We are grateful to both coffee and Ted Decker — they allow us to appreciate good artwork in the morning. Decker's an independent art consultant, and when he's not planning the next exhibition of the Phoenix Institute of Contemporary Art, helping an emerging artist fund his or her show with the help of a grant, or scouting artwork for a number of his clients, he's at Echo Coffee in Scottsdale, where from February to May of this year, he brought the works of Phoenix-based artists Carolyn Lavender, Daniel Funkhouser, Karolina Sussland, and 10 other artists from the United States, Brazil, Iran, Iraq, and Jordan to the caffeinated public.

It's through venues like coffee shops, Decker says, that the public can be exposed to artwork and form opinions about contemporary artists and the art community. And unlike a number of coffee shops that often toss up whatever's brought in, Decker has a keen eye and a business sense that, if put to good and frequent use, could change the way (and places in which) we see art in Phoenix.
Art Intersection

Art Intersection is home to countless local "pherds" (photography nerds, as they call themselves) who don't mind the drive to Gilbert to see quality work. The 7,000-square-foot space is dedicated to photography and photography education under executive director Alan Fitzgerald and local photographer/art instructor Carol Panaro-Smith.

Here you'll find work by the founding fathers of alternative process photography alongside daguerreotypes, platinum/palladium prints, photogravures, and gelatin silver prints made by local emerging artists.While you're there to see the art, be sure to check out the built-in space for workshops and lab areas in black-and-white film, cyanotype, kallitype, platinum, palladium, gum bichromate, wet plate collodion, and digital prints. And if any of those words get your creative muscles working, you're sure to get a big welcome home, pherd.
Legend City Studios

If you missed this year's Art Detour, there's no need to lament the missed opportunity to people-watch while riding one of the rented London-style double-decker buses that carted around local art fans (complete with a portrait or two of the Queen herself). But you should be giving yourself a swift kick in the shins for missing out on this year's showcase by 3CarPileUp.

The local art collective includes painters James Angel, David Dauncey, and Randy Slack, who've known each other forever and, if we're lucky, will continue to work with each other for even longer. The three artists featured pieces of their latest work, including self-portraits, realistic explosions, and commentary on pop culture and commercialism on the walls of Legend City Studios, which Slack owns with a group of photographers.The studio's off the beaten (and bused) path, but be sure to mark it on the calendar for next year. If Artlink continues for a 25th year — and the boys are in town — you won't want to miss it.

Best Bit of Art Detour Irony That Almost No One Witnessed

Bob Booker at eye lounge

Eye Lounge

The local art scene was abuzz last March when Robert Booker, executive director of the Arizona Commission on the Arts, defaced a piece of art at a gallery in downtown Phoenix during Art Detour weekend.

Booker didn't like a piece of art that photographer Tony Zeh displayed at eye lounge at the gallery's fundraiser for Art Detour. Zeh had created a collage that criticized the Commission for not having given enough of its grant money last year to visual artists, and Booker took offense. He bought the piece and then, in plain view of everyone at the gallery, wrote the word "Bullshit!" on it, then signed his name.Okay. So a local arts administrator threw some shade in public. That's interesting. But the part that almost no one was able to appreciate is the fact that, the very next night, Booker himself had a piece of his art on display at another fundraiser at the Herberger Theater Center. One of the patrons of the event took a photograph of Booker's painting and posted it on Facebook with the query, "Anyone care if I write on this?"
First Studio

Between the well-jogged paths of Roosevelt and Grand is Arizona's first television station — and one of the coolest galleries in town. First Studio was built in 1949, but long after its days as a studio, the building on First Avenue is now home to a number of artists and monthly exhibitions. In the past year, the space has seen work by ASU photography students, an Art Detour show with artwork by Eric Iwerson, Casebeer, Nomas, Charles Darr and Colton Brock, and a farewell (only for now, we hope) show for local painter Jenny Ignaszewski.

The gallery's easy to spot, hosts killer shows, and always has a place or two to sit, reason enough to stop in.

Best Way to See Art You Missed on First Friday

Third Friday

So you stayed in to avoid the bongos, fire-breathers, and curfew-cutters on First Friday. No judgment here. But there's a well-known local secret to catching up on what you missed: Third Friday.

Skip a week, check out art openings in Scottsdale on Thursdays, or visit a museum almost any day of the week. And after you've made a few notes, get back out on Roosevelt Row, Grand Avenue, 16th Street, and to a few galleries outside the "district path" (including Icehouse on Jackson Street, Willo North on Seventh Avenue, and Practical Art on Central Avenue) to catch another (quieter) round of art openings and receptions. It's true: Third Friday is geared toward artists and their friends, families, and collectors who still want to venture downtown and see a few shows but could do without the free hugs and Ghostbusters. Now keep a secret and get out there.
Pima Air and Space Museum

In January, three DC Super 3 planes were given contemporary facelifts by How & Nosm, Nunca, and Retna, a C45 was stenciled and painted by Faile, a Lockheed VC 140 Jetstar was given a shiny political treatment by Andrew Schoultz, a C97 cockpit was covered with work by Saner, and more than 30 nose cones were painted by international artists such as Richard Prince, Lee Quinones, Kenny Scharf, Aiko, Futura, Peter Dayton, JJ Veronis, Mare, Tara McPherson, Crash, Daze, Ron English, Erik Foss, Tristan Eaton, Lisa Lebofsky, Mark Ryden, Walter Robinson, Judith Supine, Ryan Wallace, Jameson Ellis, Mark Kostabi, Eric White, and Arizona-based artists Colin Chillag, Daniel Martin Diaz, Randy Slack, El Mac, Dave Quan, and Hector Ruiz.

