse of Temporary Space), Mural Match Program, RoRoMA (Roosevelt Row Merchants Association), Chile Pepper Fest, CultivEAT farm-table-dinners, and then served on the Board of Directors of RRCDC for many years. He has served as Project Manager for Handson Greater Phoenix organizing large-scale volunteer-service & community revitalization events like Serve-A-Thon, Make a Difference Day, MLK Jr. Day of Service, 9/11 Service & Remembrance, custom corporate group projects, and managed a program in collaboration with Home Depot to rehabilitate the homes of United States veterans. He also is a co-founder and has served as the part-time executive director since 2008 of the Growhouse Urban Agriculture Center, a space for community agriculture, education, and collaborative reenvisioning of vacant urban space.
Barrett has co-written a handful of successful grants including an ArtPlace America and National Endowment for the Arts "Our Town" award, in addition to grants from Intel & Keep Arizona Beautiful. He was named Community Cultivator in the Superheroes edition of ‘Best of Phoenix’ by the Phoenix New Times. Barrett earned a bachelor's degree in Marketing & Advertising Management at the WP Carey School for Business at Arizona State University. He's very active, loves hiking and cycling, and is currently training for the AIDS Lifecycle 545-mile charity fundraiser ride from San Francisco to LA. He loves a good garden analogy, is a master gardener, beekeeper, and chicken whisperer.
He has spent his career focused on fostering creative spaces and building a robust, connected community in the Sonoran Desert with the hope of brightening the life of others and, in turn, has given his own life great meaning and purpose.