#1: El Mac: “Aerosol Exalted” at Mesa Arts Center, May 13
Artist El Mac grew up in central Phoenix, painting large-scale murals and developing his signature rippled line style. Now based in Los Angeles, El Mac brings his art back home for the exhibit “Aerosol Exalted: From the street to the gallery – the humble and the sublime.” The artist's photorealistic portraits of people include a blend of contemporary styles like graffiti with touches of Chicano culture and classic European art. This exhibit includes a 35-foot tall mural in the courtyard of Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum, titled “Desert Rose (Nuevas Generaciones).” The exhibit opens May 13 and runs through August 7 at Mesa Arts Center. Free. Visit website for museum hours. mesaartscenter.com
Mother’s Day is coming, and so is the annual “What should I get mom this year?” scramble. If you want to go beyond buying flowers or going out to brunch, here are five ideas your mom will probably love. And she didn’t even have to remind you.
#1: Steve Gompf's “Distant Visions: Apparatus and Ephemera from the Televisor Era, 1884-1928,” through May 1 at Mesa Arts Center
Phoenix artist Steve Gompf simulates a fictitious museum with his mixed-media sculptures of “vintage televisions” that display photographic motion studies by Eadweard Muybridge. The exhibit opened in January, and closes May 1. Free. Visit website for museum hours. mesaartscenter.com
#1: Center Dance Ensemble's “American Voices” at Herberger Theater Center, April 24
In recognition of National Poetry Month, Center Dance Ensemble presents its annual showcase of new dances choreographed by CDE members, set to the words of America's greatest poets. $16, adults; $13, seniors; $10, students. 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. April 24 at Herberger Theater Center. centerdance.com
#1: “Threads: Gathering My Thoughts”: An Art Installation by Susan Lenz at Mesa Art Museum, April 15
South Carolina artist Susan Lenz found inspiration in grassroots yarn bombings – an art form in which objects such as trees or cars are covered in colorful crocheted and knitted patterns. Her exhibition “Threads” carries that inspiration to new heights – literally – with an installation of intricate, multi-colored threads and big yarn baskets that hang from the ceiling and envelope the room, creating a labrynth that proves all is not what it skeins. The exhibition opens April 15 in the SRP Gallery at Mesa Arts Center and runs through August 7. Free admission. Visit website for museum hours. mesaartscenter.com
# 1: Phoenix Film Festival at Harkins Scottsdale 101, April 7-14
The Valley's biggest big-screen bash brings its annual bonanza of dramatic features, horror and sci-fi movies, animated offerings, documentaries and short films – many by Arizona auteurs – to Harkins Scottsdale. $85.08, festival pass; $27.90, four-film flex pass; $169.18 VIP pass. Visit phoenixfilmfestival.com for show times and dates.
#1: Eric Almanza exhibition at Unexpected Art Gallery, ETA April 1
Self-described “subversive Chicano figurative painter” Eric Almanza has a quote from Pablo Picasso on his website (ericalmanza.com) that declares, “Painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war.” It's an apt description of Almanza's intention whenever he lays brush to canvas, painting scenes that speak to social and political issues such as immigration, Chicano identity, the struggles and expressions of urban life, and the ongoing battle against minority oppression. (A prime example: Almanza's 2013 “Lo Que No Se Puede Ver” – “that which cannot be seen” – portrait series, done in reaction to Arizona's Senate Bill 1070.) Based in California, Almanza will bring his work to the Unexpected Art Gallery “by April 1st,” according to the Unexpected Art Gallery's Facebook page. Visit unexpectedartgallery.com or facebook.com/unexpectedspace for more information.
Arizona Chic: Couture from Arizona's Past Curated by Robert Black, through April 30
Robert Black of FORD/Robert Black Agency and Fashion by Robert Black enthuses about Arizona fashion, both contemporary and vintage, and speaks of an era in which our state's styles were going global. “From the high-toned Goldwater's Department Store to the trading posts on Arizona's reservations, fashion was being created for every fashionista!” he states. Black has curated an exhibition of clothing and memorabilia that celebrates Arizona couture past and present, and includes fashion and accessories from such Arizona designers as Lloyd Kiva, Harwood Steiger, and Sun Ray of Arizona, and stores including Hanny's and Goldwater's. Free; donations accepted. Call for hours. The exhibition opened on March 18 and runs through April 30 at Vision Gallery. visiongallery.org
#1: Puscifer at Comerica Theatre, March 18
Cornville, Ariz. resident winemaker Maynard James Keenan resumes his day job as a rock star for this tour stop in Phoenix with his art rock band, Puscifer. The group's touring in support of its third and newest album, “Money $hot,” an ethereal and melodious amalgamation of digital effects, acoustic harmonies, and metaphysical-philosophical lyrics. Puscifer's accompanying live show blends myriad media including video and theatrics. “This show is so much more than just a band regurgitating songs,” Keenan said. “This is a multi-media performance unlike anything you've ever witnessed. There are those who know, and there are those who will know soon enough.” $35-$250. 8 p.m. March 18 at Comerica Theatre. puscifer.com
#1: Viva PHX at various locations, March 12
In one night, 65 bands will perform at 15 venues around Downtown Phoenix for this second-annual audio extravaganza. A sonic spectrum of national acts including edgy electro duo Crystal Castles (pictured), seminal garage punkers Rocket from the Crypt, a DJ set by Biz “Just a Friend” Markie, hip-hop and breakbeat godfather Afrika Bambaataa, and Brooklyn-based indie rockers Beach Fossils will blast across the stages, along with performances by some Arizona favorites including indie rock band Lydia, avant jazz-punk outfit Playboy Manbaby, global-music ensemble Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra, and eclectic multinstrumentalists Dry River Yacht Club. $22 general admission, $45 fast pass (priority access at venues). 7 p.m. March 12 at multiple venues. vivaphx.com
#1: Paint PHX at various locations, March 4-6
More than half a dozen of Phoenix's finest artists will paint the town red – and a kaleidoscope of other colors – in this citywide, artist-organized event. Over the course of two days, areas around Phoenix including 16th street between Van Buren and Thomas roads, Roosevelt Row, and Grand Avenue will get multiple new murals decked across their walls, courtesy of such aerosol artisans as El Mac, Pablo Luna, Lalo Cota, Thomas “Breeze” Marcus, Angel Diaz and Jeff Slim (pictured: Slim's mural from the 2015 Paint PHX event). Free. facebook.com/paintphx
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