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5 Things to Do in Metro Phoenix This Week

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Free National Parks Day

It's a nationwide birthday celebration, and you're invited. The National Parks Service marks its 98th birthday with a free entrance day for visitors of its parks and recreational areas across the country. Our Grand Canyon State is home to three, including its namesake. The Petrified Forest National Park and Saguaro National Park round out the trio when it comes to officially designated parks. Lucky for Arizonans, however, our state is also full of a variety of national monuments, historic areas, and protected areas -- all of which fall under the umbrella of this annual birthday freebie.

See also: 18 Arizona Parks and Monuments to Visit on Free National Parks Day

Take advantage of the great outdoors during park hours on Monday, August 25. The statewide event is open to the public. Fee waiver includes entrance and transportation fees, but other fees such as camping reservations and third-party tour fees will still be collected. Visit www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm for a list of participating parks, hours of operation, and details. -- Janessa Hilliard

"American Impressions"

If lady liberty had a dating profile, her body type would read "more to love." Truth be told, with a country this big, beauty can come in all forms. From landscape to landmark, Old Glory to the Grand Canyon, America's aesthetic varies. So what better way to showcase the United States' many styles than with a group show of iconic Americana? This collaborative exhibition showcases works both modern and traditional, interpretive and realistic, from such artists as Karen Bezuidenhout, Trevor Mikula, Thom Ross, Gregory Stocks, and Doug Weigel.

"American Impressions" is on view now through Saturday, August 30, at Wilde Meyer Gallery, 4142 North Marshall Way, Scottsdale. Admission is free. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday; 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday night, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and by appointment only on Sunday. For more information, visit www.wildemeyer.com or call 480-945-2323. -- Katie Johnson

"Funny Papers"

In a world run amok with GIFs and hashtags aimed squarely at your funny bone, it's easy to forget that people used to get their chuckles from the newspaper. Before it somehow became okay to post drivel from questionable sources all over our Facebook pages, we used to simply cut out our favorite comic and post it on the fridge. The funnies informed our humor, our political views, even our morality. Sure, they're still around, but they're fast becoming a vestige of American pop culture; influence waning, impact forgotten.

Luckily, there are artists out there who appreciate the profundity and jocularity that comic strips have provided for Americans over the years, and have infused them into their own works. The "Funny Papers" exhibition at ASU Art Museum in Tempe, at 10th Street and Mill Avenue, is devoted entirely to such works, making for a pleasantly anachronistic yet poignant exhibition. Check it out for free through September 6. Visit www.asuartmuseum.asu.edu or call 480-965-2873 for details. -- Rob Kroehler

The Endless Summer

The words "endless" and "summer" probably conjure up an idea that most Phoenicians aren't too hot on. Given our unique climate conditions, summer is the last season we'd lend to the whimsies of youth eternal. Hop just one state to the west, however, and The Endless Summer starts to sound awfully enticing.

So when Phoenix's FilmBar, 815 North Second Street, shows the iconic surf documentary The Endless Summer as part of its One Crazy Summer Film Series, it'll be a perfect opportunity for us desert dwellers to live vicariously through a few sun-drenched surfers from the 1960s who were brave enough to throw off the shackles of everyday life and chase their dreams literally to the ends of the earth. Oh, plus you can drink alcohol during the movie. The Endless Summer will be shown at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, August 28. Admission to the 21-and-over screening is $9. Visit www.thefilmbarphx.com or call 602-595-9187 for details. -- Rob Kroehler

"Beyond The Reed"

Jeff Slim is interested in finding the realm where traditional values and modern concepts collide. His latest exhibition, titled "Beyond the Reed," references a Diné creation story in which the Diné people must travel through a reed to enter this current world.

It's a fitting backstory for the show; Slim says he seeks to depict real humans in modern society who still retain their cultural identity. The work itself is a beautiful series of colorful, textured portraits of Slim's friends and family.

"Beyond the Reed" is on view through end of August at the Palabra Pop-Up at the UNION at the Biltmore Fashion Park, 2505 East Camelback Road. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is free. For more information, call 602-955-8400. -- Katrina Montgomery

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