The Best Things to Do in Metro Phoenix This Week: November 14-20 | Phoenix New Times

The Best Things to Do in Metro Phoenix This Week

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Just a couple of girls enjoying a sweet bite to eat at the Downtown Donut Festival.
Just a couple of girls enjoying a sweet bite to eat at the Downtown Donut Festival. Jacob Tyler Dunn
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Looking for something to do this week? You’re in luck. This week, you can celebrate Harlem artists and their legacies during the Harlem 100 performance, set your competitive side free at Sportstopia, or support local neighborhoods while jamming out at WayneFest. For more things to do, visit Phoenix New Times’ calendar.

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Hear Neal Lester discuss the race and gender politics of hair.
Deanna Dent/ASU

'Nappy Edges and Golden Locks: The Race and Gender Politics of Hair'

The subject of hairstyles gets raised a lot in popular culture. Consider the ways hair is depicted in film, magazines, and toy design. Certain hairstyles are deemed pretty or feminine, whereas others are not. It’s a topic that Neal Lester, head of Project Humanities at ASU, often raises. Learn why on Thursday, November 14, when Lester gives a free presentation called "Nappy Edges and Golden Locks: The Race and Gender Politics of Hair."

It’s happening from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Arizona Heritage Center, 1300 North College Avenue in Tempe. Lester uses dolls, folklore, music, and other elements of popular culture to explore the ways African-Americans are impacted by notions of “good” versus “bad” hair — and what stereotypes involving hair reveal about American culture. Lynn Trimble

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D&D and cats.
Robrt L. Pela


As you might gather from their name, La Gattara Cat Lounge is a place where feline obsessives can hang with cats while doing yoga, painting, or just generally lounging about. But how about having a cat playdate while journeying through a campaign of Dungeons & Dragons? D&D&C is likely the only time you can traipse through the Caves of Chaos, or smash ogres with a +2 battle axe, while petting kitties or serving as their meaty pillow. Let’s face it, dogs would end up eating the board pieces.

The games begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 14, at 1301 East University Drive in Tempe. Tickets are $20 for players or $10 to observe. Chris Coplan

Check out Erika Jaynes' mural during the Mesa Music Festival.
Lynn Trimble

Mesa Music Festival

There’s more to making music than playing a few notes. So, it makes sense that the first day of the Mesa Music Festival kicks off with a music symposium to give people a chance to hear various professionals talk shop. Presenters include a music editor, agent, photographer, talent buyer, manager, and more. This means you can glean multiple perspectives on the local music scene in a single afternoon.

The free symposium takes place from 1 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, November 14, at the Mesa Convention Center, 263 North Center Street in Mesa. The festival, which also includes a robust lineup of live music, continues at various venues through Sunday, November 16. Lynn Trimble

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It's a milestone moment for Modified Arts.
Miguel Angél Monzón

‘A City Modified’

Modified Arts is celebrating 20 years on the downtown arts scene with an exhibition called “A City Modified,” which opens on Third Friday, November 15. The show will feature works by 13 artists who have influenced both the gallery and the downtown arts scene, including Annie Lopez, Brent Bond, Casebeer, John Randall Nelson, Laura Spalding Best, and Monica Martinez.

You can expect plenty of history, too. The show will highlight through photographs and memorabilia the ways Modified Arts, located at 407 East Roosevelt Street, has been integral to the local arts and music scene. The free opening reception takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. Several artists will be there, so you can chat with them about their work and the area’s evolving arts landscape. Lynn Trimble

Mamma Mia: ABBA Night and ’70s Party

Is “Dancing Queen” or “Waterloo” the better ABBA song? If they get you out on the dance floor at Mamma Mia: ABBA Night and ’70s Party, then who cares so long as you’re having the time of your life? Put on your favorite ’70s gear and watch The Van Buren transform into Funkytown. In addition to having everyone’s favorite Swedish pop stars on the playlist, there will be selections by the Bee Gees, Donna Summer, and Queen. If you’re one of the first 300 people in the door, you get a free oversized souvenir button, and everyone can take selfies in the photo booth. Boogie on down on Friday, November 15, at 9:30 p.m. at 401 West Van Buren Street. Tickets are $10 to $25. Jason Keil

