Highbrow, lowbrow, and in between — your options for things to do this week in Phoenix run the gamut. From April 17 to 23, you'll find everything from deeply researched non-fiction discussions and politically charged art documentaries to a throwback music festival, three days of improv comedy, and an evening dedicated to drawing taxidermy oddities. Here's your guide to the best ways to spend every day this week, and you'll find more options on New Times' calendar of events.
David Owen Book-Signing
New Yorker reporter David Owen takes a closer look at how solving one environmental problem can intensify another in Where The Water Goes: Life and Death Along the Colorado River. The author focuses on how the creation of wind turbines and electric car batteries affects the salt levels of the Colorado River, which plays a huge role in irrigating the drought-ravaged states of California and Arizona. To prove that these issues are not just about water, Owen met with scientists as well as farmers and laborers to observe the varying impacts of these environmental strategies.
David Owen discusses and signs Where The Water Goes at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 17, at Changing Hands Tempe, 6428 South McClintock Drive. The book costs $28. Visit the Changing Hands website or call 480-730-0205. Jason Keil
Genocide Awareness Week
Maybe you’ve seen the bumper stickers: Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it. Turns out, there’s a way you can move past just nodding in agreement to helping prevent future atrocities.
Scottsdale Community College, 9000 East Chaparral Road, opens its 2017 Genocide Awareness Week on April 17, with exhibits and speakers addressing genocide and its precursors, including hate and extremism. It’s a powerful reminder of ways violence has affected diverse communities, including Native Americans, immigrants, and Jews.
Oskar Knoblauch, a Holocaust survivor, speaks on Monday at 10:30 a.m., and Lecia Brooks of the Southern Poverty Law Center speaks at 6:30 p.m. The opening reception for the weeklong event happens at 5:30 p.m., and programs are free to attend. Get the full lineup at Scottsdale Community College's website. Lynn Trimble
Still Life & Death
Proof that beauty is in the eye of the beholder? Well, for starters, there’s the fact that some people — like the team at Curious Nature — are drawn to unconventionally striking things. Think the curvature of an animal skull or bones. During the science and natural history emporium’s monthly Still Life & Death monthly art nights, you are left to sketch, paint or take photos of dissected specimens and items such as taxidermied animals after hours. You have freedom to create without intrusion and are allowed to move around and position items as you work. The art nights on every third Tuesday cost $10 per person, but you are required to bring your own supplies. This month’s edition on April 18 runs from 7 to 9 p.m. at 5032 North Central Avenue. Visit the Curious Nature website for more. Laura Latzko
Eric Fischl Lecture: Njideka Aykunili-Crosby
Since 2005, powerhouse visual artist Eric Fischl has paid tribute to his Phoenix College days by hosting an annual lecture by an exciting contemporary artist. The Eric Fischl Lecture also presents the Vanguard Award to the winner of a student art competition at the college. This year’s guest lecturer is Njideka Aykunili-Crosby, a Nigerian-born painter whose layered patterns are as stunningly chewy and color-drenched as Matisse’s, with the bonus of somewhat more overt meaning. Her incorporation of transfers and collage into acrylic brushwork jumps from plane to plane, from inanimate to human surfaces.
The event kicks off at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19, in Whiteman Hall at Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central Avenue. Admission is free; donations are accepted. Call 602-257-1880 for more information, or visit Phoenix Art Museum's website. Julie Peterson
If bioengineering, robotics, control systems, and the profession of engineering interest you, consider attending WeaRAcon 2017. Hosted by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Robotics & Automation Society, it’s an annual gathering of robotics professionals and industry, academia, and government entrepreneurs that’s focused on wearable robotics.
The agenda includes robotics demonstrations, keynote speakers, breakout sessions, exhibits, and presentations. Attendees can also partake in the Innovation Competition, and network with not only those creating, but those using wearable robotic devices.
WeaRAcon 2017 runs from Wednesday, April 19, through Friday, April 21, at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix, 122 North Second Street. Opening day begins with registration at 8 a.m., and ends with a welcome reception from 5 to 6 p.m. Tickets range from $250 to $1,195. See the WeaRAcon website for more information. Lauren Cusimano
Phoenix Improv Festival
Like your comedy off the cuff and a little chaotic? Time to hit a three-day festival where anything could happen.
