It’s hard to resist the warm Arizona sun – especially this time of year. If you’re headed to the Grand Canyon State your travel plans are looking particularly bright: The arts and culture scene in Phoenix and Scottsdale has never been so exciting. You can’t throw a lasso around these parts without hitting a handcrafted piece of Native American pottery or masterfully painted Wild West scene. But there’s a lot more to Arizona art than the traditional stuff. Here’s where the locals go to get their urban art fix.
Phoenix First Fridays
What started in 1988 as 13 studios opening their doors to the public each Friday night has blossomed into what is now one of downtown Phoenix’s biggest attractions. The First Friday Art Walk is a self-guided tour of local galleries, studios and art spaces. It includes more than 100 participants spanning a distance that’s too far to walk in one night (good thing you have four chances a month).
If you’re staying at Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar Phoenix CityScape you’re close to the action. A short ride on the Light Rail (the city’s mass transit system) puts you in the heart of it all.
WHEN: Every first Friday of the month from 6-10 p.m.
WHERE: Start at the Phoenix Art Museum. Free maps are available there, as is a complimentary shuttle that whisks you to the various galleries. Parking is free at the museum. If you don’t want to take a shuttle, cab it over or park on the street for free and follow the crowds to the studios.
HOW MUCH: Nada. Zip. Zero. Save your money for a well-earned drink and brick-oven flatbread at Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails, the restaurant adjacent to Hotel Palomar Phoenix CityScape.
Scottsdale ArtBridge Thursdays
Arizona’s art axis spins around Scottsdale. Every Thursday evening you can keep up with it at the Scottsdale ArtWalk. At this local favorite, more than 100 art galleries open their doors to art lovers and people who just love a good party.
For less boisterous scene, there’s the Marshall Way Pedestrian Bridge, which every Thursday night morphs into an outdoor gallery where local and regional artists, crafters and jewelers sell their work. It’s all part of an event called ArtBridge Thursdays.
Guests of Kimpton’s FireSky Resort & Spa, just a short distance away, can get to downtown Scottsdale via free hotel shuttle. Its onsite Jurlique Spa offers hot stone and aromatherapy massages that work those kinks out (you know – after the tough job of looking at art all day).
WHEN: Every Thursday evening, from early October through the end of May from 4-9 p.m.
WHERE: The Marshall Way Pedestrian Bridge, at The Waterfront / Southbridge Plaza area. Here is a map to Southbridge.
HOW MUCH: Admission is free and parking in the area is also free. Can’t beat that.
— Story by Jenny Moss. Photos courtesy of Great Phoenix CVB.