Checking out some sweet rides.
Tempe Marketplace

Seventh Annual Vintage Motorcycle Show

Motorcycles are an iconic representation of freedom and individuality. And if you’ve got a particularly badass hog, why not show it off at the Seventh Annual Vintage Motorcycle Show? Riders from across the state can bring their Triumphs or Harleys for public gawking — and maybe take home a sweet trophy or two. Or, just come to check out these mechanical wonders while enjoying some Flyin’ K BBQ and the assorted vendors, including Italian Iron, Parts Unlimited, and Western Powersports. Plus, if you don’t win a prize, you may still get lucky with a giveaway.

The free show runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, November 16, at GO AZ Motorcycles, 15500 North Hayden Road in Scottsdale. Chris Coplan

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Celebrate Harlem's musical legacy with Mwenso and the Shakes.
Chandler Center for the Arts

Harlem 100

A century after the Harlem Renaissance, the influence of African-American creatives who lived and worked in this small section of New York City remains strong. Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 North Arizona Avenue in Chandler, is celebrating these many contributions to the artistic landscape with a variety show called Harlem 100. It’s happening at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 16.

The performance features Mwenso and the Shakes, a group of Harlem creatives with global roots, along with several special guests. Expect a night filled with music and dance that pays homage to Harlem greats and their ongoing legacy. Think Fats Waller, Billie Holiday, and Duke Ellington, among others. Ticket prices are $38 to $58. Lynn Trimble


There are festivals for music, food, booze, and tattoos. But how about a festival dedicated exclusively to sports? Sportstopia will host one-day tournaments for five sports (of varying degrees of difficulty and weirdness): flag football, kickball, soccer, grass volleyball, and that most kingly sport, cornhole. You can leave the competition aside to enjoy live performances, a beer garden, food trucks, yoga sessions, and several vendors, because true sportsmanship should always come with the promise of nachos.

Sportstopia is set for 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, November 16, at Tempe Sports Complex, 8401 South Hardy Drive in Tempe. If you’re playing, it’s $50 for volleyball, $40 for cornhole, and $100 for soccer, football, or kickball. Chris Coplan

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Phoenix Art Museum is celebrating 60 years.
Lynn Trimble

‘The Past Decade’

The art world has focused in recent weeks on changes to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, but changes have been happening closer to home as well. Phoenix Art Museum has been ramping up its collection during the past decade, adding works that include historical photographs you can explore in a new exhibit called “The Past Decade.”

Check it out on Saturday, November 16, when museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s day one for an event called PhxArt60, which celebrates Phoenix Art Museum’s 60th anniversary. Normally, museum admission is $18 to $23. On Saturday, it’s just $6, although you’ll need another $6 to see the “Legends of Speed” exhibit. Lynn Trimble

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Hear The Haymarket Squares at Coronado Park.
The Haymarket Squares


During divisive times, community gatherings can create connections that give people hope. In the Coronado neighborhood of Phoenix, those gatherings include WayneFest, a micro-music festival that helps to fund neighborhood projects such as little libraries, murals, a community garden, and more. This year’s festival takes place from 3 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, November 16.

Head to Coronado Park, 1717 North 12th Street, if you want to join the fun. The festival includes live music by several bands, including Hot House Orchids, Hyperbella, and The Haymarket Squares. A $25 ticket also gets you two samples from restaurants such as Gallo Blanco, Ollie Vaughn's, and Taco Chelo. Lynn Trimble

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James Turrell appears in the film Architecture of Infinity.

Architecture of Infinity

Inspired architecture can make the human spirit soar. That’s the premise behind a film called Architecture of Infinity, which addresses the ways buildings can take on spiritual dimensions that prompt reflection on what lies beyond the temporal nature of human experience. No Festival Required is screening the film as part of its architecture film series called Some Assembly Required.

