"Canyonland Visions" and "Crossing the Frontier": The former installation, organized by Fort Worth, Texas' Amon Carter Museum, features 117 paintings and photos of the Colorado Plateau region dating from the mid-19th century to the late 20th, including 46 recently rediscovered and never-before-displayed watercolors by Prussia-born adventurer/naturalist Heinrich Balduin Msllhausen. The latter exhibit, sponsored by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and subtitled "Photographs of the Developing West, 1849 to the Present," includes more than 200 works by the likes of William Henry Jackson, Timothy O'Sullivan, Skeet McAuley, A.J. Russell, Robert Adams and Frank Gohlke. "Canyonland Visions" and "Crossing the Frontier" continue through Sunday, September 28, in the Steele Gallery at Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central. See the Art Exhibits listing for information about related gallery talks on Thursday, July 24; see the Kid Stuff listing for details about an all-ages event slated for Sunday, July 27. Viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays (to 9 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays). Special admission, to the Steele Gallery only, is $5, $4 for seniors, $2 for students and children age 6 and up, free for younger kids and members; entry is free to all from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursdays. For more information, call 257-1880 or 257-1222.
Pageant: In Mixed Company brought us Alan Ball's frothy Five Women Wearing the Same Dress; the froth quotient's also high in the troupe's production of this interactive musical by Albert Evans, Bill Russell and Frank Kelly, which might be subtitled Six Guys Wearing the Same Gown. The dudes in question don pumps and sashes in pursuit of the "Miss Glamouresse" title and accompanying tiara. Opening performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 24; 8 p.m. Friday, July 25; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, July 26; and 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, July 27, in Stage West at Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe. The run continues through Sunday, August 17. Tickets are $19.50, $17.50 for students and seniors, available at Herberger and Dillard's; call 252-8497 or 503-5555.
The Paladins: Dave Gonzalez's nonsense-free roots trio has been rocking roadhouses since the dawn of the '80s. The San Diego act returns for a gig on Thursday, July 24, at Nita's Hideaway, 1816 East Rio Salado Parkway in Tempe. Hick 50 shares the bill. Showtime is 10 p.m. The cover is $6. For details call 967-9531.
Loot: The promising Ensemble Theatre has cut its teeth on darkly humorous offerings about patently unfunny stuff, like Paula Vogel's AIDS fantasy The Baltimore Waltz and Israel Horovitz's absurdist character study Line. The troupe continues the tradition with this jet-black farce about institutional and societal wickedness, penned by late British playwright Joe Orton (with a nod to Mark Twain) and centered on a ne'er-do-well who stashes stolen funds in his recently deceased mum's casket and parks mum's remains in a nearby armoire. A gala performance, featuring entertainment and dinner, is scheduled at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 24, at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Final shows are at 8 p.m. Friday, July 25; 8 p.m. Saturday, July 26; and 2 p.m. Sunday, July 27. Gala tickets are $45; regular tix are $22.50, $18 for students and seniors. They're available at the center and Ticketmaster; call 994-2787 or 784-4444.
Ray Obiedo: The Bay Area guitarist was a member of the Pete Escovedo Orchestra last time he hit town--and he remains one--but Obiedo scored a headlining slot in the Red River Opry's 1997 "cool jazz" series on the strength of his solo work for Windham Hill. (His song "Blue Kiss" was included on the label's 20th-anniversary sampler, Sanctuary; the title track of Obiedo's latest disc, Sweet Summer Days, features a vocal by Peabo Bryson.) Ray's scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 24, at the Opry, Mill and Washington in Tempe. (Escovedo's Latin-jazz crew has a headlining slot of its own at the venue on Thursday, August 7.) Tickets are available at the scene and Dillard's; call 829-6779 or 503-5555.
"The Great Dinosaur Extinction": The exhibit makes its inaugural pit stop on a planned two-year national tour at Mesa Southwest Museum, 53 North Macdonald. The installation focuses on various theories about why the great beasts perished, and features the remains of a number of rare ones--including the large predator Acrocanthosaurus; the only complete skeleton of a Pachycephalosaurus ever found; and, naturally, a T. rex or two. The show opens Friday, July 25, and continues through Sunday, September 7. This week's related events include appearances by Neal Larson of South Dakota's Black Hills Institute of Geological Research (the company that reconstructed the Acrocanth) at 10 a.m. Friday and 4 and 5 p.m. Saturday, July 26; and a presentation about saber-toothed cats by paleontologist John Babiarz at 1 p.m. Sunday, July 27. Viewing hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays. Admission is $4, $3.50 for students and seniors, $2 for kids ages 3 to 12, free for those younger. Call 644-2230.
Helmet, the Melvins, and Hovercraft: The first two acts, both veteran hard-core standard-bearers, are okay, if a bit long in the aesthetic tooth. The bright young hope on this bill is Hovercraft, which isn't even hard-core, except in the experimental sense. The sound of the Seattle-based instrumental trio (guitarist Campbell 2000, bassist Sadie 7 and drummer Karl 3-30) was once compared to "the innermost thoughts of a passing serial killer"--a sublime, if startling, analogy. Songs like "Vagus Nerve" and "De-Orbit Burn," from Hovercraft's new disc, Akathisia, strike us (from deep left field, we grant) as a synthesis of Dick Dale and Galaxie 500 if the former was on downers and the latter was on uppers and the acts were playing at a Mekong clambake for Robert Duvall's Mad Hatter crew in Francis Coppola's Apocalypse Now. Like, wow--wipeout. Regurgitator, and Caustic Resin share the stage; the all-ages show starts at 9 p.m. Friday, July 25, at the Electric Ballroom, 1216 East Apache in Tempe. Tickets are $12 in advance, $13 the day of the show, available at Ticketmaster (call 894-0707 or 784-4444). The members of Helmet are scheduled to sign autographs at 2 p.m. Friday at the Zia Record Exchange at 105 West University in Tempe (call 829-1967).