Culture News

The Best Art Events Coming to Phoenix in 2019

Throwback to the 2018 Breaking Ground Dance and Film Festival.
Throwback to the 2018 Breaking Ground Dance and Film Festival. Courtesy of CONDER/dance
We've got issues, from white supremacy to sexism. And art is making important contributions to contemporary conversations about who we are, as individuals and communities. Here's a look at some of the most anticipated exhibits and performances coming our way the first half of 2019, including several rooted in the past that call us to create the future in new ways.

Breaking Ground
Tempe Center for the Arts
January 25 to 26

The Breaking Ground Dance and Film Festival created by Carley Conder, artistic director for CONDER/dance, returns with a fresh lineup of contemporary dance works by choreographers from around the country, as well as Israel. Several featured choreographers are based in Arizona, including many who’ll be showing "tiny Dances" on small stages.

Festival of New American Theatre
Phoenix Theatre
January 25 to February 10

See theater in the making during this new works festival that includes rehearsed readings of unproduced plays and musicals, along with artist talkbacks, panel discussions, a composer/lyricist cabaret, and a 24-hour theater project. Participating playwrights tackle diverse themes, including mental illness, body shaming, and immigration.

“Josef Albers in Mexico”
Heard Museum
February 1 to May 27

Organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, this exhibition explores artworks created by German artist Joseph Albers during the early 20th century. Albers’ geometric abstractions were heavily influenced by Latin American travels, where he encountered pre-Columbian art, architecture, and culture. Featured works include paintings, photographs, and photo collage.

click to enlarge ASU Art Museum is showing works by artists in the Americas. - COURTESY OF ASU ART MUSEUM
ASU Art Museum is showing works by artists in the Americas.
Courtesy of ASU Art Museum
“Talking to Action”
ASU Art Museum
February 9 to July 6

“Talking to Action: Art, Pedagogy, and Activism in the Americas” includes works by dozens of artists exploring contemporary social-political issues. The exhibition features sculptures, drawings, film and video installations, archival documents, and other media. Featured artists hail from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. The exhibit is part of the Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative, which explores Latin American art in dialogue with Los Angeles.

The Firebird
Symphony Hall
February 14 to 17

Ballet Arizona is presenting the world premiere of artistic director Ib Andersen’s The Firebird, a classic ballet rooted in a Russian tale, which gets a futuristic twist in this lavish production. It’s being danced against the backdrop of a 120-foot panoramic stage, with Igor Stravinsky’s score performed live by The Phoenix Symphony.

“Now Playing: Video 1999-2019”
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
February 16 to April 28

Transformed 20 years ago from movie theater to museum, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art is paying homage to its history with an eclectic array of video works. Featured artists include Mark Bradford, Candice Breitz, Petra Cortright, Song Dong, Kota Ezawa, Mads Lynnerup, Christian Marclay, Shirin Neshat, Paul Pfeiffer, Aaron Rothman, Mike Rottenberg, and Diana Thater.

“Subversive White”
Lisa Sette Gallery
March 2 to April 27

Taking aim at white supremacy within American culture, Lisa Sette is showing works by artists whose use of white punctuates its presence even as it calls for radical change. Featured artists based in Arizona include Angela Ellsworth, Carrie Marill, and Ann Morton. Other artists include Enrique Chagoya, Sonya Clark, Claudio Dicochea, Ben Durham, Rob Kinmonth, Mark Mitchell, Trina McKillen, Fiona Pardington, Julianne Swartz, and Hank Willis Thomas.

click to enlarge Michael Viglietta's work was featured in Artlink's Art Detour 30. - MICHAEL VIGLIETTA
Michael Viglietta's work was featured in Artlink's Art Detour 30.
Michael Viglietta
Silent Night
Symphony Hall
March 1 to 3

The Pulitzer Prize in Music has gone to some well-known artists, including Aaron Copland, Kendrick Lamar, and Wynton Marsalis. The 2012 prize went to Silent Night, an opera with music by Kevin Puts and libretto by Mark Campbell, which is sung in five languages. It’s based on a true story of World War I soldiers finding their shared humanity for a single night in 1914.

“Agnes Pelton: Desert Transcendentalist”
Phoenix Art Museum
March 9 to September 8

The museum is showing more than 40 works by Agnes Pelton, an obscure American painter influenced by transcendentalist ideology. Working in the first half of the 20th century, Pelton created both conventional desert landscapes and esoteric abstractions. The exhibition explores her contributions to American Modernism.

Artlink Exhibition
Bentley Projects
March 14

During the Art d’Core Gala, a casually elegant gathering that launches Art Detour 31, you can explore works in diverse media by established and emerging artists, plus enjoy conversations with local creatives and fellow art lovers. It’s a fun way to meet artists whose works you’ve long admired, and learn about fresh faces on the metro Phoenix arts scene.

Ink: Camille A. Brown & Dancers
ASU Gammage
March 16

This is the third piece of Brown’s theatrical dance trilogy exploring identity, race, and culture, which reflects the dance company’s focus on connecting history with contemporary culture through diverse movement including blues, hip hop, modern, jazz, swing, tap, and more. Embracing the lineage of the African Diaspora, Brown’s work reclaims silenced or appropriated African-American narratives.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Mesa Arts Center
March 29 to 30

It’s been 60 years since a group of young African-American dancers, including Alvin Ailey, performed at a New York cultural and community center called the 92nd Street Y. Ailey died in 1989, but his legacy lives on in the modern dance company that bears his name. See several works from the Alvin Ailey repertoire when the 60th anniversary tour comes to Mesa.

click to enlarge Ballet Arizona is performing the world premiere of Ib Andersen's The Firebird. - COURTESY OF BALLET ARIZONA
Ballet Arizona is performing the world premiere of Ib Andersen's The Firebird.
Courtesy of Ballet Arizona
Let The Right One In
Tempe Center for the Arts
April 12 to May 4

Based on a best-selling novel, this Stray Cat Theatre production blends vampire mythology with the challenges of adolescence, putting a brutal twist on a love story with themes that resonate throughout contemporary American culture. It’s directed by Ron May, founder and artistic director for Stray Cat Theatre.

Harlem Shakespeare Festival’s Othello
Taliesin West
April 19 to 28

Southwest Shakespeare Company presents this compelling adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s best-known plays exploring jealousy, intrigue, and betrayal. The all-female cast includes Harlem Shakespeare Festival’s founder and artistic director Debra Ann Byrd as Othello, a character whose pursuits of passion and power have plenty of modern-day correlates.

Things I Know To Be True
Herberger Theater Center
May 16 to June 2

Imagine spending 30 years together, raising four strong children, then witnessing the ways each adult child grapples with identity and personal crises. That’s the premise for this play coming to Arizona Theatre Company, which explores a year in the life of a family facing societal changes and shifting relationships, prompting viewers to consider whether it’s possible to love someone too little, or too much.
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Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble