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10 WAYS TO SPRUCE UP YOUR PROPERTY WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK
By: Brien McElhatten
ABC News 15

Bill at Granada South
THE ART OF RENOVATION
By Kara Morrison
The Arizona Republic, May 8 2010

Block by block in Tempe, Bill Tonnesen is leaving his mark. You may start to notice his work: masonry buildings with sleek lines and crisp, landscaped yards punctuated by eye-catching metal sculptures. Tonnesen - a landscape architect who has turned heads in the art community - and his business partners have snatched up foreclosures near Arizona State University, turning homely homes into hip abodes nearly overnight.

These aren't your ordinary paint-and-flips. Those who know Tonnesen understand he isn't one for small ideas or chintzy projects with average appeal. Where other investors might see a cash cow needing cosmetic fixes, he sees a blank canvas.

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A RUSTIC MODERN FENCE FOR A VINTAGE HAVER HOME

There's nothing quite like looking at your neighbors' ugly fences every day, especially if there's six of them in every shape and texture imaginable. Matthew and Alison King, founders of Modern Phoenix.net, came into owning their Haver Home knowing they had a big security and beautification problem: a doublewide urban lot with over 208 linear feet of fencing to replace, and a rustic modern aesthetic that forbade the use of any more cheap cinder block.

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DON CARLOS: RENTING WITHOUT A REALTOR

We have owned this small office building in Tempe for years but lost our tenant. It was a terrible time with a sea of commercial real estate standing vacant. Our first thought was to get help finding new tenants from a real estate agent. But I had no clue how much they would charge, and more importantly, I was skeptical whether they could do anything anyway. I asked Maurice and Pilar (my wife) to give me a chance to find a tenant and it worked.

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Sandblasting 101
SANDBLASTING

Abrasive cleaning is “blasting” with a high pressure air hose and media such as sand or other granules to remove paint and dirt from a variety of surfaces either to prepare it for another opaque coating or (as we use it) to reveal an architectural surface.

Agricultural media, like walnut shells or corncobs, works great on wood, soda removes graffiti and copper slag or sand is commonly used on masonry.

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How to make Curb Appeal Pop
HOW TO MAKE CURB APPEAL POP
by Kara Morrison
The Arizona Republic, September 2009

Bill Tonnesen is ecstatic. He can't remember a time when housing prices created such opportunity. The Tempe landscape architect and artist has snapped up a few downtown Tempe homes in foreclosure. And he's turning some plain-Jane - if not downright ugly - properties into cool, contemporary rentals. And it's paying off. So far.

"All our properties are rented, and they're in the midst of 'For Rent' signs," he said. Tonnesen enjoys a challenge, striving to impress using unconventional means. Take paint, a home-improvement staple. Tonnesen hates paint. Where many would add a fresh coat to a masonry home, Tonnesen wields a sandblaster. "It doesn't cost that much more than a good paint job," he said. "The only thing I would like to see painted is drywall, and that would be white. I think of paint as superficial camouflage - the opposite of timeless."

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Transform Follows Function: Desert Living
TRANSFORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION
by David Tyda
Desert Living, March 2009


There is a zinc and glass box in Paradise Valley, and underneath it is a home remodel. “This is the most radical transformation of a house I’ve ever seen,” says landscape architect Bill Tonnesen of the newly redesigned Koliopoulos residence. And Tonnesen isn’t one to speak lightly of radical transformation. As the desert’s go-to guy for cutting-edge and experimental residential and commercial landscape designs, Tonnesen is always game for new ideas … and partnering with Koliopoulos, whose firm, Circle West Architects, defined a new design typology with the buildings of DC Ranch and its epicenter—Market Street. “I loved what he did there and have wanted to work with him ever since,” says Tonnesen. Walking up to the house, it’s apparent that the free flow of ideas between Tonnesen and Koliopoulos was productive. The mildly dense Palo Verde trees soften the hard lines of zinc and glass, helping to set the home within a context of natural desert...

