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

Monday, December 24: Luminarias Downtown @ Downtown Phoenix or more than three hundred years the New Mexican tradition of making lights out of easily obtained sand and paper bags has brought a peaceful glow to the Southwest region throughout the holidays. These strategically placed path finders were originally designed as a guide to welcome the Christ child into the world. After all, like Ricky Bobby says, the baby Jesus version really is the best.

This year, that tradition makes its way to this fair city for the inaugural Luminarias Downtown. Local businesses and public spaces take part as the backdrop to the lighting, which will create a path for a free, self-guided tour of the area. -- Craig Smith

Tuesday, December 25: Mary X-Mas 2012 @ Arizona Event Center The latest Christmas meme of "Santa saw your Facebook pictures; you're getting clothes and a dictionary for Christmas" suggests that nowadays folks may be a little more naughty than nice. Even if you wake up on Christmas morning to find a pack of socks and a thesaurus with a bargain sticker still stuck to its cover, at least it's comforting to know that Christmas festivities with the family only last for a couple of hours.

Once your uncle starts slurring his speech after a few too many glasses of eggnog, it's time to duck out in favor of the annual Mary X Mas party. This winter raverland includes presents for the naughty and nice and a canned food drive to score you a spot on next year's nice list. This all-ages party boasts sets by DJ Swamp, Reverse, CL McSpadden, Sam Groove vs. Spear, and more. -- Melissa Fossum

Wednesday, December 26: "Visions of Humanity: 20th Century Chinese Paintings from the Jones Collection" @ Phoenix Art Museum The cultural history of China dates back thousands of years with ideas, images and sayings still propagating through modern culture -- particularly in the West. Yet, the 1960s Cultural Revolution attempted to erase that past for a future that could be shaped. Following Chairman Mao's 1975 death, artists reset their canvases, but they didn't revert to classical depictions.

Instead, the focus shifted to common aspects of everyday life: workers, soldiers, children, and home. This shift is the subject of "Visions of Humanity," on display through Sunday, April 14, 2013, at the Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central Avenue. The exhibition's 30 paintings and one short film were collected by Gerry Jones to depict a modern angle on China's rapidly changing history, a viewpoint he says will remain limited as Chinese artists have already moved to new artistic realms. -- Glenn BurnSilver

Thursday, December 27: 65th Annual Arizona National Livestock Show @ Arizona State Fairgrounds With urban sprawl and the growth of our beloved concrete and cactus jungle, it's easy to forget that this was once a great frontier of cowboys and cattle. Once a year the Arizona National Livestock Show rolls into town, with nearly 1,700 of the nation's best cattle, horses, sheep, goats, and swine competing for more than $66,000 in prize money, to remind us of that golden past.

Aside from a showing of animals that will put the nearest urban farmer to shame, cowboys from across the state will saddle up for a series of competitive events including a ranch rodeo, a working ranch horse competition, and a commercial replacement heifer show and sale - the kind of stuff that leaves the urban boot wearer feeling pretty incompetent. Ranch rodeo events include wild cow milking, calf branding, stray gathering, and trailer loading. -- Lauren Saria

Friday, December 28: FMLY Fest @ Roosevelt and Fifth Streets Millions of Phoenicians cover this 400-plus square mile slab of real estate we call the Valley of the Sun. Competition looms heavily as business, fashion, and even traffic, the most dangerous place it should be seen, bursts with a "me first" attitude. After a while, these elements form a disconnect that can threaten humanity leaving us bitter and mistrusting. Where's the love?

Here it is. Found in the heart of the healthy and growing arts district downtown is FMLY Fest. A mutually supportive collective forms this multi-city tour in the hopes of sustaining and reinvigorating free expression, sense of community without judgment, and all-around positive vibes. Just some of the Tempe Starving Artist-sponsored activities will be interactive displays, visual art, live painting, a zine exchange, and spoken word sessions. That's not to mention the more than 60 bands playing various stages along Fifth Street between Roosevelt and Garfield streets. -- Craig Smith

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

Follow Jackalope Ranch on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Claire Lawton
Contact: Claire Lawton