Before 1978, it took more than faith and loyalty to Joseph Smith and Brigham Young to become a priest in the Mormon church. Namely, it depended on gender and the color of one's skin. While males continue to be the gender of choice for LDS leadership, the "revelation" of '78 "allowed all worthy males, regardless of race, to hold priesthood" in the church. Authors Darron Smith and Newell Bringhurst examine the "mechanisms used to keep blacks from full participation, the motives behind the ban, and the kind of changes that have -- and have not -- taken place within the church" in the past 27 years in their book, Black and Mormon. The collection of academic essays, they say, is "intended to promote social change, not criticize the Mormon church." Smith (Darron, not Joseph) will appear at Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 South McClintock Drive in Tempe, at 7 p.m. Thursday, February 3, to discuss the book. Call 480-730-0205 or see www.changinghands.com.
In the immortal words of Neil Diamond, turn on your heartlight and let it shine wherever you are -- which should be at the Paper Heart, 750 Grand Avenue, on Friday, February 4, for the First Friday opening of "The Heart Show," a statewide juried exhibition "exploring the timeless theme of 'heart' and all that it might mean." For us, well, we're familiar with cold-hearted. And heartless. And the proverbial "stake through the heart." Yeah, we're bitter. And while we're sure there are at least a few tortured artists out there who share our sentiments approaching Valentine's Day, the Paper Heart vows to incorporate works that explore the breadth of the universal symbol for love, from "magic to anatomical diagrams to romantic manifestations." The opening reception begins at 7 p.m., featuring performances by Soaking Fused, Sweet Bleeders, and Shnap!. Admission is free. Call 602-262-2020 or see www.thepaperheart.com.
You've been arguing for years whether that musty Navajo rug sitting in the attic is an authentic heirloom passed down through your family for generations, or just something Grandpa bought on a whim at Gilbert Ortega back in the '70s. Settle this familial fracas by schlepping it to the annual Indian Artists of America Show at Rawhide Western Town (don't worry, the cowboys are just pretend) at 23023 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale. Jon Bonnell and Kathi Ouellet, two local experts in the area of Native American art and collectibles, will conduct free evaluations and appraisals from noon to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, February 5, as well as judging the authenticity of artifacts and offering tips for their care and repair. The event also features a "contemporary" Indian fashion show on Sunday, February 6. The show runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. Admission is $8, and kids 12 and under get in free. Call 866-398-2226 or see www.indianartistsofamerica.com.
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Since you'll be spending the day cheering on tight ends in butt-hugging spandex and jockstraps anyway, you might as well hang out with guys who claim to have tight ends and have a fetish for butt-hugging spandex, right? Look no further than Friends, a gay bar at 1028 East Indian School Road, which hosts its own Super Bowl XXXIX party on Sunday, February 6. Following brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. ($12.50 per person), Patriots and Eagles fans can frolic amongst each other with a tailgate barbecue before huddling around the big-screen TV to watch the game. Fans wearing their favorite team's jersey get drink specials all day -- "when your team scores, you score!" Call 602-277-7729.
He ditched the 'Nix nearly two years ago for the more progressive confines of Berlin, Germany. But the Valley's most accomplished artistic photographer, Casey McKee, has made it a point not to forget the folks back home, making frequent trips across the Atlantic for everything from friends' weddings to local gigs for former bandmates (McKee was once the drummer for the aforementioned Sweet Bleeders). On Monday, February 7, McKee is doin' it for himself, presenting a slide show of some of his work at the Phoenix Public Library's FirstMondays Art Salon at the Burton Barr Central Library, 1221 North Central Avenue. McKee utilizes a process of combining photography and painting, often printing his photos on a wood panel using a liquid emulsion, and then applying layers of oil paints and varnishes to create a "surreal and dreamlike" piece. McKee's presentation begins at 7 p.m., with a reception at 6:30. Call 602-256-3521 or see www.caseymckee.com.
It was three years ago that Jaime Roxann Wright, a.k.a. Roxzana, traveled to Istanbul, Turkey, to learn her style of belly-dancing. But local wanna-bes need only trek to Vision Quest Metaphysical Bookstore, 2225 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale, on Tuesday, February 8, to begin a four-week beginners' class with Wright, 28, who recently moved to Scottsdale from Atlanta. Wright bellied up to Turkish film and TV star Sema Yildiz, who taught her the Lebanese-Turkish style of belly-dancing. "It's a very free, very sexy, very hypnotic and sensual form," says Wright, the featured dancer at Scottsdale's Shahrzad Mediterranean Grill on Fridays and Saturdays. "In [Yildiz's] culture, belly-dancing began as something by women for women. It's a much less inhibited form. It allows a woman to really get in touch with her sexuality." The preregistration cost of the class (by February 7) is $40 for all four weeks, or $15 per class. See www.roxzana.com.
You want Gavin DeGraw on TRL! You need him on TRL! In the meantime, hang up the phone, log off AOL, and see the bluesy and soulful pretty boy, whose debut album, Chariot, makes young girls weak, at the Venue of Scottsdale, 7117 East Third Avenue, on Wednesday, February 9, starting at 6 p.m., with Michael Tolcher opening the show. The 26-year-old DeGraw made his name in the downtown Manhattan club scene, where NYC interns caught his piano act, curly locks and . . . oh, he's just dreamy! And he just might get MTV back on the road to legitimacy and relevancy. Advance tickets are $20, $22 the day of the show. Call 480-784-4444 or see www.ticketmaster.com.