Alwun House Gallery & Gardens

The Alwun House is approaching its 40th season, and yet it still feels like a well-kept secret. An oasis of freaky performances and fine art in the middle of the Garfield neighborhood, owner/curators Kim Moody and Dana Johnson have kept Alwun House going strong. Some of its events, like the annual Exotic Art Show, have become must-attend happenings in town. But the Alwun House is more than a place to see erotic paintings: — it's also the best outdoor theatrical venue in town. Putting on burlesque shows, flesh suspensions, steampunk cabarets, stilt-walking expos, variety shows, and an "erotic poetry festivus," the Alwun House is a premier destination for seeing some skin in a classy way and being wowed by sword-swallowers, fire-spinners, and people contorting their bodies into shapes that would make a pretzel wince. The tasteful rock formations and gardens in the back help lend an intimate and natural air to the decadent proceedings. They're also one of the reasons why the Alwun House, when it's not a sideshow zone, is a popular venue for Phoenix artists who want to get married in the backyard.

Being a live artist at a nightlife and music event can sometimes be a tough gig. You've got to transform a canvas into a masterpiece in only a few hours, all while dealing with gawkers, constant interruptions, and inebriated patrons armed with reduced inhibitions and the most insipid of questions ("Hey, whaddya painting?"). Local artist Kelley Boesel, better known as Haboobs, manages to excel at the task and has done so at a variety of local parties, shows, and DJ nights. Back when Motown on Mondays was a regular thing, Boesel busted out with evocative portraits of the same R&B, funk, and soul legends being bumped on the sound system, legends like Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, and Rick James. She did the same at last summer's tribute party for the late Sharon Jones at Crescent Ballroom, painting a stunning rendition of the dearly departed singer. Boesel's work also can be spotted at certain Tempe Art A Gogh-Gogh or Blunt Club sessions at Yucca Tap Room, or even adorning the house of homegrown hip-hop superstar Futuristic, who tapped her and other local artists to decorate the exterior of his crib. We're pretty sure that was an easy gig.

Picture this: A throng gathers for a monthly celebration in downtown Phoenix that's a free-for-all of cutting-edge art, burgeoning musicians, underground sounds, interactive installations, and rampant creativity. First Friday, right? Nope. Instead, all this action is unfolding at the Full Moon Festival, a multigenre mix of music, art, and culture that coincides with the monthly celestial event and is a bit more free-spirited than any local art walk. According to co-founder Jonathan Luther, the festival is aimed at fostering and showcasing budding creatives looking for exposure. "Our goal is to make it the No. 1 platform for local Phoenix artists to get their name out there," he told Phoenix New Times earlier this year. And it's doing so by offering multiple stages at each edition for up-and-coming bands, performers, and DJs, as well as ample space for newbie painters to create live art or sell their works. It's also one helluva party, filled with art cars, a silent disco, and other illuminating fun.

The life of a concert poster is ultimately short and tortuous. As a piece of ephemera, its brief existence is spent stapled to walls or lashed to utility poles before being torn down and tossed away once its usefulness has ended. The exquisite concert posters made by Hamster Labs, however, don't deserve this cruel fate, and are worth saving long after their particular event is over. Designed by local graphic artist Quinn Murphy, these pulchritudinous prints are true works of art, capturing a particular band's sound and verve through eye-catching imagery, illustrations, or iconography. Rich in textures and awash in vibrant colors, Murphy's creations utilize a variety of artistic styles, ranging from fanciful realism to stark minimalism, to grab your attention. His poster for metal act The Sword's show at The Rebel Lounge in March, for instance, featured a badass portrait of a screaming Medusa head teeming with slithering snakes. Other efforts are silly (like the playful placard for the Flying Burrito Festival) or downright strange (a Banana Gun show poster starring a mushroom-riding cowpoke), but are nonetheless memorable. And if anyone has an extra copy of Hamster Labs' Phoenix Rock Lottery 2018 poster, which depicted the event's 24-musician lineup as a stack of cassettes, we'll totally buy it off you. Seriously. We've already got wall space picked out.

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