New Times picks the best arts and culture events in metro Phoenix from March 3 to 5.
For years it seemed downtown Phoenix was a less-than-painted desert. Today, that couldn’t be further from the truth. And while some murals and public art have been painted over or torn down — much to the consternation of the community — events like the third annual Paint PHX are keeping otherwise beige walls bright.
The weekend begins with an array of gallery shows: ThirdSpace hosts the “Official Paint PHX Kickoff Party” with live painting from Chicago artist CZR PRZ, Tucson-based Dwayno Insano, and Randy Boogie out of Winslow, while Sound & Color displays “Mixed Palette,” with work from Lalo Cota and Douglas Miles. “The Real Nitty Gritty,” at Monorchid, is a group graffiti show including El Mac and Thomas Breeze Marcus. From there, the three-day mural expo takes over Grand Avenue, Fifth Street, and Calle 16 in a series of organized, outdoor collaborations.
Paint PHX events start at 6 p.m. on First Friday, March 4. For more events and an ever-updating list of participating artists, visit www.facebook.com/paintphx. Janessa Hilliard
“Mutant Piñata Show”
Unlike your seventh birthday party, these crafty creations are home to no candy or prizes — and giving them a solid “whack!” with a bat is definitely discouraged.
Grand Avenue godmother Beatrice Moore’s “Mutant Piñata Show” returns for its ninth year, and fans of the annual installation have come to expect the weird and wacky. Past entries have included a Yellow Submarine, a trio of hanging triplets, and floating eyeballs. The event is one of the wittier gallery shows in town, offering a light-hearted look at cultural identity and self-expression — and certainly more creative than those lining party aisles.
See the papier-mâché creatures on First Friday, March 4, from 6 to 10 p.m. at Chartreuse, 1301 Grand Avenue. Free to see. Head to www.facebook.com/events/195121014173225 for details. Janessa Hilliard
Christopher Durang is still writing successful, hilarious plays like Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, but you currently have the opportunity to check out one of his earliest, least frequently produced works, 1974’s Titanic. The ship might be in danger of sinking, but the focus is on smaller disasters within the class-conscious Tammurai family.
Characters become each other (and completely new, different people) with alarming frequency, yet the chaotic action is, in our opinion, fairly easy to follow. And the captain’s daughter, Lidia (played in New York by Durang’s classmate Sigourney Weaver, pre-fame), has hamsters in her hoo-ha.
Your teeth might be floating like a lifeboat by the time the one-hour one-act concludes — so, as we often advise, pee first. Space 55 presents this wondrous nonsense through Saturday, March 5, at 636 East Pierce Street. For tickets, $10, visit www.space55.org. Showtime on Friday, March 3, is 8 p.m. Julie Peterson
Play on Palabras
As Margaret Atwood once put it, “a word after a word after a word is power.” This becomes literally true when playing word games (ask anyone who does the Times Sunday crossword puzzle every week). This weekend, you can experience the power of words for yourself at Palabras Librería/Bookstore, 1023 Grand Avenue Studio B, during Play on Palabras, a game night featuring multi-lingual Scrabble and other word games. The evening’s festivities will also include a special tamale tasting, featuring tamales from four local restaurants. (Get a free tamale with the donation of a book.)
It’s game on at 6 p.m. First Friday, March 4. The event is free and family friendly. For more information, visit palabrasbookstore.com. Katrina Montgomery
"Why We Need Spike Lee and All Visionary Artists"
Who better to tell you why Spike Lee is important than the man, himself?
The outspoken and often controversial director presents, “Why We Need Spike Lee,” and discusses why iconoclastic filmmakers are important, as well as the topics of higher education, and gun control in the 21st century. Lee’s latest film, Chi-Raq, is a modern adaptation of the classic Greek comedy Lysistrata. His modern version takes place in inner city Chicago, amidst gang violence. Find out how valuable Lee thinks he is at 7 p.m. on March 4 at ASU Gammage, 1200 South Forest Avenue in Tempe. Admission is free. Tickets are given out from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the day of the event at the east entrance of ASU Gammage. Call 480-965-3434 or visit www.asugammage.com. Amy Young
PBR Phoenix Invitational
We have to be honest and say that partaking in the Running of the Bulls hasn’t ever been on our bucket list. Forget running from those ornery beasts that nearly weigh a ton and, instead, imagine being atop one as it goes buck wild. We’ll gladly watch from the seats of Talking Stick Resort Arena where the PBR Phoenix Invitational returns after last year’s hiatus and brings together the sport’s top bullriders. Current back-to-back PBR World Champion J.B. Mauney leads a pack of competitors that also includes 2015 Rookie of the Year Kaique Pacheco and fellow Brazilian Silvano Alves (who’s the 2011, 2012, and 2014 World Champion).
At 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 5, the PBR Phoenix Invitational, part of the 2016 Built Ford Tough Series visits 201 East Jefferson Street. Tickets range from $27 to $494. Visit www.talkingstickresortarena.com for more information. Jose Gonzalez
Melrose Street Fair
After an unexpected hiatus two years ago, the Melrose on Seventh Avenue Street Fair proves it’s chugging along and doing just fine, bringing vendors and food trucks to the midtown thoroughfare for the 14th installment of the event.
More than 150 artists and crafts makers will have booths, while the Melrose District’s brick-and-mortar storefronts (Rust and Roses, Melrose Vintage, and Retro Ranch among them) will be open. Chester’s Classic Car Show, ever the crowd-pleaser, promises to boast 200 vintage beauties on display.
Live entertainment includes the Phoenix Metropolitan Men’s Chorus, female-fronted, alt-country group Carol Pacey and the Honey Shakers, and Tempe-based guitar-pop headliner, The Pistoleros — right up that ‘90s nostalgia alley.
Party on the blacktop from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 5, on Seventh Avenue, between Campbell Avenue and Indian School Road. The event is free, but prices may vary for food or activities (age-appropriate attendees can enjoy a margarita and beer garden). Visit www.m7streetfair.com. Janessa Hilliard
Scottsdale Spring Training Festival
Vernal equinox, schmernal equinox — spring begins when Spring Training does, and while the first MLB games will have already wrapped up several days prior, the true first pitch of the Cactus League goes out March 5 at the Scottsdale Spring Training Festival. For 10 glorious hours, this free, family-friendly event fills the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall with baseball legends (with whom the kids can play on the Dick's Sporting Goods Wiffle Ball Field) and sports memorabilia expos, plus the Cactus League Hall of Fame induction ceremony at 5:30 p.m. and a family baseball movie at 7. Play ball.
Welcome the return of spring — and America’s national pastime — at the Scottsdale Spring Training Festival, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, March 5, at the Scottsdale Civic Center Mall, 3939 North Drinkwater Boulevard in Scottsdale. Zach Fowle
Even if you grew up in more of a Little Golden family, you’re probably familiar with Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown’s beloved bedtime book that’s sold literally bajillions of copies since its 1947 debut. Despite our frustration over that missing comma in the title, we adore the funky assortment of items in little bunny’s room, as well as the dark, Fauvist illustrations by Clement Hurd, who made the story about bunnies simply because he was bad at drawing people.
Childsplay whispers “hush” in a stage version for kids 3 and older, continuing through Sunday, April 7, at Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 West Rio Salado Parkway. Tickets, $12 to $26, are available at www.childsplayaz.org or 480-350-2822. Showtime on Sunday, March 6, is 1 p.m. Julie Peterson