Valentine's Day Weekend in Metro Phoenix: 10 Artsy Things to Do

Whether you're more into opera or erotic/exotic art, we've got a fun selection of ways to spend that special day -- plus the night before and day after. Think theater, circus arts, museum play date, ballet, and more.

Exotic Art Show February 13 Alwun House

Fetish attire is welcome, but not required, for this blend of "exotic-erotic" visual and performance art that's been a metro Phoenix tradition for more than three decades. It's a naughty mix of projected "phantasmagorical" images, body painting, and roving performers doing their aerial, fire hoop, cabaret, and comedy thing -- plus outdoor entertainment that includes a jazz fusion band and exotic bondage demo. This is the show that sends parents scrambling to find their grown children's middle school sex ed textbook so they can share impassioned reminders about the many perils of having body parts. Due to mature content, this event (and the exhibition of erotic art) requires that those under 18 be accompanied by an adult. Find more information on the Alwun House website.

See also: 13 Must-See Dance Performances in Metro Phoenix This Spring

Love Letters February 13 R. Pela Contemporary Art

Hear essays about love and romance crafted by diverse assortment of local writers (including New Times contributors Katie Johnson and Jason Woodbury), theater types, and other deep thinkers during the Love Letters literary event at R. Pela Contemporary Gallery, owned by New Times contributor Robrt Pela, where you can also explore an exhibition titled "Forever Yours: New Works by Christy Puetz and Paul Wilson," who present their creative takes on love in the age of venereal disease.

Return on February 14 for a two-hour Social Disease Brooch Workshop with Puetz and you can create a VD-inspired decorative brooch or tie pin while drinking a glass of wine and waxing poetic about all the ways venereal diseases get your creative juices flowing. Love Letters tickets are $10; Puetz workshop reservations are $15.

Find more information on the R. Pela Contemporary Art website.

Opening Reception February 13 Mesa Contemporary Arts

Immerse yourself and your sweetie in eclectic art offerings in five galleries at Mesa Contemporary Arts, which presents an opening reception for its spring shows that's perfectly timed for those who find a good art fix really gets the heart pounding. The reception celebrates the February 13 opening for MCA's "36th Annual Contemporary Crafts" and "Beaded, Not Broken" exhibitions -- as well as three continuing exhibitions featuring works by Charity Hall, Julie Comnick, and Diane Gilbert. The free event includes musical performance, light refreshments and cash bar, and time with exhibiting artists. While you're in the area, stroll along Main Street to explore sculptures, new IN FLUX public art installations, and downtown Mesa's Friday Night Out event. Find more information on the Mesa Arts Center website.

7 Fingers February 13-14 Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

If your love life has ever felt like a three-ring circus, consider watching someone else with a talent for walking the tightrope and jumping through hoops. A Montreal circus troupe called Les 7 doigts de la main (translated as "7 Fingers of the Hand") performs their show Sequence 8 twice this weekend, and ticketholders can hit a pre-show Catwalk Lounge beforehand to enjoy champagne and sweets. Tickets start at $29. (For folks who favor comedy, the center presents Patty Hannon rocking her nun vibe in Late Nite Catachism III: 'Til Death Do Us Part.) Find more information on the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts website.

Napoli February 13-15 Symphony Hall

If you're all about scoring romantic firsts, head to Phoenix Symphony Hall for the U.S. première of Napoli performed by Ballet Arizona with the Phoenix Symphony conducted by Timothy Russell. Napoli is the tale of two young lovers separated for a time then reunited and wed. It's staged by artistic producer Ib Andersen after August Bournonville. Andersen also choreographs the second of the three acts -- which is set in a magical grotto ruled by a sea serpent. Scenery and costumes are courtesy of The Royal Danish Ballet. Find more information on the Ballet Arizona website.

Big Date Night Gala with Deborah Voigt February 14 Bentley Gallery

Flaunt your opera and literary prowess by giving your Valentine Big Date Night Gala tickets tucked inside the new book Call me Debbie: True Confessions of a Down-to-Earth Diva by dramatic soprano Deborah Voigt, who'll perform during this gala event presented by Arizona Opera. The evening also includes a cocktail hour, dinner, silent auction, dancing, and coffee lounge -- plus entertainment including performances by mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack and soprano Karen Slack. If you're not an opera buff, you might find it's a fun way to sample the art form with the one you love. Tickets start at $250. Find more information on the Arizona Opera website.

A Hearty Arty Valentine Affair February 14 Mesa Arts Center

Other options for those seeking a fancy affair include this evening featuring buffet reception, performance by Molly Ringwald, dessert, and CD signing. Although she's best known for films including The Breakfast Club and the TV series The Secret Life of the American Teenager, she's also an author and singer with a jazz record called Except Sometimes. She'll perform during the Valentine's Day gala, then join patrons for a meet and greet. Tickets are $150. (If you'd rather go the casual route, see Sylvia performed by Class 6 Theatre at MAC, which imagines the escapades of a couple who adopts a stray dog.) Find more information on the Mesa Arts Center website.

HeartBEAT February 14 Musical Instrument Museum

If it's music and dance that makes your honey's heart sing, you'll find a fun mix of both during the MIM's HeartBEAT: Music, Dance, and Romance shindig. It's a chance to tour the museum's many lower level galleries, enjoy a screening of the film Dirty Dancing, get some help with your dance moves (think salsa and cha-cha), pose for a custom portrait, hit the MIM photo booth, and do the appetizers and drinks thing. Tickets are $75. Find more information on the Musical Instrument Museum website.

An Unusual Love Story... David + Lisa February 13-14 Hormel Theatre at Phoenix Theatre

Maybe your love life's a bit melodramatic, and you'd like to see someone else live all the drama for a while. This contemporary dance work, inspired by film and play versions, shares the tumultuous love story of two people who met at a treatment center. The piece, performed by Scorpius Dance Theatre, features dramatic black-and-white staging, and original music by Ryan Breen and Kristofer Hill. Gavin Sisson performs the role of David, Lisa Hammond the role of Lisa, and Nicole Olson the role of David's mother. Tickets are $30. Find more information on the Scorpius Dance Theatre website.

Tickets are $30 and available by calling 602-254-2151 or through Show times vary. Visit for more information.

Think Like Leonardo! February 14-15 Phoenix Art Museum

If you've ever penned an actual love letter to your sweetie, then filled up the margins of your paper with little heart doodles, it's entirely possible you're already thinking a bit like famed artist Leonardo da Vinci. Some of the artist's surviving writings, complete with illustrations, are part of the "Codex Leicester" exhibition at the Phoenix Art Museum -- which has a couple of cool things planned for Valentine's Day weekend. Think Like Leonardo offerings include talking with experts about scientific topics covered on "Codex Leicester" pages plus a variety of activities: art-making, storytelling, water education, and creativity challenges. For couples who find sustainability sexy, this is the logical choice. Find more information on the Phoenix Art Museum website.

If you're looking for something less structured, have a go at artist James B. Hunt's annual Valentine's Day art hunt. He'll be hiding six works of art and posting clues to help folks find them. Look for two in Phoenix, two in Tempe, and two in Mesa. You find one first and it's yours. Find more information (and clues when Hunt shares them) on his NXOEED website.

See also: 10 Valentine's Day Gift-GIving Dos and Don'ts

Editor's note: This post has been edited to reflect the correct spelling of Farraday Newsome's name. This post has been updated to remove a canceled event at Children's Museum of Phoenix and add a show from Scorpius Dance in its place.

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Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble