Nerd Culture

The Best Things to Do in Metro Phoenix This Week

Checking out the cars at last year's Barrett-Jackson.
Checking out the cars at last year's Barrett-Jackson. Jim Louvau

This week, there's plenty for you to do. You can geek out at Ace Comic Con, browse some classic cars at Barrett-Jackson, or interact with local creatives at Arizona Fine Art Expo. For more things to do, visit Phoenix New Times’ calendar.

click to enlarge
Check out Gennaro Garcia's work during the Scottsdale ArtWalk.
Courtesy of Royse Contemporary
Scottsdale ArtWalk
It’s easy to say you love local arts and culture, but harder to walk the talk when it comes to making time for art. Several cities, including Scottsdale, have art walks that make it easy to connect with local artists and support their work. Head to Old Town Scottsdale between 7 and 9 p.m. on Thursday, January 10, and you can explore eclectic art offerings in galleries concentrated around Main Street and Marshall Way, near Indian School Road. For contemporary art, try starting at Art One, Royse Contemporary, Tilt Gallery, or Wilde Meyer. The art walk is free. Visit Lynn Trimble

Explore memory with works by Diane Silver.
Courtesy of Gebert Contemporary
“Remember That You Will Forget”
Ever heard the theory that tying a string around your finger can help you remember something? Turns out, art can have a similar effect. See how Diane Silver makes the case, through mixed-media artworks filled with images meant to trigger memories while punctuating the poignancy of the present moment. The free opening reception for her “Remember That You Will Forget” exhibition happens from 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, January 10. Silver describes it as “an invitation to a personal exploration of one’s own memories and how they shape who we are.” The exhibit continues through Saturday, February 2, at Gebert Contemporary Art Gallery, 7160 Main Street, in Scottsdale. Put a string on it. Visit Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge
Dressed for success.
Benjamin Leathermen
Taiyou Con
As any sword-toting, Crunchyroll-loving geek can tell you, anime is big. Really big. So big, in fact, that it raked in an estimated $19 billion in 2017 alone. And it’s only getting more popular as time goes on. Just ask the folks behind the annual Taiyou Con, who cause hundreds of local geeks into anime, manga, and Japanese pop culture to flock the Mesa Convention Center, 263 North Center Street, every January for three days of otaku-style fun. Since 2011, the con offers a mix of cosplay, vendors, gaming, panels, and workshops, much of it anime-related. There are also activities like karaoke, concerts, fan meetups, and more.

The 2018 edition of Taiyou Con takes place from noon to 2 a.m. on Friday, January 11, and continues through Sunday, January 13, at the convention center and will include appearances by such anime talents as Yuriko Yamaguchi, Yoshitoshi ABe, Max Mittelman, and Robbie Daymond. Operating hours vary. Daily admission is $30 to $45, weekend passes are $50, and VIP packages are $64.99 to $149.99. See for more info. Benjamin Leatherman

click to enlarge
The real Deadpool?
Benjamin Leatherman
Ace Comic Con
When Ace Comic Con came to the Valley last year, it came loaded for bear. The touring geek event, which is produced by the folks who created the renowned Wizard World conventions, took over Gila River Arena in Glendale and featured three days of nerdy fun, not to mention some stellar special guests of the A-list variety.

You can expect the exact same mix of geeky exploits, and big-name stars when Ace Comic Con returns to the Valley from 4 to 9 p.m. on Friday, January 11, and continues through Sunday, January 13. The entirety of Gila River Arena, 9400 West Maryland Avenue in Glendale, will host activities ranging from Q&A sessions and panels to cosplay and trivia contests. The year’s guest list includes such geek-oriented actors and actresses as Tom Hiddleston, Michael Fassbender, Charlie Cox, and Krysten Ritter, as well as Doctor Who’s David Tennant. Plus, dozens of comic book artists, writers, and creatives will also be on hand.

General admission is $65 to $75 per day, $125 for the weekend, and $5 to $10 for kids 10 and under. VIP packages start at $305 and photo ops, autographs, and meet-and-greets can be purchased separately. See for full details. Benjamin Leatherman

click to enlarge
Cactus are going mutant in Chandler.
Courtesy of Vision Gallery
“Futureland, Arizona”
ASU has A Mountain, a.k.a. Tempe Butte, but Vision Gallery in Chandler has them beat, with a “trash mountain” created by Sarah Hurwitz and Daniel Funkhouser. You can actually climb it, and take a fabulous selfie, if you hit the free opening reception for their “Futureland, Arizona” exhibit, happening from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, January 11. Located at 10 East Chicago Street, the gallery will be showing both individual works by both artists, as well as their collaborative installation that playfully imagines what a future Arizona might look like if humans don’t get a whole lot smarter about how they use natural resources and inventions like plastic. The show continues through Friday, February 15. Visit Lynn Trimble

Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike
Things got gloomy in 2018, when Russia dominated the headlines. Some took solace by finding humor amid the horror, which is exactly what happens during Vanya and Sonya and Masha and Spike, a play inspired by themes and characters from the work of late 19th-century Russian playwright Anton Chekhov. It earned the Tony Award for Best Play in 2013, and now, it’s being performed by Mesa Encore Theatre. Chekhov references abound, but you don’t need to memorize The Metamorphosis to appreciate the play. It’s being performed at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, January 11, at Mesa Arts Center, 1 East Main Street in Mesa. Tickets are $28. Visit Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge
Show some love for radio land.
Courtesy of Radio Phoenix
Basement Tapes Radio Live
Housed in the bottom of Phoenix Center for the Arts, the headquarters for Radio Phoenix has an underground feel. So, it makes sense that they’ve carried the theme through to the title for their weekly live broadcasts from Crescent Ballroom, 308 North Second Avenue. The next Basement Tapes Radio Live, a free event for the 21-and-up set, happens at 10 p.m. on Saturday, January 12. They’ll be playing a mix of old and new hip-hop, R&B, neo-soul, funk, and electronic music on the balcony that night. Visit Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge
Look for Jerusafunk at the Klezmer Music Festival.
Courtesy of EVJCC
Klezmer Music Festival
Music festivals abound, but it’s rare to find one focused on a style of Jewish folk music called klezmer, which has roots in Eastern European Jewish communities. Enter the Klezmer Music Festival, created by the East Valley Jewish Community Center and the city of Chandler. It’s happening at the center, 908 North Alma School Road, from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, January 13. The lineup includes live music by Jerusafunk, the Rural Street Klezmer Band, and Yale Strom. Plus, you can enjoy kosher food experiences, children’s activities, and cultural offerings that include Yiddish poetry readings and songs. Tickets are $15. Visit Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge
Against pants.
Benjamin Leatherman
No Pants Light Rail Ride Phoenix
Under normal circumstances, it’s probably a good idea to keep your pants on while out and about. There’s an exception to every rule, however, which in this case is the annual No Pants Light Rail Ride Phoenix. Each year in early January, hundreds of locals rid themselves of their slacks, shorts, jeans, or skirts and climb aboard the trains of the Valley Metro Light Rail system to ride the rails in pantsless fashion. It’s part of a worldwide prank that often earns participants plenty of stares from both passers-by and fellow passengers. It’s also a total blast.

This year’s edition takes place on Sunday, January 13, and will involve people boarding trains on opposite ends of the Valley. They’ll then ride into downtown Phoenix before disembarking for a post-ride drink at a nearby bar. The pantsless partying goes from 1 to 4 p.m. and it’s free to participate. Check out for details and starting locations. Benjamin Leatherman

click to enlarge
Hot Phoenix Knights, minus the chainmail.
Courtesy of Hot Phoenix Knights
Phoenix Knights
Legend has it that King Arthur’s knights gathered at a round table meant to signify their equality. Today, there’s a group of sketch comedy performers called the Hot Phoenix Knights, better known for standing in front of a mic than sitting down. They’ll be performing at Valley Bar, 130 North Central Avenue. It’s happening at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 13. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 day of show. Whether any of the nine comics performing that night have a penchant for wearing medieval-style chainmail armor remains to be seen. Lynn Trimble

Phoenix Suns
When looking for bright spots in the Phoenix Suns’ dismal season, look no further than December 29 when Devin Booker and the boys took the court against the Denver Nuggets. Sure, our defense was almost non-existent with the team trailing by as much as 25 points in the game. However, a huge rally was mounted in the second half by Deandre Ayton, who racked up a career-high 33 point game, causing the Suns to lose by four points instead of a far more embarrassing number. Maybe the team’s luck will turn around when the Nuggets return to Talking Stick Resort Arena for another match-up.

