Artists often are criticized for throwing their berets into the socio-political arena. Claiming that artists are immersed in the idealism of happy little trees and a palette of mixed colors that get along gloriously, pundits question the legitimacy of artists' opinions on anything outside the studio. But when the Arizona Coalition of Latin American Artists joins ASU's "Migrants, Justice and the Border" forum this week to create The Mending Wall public art display, the artists' real-world knowledge of the subject matter will be unchallenged. Many of them emigrated from Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia and Mexico, and know firsthand what the border separating Us from Them is all about. "The Mending Wall is symbolism that gives us a way to express how the border is dividing two people," says Marco Albarran, ACLAA director. "We've created an image of people dying across the border -- and people dying in the desert on this side of the border."
The Wall, a 110-foot-long structure of corrugated metal, will bisect the central lawn of the ASU West campus, 4701 West Thunderbird, beginning Tuesday, April 6; an unveiling is set for 12:15 p.m. Featuring artworks by Mexican and American artists on both of its sides, the Wall will be surrounded by 205 cajitas ("sacred boxes") symbolizing the number of immigrants who died crossing the Arizona desert in 2003.
"The wall offers a variety of messages on how this cycle of death starts and how it ends -- and of the people who never make it," Albarran says.
The exhibition runs through Friday, April 9, with a town hall meeting and panel discussions scheduled throughout the week. An outdoor performance of James Garcia's play, The Crossing, at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 7, is followed by a screening of the film The Gatekeeper. All of the week's events are free and open to the public. For more information, call 602-543-6089 or visit www.west.asu.edu/border justice. -- Joe Watson
Read 'em and Reap
Here's a novel idea for fun; the Arizona Book Festival
If you can read this, thank a steel baron. Industrialist Andrew Carnegie strewed literary largesse by building more than 2,500 libraries. This Saturday, April 3, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Phoenix's Carnegie Center hosts the Arizona Book Festival, where readers and writers meet in Hemingway heaven: a clean, well-Lit place at 11th Street and Washington. Among the glitterati: Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor, ASU prof Ron Carlson, and bestsellers Ursula Le Guin and Diana Gabaldon. Make like a philanthropist and endow your heirs with a wealth of titles from the book sale, or take your littlest descendants to meet costumed characters like Clifford the Big Red Dog. See www.azbook festival.org or call 602-257-0335. -- Kim Toms
Charity event offers fine dining to dogs
Anyone know if Snoop's available for a gig in front of his dogs? Regardless of the afternoon's entertainment, the dogs at Sam's Cafe will be more than happy to get out of the hizzouse on Saturday, April 3, for "Paws on the Patio," a three-course dinner befitting man's best friend and benefiting the Arizona Humane Society. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., pampered pooches will be treated to a sit-down meal of hickory-smoked turkey, roasted beef shank goulash, and "Pup Popsicles," complete with table settings. The $10 meal includes "Yappy Hour" specials on Bulldog Beer (chicken broth) and a concoction called "Bijon Burgundy." Sam's Cafe is located at the Arizona Center at Van Buren and Fifth Street. Call 602-252-3545 for reservations. -- Joe Watson
Calling all heroes to Glendale
"It's a great time for comic fans," says David Oakes, communications director for the third annual Phoenix Cactus Comicon, set for Sunday, April 4, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Glendale Civic Center.
"There are so many comic character-related movies coming out this year, like Spider-Man 2, Hellboy, The Punisher and Pixar's The Invincibles. There are cartoons -- Batman, Teen Titans and Justice League -- and shows like "Smallville." And then there's the books themselves."
The Comicon offers art, anime, videos, toys, vintage and current comics, costume contests and how-to workshops, plus guest visitations by artist Steve Rude and local writer Brian Pulido (Lady Death). Admission is $6; see www.phoenixcomicon.com for details. -- Henry Cabot Beck
Gallery 3 showcases women's art
Just what is it about women and oil . . . whoa, this ain't that kind of party! Gallery 3, 3819 North Third Street, showcases "Oak Street Artists," works by 11 women who love to paint in oil. The exhibition runs through April, with an art show party from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, April 2. Call 602-277-9540. -- Joe Watson
The lovers, the dreamers gather for Pride fest
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We love a parade. Especially one that boasts hundreds of drag queens and hordes of leather-clad S&M fetishists, all cruising down Central Avenue for the Phoenix Pride Festival and Parade, Saturday, April 3. The two-mile cavalcade of cattiness, including more than 100 floats, kicks off a daylong event at Steele Indian School Park, 300 East Indian School, celebrating gay pride in the Valley and the 25th anniversary of the rainbow flag. Festivities include performances by diva songstresses Mika and Kim English, an absolutely fabulous dance arena, volleyball tournament, karaoke, and classic car show. Breeders also are welcome to join the fun. Even Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon will be coming out (to participate in the parade, that is), as will outgoing Tempe mayor Neil Giuliano (natch). The parade departs from Central and Palm Lane at 10 a.m., and the party at the park runs until 9 p.m. Tickets are $10. Call 602-279-1771 or visit azpride.org for details. -- Benjamin Leatherman
Valley chefs have all the right ingredients for charity event
The Valley's top chefs are cookin' up a charity dinner -- the 16th annual "Taste of the Nation" -- Saturday, April 3, from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Scottsdale Culinary Institute, 4301 North Scottsdale Road. The event, $75 per person or $100 a couple, benefits 450 organizations working to end hunger and poverty in the U.S. Call 1-866-844-3300. -- Joe Watson