Best Entertainment in the Valley: The Arts

Editorial StaffJuly 5, 2022
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Best Art Partnership


Public art shouldn’t be limited to city centers like Downtown Phoenix and Old Town Scottsdale. That’s why IN FLUX partner cities Avondale, Chandler, Glendale, Peoria, Scottsdale and Tempe banded together on this call for artists to create temporary public artworks throughout the Valley, from a metal totem in Peoria to steel saguaros with solar panels and LED lights in Chandler.

Best Fuzzy Food Art

Ava Jane’s Wool-Felt Toast

During the pandemic, Valley artist Ava Jane – who paints for Trader Joe’s as her day job – got into “toast art” (literal pieces of toast adorned with art), which evolved into 100-percent wool felt facsimiles of items such as doughnuts, cupcakes, bananas and other reassuring food items. Her imaginative, whimsical felts have been featured on social media platforms by influencers and YouTubers alike. Each felt is handmade and takes an average of three hours to make.

Photo courtesy Ava Jane Made
Photo courtesy Ava Jane Made

Best Museum You Probably Don’t Know About

Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West

One of Scottsdale’s best-kept secrets is this 43,000-square-foot celebration of history, art and stories of the 19 states comprising the American West. Ever-changing exhibitions of Western art and historic artifacts and an outdoor sculpture garden are described in video kiosks and the inspirational film Spirit Is. 3830 N. Marshall Way, Scottsdale, 480-686-9539,

Best Miniatures Painter

Marsha Hedrick

The Thorne Rooms at Phoenix Art Museum aren’t the only places to see tiny works of art. World-renowned miniature porcelain painter Marsha Hedrick paints tiny tea sets that are considered the gold standard for collectors. Full-sized Hedrick works daily at her Tonopah workshop creating items that can range up to $1,500. A certified Choctaw, she also creates beadwork and porcelain jewelry. 623-707-3267,,

Best Trompe L’oeil Art

Wade Weber’s 3-D Townscapes

By day, Weber is education manager at Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West. By night and weekends, he paints unique artworks called reverse-perspective three-dimensional pieces, surreal works that appear to change in shape and dimension as you shift perspective. In other words, they “trick the eye.” His artwork hangs in galleries nationwide as well as in the museum.

Photo by Bob Rink Photography
Photo by Bob Rink Photography
Photo by Bob Rink Photography
Photo by Bob Rink Photography
Photo by Bob Rink Photography
Photo by Bob Rink Photography

Best Topical Public Art

The Ukraine Mural on Seventh Avenue

Blue and yellow are the dominant colors in this artwork in Downtown Phoenix spanning a wall on the east side of Seventh Avenue south of Wilshire Drive. Created by Arizona State University students, the mural also depicts a tractor towing a tank, people with TVs for heads, missiles, diverse supporters and sunflowers. Unifying all of these images in the center are the words “STAND WITH UKRAINE.”

Best Subscription

Art Club by Practical Art

If you’d like to patronize the arts, but don’t quite have the capital of the Medicis, Practical Art’s Art Club is the loyalty program for you. For $50 a month, you get a special piece made by a different local artist each month, plus access to exclusive events, previews and studio visits. 5070 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, 602-264-1414,

Photo courtesy Practical Art
Photo courtesy Practical Art

Best “Street Art”

Aileen Martinez’s Renderings of Valley Sites

The moment we saw Aileen Martinez’s art, we knew we’d found a kindred spirit. Here is someone as obsessed with Phoenix as we are, we thought. Her affectionate immortalizations of iconic Valley locales – Lux Central, Tovrea Castle, ASU Gammage and Grand Avenue, to name a few – move something deep within us. And isn’t that the point of art?

Illustration courtesy Aileen Martinez
Illustration courtesy Aileen Martinez

Best Place to Get Your Zen On

Japanese Friendship Garden

Some folks head to a local bar to unload stress, while others make a beeline for this joint venture of Phoenix and its sister city of Himeji, Japan. The RoHoEn teahouse is surrounded by four separate, serene gardens on 3 ½ acres of well-tended land, great for strolling or meditation practice or just to escape everyday worries. 1125 N. Third Ave., Phoenix, 602-274-8700,

Best Place to Discover Emerging Artists


A newish addition to Phoenix’s art scene, Cahokia offers curated perspectives from indigenous artists through installations, gallery exhibits, live music, events and more. The lineup includes more established artists such as muralist Jesse Yazzie as well as talented newcomers working across all mediums. Shop the pop-up market on First Fridays. 707 N. Third St., Phoenix,

Best Nutso Yard Art

Yard Gnome House at 39th and Peoria avenues

Who says there’s nothing to see on the west side? This astonishing display of sculptures large and small is public art gone berserk, in the best possible way. The front yard of this otherwise tidy tract home gathers hundreds of tchotchkes including flamingoes, an Easter egg tree, a giant butterfly and enough yard gnomes to, well, fill a yard.


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