Five Must-See Arts and Culture Events This Week in Metro Phoenix

We know: The beginning of the work week sucks. But if you take a quick look at the calendar, you'll see we're off to a pretty good week of art events, sporting events, dance parties, and more. Here are our must-see events from now to the weekend . . .

Monday, March 25: "Whispers of a New World" @ Desert Botanical Garden Stroll along the verdant paths of the Desert Botanical Garden, 1201 North Galvin Parkway, and you'll find plenty of plant life that could qualify as art. Look closer and you'll see that alongside some of that flora is manmade artwork -- specifically the nature-inspired sculptures by artist Carolina Escobar. In her garden exhibition, "Whispers of a New World," Escobar reveals organically shaped works that will have you doing double takes to distinguish them from their neighboring vegetation.

Spot the differences on the Desert Discovery Loop trail and find a selection of the artist's two-dimensional pieces in the Ottosen Gallery. Price: $18 for adults, $15 for seniors, $10 for students, and $8 for children. -- Becky Bartkowski

See also: - Announcing the 2013 Big Brain Finalists - A Survival Guide to Phoenix Film Festival 2013

Tuesday, March 26: "The Human Touch" @ SMoCA For an intimate look at work by widely celebrated artists John Baldessari, Kerry James Marshall, and Ann Hamilton and emerging artists Luis Gispert, Chen Qiulin, and Michael Vasquez, stop by Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art through April 28. That's when art included in the RBC Wealth Management Collection is on view for the public. SMoCA curators describe the works in the exhibition, "The Human Touch," as a "cross-section of identity that mirrors who we are and how we live today."

The collection focuses on the human figure as well as the complexity of contemporary society. Works include a range of media, subject, and approach, including digital manipulation, appropriation, and performance. Price: $7 for adults, $5 for students, free for members. -- Claire Lawton

Wednesday, March 27: Retro Recreation @ The Duce While Americans' obsession with all things vintage and nostalgic can get grating, when it comes to chilling at The Duce, we are totally on board. When it opened in 2010, the warehouse district hangout instantly became a Phoenix hotspot, thanks to its retro flair. The bar/store/athletic facility feels like Cracker Barrel opened a boxing gym -- with a little less kitsch and way fewer collectible dolls. On any given Wednesday, guests can square off in the ring, engage in rousing rounds of shuffleboard and foosball, and simultaneously sip on a beautifully crafted cocktail. All of the above are encouraged during Retro Recreation, a weekly event boasting ping pong, classic movie screenings, and Duce Bag, the bar's take on cornhole. (It isn't nearly as dirty as it sounds.) -- Melissa Fossum

Thursday, March 28: "Neo Chroma" @ Bentley Gallery For Tim Bavington, Ali Smith, Daniel Brice, Oliver Arms, Jill Moser, and Feodor Voronov, it's all about color. The six artists took over the walls at Bentley Gallery with the exhibition "Neo Chroma," showing a variety of styles and approaches, but a shared focus on and homage to the cerebral Color Field painters of the 1940s and '50s.

Curator John A. Reyes notes that Arms works in layers and patterns with color, while Brice utilizes thin coats of oil paints that create gradients. Smith's paintings are almost sculptural, and Voronov's work focuses on a central two-dimensional image. Tim Bavington creates work inspired by music, and Jill Moser uses colors and complex brushstrokes.

Reyes explains, "Abstraction has been prevalent for many years, and many artists are still working in this vein to produce exciting work. I felt it was time to show the many stylistic approaches to the genre, and in 'Neo Chroma,' color is the thread that ties it together."-- Claire Lawton

Friday, March 29: MIM Rocks Fashion @ Musical Instrument Museum Looks like fall's big fashion trend will be 1990s rocker duds -- flannel, Doc Marten-esque boots, Courtney Love levels of manicured dishevelment, and all. While the looks presented at Phoenix Fashion Week's fourth-annual MIM Rocks Fashion show will be more spring-friendly than Cobain-centric, the event will spotlight how music and fashion exchange inspiration.

In the mix will be garments from Seattle-based designer Bri Seeley, who was named Phoenix Fashion Week's 2012 designer of the year, and ENVY by Khanh, plus pieces from boutiques Amir's La Voûte and Clothes Minded. Stylists including Yeka Bruner, Fawn Cheng, and Brian Swan will assemble the pieces into runway-ready ensembles. Smells like team spirit to us. -- Becky Bartkowski

Check out more things to do today (and everyday) in our Calendar section ...

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