Culture News

A Complete Guide to the 2018 Grand Avenue Festival in Phoenix

Lynn Trimble
Stilt-walkers strolling along Grand Avenue.
The Grand Avenue Festival is a chance to explore eclectic offerings in one of the city's most vibrant creative enclaves.

The 2018 festival takes place from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, November 11, along several blocks of a historic, diagonal stretch of Grand Avenue between the I-10 overpass and Van Buren Street. After-hours activities run from 8 to 10 p.m.

The festival is presented by Grand Avenue Arts & Preservation, which aims to make the downtown district an interesting place to live, work, and spend leisure time.

Grand Avenue Arts & Preservation was founded by artist Beatrice Moore, a preservation activist who owns several Grand Avenue properties with her husband, Tony Zahn. The organization's co-founder is Nancy Hill, who owns the Hazel & Violet letterpress.

click to enlarge Artist and preservationist Beatrice Moore. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Artist and preservationist Beatrice Moore.
Lynn Trimble
More than three dozen art spaces and small businesses are taking part in the Grand Avenue Festival – giving you a chance to try letterpress printing, explore downtown history, make your own jewelry, watch a guitar being made, try Japanese drumming, and explore artist studios.

This year’s Grand Avenue Festival coincides with Veterans Day, so a  tour of historic sites will feature a former armory that’s being transformed into a creative live/work space for artists.

It’s one of many ways this year’s festival will help people appreciate the fact that Grand Avenue is a hub for both history and art.

Popular traditions, including the Untrashed Recycled Fashion Show and Trashy Hat Promenade, are also part of this year’s lineup.

It’s fine to simply show up and start exploring, but we’ve got details for those who like to do a bit more advance planning. Here’s our field guide to festival highlights – including details about what’s happening when, and how to make the most of it all.

click to enlarge Throwback to an earlier Recycle Fashion event. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Throwback to an earlier Recycle Fashion event.
Lynn Trimble
First, a few basics.

Lay of the land: Festival activities happen along Grand Avenue, primarily between two intersections. At one end, Grand Avenue intersects with Seventh Avenue and West Van Buren Street. At the other, Grand Avenue intersects with 15th Avenue and West Roosevelt Street. Most festival venues are situated along the main drag, which is part of historic Route 60. But some are located on side streets that branch off from Grand Avenue.

Getting around: Look for free, on-street parking along Grand Avenue and its many side streets. Parking lots are located near Bragg’s Pie Factory, Bikini Lounge, Unexpected Gallery, La Melgosa, and The Rev (formerly Paper Heart Gallery).

If you’re cycling, check out the bike racks in front of Unexpected Gallery, Oasis on Grand, Bragg’s Pie Factory, The Lodge, 11th Monk3y, and Fushicho Daiko. Free pedicabs will be making trips up and down the street from 5 to 11 p.m. Keep it classy – bring tip money.

From 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., you can hop on the Jam Tram trolley and travel in style with LED light décor, music, and drinks. It’ll travel full-circle every hour, hitting transportation hubs that include the Armory, Desert Sun Plaza, Bragg’s Pie Factory, Phoenix Trolley Museum, Fushicho Daiko, Unexpected Gallery, 11th Monk3y, and Oasis on Grand.

click to enlarge Strolling along Grand Avenue by Bragg's Pie Factory. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Strolling along Grand Avenue by Bragg's Pie Factory.
Lynn Trimble
Keeping your cool: Dress for comfort, and prepare for the heat, even if you’re just planning to pop in for a short festival stint. Chances are, you’ll end up staying longer – and needing essentials like walking shoes and an ample supply of water. And, of course, it never hurts to wear sunscreen and a hat.

Festival guides: Get your bearings with a free festival guide that includes a map showing participating venues. You’ll find them at information tables located by Bragg’s Pie Factory, Fushicho Daiko, La Melgosa, Oasis on Grand, and Unexpected Gallery. Also look for Wandering Guides donning red aprons and kooky hats, who'll be stationed along Grand Avenue to answer festival-related questions.

Timing your visit: Some activities happen at particular times, so take note if you have your heart set on making them part of your day. For example, the first Under the Vintage Roof tour leaves at noon and the recycled fashion show starts at 2:30 p.m.

Sticker challenge: You can collect up to nine stickers with art by Abraham Reyes Pardo and Tato Caraveo along the way, while supplies last. Start by snagging your free Grand Avenue Sticker Challenge passbook in front of Bragg’s Pie Factory – then follow the festival map to sticker sites. Hint: Check out the art venues and businesses inside Bragg’s Pie Factory, Desert Sun Plaza, La Melgosa, and Third Space. Then head for Fushicho Daiko, Grand ArtHaus, Grand Ave Records, and The Lodge.

click to enlarge Joe Willie Smith plays one of his musical art installations on Grand Avenue. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Joe Willie Smith plays one of his musical art installations on Grand Avenue.
Lynn Trimble
Event Highlights

Under the Vintage Roof
Arizona Preservation Foundation and Phoenix Rising Tour Company are presenting tours of three historic buildings, which begin at noon, 1 p.m., and 2 p.m. Tours start at 1614 West Roosevelt Street, where the 1963 building that once served as a National Guard Armory now serves as an arts venue called The Armory.

