For proof that art lovers are about more than schmoozing and sipping cheap wine from plastic glasses, one need look no further than Art Detour, the free, self-guided tour of downtown artist studios, galleries, and art-friendly businesses. Now in its 21st year, the Phoenix tradition, which typically draws upwards of 10,000 patrons, has bridged the wide gap between artists and suburb dwellers who think art should match their throw pillows. This year, both art fans and the artless will find the Detour even more accessible, thanks to light rail and a new, improved shuttle system.
Art Detour kicks off with an expanded First Friday on March 6 and continues through Sunday, with extended gallery hours and a Seventh Avenue Street Fair from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. In addition to the usual arty fetes (like the I.S. Survival party at the Icehouse, 429 W. Jackson St.) and boutique bashes (Made, at 922 N. 5th St., is a sort of unofficial Detour Central), street vendors will be stationed along Garfield, between Third and Seventh Streets, all weekend. As ever, much of the action takes place on Grand Avenue and along Roosevelt Row, but outlying galleries are also showing off their best this weekend.
See the following venues and more of the galleries participating in Art Detour 2009 in this handy map.
After Hours Gallery: The comically dark visions of painter Serj Palihovici are featured in "Where Is Moldova?" a question answered in an exhibit of hilariously moody paintings that depict madly childlike images. 116 W. McDowell Rd., 602-710-2398. www.afterhoursgallery.com
Bragg's Pie Factory: Local artists and crafters of all ages are displaying candy-filled wares in Bragg's second annual "Mutant Piñata Show." Contributing artists have re-imagined Mexico's violent party favor in comic and sometimes somber entries. 1301 Grand Ave. 602-391-4016.
Deus Ex Machina: This popular, artist-run Grand Avenue gallery is the home of distinguished multimedia artist Steve Gompf and a pair of husband-and-wife art teams, Michele and Richard Bledsoe and Jeff Falk and Annie Lopez. Their Art Detour offering includes sculpture, paintings, and installation pieces created over the past year. 1023 Grand Ave., 602-487-0669. http://improbable.art.googlepages.com
Exposed Studio and Gallery: Jason Cheeseman-Meyer's acrylic paintings and drawings of fantasy kingdoms and imagined lands are featured alongside works from resident artists. 4225 N. 7th Ave., 602-248-8030. www.exposedgallery.com
Eye Lounge Gallery: Roosevelt Row's première artspace is offering a group show in various media from local and nationally acclaimed group members including Jay Hardin, Brian Boner, Vivian Spiegelman, Lisa Von Koch, and Zac Zetterberg. 419 E. Roosevelt St., 602-430-1490. www.eyelounge.com
Five15 Arts: In a nod to the current economy, this renegade gallery is presenting a two-for-one sale at its annual group show. All artwork —paintings, photography, sculpture — is priced at $100, and each purchase is "buy one, get one free." New art for 50 bones, especially from artists who typically ask hundreds or thousands for each piece, is nothing to sneeze at. Nor is Five15's other Art Detour prize: The debut of its second installment of baseball-card-style trading cards, collectibles that sold out in a first run last year. 515 E. Roosevelt St., 602-256-0150. www.515arts.com
Gallery Marsiglia: "Metals, Rock, Fashion" is a series of jewelry-centric events featuring a steel-bending demo by "master bladesmith" Ray Rybar, and a lecture from Mrs. Hancock, the Valley's premier etiquette instructor, who'll instruct us on the proper protocol for jewelry-wearing at weddings, the theater, and (one hopes) art exhibits. 1018 Grand Ave., 602-274-5041. www.gloriamarsiglia.com
Jordre Studio: A trio of diverse local artists — Jennie Ignaszewski, Tyson Crosbie, and Kyle Jordre — are on display in "3," a show documenting the city's urban beauty in varied styles. 1007 Grand Ave., 602-254-6303. www.jordre.com
Modified Arts: A solo show by painter James Angel is the visual highlight of a weekend of music from the likes of singer/songwriter Elesisha Eagle, Sister Cities, and the Terrible People. 407 E. Roosevelt St., www.modified.org
MonOrchid: New paintings from Christina Ramirez and Randy Slack will be exhibited in "Multiple Personalities," a Detour-exclusive show of new work. 214 E. Roosevelt St., 602-402-5411. www.monorchid.com
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The Paisley Violin: Folks interested in aural as well as visual art will want to keep the Violin on their Detour to-do list, as this cafe gallery will be featuring live music all weekend long. The Dorsets will perform on Friday night; Chicks with Sticks on Saturday from 2 until 4, and local jazz musicians throughout the day on Sunday. An exhibit by the Arizona Print Group will also be on display. 1028 Grand Ave., 602-254-7843. www.thepaisley.com
Perihelion Arts: Photographer Davyid Lemmon's newest works are featured in "Fact Illusion and Structure," a collection of evocative, black-and-white fantasy portraits. 610 E. Roosevelt St. #137, 602-334-6299. www.perihelionarts.com
PRAVUS Gallery: "The Panelists" is an ink-drenched celebration of the comic book that includes art by Russ Pope, Luster Kaboom, Devo frontman Mark Mothersbaugh, and the show's curator, Krk Ryden. 501 E. Roosevelt St., 602-363-2552. www.pravusgallery.com
Tilt Gallery: This is not your grandmother's photo album: Mark Osterman's new show, "Artifacts of a Curious Mind," offers the artist's warmly hand-tinted photographs, each an ambrotype printed from a collodion negative. 919 W. Fillmore St., 602-716-5667. www.tiltgallery.com