These names are as big in the contemporary art work as their canvases. The artists spent weeks attempting to transport, visualize, and ultimately transform discarded aircraft pieces under the careful eyes of curators Eric Firestone and Carlo McCormick. It's a tough — if not impossible — show to sell; the planes are huge and not operational, the nose cones won't fit through most standard doors, and the most anyone could take home was a flyer and a few Instagram photos.The Space Museum agreed to host the show for a few more months past its official closing date in May, but there are no solid buyers lined up for the larger-than-life contemporary art canvases, which means they'll likely return to the Tucson desert boneyard in which they were found and perhaps live to see another reincarnation.

Buddy Stubbs Arizona Harley-Davidson

Buddy Stubbs isn't your ordinary hawg lover. Unlike your average weekend warrior, the local motorcycle aficionado has been sucking down exhaust fumes and riding steel steeds pretty much since reportedly being born in the back room of his parents' Harley Davidson shop. The septugenarian chopper fiend was raised around two-wheelers, began riding one at only 10 years of age, and went on to have a championship motorcycle career before opening his Cave Creek dealership in 1966. In addition to riding bikes for most of his life, Stubbs has spent decades accumulating arguably one of the biggest and best cycle collections in the entire Southwest. And he's more than happy to show 'em off to the public. Each Friday night, as well as the last Saturday afternoon of every month, guided tours are led through the 3,000-square-foot garage housing his treasure trove of more than a hundred vintage rides. Naturally, the collection is dominated by a meticulously maintained selection of Harleys that run the gamut of much of the company's 109-year history. Some of the gems include a cherry version of a circa-1918 Model J, a rare 1926 Peashooter racer, and a 1942 olive drab military-grade WLA from the era of World War II. Antiques and classics from around the world that were built by such iconic and throwback motorcycle manufacturers as Peugeot, Francis-Barnett, Indian, and Triumph also are featured around the place and are sure to get any gearhead's motor running. And if they have some serious cash squirreled away (we're talking $10,000 or more), most of the bikes are for sale.

Arizona Military Museum

Pop quiz, hot shot: What's the only major Civil War battle ever to be fought in Arizona? If you're drawing a blank on the answer (it was the Battle of Picacho Peak, by the way), consider spending an afternoon boning up on your history at the Arizona Military Museum.

Inside this 1930s-era adobe building located on an Arizona National Guard base are displays and dioramas exhaustively chronicling our state's vast military past, including every single skirmish ever fought around these parts. Depictions of historic moments from local military lore are in abundance, ranging from the U.S. Cavalry's battles with Geronimo and General John J. Pershing's pursuit of Pancho Villa to the World War II-era caper when 25 captured German soldiers tunneled out of a Papago Park POW camp. And if any kith and kin happen to be veterans, be sure to invite 'em to tag along, as a significant number of exhibits are designed to honor Arizonans who served in every major armed conflict of the last 150 years — from the Spanish-American War right up to the current combat taking place in the Middle East. An endless cache of military supplies and retired vehicles also occupies the place, such as a meticulously restored Huey UH-1C gunship from the Vietnam War. And though freedom ain't free, admission to the museum certainly is, as there's never a charge to enter.

John W. Edwards has never met an action figure he didn't like. Or didn't want to immediately buy, for that matter. The 54-year-old's sprawling collection of more than 13,000 figures and toys, all of which are housed in a cavernous location at Desert Ridge Marketplace, is evidence of this. Edwards, who grew up wanting to be an astronaut, has been accumulating out-of-this-world playthings since childhood, and his haul includes toys from every geek-friendly franchise imaginable. The rooms and halls are filled from floor to ceiling with mint-on-card figures from Star Wars, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, and Doctor Who, as well as mannequins sporting screen-worn costumes from Stargate and Caprica. And that's just the first floor. Upstairs is a twisting maze of racks containing plastic representations of sports heroes and rock 'n' roll icons, as well as numerous G.I. Joe dolls. More than just a gigantic nerdatorium and museum, the Arizona Pop Culture Experience is an example of the joys of a second childhood, as well as a massive monument to one man's various obsessions. For instance, Edwards apparently is a die-hard DC Comics supporter, as superheroes like Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and the Flash widely outnumber their Marvel counterparts on the walls and inside a case filled with custom figures. We're sure Superman would approve.

Best Of Phoenix®

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