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

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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, sports games, dance parties, and more. Here are our must-see events from now to the weekend...

Monday, December 31: Scottsdale's Ultimate New Year's Eve Block Party @ Craftsman Court It seems like every bar in town hosts a New Year's Eve party. With all the options, it's so tough to pick, and nabbing some sparklers, booze, and that non-depressing Snuggie begins to sound like the easiest way out. Tempting, yes. But there's an easy solution.

See also: - The Most Interesting New Year's Eve Parties in Metro Phoenix - The 10 Best Art Exhibitions and Installations I Saw in Phoenix in 2012

One of the Valley's longest running NYE parties is a good place to start. Scottsdale's Ultimate Block Party celebrates its tenth year with an impressive line up of bands dispersed between two stages. Headliners The Dirty Heads close out the night after local rock/reggae favorites like Authority Zero, The Veragroove, and Black Bottom Lighters share the stage. But music plays second fiddle to the overall partying, as Dos Gringos, RockBar, and Blitz Sports Grill open their doors for a massive bash. Brave the cold outside at the stroke of midnight, because a fireworks display will usher in 2013. Price: $25 -- Melissa Fossum

Tuesday, January 1: Books and Beakers Science Café @ Lawn Gnome Science certainly has its enemies: Creationists still conjure up fantasies of Jesus palling around with dinosaurs, climate-change-deniers turn a blind eye to mild winters and numerous natural disasters, and even Bill Nye the Science Guy was killed by Twitter rumors last fall. Thankfully, it's not yet illegal for fans of scientific progress to gather, and Lawn Gnome Publishing's Books and Beakers Science Café takes advantage of that fact on Tuesdays.

Past topics of the laid-back seminars have included solar energy, how fermentation (and beer) have shaped humanity, and "Six Ways Mushrooms Will Destroy the World." While the science-based professionals that pop up to speak change from week to week, the one constant is affable downtown musician TK Campo moderating to keep things brisk and light. -- Jose Gonzalez

Wednesday, January 2: "SouthwestNET: Sherin Guirguis and Carrie Marill" @ Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art To catch the latest work by Los Angeles-based artist Sherin Guirguis and Phoenix-based painter Carrie Marill, head to Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, 7374 East Second Street, for "southwestNET." The two artists have very different roots -- Guirguis was born in Luxor, Egypt and Marill in San Franscico -- but each draws inspiration from the aesthetic and history of Arabic pattern-making and calligraphy, as well as southwestern Native American textiles and images.

Guirguis is known for her intricate paintings and sculptures that walk the line between minimalism and elaborate illustration. Marill has a sharp eye, and combines her attention to detail and passion for subject in her work.

In "southwestNET," the two showcase their latest work, described by museum staff as a "modern" take on both cultures and artistic methods while "exploring each one's formal qualities -- color, line and texture," that results in a collection of sculptures and paintings.Price: $7 for adults, $5 for students, free for members and those 15 and under, and free on Thursdays -- Claire Lawton

Thursday, January 3:42nd Annual Tostitos Fiesta Bowl @ University of Phoenix Stadium Even if the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl has been shrouded in controversy over the last couple of years, there's been nothing fishy about the games themselves, and this year should be no exception. 2013's match-up features the number-four Oregon Ducks versus the fifth-ranked Kansas State Wildcats, in what will likely be a battle for the third spot in the national rankings.

Win or lose, the showdown ought to be momentous for both programs. Ducks head coach Chip Kelly may be waddling his way off to the NFL at season's end, marking the end of an era. KS quarterback Collin Klein will also be setting his sights on Sunday as he hangs up the laces of a prodigious college career. And with plenty of folks refusing to drink Notre Dame's green Kool-Aid in anticipation of an Alabama blowout, the Fiesta Bowl may prove to be the most entertaining of all the major bowls this year. Price: $95 and up. -- Rob Kroehler

Friday, January 4: Taiyou Con 2013 @ Hilton Phoenix East/Mesa Now that the holidays are over, it's time to retreat back to all of the hobbies and habits that would be too hard to explain to those not-with-it relatives. The aptly named Taiyou Con hits the Valley of the Sun on Friday, January 4, to gather Japanese pop culture fans who likely had to suppress their otaku ways at family gatherings.

Whether you have a yen for anime (Japanese animation), manga (Japanese comics), cosplay (elaborate, homemade costumes for role-playing and fun), or gaming, Taiyou Con has all your geek leanings covered. Special guests include master cosplayer Maridah, the voice of Dragonball Z's Krillin Sonny Strait, and San Diego video game rockers Kirby's Dream Band. Price: $20-$45 -- Jose Gonzalez

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

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