The Phoenix Improv Festival is back. This annual event brings several local improvisational comedy troupes together with national and international improv performers to entertain audiences with their diverse comedic stylings. The opening night show on Thursday, April 20, features visiting acts such as Detroit’s Natural Born Killaz and B&B from Portland, Oregon. Both are two-member groups. The former ended up that way when the other members of their group couldn’t make it to a performance. The latter is a married couple who are veterans of Portland’s improv community. Local acts taking the stage that night are Apollo 12, Laura Ingalls, GIF of the Magi, Light Rail Pirates, and Spearmint.
Prepare for an evening of laughs starting at 7 p.m. at the Herberger Theater Center, 222 East Monroe Street. Tickets are $10. The festival runs through Saturday, April 22. Call 602-252- 8497 or visit the Herberger Theater Center's website. Amy Young
"Actual Real Factual (Period...) Completely Revised and Updated Edition"
Phoenix mixed-media artist Casebeer, who holds a degree in journalism, explores the Orwellian world of alternative facts in her latest exhibition at Tilt Gallery, 7077 East Main Street in Scottsdale. It’s titled “Actual Real Factual (Period…) Completely Revised and Updated Edition.”
Her artist statement for the show explains further: “The supplemental, illustrated, scientific, unretouched, and anatomically correct volume of information from The How and Why (and WTF?) Library designed to help you meet the Orwellian challenges of navigating in a cacophony of alternative facts, advertising, propaganda, dissonance, and ballyhoo.”
Explore the exhibition between 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 20. Or take it all in during the Scottsdale ArtWalk that evening from 7 to 9 p.m. Visit the Tilt Gallery website. Lynn Trimble
Viet Thanh Nguyen
We live in a time when some leaders want us to see refugees as a problem to keep at arm’s length instead of people who are escaping unspeakable horrors. The Refugees, author Viet Thanh Nguyen’s timely collection of fictional short stories, gives readers some insight into the plight of the “huddled masses.” The 2016 Pulitzer Prize winner uses his nimble prose to give our country’s newest arrivals a voice.
Viet Thanh Nguyen signs The Refugees ($25) on Thursday, April 20, at Changing Hands Phoenix, 300 West Camelback Road. Admission is free, though attendees are encouraged to RSVP. For more information, visit the Changing Hands website. Jason Keil
Squishy Studios 10th Anniversary
For the past decade, Nathan Blackwell and Craig Curtis have combined their love of ribald humor and genre films into popular short films and commercials under the Squishy Studios banner. Among other things, the duo co-wrote and directed the surprisingly heartwarming award-winning short film Logan Must Make Star Wars, which followed its main character going back in time and accidentally killing George Lucas. Logan must impersonate the director to ensure that Star Wars gets made. The production studio is also behind the Easter-egg-filled web series Voyage Trekkers, a comical take on science fiction films.
To celebrate 10 years of Squishy Studios, the pop-culture-savvy pair is compiling the best of their hilarious work and debuting a new opus called Eden Valley Claim, a tribute to silent film actually shot on celluloid. Squishy Studios’ 10th Anniversary Screening is at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 20, at FilmBar, 815 North Second Street. Admission is $7. For more information, visit the FilmBar website. Jason Keil
When Stephen Colbert calls you his “favorite comedian on Planet Earth,” chances are good that you’re truly funny.
That’s what the witty talk show host told Maria Bamford last year when she appeared on his TV show. An overthinking person’s comedian, Bamford packs a lot into her stand-up delivery. Thanks to her mastery of voices and powerful facial expressions, you’ll remain fixated while she repeatedly jabs with hilarious punchlines. A lot of her material deals with her mental-health issues, including her Netflix show Lady Dynamite, whose second season will premiere soon. Bamford’s also known for her voiceover roles on shows including Adventure Time and BoJack Horseman.
Her one-show-only special event set starts at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 21, at Stand Up Live, 50 West Jefferson Street. Admission is $30 to the 21-and-over show, where seating is first-come, first-served. A two-drink minimum is required. Call 480-719- 6100 or visit the Stand Up Live website. Amy Young
Diamondbacks vs. Dodgers
No one doubted that the Arizona Diamondbacks’ 2017 roster was plenty capable of improving on last season’s abysmal record, but no one suspected that they’d start the season as the best team in baseball. Still in the season’s early goings, Arizona is a downright offensive juggernaut, boasting the best record and the largest run differential in the league.
