Mural painting to help activate downtown Mesa.
Mural painting to help activate downtown Mesa.
Mesa Arts Center

9 Free Things to Do in Phoenix This Week

If your New Year's resolution is to spend less dough, we're here to help. This week, you can take an artsy walking tour of Downtown Mesa, see "MEXICANA: Home to the Soul of Mexico," or join in on the No Pants Light Rail Ride — all for zero dollars. For more things to do, visit Phoenix New Times' calendar.

Self-Guided Art Tour
Calories? Hate ’em. Holiday stress? Totally sucks. You can walk it all off, starting on New Year’s Day. Need ideas on where to begin? Try downtown Mesa, where streets are dotted with sculptures and murals that make for a relaxing self-guided art tour. Some of the more whimsical sculptures depict a giant stiletto and bright pink chair. Others reveal bygone days of agriculture and other pursuits.

You’ll find about three dozen sculptures from Mesa to Country Club drives, and between First Street and First Avenue. Look for murals by several artists, including Lauren Lee and Jesse Perry, while you’re there. And check out public art along the light rail, too. There’s an online map to help you hit the highlights. Visit the Downtown Mesa website. Lynn Trimble

"Tempe Xhibition: Celebrating Ten Years"
It’s been 10 years since the debut of Tempe Center for the Arts, a staple of the Valley performing arts scene. The city is celebrating with a free art show featuring work by more than a dozen emerging and established Tempe-based artists, including Kristin Bauer, Lena Klett, Melissa Martinez, Jacob Meders, and John Randall Nelson.

Highlights include a pair of Emmet Potter’s shiny, powder-coated Vietnam-era bombs suspended from the ceiling. Also keep an eye out for Emily Ritter’s books, each made with a month’s worth of recycled materials.
Give “Tempe Xhibition: celebrating ten years” a good look between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, January 2. The show is only on view at The Gallery at TCA, 700 West Rio Salado Parkway, through January 6. Visit the City of Tempe website. Lynn Trimble

Country Idol
Think you have what it takes to win Country Idol? The local singing competition is on the hunt for top performers at preliminary events around the Valley, including one at Pat O’s Bunkhouse Saloon.

Don’t let the name of the event fool you. Singing a country song is not required to win over the judges. Contestants will be judged on showmanship and vocal ability. Winners in the preliminary round will receive a $25 and $15 bar tab for first and second place, respectively, and the chance to compete in the finals at the 33rd Annual Gay Rodeo, which runs from February 16 through 18.

It’s pitchy at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, January 3, at 4428 Seventh Avenue. Admission is free. For more information, visit the Country Idol website. Jason Keil

Thomas Perry
Thomas Perry is a jack-of-all-trades, having worked as a teacher, mechanic, fisherman, and a TV producer. But his greatest success has come as a mystery novelist.

Thirty-five years after his Edgar Award-winning debut, The Butcher Boy, the L.A. writer is back with his 25th novel, The Bomb Maker. Former bomb squad leader Dick Stahl has left his job with the LAPD to run a private security company in New Mexico. But when a routine call goes awry, he must return to his old department to track a bomber who seems to be targeting his former squad.

On Thursday, January 4, at 7 p.m., Perry will meet fans and sign copies of The Bomb Maker at The Poisoned Pen, 4014 North Goldwater Boulevard in Scottsdale.

Admission is free, but book purchase is required for autographs. The Bomb Maker is $26 in hardcover. Call 480-942-2974 or visit the Poisoned Pen website for more information. Michael Senft

The heart and soul of Mexico in art form.
The heart and soul of Mexico in art form.
Courtesy of Gennaro Garcia

"MEXICANA: Home to the Soul of Mexico"
Gennaro Garcia was the second-ever Latino artist to have an exhibition at the Calvin Charles Gallery in downtown Scottsdale. And Garcia begins the new year with a return to the building where he made his mark. He’ll unveil a show that celebrates the heart of the country that inspires so much of his work. Garcia will be on hand for the opening night of “MEXICANA: Home to the Soul of Mexico,” which gives viewers a peek into the future of Arizona art while celebrating the painter’s remarkable past.

The opening reception of Garcia’s latest showcase starts at 7 p.m. on Thursday, January 4, at 4201 North Marshall Way. Admission is free. For more information, visit the Calvin Charles Gallery website. Jason Keil

Laura Plecas’ work (detail, above) often explores her family’s immigrant roots.EXPAND
Laura Plecas’ work (detail, above) often explores her family’s immigrant roots.
Laura Plecas/Photo by Lynn Trimble

“Lineage”
Phoenix artist Laura Plecas pays homage to her family’s immigrant roots in a new exhibition called “Lineage,” which opens on Friday, January 5, at Chartreuse gallery, 1301 Grand Avenue. Visit the gallery between 6 and 10 p.m. that night to explore her encaustic collage works inspired by Op art, folk art, and quilting.

“I seek to peel back layers to reveal the past and to explore the strength and struggles that my family endured,” Plecas says in exhibition materials. Often, her work includes repeated shapes and patterns, created with materials such as old papers and book pages.

“Lineage” continues through January. Visit the Chartreuse gallery website. Lynn Trimble

Rock steady.
Rock steady.
Courtesy of Mesa Community College

Flagg Gem and Mineral Show
Rock collecting isn’t just for kids. At the Flagg Gem and Mineral Show from Friday to Sunday, January 5 to 7, you can look for specimens from more than 130 dealers and field collectors displaying fossils, gemstones, jewelry, and lapidary equipment.

The show will also have a food truck area, interactive activities, and opportunities to meet with local gold prospecting, lapidary, and mineral clubs. This year’s show takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily at the West Parking Lot of Mesa Community College, 1833 West Southern Avenue. Admission and parking is free. For more information, visit the Flagg Gem website. Laura Latzko

The shirt says it all.EXPAND
The shirt says it all.
Benjamin Leatherman

No Pants Light Rail Ride
Fast fact: You can legally go pantsless in public. True story. Under Arizona law, you’re permitted to stroll around without slacks, shorts, or a skirt, provided you’re wearing underwear or aren’t exposing any naughty bits. Not that we’d recommend doing such a thing, unless you’re participating in the No Pants Light Rail Ride.

The annual urban prank involves hordes of folks dropping trou, hopping on public rail transportation in cities worldwide, and earning shocked or amused reactions from onlookers in the process. Here in metro Phoenix, pantsless participants will board light rail trains at four different locations across the Valley starting at 1 p.m. on Sunday, January 7, before traveling to downtown Phoenix.

A post-ride party will follow at DeSoto Central Market, 915 North Central Avenue. Colorful outfits and underwear is encouraged, but leave your pants at home. Visit the Improv AZ website for complete details. Benjamin Leatherman

Lady Christian will be the hostess with the mostess.EXPAND
Lady Christian will be the hostess with the mostess.
Melissa Fossum

Stacy’s Follies
It’s 2018, and those who resolved to see more drag performances are in luck.

Lady Christian will launch the weekly Stacy’s Follies, a show filled with fab Arizona queens like Espressa Grande and Kim Etiquette. The first sashaying show starts at 7 p.m. on Sunday, January 7, at Stacy’s on Melrose, 4343 North Seventh Avenue.

Best part? There’s no cover. For more information, visit the Facebook event page. Lindsay Roberts

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