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Picture This: Desert Living
PICTURE THIS
by David Tyda
Desert Living, October 2008


Mezzo's five units facing 12th Street enjoy small, enclosed front yards; while the other five units enjoy mews-like spaces between them. Perspectives were manipulated to provide views between neighbors, but indirectly, so as not to sacrifice privacy. Indeed, although natural light finds its way into every room, Bruder says, “It’s not about the windows at Mezzo; it’s about apertures that give you the power to see the world in a new way. It’s about changing perspectives, changing colors, and changing landscapes.” From outside, small square windows punched through the block seem randomly placed, but from within, they provide camera obscura-like scenes, honing in on things like a single, towering palm tree, the tip of Camelback Mountain, or a picturesque vista.

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Light Box: Luxe
LIGHT BOX
by Pamela Jaccarino
Luxe, April 2009


Plans called for the landscape to be transformed into "living art". The couple brought in landscape architect Bill Tonnesen of Tempe-based Tonnesen In. to dramatically change the high-water-use plantings into a sustainable design. "Our idea was to recreate the desert palette from 150 years ago," notes Peter. Tonnesen limited the plant selections to truly indigenous materials, which he laid out in an organic manner. "Every single tree on their property is a species of palo verde. Why? If you walk out their door and head in any direction to any land that has not been touched by man, the dominant tree is palo verde," explains Tonnesen. He also planted greasewood shrubs, "modest little gray-green shrubs that are indestructible," and saguaro, barrel, prickly pear and cholla cacti. "It's really a non-landscaped landscape." Paving was done with very rough, indigenous stones. "A wonderful contrast with the polish and Bauhaus precision of the glass curtain wall," notes Tonnesen.

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A Project in Four Impressions: Desert Living
TONNESEN: A PROJECT IN FOUR IMPRESSIONS
by Amy Elliot
Desert Living, September 2007


Some say Bill Tonnesen is a genius. Some say Bill Tonnesen is crazy. While one group calls him a credible artist and formidable scholar of art history, others know him only by his landscape architecture practice or as the guy obsessed with the culture of the yearly Burning Man festival. This eccentric and wildly entertaining character has been a part of Phoenix’s creative class for decades, so we couldn’t resist a rare invitation to peek inside his Tempe, AZ home/studio. The residence isn’t difficult to spot – a driveway lined with pots filled with concrete debris, stones, and various plant species, stacked concrete block walls, and his signature debris fence leading visitors to the front door. Impression #1: Tonnesen is hands-on and builds everything himself. The property, which he refers to as his “compound,” takes advantage of three lots, creating a spacious backyard for he, his wife Pilar, and their three children. Here, Tonnesen is installing an in-ground trampoline....

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At Home With Design
AT HOME WITH DESIGN
By Mia Jacobi
Desert Living, October 2007


Our favorite architects and designers are usually a happy bunch, not because they often appear in magazines like this one, but because they live in such well designed homes. On November3 and 4, from 10 am to 5 pm both days, about a dozen designers and architects will open their homes for one of the finest home tours ever arranged in the Phoenix area. See the studio of Bill Tonnesen who was featured in the last issue of DL, the home of Catherine Hayes(top) who built the AIA/DL 2007 Home of the Year, and the Farling residence. Tickets are $65 and include a lecture by Architects Mark Ryan and Michael Underhill on November 2 at ASU.

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Signature Projects
SIGNATURE PROJECTS
Sources + Design, January 2002


"The main instruction I was given regarding the renovation design was that when people came into the Empire office, the owners did not want them to wonder whether they were in a bank or attorney's office. The wanted clients to know that they eat, breathe, and sleep tractor engines." ~ Bill Tonnesen

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Empire Southwest
EQUIPMENT ARCHITECTURE AT EMPIRE SOUTHWEST

"Porter Brothers let us lead the way as design-build subcontractors in all the areas we felt were design sensitive. Often the architectural team on complex projects finds themselves at odds with the contractor. A set of drawings cannot address all the twists and turns a project takes, especially a remodel.