They won’t sustain it, but with the healthy return of A.J. Pollock and the ever-steady Paul Goldschmidt at the helm, the team has enough firepower to stay competitive all season long. For the first time in years, the Los Angeles Dodgers will visit Chase Field, 401 East Jefferson Street, with a healthy respect for their opponent. Game time is 6:40 p.m. on Friday, April 21. Tickets are $19 and up. Visit the Diamondbacks' website or call 602-514-8400 for details. Rob Kroehler
The name of Japan’s Edo Marionette Group proves blandly descriptive: Edo (the city that became Tokyo) is also the name for a period of Japanese history during which the country was ruled by the Tokugawa shogunate, which delivered a cocktail of rigid class distinctions (and, thereby, oppression), enabling phenomenal artistic achievements — as long as the artist hadn’t been forced into prostitution.
EMG brings the crazy-detailed string puppets introduced in those years to Great Arizona Puppet Theater to share their captivating stories for Japan Week through Sunday, April 23, at 302 West Latham Street. Showtime on Friday, April 21, is 10 a.m. The performance is recommended for kindergarten age and up. Tickets are $7 to $10; call 602-262-2050 for reservations. Visit the Great Arizona Puppet Theater website for more information. Julie Peterson
Science with a Twist
Remember when your kid self couldn’t decide between rock ’n’ roll superstar and straight up white-coated scientist as your future profession? Well, dream no more, reader who probably didn’t become either one. Arizona Science Center, 600 East Washington Street, is hosting the 21-and-over Science With A Twist: Party Like A Rock Star event from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, April 21, so you can see what you’ve missed.
The night includes demonstrations on sound and pyrotechnics, a Pink Floyd or Metallica laser show in Dorrance Planetarium, a chance to check out the “Planet Shark: Predator or Prey” exhibit, eats at Beansprouts Café, and cocktails with names like Fender, Gibson, and Ibanez. Also on deck are lip-sync battles and jams from DJ Dragon Lee.
Tickets are $12 at the door or online, and free to Science Center members. Shows, cocktails, and dinner may cost extra. Call 602-716-2000 or see the Arizona Science Center website. Lauren Cusimano
Circle Mirror Transformation
Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation doesn’t lend itself to a “what it’s about”: five awkward people in a community center’s Creative Drama class. (Really, sadly, three, since two of them are the instructor and her husband.) Also, Baker specializes in dialogue, something there used to be a lot of in movies, but now not so much. Those are merely potential drawbacks, though. The script shimmers with loving humor and searing gut punches.
We like to imagine the classroom somewhere in Pawnee, Indiana, but it’s not strictly necessary. Mesa Encore Theater presents the play through Sunday, April 30, at its Black Box space, 933 East Main Street. Admission is $15. Showtime on Friday, April 21, is 7:30 p.m. Visit Mesa Encore Theatre's website or call 480-834-9500 for more information. Julie Peterson
If there’s one thing that the tender-minded Boy Scouts of America are taught — aside from being prepared, of course — it’s how to build one mean Pinewood Derby car. And because meticulously carving out one’s identity and conquest in five ounces of aerodynamic wood is too bawdy a euphemism for the cherubic youth of America to appreciate, some of the Valley’s savviest grownups are wresting back the Pinewood Derby from their grubby little hands. Consider it a lesson in preparedness, kiddos. That’s not to say that children aren’t welcome at the Pinewood Classic on Saturday, April 22, at Short Leash Hotdogs, 110 East Roosevelt Street. On the contrary, there’s even a junior’s race this year. It’s just that playing with toy cars is an activity best left in the hands of adults, opposite a pint of beer. Races kick off at noon. Registration prices range from $25 to $40 for adults. Visit the Pinewood Classic website for details. Rob Kroehler
March For Science
Instead of spending Earth Day on a trail or something, consider celebrating on the streets of downtown Phoenix. Hit the concrete during the Official March For Science Phoenix, “a call to support and safeguard the scientific community,” from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 22. The march is free and open to scientists and science enthusiasts, and it coordinates with other science marches happening nationwide.
The day’s events will begin with a rally at the Cesar Chavez Memorial Plaza at Historic City Hall, 125 West Washington Street, followed by the Phoenix March For Science at 11 a.m. Later in the day, expect a science fair, speakers, and presentations, and food trucks till 4 p.m. For more information, see the Phoenix March for Science website. Lauren Cusimano
Gin & Jazz Preservation party
Ever feel like you were born in the wrong generation? For those more into the foxtrot than Facebook, the Rosson House is throwing a bash dedicated to the decade of decadence.
