It's probably been terribly tough getting ahold of your artist friends lately. Don't worry, that monolithic mixed-media piece of theirs hasn't toppled over and pinned them helplessly. Chances are, your pals've been furiously focused with putting final flourishes on their contributions to this year's Art Detour.
After all, they've gotta get their work seen by the thousands of art aficionados who'll descend on downtown Phoenix during the annual three-day event from Friday, March 4, through Sunday, March 6. This hipster hullabaloo is like First Fridays on steroids, with more than triple the usual antics, entertainment and artwork -- with many artists opening their private studios to the public.
Hundreds of happenings will go down during this 72-hour period at 96 "official" art venues, as well as dozens of other studios, galleries and artistic arenas. Wanna make the most of it without ending up like the guy in Edvard Munch's Scream? Then you're gonna need some help, and we've got the lowdown.
Skip the Blahniks in favor of the clogs, and don't forget sunscreen. If you're catching any live music, drop some earplugs into a backpack, also useful for carrying any fliers or tchotchkes accumulated along the way.
Ditch your ride at the Burton Barr Central Library (the library and all the other venues we'll mention here are listed on our maps), which serves as the main depot for the free Art Detour shuttles, running every 20 minutes. If the lot's full, try Holga's or the Cathedral Center for the Arts parking structure (both shuttle stops). Keep abreast of where stops are located (they'll give you a map of shuttle stops onboard) and when service ends, as it's recommended you head back 30 minutes before the scheduled stop time. Stranded stragglers should immediately call the ArtLink hotline at 602-256-7539, and pickup arrangements will be made. Busting out the bicycle will get you between venues quickly, but bike racks are nonexistent, so make use of trees and telephone poles.
While Roosevelt Row and its surrounding neighborhoods are safe after dark, the situation along Grand Avenue and vicinity is a little bit dodgier. The slanted street is well lighted, but the galleries are spread out, and it gets pretty deserted toward the end of the night. Our recommendation: Bring a friend or travel in a group.
On the subject of crowds, showing up early (most galleries open at 6 Friday evening -- see our listings for details) will help you avoid the throng, especially on the notorious First Friday. Unless you like seeing everything at breakneck speed, we recommend visiting one particular area (Roosevelt or Grand, for example) per day.
Here's where to head for the hotness:
Get ready to rumble on Roosevelt Row on Friday evening when 515 Gallery unveils "VS.," a themed group show with 33 works depicting opposition, such as 515 member Kenneth Richardson's mixed-media painting portraying a grocery cart collector reclaiming said object from a homeless man. It's not antagonistic as other pairings like paper against plastic.
And you know you'll like to watch, especially when Sapphic superstars Lezbosagogo take the stage at Holga's for their newest burlesque routine starting at 9 p.m., with the ladies of the Arizona Roller Derby selling baked goods outside the apartment complex's parking lot.
Speaking of girl power, the female painting trio of fantastic realist Lesli Englert, minimalist Lara Kupcikevicius, and abstractionist Christina Ramirez open the doors on their new studio and gallery The Longhouse at 6 p.m.
Get down to Grand Avenue on Saturday for the Chocolate Factory's group show "Displaced," where 12 artists present works dealing with relocation of native peoples, such as Mona Higuchi's largish bamboo installation representing the Japanese internment camps.
Moving from amoral to pastoral, visitors to the studio of Matthew Moore and wife Carrie Marill can experience the couple's mixture of odd and country. Moore, a farmer-artist, presents documentation of a house-plan-shaped impression he created in the wheat fields of his family's Waddell farm to protest sprawl, while Marill shows her pop-minimalist paintings capturing different things she sees in her daily travels.
Head south on Sunday to the venues closer to Copper Square, and relive your paranoia over last month's turbidity turmoil with the mixed-media mayhem of "Flood" at the Icehouse, with seven liquid-powered robot gongs created by David Birchfield, David Lorig and Kelly Phillips.
And witness how family values and aesthetic values are combined as Bentley Projects exhibits the uniquely styled and delicately made turned-wood vessels by three generations of Georgia's woodworking Moulthrop clan.
Wind down the weekend by getting a nice piece of glass, and then shattering it at Khalsa Studio's yearly "Glass Smash," where this family of glass and metal workers take their unsold stock and hurl it against a protected space near their Dumpster.
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Chances are you'd like to take home some art from the weekend, so bring both cash and credit card, as some of the smaller art spaces -- especially the home-based galleries and shops -- aren't set up to max out your MasterCard. Virtually all of the events are free, but $50 to $100 should cover you if you want to get something to eat, pick up a CD, pay a cover charge to certain performance events, tip a performer, or take home some art. More expensive works cost upward of $1,000 or higher, so ask gallery owners and artists if they offer a payment plan and are willing to haggle (just don't insult them by aiming low). If your pocketbook can't bear such splurging, a few establishments offer opportunities to obtain something artful.
The alt-culture crowd should visit locations like Stay Gold or the tables outside Modified for a low-cost lineup of clothing, hand-painted curios, and other items. Bookworms might prefer the tomes available at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore (inside Bentley Projects) and the raunchier reads at Perihelion Arts (both stores also offer inexpensive prints and other art as well). Those with more upscale tastes should visit Cindy Dach and Greg Esser's new shop MADE, which will offer artfully handmade objects like scarves, glassware and handbags.
But whether you've come to beef up your private collection or just to see all the pretty pictures, it's just like poet and rocker Henry Rollins once declared: "You Want Some Art? Come And Get It."