We hate waking up early on regular days. So the odds of us rising at the crack of dawn to hunt down deals the day after a government-sanctioned celebration that revolves around binge-eating? Um, not great. We'd rather sleep in on November 28 and head to Alternative Black Friday at our leisure. The free-to-attend vintage and handmade goods event will feature 20 local vendors including Meat Market Vintage, Strawberry Hedgehog, and GROWop. Did we mention the mimosa bar? Because, yeah, it'll have a mimosa bar. Shop from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at CityScape Phoenix, 11 West Washington Street. Visit www.cityscapephoenix.com. Becky Bartkowski
If Black Theatre Troupe has shown us anything over the years, it's that there are infinite ways of being black (or any other race) and that any black-white interaction is about race, even when the parties involved desperately wish that it weren't. In the troupe's current offering, Tommy J & Sally, running through Sunday, December 14, Tommy J enters pop diva Sally's loft and harangues her with allegations about her pre-fame identity and her history with him. The script is by Mark Medoff, who also wrote the Tony-winning Children of a Lesser God.
Is Tommy telling the truth? Why is he there? And why does white girl Sally use the name of Thomas Jefferson's black mistress (and slave), Sally Hemmings? Janet Arnold directs the show, which opens at 8 p.m. Friday, November 28, at 1333 East Washington Street. For tickets, $35, visit www.blacktheatretroupe.org or call 602 258-8129. Julie Peterson
Don't let the seeming simplicity of desert landscapes fool you. They're more than harsh sun and blowing dust. The artists featured in "Shifting Sands: Recent Videos from the Middle East" know this all too well. On view at Tempe's ASU Art Museum, 51 East 10th Street, their videos delve into what the desert areas in Afghanistan and on the border of Israel and Palestine mean on personal and political levels. Shift your perspective from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, November 29. Admission is free. Visit asuartmuseum.asu.edu or call 480-965-2787. Becky Bartkowski
All your family members agree: This year's holiday gifts should be less fartsy, more artsy. So instead of heading to the department store for another run-of-the-mill, soon-to-be-returned pair of socks this season, you can shoot for something truly one-of-a-kind by visiting the Saturday Artists Market. The Black Friday-alternative sale will feature works by 20 locals artists including Tom Budzak, Cindy Casey, Jake Early, Pauly Edmunds, and Valerie Galloway.
The Small Business Saturday Artists Market happens from 1 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, November 29, at the Dayton Fowler Grafman Atrium at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Admission to the market is free. Visit www.scottsdaleperformingarts.org or call 480-499-8587. or call 480-499-8587. Katie Johnson
As Woody Allen, our favorite purveyor of existential dread, so drolly put it, "The difference between sex and death is that with death you can do it alone and no one is going to make fun of you." So inextricably linked and thought-consuming the two are, it's no wonder that so much creative output counts each as an inspiration. They also serve as the basis for "Vanitas: Contemporary Reflections on Love & Death From the Collection of Stéphane Janssen" at Phoenix Art Museum.
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In art, vanitas is a style that involves the use of such imagery as skulls and rotting fruit that symbolize the pointlessness of life, the fleeting nature of beauty and wealth, and the imminence of death. Janssen, a noted art collector, has amassed contemporary works that use the same visual tropes and worked with the museum to craft an exhibition centered on symbolic portrayals of sex and death. The show features works by artists including Lucien Morat, Thomas Lerooy, and Eddie Martinez, all of which reflect on life's futility.
"Vanitas" is on view in the Marshall and Hendler Galleries at 1625 North Central Avenue through February 8, 2015. Admission is $15 for adults. For more information, visit www.phxart.org or call 602-257-1880. Becky Bartkowski