Charleston the night away in the historic Victorian house without the fear of Prohibition officers knocking on your door during the Gin & Jazz Preservation Party. Period attire is welcome — so sport your fringed flapper best, along with pearls and feathers — but bootleggers should leave their moonshine at home. The party kicks off at 7 p.m. on Saturday April 22, and runs until 11 at 113 North Sixth Street. Tickets are $25 to $35 and available through heritagesquarephx.org. See details at Facebook. Lindsay Roberts
The Rebel Alliance '80s All High School Prom
If you’re a high schooler, chances are good you know an adult who lived through the 1980s — one who you seriously lol’d at when you saw the pics of them gussied up in the popular styles of that decade. Don’t feel left out. The Rebel Alliance ’80s All High School Prom is your chance to rock an asymmetrical and teased-out hairdo, slip into some neon and spandex clothes, and dance the night away. Party to old-school jams, like totally, from 7 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, April 22, at Trunk Space, 1124 North Third Street. Admission is $5. Visit the Trunk Space website. Amy Young
Through the Repellent Fence
Today, they’re part of the prestigious 2017 Whitney Biennial contemporary American art show in New York. But back in October 2015, Postcommodity bisected part of the U.S.-Mexico border with a land art installation titled Repellent Fence. The artist collective includes Arizona creatives Raven Chacon and Cristóbal Martínez, and New Mexico artist Kade L. Twist.
Filmmakers tagged along, and now you can see the results of their work in a film titled Through the Repellent Fence: A Land Art Film, directed by Sam Wainwright Douglas. The film follows the artists as they install their two-mile-long artwork, and talks with experts about its significance within the larger context of land art.
See the Arizona premiere of Through the Repellent Fence: A Land Art Film at 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 22, at the SMoCA Lounge inside Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, 7374 East Second Street. Tickets are $7. Visit SMoCA's website. Lynn Trimble
"Things You Know But Cannot Explain"
Oregon-based Native American artist Rick Bartow passed away last year, but he left behind more than 40 years of work that blends autobiographical elements with vast knowledge of global music, literature, and art. His visual storytelling infuses the “Rick Bartow: Things You Know But Cannot Explain” exhibition at the Heard Museum.
Explore the art show on Sunday, April 23, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The exhibition, which continues through July 9, is free with museum admission, which is $18 for adults. It includes 115 works, including paintings, drawings, sculpture, prints, and mixed-media works spanning four decades of Bartow’s career.
Head over at 1:30 p.m. that day if you also want to catch Phoenix artist Thomas “Breeze” Marcus giving a free talk on Mexican mural art. For more, see the Heard Museum website. Lynn Trimble
Sharing a bedroom when you don’t want to? Trying to regain your ground by frightening or pissing off your cohabitant? Sounds like the way a lot of us grew up. This dysfunctional conflict style can persist into the golden years, as it does in David Lindsay-Abaire’s play Ripcord. Two residents of a retirement facility get wedged together and make a crazy bet to decide who’s the queen bee. Holy season four of Friends, Batman!
Phoenix theater grandes dames Judy Rollings and Patti Suarez star in the current production, presented by their company Two Old Broads Productions at Theatre Artists Studio in Scottsdale. The closing performance begins at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 23, at 4848 East Cactus. Tickets are $15 to $25 through Theatre Artists Studio's website or 602-765-0120. Julie Peterson
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Arizona Freestyle Festival
At the Arizona Freestyle Festival at Rawhide Western Town and Event Center, 5700 West North Loop Road, all your old favorite hip-hop and freestyle artists from the ’80s and ’90s, including Montell Jordan, Naughty By Nature, Bell Biv Devoe, Lisa Lisa, Stevie B, House of Pain, and Arrested Development.
The concert offers a casual listening experience, as attendees can bring lawn chairs and blankets to lounge on while the many artists take turns onstage. The event runs from 2 to 10 p.m. on Sunday, April 23. Tickets are $40 for general admission, $100 for VIP table seating, $175 for backstage VIP tickets, and $2,000 for eight-person cabanas. Parking costs $5, and gates open at 1 p.m. For more information, visit the Rawhide website. Laura Latzko