Best Event Space 2022 | Walter Where?House | Megalopolitan Life | Phoenix

Pop art icon Andy Warhol is often quoted as saying he had a social disease, meaning he had to go out every single night. Once you've been to the Walter Where?House, you get it. The 24,000-square-foot event space comes alive with light, color, music, dance, funky fashion, and all manner of creative merriment that makes you forget about any unpleasant realities clogging up your brain cells before you stepped inside. It's one of the places you'll find the massive Kalliope dance party machine that can blast 70,000 watts of audio along with lasers and flame effects that transform the space into an alternative reality of beats and bliss. It's also home to several large-scale art cars, jumbo versions of traditional games, walls of offbeat visual art by local creatives, and an outdoor area so you can enjoy the night sky while you take in all the electric, eclectic happiness of it all.

Scottsdale Public Art transformed the banks of a portion of the Arizona Canal between Scottsdale Road and Goldwater Boulevard into a light-filled interactive experience to rival any and all of the immersive indoor exhibitions that hit the city during the past year, giving people a chance to explore creations by local to international artists in an unconventional setting without having to pay a dime for the experience. From bundles of multicolored square lights positioned like bunches of flowers growing out of the ground to a light-shifting waterfall made with material that looked like fancy vacuum tubing, featured light-based artworks inspired playful conversations and a beautiful sense of community. At one space, people could walk under a giant arc. At another, they could open a door that revealed a changing selection of light-infused imagery. Taken together, these artworks powered the imagination of people young and old, reinforcing the ways that art can bring people together during even the most divisive of times.

There's an incredible sense of community that arises from spending time in this alley in the Coronado neighborhood, where one mural memorializes a child who bravely faced cancer and another honors one of the city's graffiti pioneers. The alley is home to a changing array of murals, including several by some of the city's most renowned artists. Whether you walk through the alley alone, or attend the annual mural festival during which new pieces take shape, you can tell these artworks reflect the heart of the city. Whether you're into music or animals or social justice or nature, you'll find something here that speaks to you. It's true that some murals make amazing selfie backdrops, but spending time in this space, it's very clear that these artists were working from a place of authenticity rather than trying to promote anyone's 15 minutes of fame.

You'll find the metro Phoenix's best drive-by art along a strip of 16th Street south of Thomas Road that's anchored by the mural-filled walls of renowned eatery Barrio Café. It's the canvas for a changing assortment of murals that range from stunning portraits to powerful calls for social justice. You'll find figurative and abstract murals by local and international artists all along this section of road. It's a great introduction to the city's thriving mural and street art scene, and there's even a walk-by gallery next to Barrio Café where you can see a changing exhibit of works by emerging and established artists simply by passing the storefront window that makes art accessible to anyone who wants to take it all in.

When First Friday rolls around, you only have a few hours to take in the city's creative side, whether you're looking for art exhibits, culinary fare, or ways to shop local. Grand Avenue is the place to be, because it's a walkable area filled with galleries, eateries, artist studios, and creative spaces where you can show off your local love. Outdoor art installations from murals to trees that have been yarn-bombed and decorated with playful plush animals make great backdrops for selfies or photos with your crew, and you never know when you might stumble on someone demonstrating skills like making a glass bong or using a vintage printing press — or get the chance to talk with one of Phoenix's amazing artists. Grand Avenue is the perfect place to hang with friends, take out-of-towners, or meet some fellow creative folk who share your love of all things quirky and off the beaten path.

Some remarkable things happened in 1922. Beloved comedic actress Betty White was born. Haribo invented the gummy bear. And the radio station KTAR was launched right here in Phoenix, making this its centennial year. It's changed owners and buildings through the years, but continued to deliver the news every day, keeping Phoenicians informed about politics, sports, culture, crime, education, the great outdoors, and so much more. In a day and age marked by fake news (and fake accusations of fake news), we take comfort in knowing this staple of the local news scene is still going strong, with broadcasts and podcasts that both enlighten and entertain.

Monique "Mo!" Rodriguez stands out from other on-air talents working the Valley radio dial — and not just because of her vibrantly colored hair. The Alt AZ 93.3 midday host is more charming and engaging than other local jocks, her jokes are funnier, and her quirky, self-effacing personality feels genuine. Between songs, her segments aren't filled with mindless chatter, as Mo! dishes on geeky topics during her "Nerdgasm News" segments or plugs upcoming shows by local bands. Her support for Phoenix's music scene doesn't end there. On weekends, she provides airplay to local artists during her Homegrown with Mo! show every Sunday evening, or occasionally can be found hosting events such as this year's Phoenix Rock Lottery at Crescent Ballroom or DJing at The Rebel Lounge's LGBTQ-themed Emo Pride Night. In an age when many DJs are just corporate radio automatons who just shill the latest hits, Mo! is a personality with a pulse and a passion for her city, on or off the air.

Aching to ogle at Arizona's craziest candidates ahead of November's general election? Pining for a preview of the Arizona Cardinals' season debut against the red-hot Kansas City Chiefs? Talk radio veteran Bill Brady says, "Why not both?" The Bill Brady Show airs every weekday afternoon from 5 to 7 p.m. on 1100 AM radio, so tune in on your drive home from work and enrich your day with what he calls "a return to common sense commentary." His instantly recognizable voice has graced the ears of Valley residents during interviews with everyone from CIA directors to sports greats such as NFL quarterback Johnny Unitas and boxer Sugar Ray Leonard. Most recently, Brady has taken in-depth dives with the Arizona Wildcats, state candidates including Adrian Fontes, and even New York Governor Mario Cuomo.

Journalists are used to taking their lumps. Many save hate mail as a badge of honor and a story to swap over beers. GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake's beef with Brahm Resnik, KPNX-Channel 12's host of the Sunday Square Off talk show, is something categorically different. It came to a head a year ago when Lake held a rally to stomp on a COVID mask for the cameras. Resnik tried to get a question in; Lake ducked it and called Resnik a traitor and accused him, for the cameras, of refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. After she aired an ad during Sunday Square Off making the same bogus claims, Resnik invited her for a sit-down interview at any time. (He's still waiting.) Historical note: Many of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence were publishers, and it's no coincidence that the first addition to the Bill of Rights established freedom of the press. In that tradition, Resnik has carried on doing his job, not stooping into the gutter, and calling bullshit on political nonsense in Arizona, of which there is an ample supply. Enemy of democracy? Try guardian of it.

The bright lights of Broadway are about 2,500 miles northeast of here. But we don't miss the Great White Way so much when we're sitting in the audience at ASU Gammage. The 3,000-seat auditorium is the last building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright — he based it on a design he made for a Baghdad, Iraq, opera house that was never built. After decades of attending shows there, we're convinced there's not a bad seat in the house. ASU Gammage is the only place in town that's shown the blockbuster musical Hamilton, and it's usually the first one of the local theaters to get Broadway hits such as Come From Away and Frozen when they begin their national tours. Add in tasty themed cocktails for every show, plenty of parking, and great dining options near its Tempe location, and you've got a script for a perfect night out at the theater.

Best Of Phoenix®

Best Of