Things to Do

The Best Free Things to Do in Metro Phoenix This Week

Looking great at the Arizona Matsuri Festival.
Looking great at the Arizona Matsuri Festival. Michelle Sasonov
Do you still have a few days until payday? That doesn't mean you can't have fun. This week, you can check out Japanese culture at Arizona Matsuri or check out a new exhibition space called Exponent. For more things to do, visit Phoenix New Times’ calendar.

click to enlarge Exploring the "Weave" exhibit. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Exploring the "Weave" exhibit.
Lynn Trimble


The Gallery at Tempe Center for the Arts long has excelled at pulling together diverse threads within the community to create eclectic exhibits that highlight talented artists based in Arizona. Now, they’re showing works that elevate construction and creation in a group show called “Weave.” See the free exhibit at 700 West Rio Salado Parkway in Tempe between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Wednesday, February 19. Highlights include Velma Kee Craig’s flag featuring stripes and a QR code and Sam Fresquez’s braid featuring buttons from the sides of mariachi pants. You’ll also find Deborah Sperber’s take on Mona Lisa, created with a spool of thread, plus several Denise Yaghmourian works made with thread, thread, and eyelets. The exhibit continues through May 16. Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Learn about plant-based cooking at Arabian Library. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Learn about plant-based cooking at Arabian Library.
Lynn Trimble

The Plant Based Pioneer

Do you need to grow your knowledge of plant-based cooking and eating? A local series of conversations called The Plant Based Pioneer is designed to educate people about incorporating vegan and vegetarian foods into their lifestyles. It’s hosted by Mamta Jain Valderrama, a Scottsdale resident whose vegetarian roots go back to the 1970s.

The event runs from 6 to 6:45 p.m. at the Arabian Library, 10215 East McDowell Mountain Ranch Road in Scottsdale. While you’re there, you can explore plenty of books to help you take a deeper dive into the topic. The event is free, and the tone is nonjudgmental, so there’s no need to worry about meat-shaming. Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge It's Conservation Science Night over at the Phoenix Zoo. - PHOENIX ZOO
It's Conservation Science Night over at the Phoenix Zoo.
Phoenix Zoo

Conservation Science Night

Recent headlines have been filled with stories of animals facing immense threats, from massive fires to human exploitation of wilderness habitats. If you’ve ever felt powerless to act, you might remedy that by spending time with those working on animal conservation here in Phoenix. The Phoenix Zoo, 455 North Galvin Parkway, is holding a Conservation Science Night from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, February 21.

It’s your chance to meet zoo conservationists and try your hand at several activities they regularly undertake, from collecting data to assessing threats to animal populations. The event is free but space is limited. Lynn Trimble

'The Wrong Biennial'

Controversy swirled after Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh for the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018. While others were venting on social media, Malena Barnhart was busy turning her reaction into art. See the results of her work during a free opening reception for “The Wrong Biennial” exhibit from 8 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, February 22.

The reception will be inside a new exhibition space called Exponent, located at Park Central Mall, 3121 North Third Avenue. The group show exploring digital culture will feature works by more than a dozen artists, including Christine Cassano, Lily Reeves, and Kendra Sollars. It’s presented by Fine Art Complex 1101. Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Irasshai! Explore Japanese culture at Arizona Matsuri. - MICHELLE SASONOV
Irasshai! Explore Japanese culture at Arizona Matsuri.
Michelle Sasonov

Arizona Matsuri

This year marks the 36th anniversary of the Arizona Matsuri, a celebration of Japanese culture, art, and food. A move to Steele Indian School Park has expanded this year’s festivities, which include four stages for martial arts demonstrations, taiko drum performances, a children’s choir, the Soran Bushi traditional dance, shakuhachi flute, and more. There will be plenty of food vendors, including Yako-Ya, Taiko, Hot Bamboo, Blue Fin Teriyaki, Asahi Bakery, and Republic Ramen, among others. You’ll also be able to shop for home decor, fine arts, clothing, and fabrics. This is about the closest you can get to a trip to Japan without embarking on a 14-hour plane ride.

The free event runs from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. on Saturday, February 22, and Sunday, February 23, at Steele Indian Park, 300 East Indian School Road. Chris Coplan
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Chris Coplan has been a professional writer since the 2010s, having started his professional career at Consequence of Sound. Since then, he's also been published with TIME, Complex, and other outlets. He lives in Central Phoenix with his fiancee, a dumb but lovable dog, and two bossy cats.
Contact: Chris Coplan
Jason Keil was the Phoenix New Times culture editor from August 2019 to May 2020.
Contact: Jason Keil
Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble