The 10 Best Things I Saw in Metro Phoenix in 2013

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There Is a Mountain by Mary Shindell Artist Mary Shindell makes a habit of opening up her subjects to see what's inside. And when she took on South Mountain, the results were mesmerizing. For the group show "Creature-Man-Nature" at Mesa Contemporary Arts, she pasted a 25-foot-wide digital rendition of the mountain in pinks and browns onto the back wall of North Gallery. With chunks of rock imagery and vegetation throughout the drawing, it was a simultaneous look at the land mass' interior and exterior. The second element of the installation was a chandelier of bluish tubes, called "cacti," that mimic the radio and TV towers that top the mountain in real life. The X-Files-meets-National Geographic vibe was exciting, scary, and made for the most memorable work of art I saw all year.

Aidy Bryant at Tempe Improv There's no getting around it: Aidy Bryant is freaking hilarious. The Saturday Night Live repertory player (yep, she got a bump up this year) is part of a new school of players on the sketch show, and she's making her giggle-inducing mark. Before the fall 2013 season started, Bryant came home to Phoenix for a weekend of shows with costar Tim Robinson, who's now on the show's writing staff. The duo played off one another with improvisational, audience-engaging games and showed off some of their in-the-works characters and bits. Aidy's exploration of a childhood journal full of doodles, stickers, hopes, dreams, and other assorted girlish weirdness had me in stitches. Brava.

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Becky Bartkowski is an award-winning journalist and the arts and music editor at New Times, where she writes about art, fashion, and pop culture.
Contact: Becky Bartkowski