For as long as civilizations have existed, artists have shined a telling light on the social and political issues at play in their homelands. In Mexico, the folk artist has long filled the role of social commentator, documenting the struggle of a resilient people in overcoming adversity and achieving the promise inherent in its culture. Valley residents Kathleen and Richard Vanesian have taken their passion for the folk art of Mexico directly to the source, traveling to Mexico extensively and interacting with some of the genre's greatest practitioners. In the process, they have compiled one of the most compelling collections of Mexican folk art anywhere in the world, nearly 200 pieces of which are featured in "Mexican Folk Art in Context: Selections From the Vanesian Collection."
On display at the ASU Art Museum from Saturday, September 13, through January 4, the exhibition tells the story of a culture painted in the broad strokes of religion, revolution, patriotism and political upheaval. Texts and photographs from the Vanesians' many trips to Mexico accompany the works of art.
All aboard for a Swap Meet
Heed the rail call and make tracks to the Arizona Model Railroading Society Swap Meet, Saturday, September 13, at North Phoenix Baptist Church, 5757 North Central. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., more than 99 sellers hawk new and used model trains, collectibles, books and art. Admission is $4, free for children 12 and younger with an adult. Call 602-493-0468 for details. - Jill Koch
Easel Come, Easel Go
Scottsdale Artists' School hosts open house
On Saturday, September 13, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in downtown Scottsdale, everyone's an artist. The Scottsdale Artists' School, 3720 North Marshall Way, is inviting the public to check out the facility, get a load of its schedule of workshops and classes, and watch local artists do their thing. The free open house will allow artists to demonstrate various genres of painting, drawing and sculpture. "This is an amazing place, full of creative energy," says executive director Stephanie Lynch. "It's a happy occasion to celebrate our talented instructors, enthusiastic students and great facility."
For more information, call 480-990-1422 or visit www.scottsdaleartschool.org. - Maidi Terry
Awake and Aware
Docu-Vigil screens 9/11 videos into wee hours
Contemplate the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., from all angles -- political, humanitarian, even hard-core conspiracy theorist -- during 10 hours of documentary footage being screened at the September 11th Docu-Vigil on Thursday, September 11. Organizer Will Poulson says political coverage from alternative news source GNN (the "Guerrilla News Network") poses the question, "Hey, government, what's going on here?" Other videos show a more personal side to the attacks, asking, "What do we care about that took place?"
If you're up for the whole 10 hours, Poulson recommends bringing a sleeping bag and some dinner. Doors open at 7 p.m., and screenings start at 7:30 p.m. at Thought Crime Gallery, 1019 North Central. Admission is $0 to $5 (based on your ability to pay). To find out more, e-mail email@example.com or visit www.phxarts.org/focus.- Michele Laudig
Queer Eye For The Dead Guys
Foreign film promises to be a gay time
A screening of an edgy foreign film -- here in the Valley?! We're dead serious. At 8 p.m. Wednesday, September 17, the Out Far! Quarterly Film Series rolls the British comedy Nine Dead Gay Guys at Harkins Christown 11, 5705 North 19th Avenue. Tickets are $7 in advance, $8 at the door; see www.outfar.org. - Jill Koch
Garrels got nude to deliver the news
As one of only 16 journalists allowed to stay in Baghdad when the bombs began to fall this past spring, Anne Garrels of National Public Radio was faced with several hard decisions. The most significant was how to continue to do her job. After successfully clearing customs in Iraq with a satellite phone, she realized that she wasn't supposed to actually have one. Because she lived in a hotel that was regularly searched by Iraqi police looking to seize any means reporters had of reporting on the war, she decided to take her clothes off. Garrels figured that if she answered her hotel door naked, the officials would agree to return in a few minutes and allow her to get dressed. It worked, and Garrels is now here to tell her story. Garrels reads from her new book, Naked in Baghdad, at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe on Saturday, September 13, at 6 p.m. Admission is free. Call 480-730-0205 for details. - Maidi Terry
Men of Playgirl perform their thong song
To make a thong story short, the "Men of Playgirl" jump from the page to the stage at Scottsdale's Cajun House, 7117 East Third Avenue, for a Vegas-style extravaganza of "exotic dancing, singing and comedy." Showtime is 8 p.m. Tuesday, September 16 (ages 21 and up). Call 480-945-5150 for tickets, $10 and $25. - Jill Koch