Essentially it comes down to competing interests. The designers are trying to preserve a vision while the contractor is trying to satisfy the owner and avoid scheduling and budget complications. The result is usually a watered-down series of compromises.

With Porter Brothers this just never happened. While they do protect the owner's interests, the treated us like clients as well. I think its because they view themselves primarily as facilitators THey brought a combination of tremendous technical capabilities and good will to the table; they were great to work with." ~ Bill Tonnesen

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Creative Offices
CREATIVE OFFICES: ARTISAN
By Nora Burba Trulsson
Sources + Design, September 2002


"Visit Bill Tonnesen's studio in Tempe, Arizona, and it soon becomes apparent that he forgot to heed the advice to color within the lines. The colonnade leading to the studio door is lined with benches, artfully filled with everyday objects and tools. The fence for the lap pool, which runs the length of the colonnade, is made of everything from sliding glass panels to rusted mesh grating. And the studio itself is shaded by a canopy made of welded pick heads."

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The Real Dirt
THE REAL DIRT
By Nora Burba Trulsson
Phoenix Magazine, March 1998


"For the landscape, Eddie Jones deferred to the expertise of Tempe landscape architect Bill Tonnesen, who was entrusted with restoring the desert areas marked by construction. Closer to the house, he set up intriguing vistas, such as shaping several expired palo verde trees into a sculpture just outside the master bath, and placing a serene, low-profile fish pond in the living room atrium."

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TONNESEN: TWELVE MONTHS TO FAME AND FORTUNE IN THE ART WORLD

THE STORY
BY Bill Tonnesen


"In August 2001, I committed myself to beginning a career in modern art and for the subsequent 12 months to do everything in my power to realize success, even fame. I began with little knowledge of the art business and knowing almost nothing about the history of modern art. At this writing, I have not tried to sell a single piece, but I do have a written commitment for a one man show in the most beautiful gallery in the state, Chiaroscuro, for October 3, 2002.

This book is an account of the last nine months, how I got my first show and what I did to prepare for it. My attempt to gain premature entry into the rarefied air of the art “A List” has been met with both skepticism and, at times, barely concealed disdain. I know of a well established artist who confided to a mutual friend, “I’ll shoot myself if he’s successful.” Others will have to judge the merit of the work. However, one thing I don’t buy for a minute is the notion that I haven’t suffered long enough."

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TONNESEN: TWELVE MONTHS TO FAME AND FORTUNE IN THE ART WORLD

THE WORK
BY Bill Tonnesen


If you enjoyed the ART section of this website, then this download is a must-see. Includes hundreds of images OF THE 4X4 panels that made up this body of work.

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Drowning Man Sculpture
ARTFUL DODGER
An Interview by Robrt Pela
The New Times, November 2002


New Times: You seem torn between saying that the art world is full of shit and wanting to be part of it.
Tonnesen: My goal is to point out that the art industry is a market, like any other. I am a libertarian, laissez faire capitalist. I believe in markets. What I'm interested in doing is studying how the art market works and competing there, but not at a regional level. I have worked now for one year in this regional environment, and now I'm ready to compete on a larger stage.
New Times: The short version is that you became a visual artist, and you're not interested in struggling or starving or spending 20 years in one town. And you're ready to go national.
Tonnesen: No. Not correct. You cannot achieve anything that's worth a darn without a tremendous struggle.

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Structured Panels: Mud Thorn Circle
DROWNING IN FOURS
By Joshua Rose
shade magazine, October 2002


"A funny thing happened to Bill Tonnesen during his 12-month attempt to satirize and/or conquer the art world as we know it.

He became an artist.

And now, what was originally planned as a 12-month experiment has turned into an obsession that will last him the rest of his life."

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Outlaw Artist Article
OUTLAW ARTIST
By Jennifer Cushman
Scottsdale Life, January 2003


"The facts are undeniable. An unknown artist managed to get one of the most-respected galleries in Arizona to give him a solo show for his very first exhibition. On top of that, Tonnesen sold more than $76,000 in artwork. Valley newspapers covered his story. Magazine features followed. He was approached with the possibility of turning the 15-minute film into an hour-long documentary.

