Some things are worth the wait -- like, for instance, the Mesa Arts Center. After nearly five decades of false starts, failed bond elections, tax hikes and tumult, the suburb's sleepy downtown finally gets a one-megaton wake-up call as Arizona's largest cultural complex, located at 1 East Main Street, holds its grand opening this weekend. The turmoil was worth it, explains community advocate Joanie Flatt, who spent almost 30 years helping bring the facility to fruition. "Part of the challenge was that this is Mesa," says Flatt. "I don't think anybody thought we'd pull off creating a first-class project like this."
The artfully designed seven-acre campus consists of several components, each handling either the performing or visual arts. A theater complex with four separate stages hosts both local and touring acts, while Mesa Contemporary Arts features five different galleries, as well as myriad courtyards, studios and classrooms. Flatt is particularly passionate about the MAC's hosting of more than 700 free or low-cost courses in both the visual and performing arts, starting in June.
"Folks who wouldn't normally have access to the arts, if it weren't literally in their backyards, can finally create, learn, and experience," Flatt says. The public can experience what MAC has to offer from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, April 22, and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 23, with the work of such artists as mixed-media sculptors Deborah Butterfield and Michael Shaughnessy on exhibit. The entertainment lineup includes live music by Traveler, illusions and juggling by Craig Davis, and improvisational theater by Off the Cuff. Admission is free. See www.mesaarts.com. -- Benjamin Leatherman
A book signing is in your future
If you want a reading from renowned psychic Allison DuBois, be prepared to wait . . . three years. The inspiration behind the popular TV show Medium has a waiting list of 3,000 people, and a backlog of 200 murder cases. But you can get some time with the seer and share her experiences as a clairvoyant on Thursday, April 21, when DuBois discusses and signs her first book, Don't Kiss Them Goodbye, which recounts her life as a medium. The signing begins at 7 p.m. at Changing Hands Bookstore, 6428 South McClintock in Tempe. Ticket numbers for the signing are available with book purchase, and arriving early with your ticket is recommended. Call 480-730-0205. -- Niki D'Andrea
Down With the Ship
Enjoy someone else's last supper
If you've ever wondered what it would be like to be aboard the Titanic (minus the screaming and sinking and drowning), then float over to Eurasia Bistro, 8225 East Indian Bend in Scottsdale, for a "Titanic Wine Dinner" on Saturday, April 23. Every year, around the anniversary of the Titanic tragedy, the hip eatery hosts a party featuring items from the ship's actual dinner menu. This year's delectables include canapés ala admiral, cream of barley soup, asparagus salad with champagne saffron vinaigrette, and roast sirloin of beef forestière. Isabel provides the live music soundtrack for this epicurean homage. Tickets to the dinner cost $45. Call 602-956-0211 for reservations. -- Niki D'Andrea
Get PHXed up
If living in our expansive desert metropolis has you running in circles, stop and discover the viability of the growing Valley of the Sun at the 2005 Urban Living Fair, taking place Thursday, April 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Arizona Center, 455 North Third Street. Meet up with mortgage lenders and financial institutions to examine the best options for settling in P-town, and then dive into interactive displays about volunteer opportunities, hotels, and retail. Local band Enlightenment will perform live reggae, and the first 250 people to attend will be entered in a drawing for a trip for two to San Francisco. Admission is free. Call 602-271-4000. -- Niki D'Andrea
Doobie there at Sail Inn
With Jerry being buried for nearly a decade and Phish reeling it in last year, granola munchers everywhere have been left in a lurch in terms of groovy gatherings. Good thing there's the Kind Jam, a weekendlong music festival from Friday, April 22, through Sunday, April 24. Attendees enjoy bands like Soaking Fused, Gelatinous Groove, Jam Busters, Badshoe, Calumet, and Horticulture. Attendees might wanna bring a hollow leg, as the fest offers all the free beer you can drink. "It's not unlimited," says organizer Ian Horvath. "If you drink too much, we might have to throw you out." Where's the love, man? Keep on trucking from noon to 2 a.m. each day. Tickets, $25 per day or $40 for the weekend, are available at www.kindjam.com; along with directions to the site in Buckeye. -- Benjamin Leatherman
Short and Sweet
Little lawn movies at ASU
For all the films that deserve your attention at the average film festival, the truth is you'd need to clear your schedule for the better part of a weekend to see them all. Those with a shorter attention span (or a life) can still celebrate their love for film and the pleasure of discovering some of the finest upcoming filmmakers around at the ninth annual Arizona State University Art Museum Short Film and Video Festival, Saturday, April 23, outdoors on the ASU Nelson Fine Arts Center Plaza, 10th Street and Mill Avenue in Tempe. Twenty-seven short films (chosen from a field of 365) cover the fields of animation, drama, comedy and documentaries, and make up the most diverse lineup the festival has seen. And with films ranging from 60 seconds to 10 minutes, it won't take long to find new favorites again and again. Admission is free. Be sure to bring a lawn chair and/or a blanket. The festival starts at 8 p.m. Call 480-965-2787 or see asuartmuseum.asu.edu. -- Craig Wallach