The easiest way to check in on Arizona State University's mega-talented art students? Visit Grant Street Studios in the warehouse district south of downtown Phoenix. The former textile factory is home to master's candidates' studio spaces (which are open for touring once a year and also by appointment), and the Herberger Institute facility also has two galleries where grad students, alumni, and faculty regularly display art. Your best bet for variety is Step Gallery. The student-run space hosts MFA thesis exhibitions, work from alumni, and the occasional group show. Which easily makes it one of the most exciting places to discover local art in the Valley.

The Hive

Julia Fournier thrifts Pucci dresses like nobody's business, but that's not the only reason to stop by this funky enclave, fronted by Fournier's vintage shop, The Bee's Knees. Fournier also shows local art, and The Hive houses Wasted Ink Zine Distro, billed as the hub for local DIY zinesters. Round things out with drinks from Silent Flight coffee and make a day of it.

Downtown Civic Space Park

Janet Echelman, an internationally renowned sculptor, took the title for her monumental 145-foot aerial sculpture from poet Ralph Waldo Emerson's reference to the patience evident in nature. Installed in downtown Phoenix in 2009, the sculpture draws one's gaze up toward the sky, creating shadows that mirror the complexities of urban life. During a time of fast-paced development, Echelman's sculpture prompts reflection on the fact that patience can be a virtue or a vice in the world of urban planning. With its shifting light patterns and nighttime colors that change depending on the season, it's a visual reminder that cities and communities are in constant flux. But the sculpture is also a beacon, drawing people from surrounding areas to converge in a common space, where the interplay of diverse ideas mirrors the sculpture's own delicate web.

Once upon a time, Arizona was under water. These days, artist Danielle Wood uses ceramic sculptures to remind us of that fact. Calling to mind the interchangeability of cactus and underwater flora, she has created Desert Playa as part of the recent IN FLUX cycle of temporary, site-specific art installations across the Valley. Presented at The Arts at Marshall Square, Wood's work assembles a fired and glazed coral colony in a muted palette of off-white and gray. At night, the sculptures are all the more striking. Lit from within, they look downright otherworldly, the utterly still shapes harking back to an age long past.

The Dressing Room
Lauren Cusimano

JB Snyder's artwork, which graces the official map for Roosevelt Row, has become the new face of an ever-evolving arts district. It's a beautiful mix of order with chaos, infused with bright colors like lime green and canary yellow that convey a sense of vibrancy and forward movement. One of several Snyder murals in downtown Phoenix, it's a popular background for camera-happy tourists and locals. Snyder calls the mural Dressing Room 3.0 because he's painted three different designs on the same east-facing wall, starting in 2010. The latest design, painted in 2016, is a cheerful reminder that local love still rules in downtown Phoenix.

By nature of the medium, street art is temporary. Whether it's tagged, painted over, or eroded by the elements, it's the kind of creative expression that isn't designed to stand the test of time. Neither was a downtown Phoenix mural Keith Haring painted with local high schoolers back in 1986. The pop artist's kokopelli-adjacent "urban hieroglyphics" still pull heavyweight status in the zeitgeist, gracing Urban Outfitters accessories and becoming a Google Doodle. But that mural he painted on a since-demolished building at Central Avenue and Adams Street? After years of sun exposure, it was dismantled and apparently hauled off to the dump — save for one panel that was reportedly spotted at a nearby cafe before it disappeared. What happened to the rest? Who knows?

We've got to admit, CO+HOOTS is sort of brilliant: a shared workspace, which you pay to use, that promotes collaboration, offers mentorships and monthly networking events, and boasts the resources you need to make your business successful. In other words, CO+HOOTS has all the things you wish your local library branch had, but with a higher price point and better-looking people. Members can choose their membership level by the day, month, or year, and gain access to a co-working space filled with fellow entrepreneurs, a stocked fridge, and colorful conference rooms. On top of that, CO+HOOTS and its nonprofit foundation do so much to promote local businesses, build community, and increase diversity in the workforce. Let's get to work.

Barrio Cafe Gran Reserva
Evie Carpenter

Based on conventional wisdom, it's just not cool to interrupt a dinner date with a trip to the bathroom. But your date will understand when you're dining at Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza's Barrio Café Gran Reserva, located inside the historic Bragg's Pie Factory in the Grand Avenue Arts District. Before Esparza opened the restaurant in 2016, she had some of the Valley's best-loved muralists cover not only the interior walls of the dining area, but the bathrooms as well. Our favorite is a unisex bathroom painted by Angel Diaz, who chose a revolution theme complete with a figure dubbed El Soldado painted on the interior of the door. Pablo Luna painted the ladies' room, and Lalo Cota's work fills a nearby nook. So, at least one trip to the bathroom is a must, your dinner date be damned.

Parking lots are pretty utilitarian: Find a spot, leave your car, head out again. Which is why we love the lot at Uptown Plaza, the increasingly hip strip mall located on the northeastern corner of Camelback Road and Central Avenue. We don't know who spray-painted references to cult-classic movies on random parking spots throughout the property, but we're certainly glad they did. Time, weather, and traffic have started to fade the sayings, but drive around and look closely, and you can see "Bye Felicia" from the 1995 Chris Tucker/Ice Cube comedy Friday, "Rule #1: Cardio" from the 2009 horror comedy Zombieland, and our personal favorite, "8:30 Res @ Dorcia," a reference to the restaurant Patrick Bateman can never get into in 2000's American Psycho. Of course, once you park at Uptown Plaza, you've got plenty of great dining and shopping options to choose from, including Local Nomad, West Elm, Shake Shack, and Lou Malnati's, which makes finding a space in the lot all the more desirable.

Your car's navigation will never, ever, ever route you to the 303. That's because, based purely on mileage, it is always out of the way. But here's the thing: If you ever dare to venture the 10-15 miles out of your way, ignore the incessant route recalculations on your navigation system, and take the lovely, practically brand-new stretch, you'll discover that it takes exactly the same amount of time to get to where you were going as if you had taken the 101 or Grand Avenue. The only difference is, you'll be cruising along at top speed, without any traffic to distract you from your car karaoke. If your route should take you north, the section from Interstate 17 westward is an especially beautiful drive, the empty stretch lined with saguaros and jagged mountain peaks. Sure, you'll put more mileage on your car, but it's a hell of a lot nicer than watching taillights during rush hour, and sometimes, an even faster way to get to where you're going.

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