The film features several creatives, including James Turrell. The artist has installations at both ASU in Tempe and the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and is currently creating a monumental work called Roden Crater in northern Arizona. See Architecture of Infinity at 1 p.m. on Sunday, November 17, at Phoenix Center for the Arts, 1202 North Third Street. The screening will include a short panel on sacred spaces and architecture. Tickets are $9 in advance or $12 at the door. Lynn Trimble

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Prepare yourselves for a sugar rush.
Jacob Tyler Dunn

Downtown Donut Festival

You could spend Sunday morning enjoying a cruller from the privacy of your home or dive headlong into these powerful lil’ pastries by attending the Downtown Donut Festival. There’ll be 20 local vendors offering doughnuts of all types, with most priced at $1. Why not pair that frosted Long John with coffee, beer, rosé, or mimosa? There will also be lawn games, live performances, and a zone for kids to make doughnuts (which you as a parent are then entitled to). Other food trucks are set to appear, including fried chicken and pizza, so combine foods for maximum efficiency — and a guaranteed afternoon nap.

The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, November 17, at Margaret T. Hance Park, 1202 West Third Street. It’s $10 for 10 a.m. entry or $8 for entry at noon. Chris Coplan

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Up close with a Randal Wilson work for "Textual Healing."
Lynn Trimble

‘Textual Healing’

Artworks routinely dot the red brick walls inside a common space at The Newton, 300 West Camelback Road. This month, the space is home to a free exhibit called “Textual Healing,” which includes artworks that communicate to viewers through both visual language and the written word. Featured artists include James Angel, Champ Styles, Such Styles, and Randal Wilson.

Check it out on Sunday, November 17, when The Newton will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. There’s a calligraphy class happening from 1 to 3 p.m., so it’s best to pop in before or after. In a society saturated by noise, it’s refreshing to see how artists are using language to communicate without making a sound. Visit the “Textual Healing” event page on Facebook. Lynn Trimble

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Have a beer or wine while you're checking out Sánchez’s memoir.
Lynn Trimble

Aarón Sánchez

Ever watched the Food Network and wondered how all those chefs got their cooking chops? For most, the road to culinary acclaim was a mix of personal and professional setbacks and triumphs. Food Network star Aarón Sánchez talks about his journey during a meet-and-greet book signing at Changing Hands Bookstore, 300 West Camelback Road. He will be there at 6 p.m. on Monday, November 18.

Tickets are $29.32 plus fees, which includes a signed hardcover copy of his memoir titled Where I Come From: Life Lessons From a Latino Chef. Ticketholders can go through the signing line with one guest, as well. Books for ticketed guests will be distributed at 5:30 p.m. Lynn Trimble

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Ukhamba #102 (A1), a traditional beer serving vessel, by Mncane Nzuza.
Lisa Sette Gallery

‘Zulu! Contemporary Master Zulu Potter Mncane Nzuza’

Potter Mncane Nzuza is recognized within both her native Zulu culture and contemporary Western circles for her exquisite hand-built clay vessels. They will be featured in the free “Zulu! Contemporary Master Zulu Potter Mncane Nzuza” exhibit at Lisa Sette Gallery, 210 East Catalina Drive. It’s a rare opportunity to see works by this South African artist.

Nzuza learned her craft from her grandmother, making meticulous pieces that demonstrate technical and aesthetic prowess. “Her pots transcend that gap, remaining profoundly moving even separated from their cultural context,” writes gallerist Lisa Sette of the show.  Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, November 19. Visit Lynn Trimble

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The Sound of Music is coming to Phoenix Theatre Company.
Reg Madison Photography

The Sound of Music

Escape is a theme that runs throughout The Sound of Music, which was inspired by the book The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. There’s a family’s desire to escape the rising influence of Adolf Hitler, but there’s also a young woman’s desire to escape the confines of her nunnery, and a teen girl’s eagerness to escape her father’s watchful eye.

The musical is filled with familiar songs, from “Edelweiss” to “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.” See the Phoenix Theatre Company production at 7:30 p.m. on November 20. Located at 1825 North Central Avenue, the theater is also home to a bistro and bar where you can enjoy drinks and bites during your theater outing. Tickets start at $41. Lynn Trimble
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