Hanna-Barbera's 1960s cartoon The Jetsons had Americans imagining life with flying cars and robot servants, while the later Stanley Kubrick flick 2001: A Space Odyssey portrayed possible dangers of creating artificial intelligence. While sentient computers and floating cities aren’t part of our everyday 21st-century experiences (yet?), the myriad real and fictitious technologies seen in Arizona Science Center’s POPnology™ hint at future possibilities.
Humans have fabricated pottery since some ancient knucklehead threw a ball of mud in the embers. When that clay was stone-hard by morning, a sharper friend had an epiphany, and ceramics was born. Over generations, artisans improved on functional clay containers by making them gorgeous. Now, your locally-made ceramic gem is calling you.
Phoenix residents have a bit of arthouse envy when it comes to the quirky, iconic businesses that put towns like Portland, Oregon, and Austin, Texas, on the alt-culture map. Voodoo Doughnut, McMenamins and Alamo Drafthouse are among the two cities’ most famous locales. While we have FilmBar, iPic and AMC Esplanade, there’s nothing quite like Alamo, a chain of dine-in theaters with a full kitchen serving frothy beer and pub grub straight to your seat.
For 25 years, Arizona Musicfest has regaled Valley audiences with a wide variety of musical performances, from Broadway and bluegrass to classical and jazz. This year’s festival, which started on January 29 and runs through March 11, features 18 concerts at several North Scottsdale and Phoenix venues. Some concerts are already sold out, and others are selling fast.
POPnology at Arizona Science Center, Feb. 8
See Marty McFly's hoverboard from the “Back to the Future” films alongside the jetpack from Disney film “The Rockateer” and the autopia car from Disney's “Tomorrowland” in this touring exhibition, which explores the influence of pop culture on technological innovations. Also on hand: Mars rovers, virtual reality gaming by Oculus, the world's first 3D printed car, Baxter the worker robot, sketches for future plans for flying cars from Hyundai, and more. POPnology made its world premiere at Arizona Science Center on February 7, and will be on exhibit through May 15. Tickets cost $12 for adults, $10 for children ages 3-17. azscience.org
World Championship Hoop Dance Contest at Heard Museum, Feb. 13-14
This convergence of indigenous cultures and athletic performance has grown increasingly competitive: Recent contests have been decided by three or less points, and last year's contest was so close the two finalists had to compete in a tie-breaking dance-off. See what all the hoop-la is about as dancers manipulate up to 50 hoops to create animal and globe shapes, and try to impress the judges in five areas: precision, timing/rhythm, showmanship, creativeness and speed. Lawn seating only; bring a blanket or chairs. 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13 and Sunday, Feb. 14. Tickets cost $18, adults; $13.50, seniors 65 and older; $7.50, college students with ID and children ages 4-12. heard.org
Next to Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day is the second busiest night for the American restaurant industry. A 2014 Zagat survey found that New Yorkers planned to spend an average of $158.43 per couple on this holiest of couple’s holidays. Considering that local dining options include an $85 dinner at The Market by Jennifer’s and Chef Beau MacMillan’s $125 four-course prix fixe menu at elements (both priced per person!), we’re guessing that Phoenix pairs won’t be far behind in those numbers.
With more than a hundred galleries, museums, art spaces and local retail stores packed within a five-mile radius, First Friday Artwalks in Downtown Phoenix can feel more like a marathon if you’re trying to see everything. We’ve whittled down our First Friday must-see list to three eye-opening exhibits:
The city of Scottsdale’s January calendar is packed with tony events, from the Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction to the Celebration of Fine Art. But if you’re looking for some free entertainment, here are three Old Town Scottsdale options for the last weekend of January.
#1: “Betye Saar: Still Tickin'” opening reception at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Jan. 29
At 89 years old, Los Angeles-born artist Betye Saar is six decades into her career, and continues to create collages and multimedia pieces that speak to various themes. The retrospective “Still Tickin'” includes installations, sculpture, assemblages and more divided into three thematic sections: nostalgia and memory, mysticism and ritual, and the political and racial. Saar will give a free lecture about her work at 7 p.m. January 28. The opening reception for the exhibition takes place from 7-9 p.m. January 29, and is also free. The exhibition runs through May 1. Visit smoca.org for more information.
Still life aside, nudes and landscapes are among the most prevalent subjects in art. From Degas and Dalí to Andy Warhol and Thomas Kinkade, nearly every famous artist – whether painter, sculptor or photographer – has depicted the human body or our natural surroundings.
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