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Five Must-See Events This Week

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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...

Tuesday, September 4: Route 66 @ Tempe Youth Library Gallery In 1946, Nat King Cole recorded a short and sweet number about one of America's favorite well-beaten paths. "If you ever plan to motor west / Travel my way, take the highway that is best / Get your kicks on Route sixty-six."

Almost 66 years later, the iconic stretch of highway from Chicago to LA has become a metaphor for 1950s and 1960s nostalgia -- neon, diners, the open road -- and continues to inspire artists, both in song and on canvas.

At Tempe Public Library, Phoenix artist Kenneth Richardson will showcase his work inspired by landscapes and personal memories of the roadway in the exhibition "Route 66." The artist, who works in oil paints, has been an assistant and studio manager to celebrated local painter Ed Mell since 1995. -- Claire Lawton

Tuesday, September 4: "Stephen Marc: Passage on the Underground Railroad" Through digital collages of photographs, historical documents, iconography, and ephemera, Stephen Marc tells stories of the Underground Railroad. Marc's known as a pioneer in his medium, which includes combining images and text to re-create sites and stories of African American life.

Marc's based in Phoenix, where his work is currently on view at Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central Avenue. His latest exhibition in the museum's Norton Photography Gallery is "Passage on the Underground Railroad," on view through Sunday, September 23. In it, Marc traces the history of slaves' secretive pathway to freedom. To create it, he spent more than a decade traveling to 32 states and collecting portraits, stories, songs, and snapshots. Then he layered the imagery to create what he calls "digital documentary montages." -- Claire Lawton

Wednesday, September 5: "Visions of this Land" @ Herberger Theater Center Steele Pavilion Art Gallery The concept of the "circle of life" perpetuates throughout a multitude of cultures (popular and otherwise). It famously appears in Disney's The Lion King, but also commonly crops up in Native American works of art. Instead of appreciating the circle, the Western mindset usually skews egocentric. After all, life ends when the individual takes his last breath, right? Not according to Native thought and art. Life never ends, and the medicine wheel was created to represent it. The wheel is constructed by laying stones in a pattern on the ground with "spokes" that can represent different ideas to different tribes.

In "Visions of This Land," Jim Covarrubias, former curator for the Herberger Theater Art Gallery, reflects on the traditional Native medicine wheel with large scenescapes through a modern lens. -- Christina Caldwell

Thursday, September 9: Nearly Naked Theatre: Parallel Lives @ Phoenix Theatre's Little Theatre Why hang around grimy little arts venues? Well, for one thing, to like stuff before it's cool. In 1980s Manhattan, for instance, we enjoyed the fresh-faced, low-rent versions of now-mainstream performers: Eric Bogosian, John Malkovich, the late Spalding Gray, Bill Irwin -- and Kathy Najimy and Mo Gaffney, whose Obie-winning The Kathy and Mo Show: Parallel Lives was a wacky and insightful sketch revue that showcased two of the funniest people ever.

The resulting play, Parallel Lives, kicks off Nearly Naked Theatre's current season through Saturday, September 15, at Phoenix Theater's Little Theater, 100 East McDowell Road. The show, which stars Valley faves Johanna Carlisle and Andréa Morales, begins with two goddesses creating the world and figuring out how to distribute the perks and problems of race and sex; then the performers play all the victims of divine caprice (i.e., us). -- Julie Peterson

Friday, September 6: Fifth Anniversary Party @ Bunky Boutique Five years ago, Rachel and Jim Malloy applied their funky aesthetic and love for locally made clothing and accessories and set up shop in downtown Phoenix. Ever since, Bunky Boutique (named for Rachel's grandmother) has been a sure stop on any of our gift-finding missions -- yes, including those for ourselves.

On Friday, September 7 at 7 p.m., the Malloys will toast the shop's five-year anniversary with champagne and cake, 20 percent off merchandise, and plenty of giveaways. The boutique, located in the Merz building at 1427 North First Street, is a must-see and a must-stop-in. And, if it were up to us, we'd eat cake and toast to the Malloys more often. -- Claire Lawton

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

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