The game begins at 7 p.m. on Saturday, January 12, at 201 East Jefferson Street. Tickets are $14 to $2,050. For more information, visit Jason Keil

click to enlarge
Zoom, zoom.
Courtesy of Barrett-Jackson
You’ve survived the onslaught of year-end car ads. Now, treat yourself to some time with cars you actually fantasize about driving. They’ll be on view during Barrett-Jackson, the collector car auction happening from January 12 to 20 at WestWorld, 16601 North Pima Road in Scottsdale. With a $17 single day pass on Monday, January 14, you can explore the auction and take in all sorts of related activities, including live vehicle builds, a collector car symposium, demonstrations, an automobile memorabilia auction, and more. While you’re there, check out exhibitors and food court offerings. Gates open at 8 a.m. Visit Lynn Trimble

Flash Gordon
Don’t let Seth McFarlane’s movie Ted cloud your judgment about the 1980 classic Flash Gordon. Based on the long-running comic strip, the sci-fi film follows the exploits of the titular quarterback, news reporter Dale Arden, and Dr. Hans Zarkov as they try to save Earth from the evil Ming the Merciless. Trippy visuals, an appearance by a pre-007 Timothy Dalton, and an operatic rock score by Queen make this cult favorite one to see on the big screen.

The battle for our planet begins at 7 p.m. on Monday, January 14, at FilmBar, 815 North Second Street. Tickets are $9.95 with discounted tickets for Zia Z-Card holders. For more information, visit Jason Keil

click to enlarge
Colorado-based artist Stacy Bayne.
Courtesy of Arizona Fine Art Expo
Arizona Fine Art Expo
Launched in 2005, the Arizona Fine Art Expo returns to Scottsdale from January 11 to March 24. It’s a chance to see works by 124 artists in studio-like settings, and interact with creatives as they bring new pieces to life. Check it out at 26540 North Scottsdale Road between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Monday, January 14. You’ll find art in various media, such as painting, sculpture, ceramics, glass, metal, wood, and fiber. A season pass is just $10. There’s a cafe on-site, plus an artists’ garden and sculpture garden. Be sure you allow plenty of time for strolling the grounds. Visit Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge
History lesson.
Courtesy of Heard Museum
Three-Part Short Course
Back in 2000, the Heard Museum, 2301 North Central Avenue, opened an exhibition about American Indian boarding schools. Now, after extensive updates and improvements, they’re getting ready to launch a new iteration of the exhibit called “Away From Home: American Indian Boarding School Stories.” But first, a museum support organization called the Heard Museum Guild is presenting a three-part short course that previews the exhibit while exploring the stories and issues it addresses. The second lecture features Hopi tribe member Patty Talahongva, curator for the Phoenix Indian School Visitor Center. She’ll talk about her personal experiences attending Phoenix Indian School as a youth, from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, January 15. Get a $45 pass (free for Native Americans) and you can also attend the January 22 talk on federal policies related to American Indians. Visit Lynn Trimble

An arts venue off the beaten path.
Courtesy of Kerr Cultural Center
Death Poems
Over at Kerr Cultural Center, 6110 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale, on Tuesday, January 15, composers Jacob Adler and Tony Obr are presenting Death Poems during Tuesday Morning Music and Tea, which runs from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Sounds morbid? It should, because the duo will be performing the final works that several composers wrote before their deaths. Obr is also a visual artist, sound designer, and musician whose many hats include creating and performing with the Datura media ensemble. He’ll man the modular synths, while Jacob Adler will provide piano accompaniment. Death Poems is free. Visit Lynn Trimble

Time for cooking class.
Courtesy of Sweet Basil
Asian Sampler Cooking Class
Next time you’re tempted to order Chinese takeout, remember that you could be making your own Asian cuisine at home. Sweet Basil Gourmetware and Cooking School, 10749 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale, is offering as Asian Sampler cooking class from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 16. Personal chef Lisa Brisch will be sharing tips, techniques, and tasting for several dishes — including lumpia crepes, chicken with teriyaki sauce made from scratch, scallion pancakes, and more. You’ll learn to make several sauces, as well as toasted coconut and lemongrass bread puddings. The class costs $65, and spaces fill up fast. Visit Lynn Trimble

Arizona Coyotes
Despite an inconsistent season, the Arizona Coyotes are technically in the hunt for a wild-card spot in the NHL Playoffs due in no small part to the team’s optimistic, stick-to-it attitude and the quick stick of Alex Galchenyuk. The team beat the San Jose Sharks in an overtime nail-biter when they met last month in California. Will the ’Yotes howl in victory? It will be hard to predict what will happen when these two rivals hit the ice at Gila River Arena.

The puck drops at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, January 16, at 9400 West Maryland Avenue in Glendale. Tickets are $23 to $322. For more information, visit Jason Keil
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.
Jason Keil was the Phoenix New Times culture editor from August 2019 to May 2020.
Contact: Jason Keil
Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.
Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble

Latest Stories