What's not known is how his art will stand the test of time. It remains to be seen if Tonnesen truly captured that elusive mix of story, timing, hype and celebrity that ultimately translates into fame and fortune."

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Hanging Man Sculpture
REVIEWS OF I'M OFF CHICKEN AT CHIAROSCURO GALLERY
The Arizona Republic, Artists Book Reviews, and The New Times, October 2002


"My perception is that artists have no experience in the business side of promoting themselves. I have 20 years' experience in both. I'm getting a lot of criticism and controversy because of my declaration that I am not interested in being a starving artist. I intend to promote myself because if an artist doesn't have an audience, no matter how creative the insight, no one will ever know about it, and I can't feed my family." ~ Bill Tonnesen

"There are two kinds of artists: those who want fame and fortune and those who are living in denial. Most are too afraid to do anything about it. They're hoping the system will deliver them. Doing is the path to success. And Bill Tonnesen is a doer." ~ Ernest McIntyre, Phoenix FIrst Monday Creator

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Barcode Bodypainting Exhibit
ARTnews AD PHOTOSHOOT
By Mark Greenawalt
ARTnews, March 2003


"It was nearly an all-day painting and photoshoot. I started working with the models Jamie (on left) and Sonja at about 10:00am on a cool January morning. The location for the session was an historic Ice House in downtown Phoenix that is full of character, but lacking a roof. The assembled team for the production was nothing short of amazing and everything was done first class." ~ Mark Greenawalt

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Box People
REVIEWS OF BOX PEOPLE AT BURNING MAN WITH JOHN ROMERO
Get Out, Java, The Arizona Republic and The New Times, May 2004


"At first I was unsure... I felt odd about asking people to climb into this box. Initially it did not work well, because we allowed people to take their own poses. We had kids standing on their heads, women asking if we wanted something nasty. I was getting irritated. I think these images should all be strict and regimented.

I was thinking more of Richard Avedon, when he put a white sheet behind someone. That continuity puts it into the realm of art for me.

I choreographed every shot; "Square up your shoulders, get focused and serious." This is a relationship of one image to another. Its not about camping it up." ~ Bill Tonnesen

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Box People
BOX PEOPLE AT BURNING MAN WITH JOHN ROMERO


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Free Spirit in the Desert
FREE SPIRIT IN THE DESERT
By Michael Webb
Architectural Digest, May 2005


"Frank Lloyd Wright would whirl in his grave if he could see the tide of Tuscan-style mansions that has washed over the high desert around Taliesin West, which he designed as an organic outgrowth of the land. His example inspired Edward M. Jones, who practices in Phoenix, to create a radically different but equally appropriate house, which nestles into the granite boulders and disappears into their shadows.

Curved walls of poured concrete and oxidized titanium echo the sensual forms of nature and embrace a circular pool that evokes Wright’s visionary project of the 1940s for a country club in Los Angeles’s Hollywood Hills. Jones’s audacity delighted his clients and initially baffled the community but has now won general approval."
~ Michael Webb

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The Professionals: Jones Studio
THE PROFESSIONALS: JONES STUDIO
By Nicholas von Hoffman
Architectural Digest, May 2007


"Looking back on the last 20 years, Neal Jones can say, 'It’s been a hell of a ride. Our parents were scared to death that we were going to fight and break up the family,' he recalls. 'But at Jones Studio I can really say we’ve never had a fight—over anything. We have disagreements, but we don’t yell and scream, kick the trash can or anything like that. We have common goals, a common philosophy, common beliefs. I do my thing, he does his thing.'

Eddie Jones’s thing, according to his brother, is to be the “lead designer.” Of himself, he says, 'I’m the guy who wears a coat and tie every day. He’s the guy in the jeans and the sweatshirt.'" ~ Nicholas von Hoffman

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