New Times picks the best things to do in the Valley of the Sun this weekend, including opportunities to nerd out, watch an original opera debut, and visit Italy (well, sorta). For more events, see our curated online calendar. 

Phoenix Comicon
The annual entertainment explosion that is Phoenix Comicon has star power beaming from every angle, with Alex Kingston from ER and Doctor Who, Sean Astin of The Goonies and The Lord of The Rings trilogy, and Star Trek: The Next Generation's Gates McFadden, among many others. In fact, you'll have to resist asking Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, and Martin Kove to re-enact the final moments of 1984's The Karate Kid. Cosplay will lean toward anime, video game, and comic-book personas, and sci-fi/fantasy icons, so score bonus points by dressing up as some obscure character. Need more nerd cred? Catch wreck in the Phoenix Ultimate Geek Smackdown trivia tournaments.

Phoenix Comicon takes over the Phoenix Convention Center, 100 North Third Street, starting on Thursday, June 2, when programming begins at noon and the exhibitor hall opens at 4 p.m. The fun continues through Sunday, June 5. Single-day admission is $15 to $40, depending on the day, and a full pass for all days is available for $70. Visit for more information. Jose Gonzalez

"Gods & Monsters"
Forget the boogeyman or anything allegedly hiding under a childhood bed. "Gods & Monsters," the latest in an artistic collaboration between {9} The Gallery and Artelshow, takes a less literal look at deities and demons.

Featuring 39 local and national artists using fine art and mixed-media pieces, the creative take on the age-old tale of good and evil explores the myths and reality of what it means to be moral — or not.

A free opening reception runs from 6 to 10 p.m. on First Friday, June 3, at 1229 Grand Avenue. The show runs through Saturday, June 25. A special ticketed performance dance component, choreographed by Cavallero/Gomez/Olson, will be presented twice on Saturday, June 11 — though First Friday attendees get a sneak peek. For details, visit or, or call 929-260-4999. Janessa Hilliard

SMoCA Summer Opening
Explore photographs and videos prompting reflection on borders, migration, and environmental demise at the free Summer Opening for Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, 7374 East Second Street.

Created by Sama Alshaibi, an Iraqi-born artist based in Ramallah, West Bank, and Tucson, Arizona, the works are part of a series called "Silsila" (an Arabic noun, meaning "link"). The artist will attend the opening, which takes place from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday, June 3. Museum curators and staff will be on hand, too.

"SouthwestNET Sama Alshaibi: Silsila," the 16th exhibit in a series featuring mid-career artists working in the Southwestern region of the U.S. and Mexico, is one of four exhibitions that will be on view that evening.

Museum-goers can also see "Mel Roman: Coming Out Under Fire," which explores U.S. policy on gay people serving in the military, and two exhibitions offering a behind-the-scenes look at SMoCA. Visit Lynn Trimble

Kokopelli, The Legend: A Native American Opera
Kokopelli is far more than a flute-playing tchotchke sold to tourists. His origin story recalls the time of the Hohokam, a matriarchal society that interacted with this humpbacked trader and trickster who, through generations of art and interpretation has become known as a fertility deity, mischievous man, and spirit of music.

Kokopelli, The Legend: A Native American Opera weaves these narratives together through dance, song, and intricate costumes. Sixty-five original painting depictions by Jim Covarrubias, a fine artist and the show's creator, provide the opera’s onstage backdrop.

At press time, a crowd funding campaign at Indiegogo had raised only $1,130 of its $10,000 goal, but this show will still premiere at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, June 3, at Tempe Center for the Arts Theater, 700 West Rio Salado Parkway. Those who donate $35 or more through will receive admission (among other thank-yous). Tickets ($35) also available at or by calling 480-350-2822. Janessa Hilliard

It’s a known fact: Clowns are freaky. Many folks are scared of the painted-face jokesters.

But we’re not so sure if sultry clown Scarlett Xander is the exception or the rule. She's one of several performers at Tease, a sensual, adult-themed, vintage-style variety show, and she'll be putting a sadistic spin on classic clown tricks. The night is loaded with burlesque dancers, singers, and comedians. Another performer is Cleodora, whose contortions are aided by aerial chains. Which is all to say: Leave the kids at home. The show runs from 6 to 11:30 p.m. on Friday, June 3, at Arizona Event Center, 1300 South Country Club Drive, #105, in Mesa. Admission is $25, or $125 for VIP. Call 480-779-7716 or visit Amy Young

Snow White
The 1916 live-action film version of Snow White is, like Björk might say, oh so quiet. That won’t be the case, however, when RPM Orchestra takes hold of the silent black-and-white fairy tale on Saturday, June 4. The musical ensemble will provide a live soundtrack to the movie, which served as inspiration for the Disney version that followed, when it screens at 10 p.m. at FilmBar, 815 North Second Street. Those younger than 21 will be admitted with a parent or guardian. For more details and to get tickets ($12), see Becky Bartkowski

Silhouette Animal-Scapes Workshop
You don't want to find them in your tent while you're out camping in the wilderness. But that doesn't mean Mexican gray wolves, California condors, and jaguars don’t deserve your love. They're all endangered species native to Arizona, and part of that giant cycle of life that makes the planet habitable for us humans.

Environmental artist Lauren Strohacker, whose work explores cohabitation and conflict between humans and other animals, is leading a free Silhouette Animal-Scapes Workshop at Scottsdale Civic Center Library, located at 3839 North Drinkwater Boulevard.

Scottsdale Public Art presents the event from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 4. Participants will use drawing, cutting, and collage to create a two-dimensional, multi-layered landscape of animals on the brink of extinction. Visit Lynn Trimble

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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski
Lauren Cusimano was the Phoenix New Times food editor from 2018 to 2021. Joys include eating wings, riding bikes, knowing everyone at the bar, talking too much about The Simpsons, and falling asleep while reading.
Jose Gonzalez
Julie has written for the Night & Day events calendar section since 2005. As a student at Arizona State, she received the Glendon and Kathryn Swarthout Creative Writing Award and the Theatre Medallion of Merit.
Contact: Julie Peterson
Michael runs the Sci-Fridays Book Club at the Poisoned Pen, and volunteers at local pop-culture conventions. He can be found at the occasional prog-rock concert.
Contact: Michael Senft
Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble
Amy Young is an arts and culture writer who also spends time curating arts-related exhibits and events, and playing drums in local bands French Girls and Sturdy Ladies.
Contact: Amy Young