The tour also features a circa 1939 adobe church situated inside the Phoenix Four Square Church at 1206 North Laurel Avenue, adjacent to the massive La Luz del Mundo Church that’s currently under construction. Finally, the tour includes interiors of some of the Shaughnessy buildings at 1500 Grand Avenue, which is where you’ll find the Bikini Lounge “dive bar” established in 1953.

Untrashed Recycled Fashion Show and Trashy Hat Promenade
Show off self-styled fashion and recycling prowess during the promenade that launches from Unexpected Art Gallery at 2:30 p.m. Model your fashions at the gallery, then parade along Grand Avenue to ThirdSpace for judging and prizes at 3:30 p.m. Forget being on trend. This fashion show is all about being creative.

Cirque Performance
Look for roving House of Cirque performers, including stilt walkers, strolling musicians, jugglers, dancing skeletons, and interactive hula dancers.

click to enlarge Checking out the Carmody Foundation exhibit in 2017. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Checking out the Carmody Foundation exhibit in 2017.
Lynn Trimble
Art Exhibits

Several galleries will be showing works in diverse media. Here’s a sampling of the types of artwork you’ll be able to explore during the festival.

Bragg’s Pie Factory: Historic Grand Avenue photographs and ephemera, plus artworks by Tato Caraveo, who created art for the 2018 festival poster.

Five15 Arts @ Chartreuse: Mixed-media works by Marlys Kubicek, who tackles contemporary culture.

Grand ArtHaus: Group show featuring Robert Gentile, Such Styles, and Champ Styles, three artists heavily influenced by graffiti culture.

Sisao Gallery: Group exhibit highlighting artists who received 2018 Carmody Foundation artist grants.

The Lodge Art Studio: “Choice Cuts” group show featuring works by emerging and established artists.

click to enlarge Mark Allred inside his studio on Grand Avenue. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Mark Allred inside his studio on Grand Avenue.
Lynn Trimble
Open Studios/Creative Spaces

Check out more than a dozen artist studios and creative spaces located on and around Grand Avenue, including The Chocolate Factory, a studio for Hector Ruiz that’s rarely open to the public, as well as the Goat Heart Studio for artist Bill Dambrova, whose mural for Valley Metro Light Rail is on view at the Central Avenue and Roosevelt Street station.

Also head to Oasis on Grand, so you can see the Casa de Chaos Art Studio where Kristin Wesley makes the smiling Friendly Flowers you’ll see installed all along Grand Avenue. Find the full open studio and exhibit lineup in the Grand Avenue Festival brochure.

click to enlarge Bill Dambrova's Goat Heart Studio. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Bill Dambrova's Goat Heart Studio.
Lynn Trimble

Several artists will be live painting murals along Grand Avenue – including Jeremie Bacpac Franco (Bacpac), Laura Spalding Best, and Carlos Rivas (Servous Nystem), to name a few. Also look for a mural-painting robot created by the Spectacle company housed inside The Armory, which will be painting its little power source out during the day at Unexpected Gallery.

Murals along Grand Avenue make great backgrounds for selfies and other photos. Our favorites include Joseph “Sentrock” Perez’s You Can Fly Higher located across from {9} The Gallery, Rebecca Green’s The Painted Desert at The Lodge, and Beatrice Moore’s Between Innocence and Knowing near Bikini Lounge.

Also look for Colibri’s migration-themed mural on the side of the pastel-colored La Melgosa building, and Laura Spalding Best’s mural featuring circular vignettes of real and imagined Phoenix landscapes at the Marisol Credit Union building.

click to enlarge Checking out artwork inside The Lodge. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Checking out artwork inside The Lodge.
Lynn Trimble
More Art Offerings

For those who favor art in nontraditional settings, there’s plenty to explore in the festival’s Hanging Gardens and Woven Fences installation featuring eclectic, offbeat offerings by artists and other creatives. You'll find dozens of large-scale artist-designed planters along Grand Avenue, plus several selfie stations painted by Luster Kaboom.

Check out the Grand Avenue Billboard Project while you're in the neighborhood. It's a privately-owned and -funded billboard that routinely features provocative fare. Currently it's graced by Trumpocalypse, created by California-based artist Karen Fiorito.

Look for Mike Butzine doing glass-blowing in front of Electric Monk3y. And head to the former Paper Heart building, to see how it’s being transformed into a creative space called The Rev set to open in 2019.


Look for bands playing at various locations throughout the day, as well as festival “after hours” that start at 8 p.m. Women DJs will be spinning all day in front of Bragg’s Pie Factory.

click to enlarge Art-making with Laura Spalding Best during the 2017 festival. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Art-making with Laura Spalding Best during the 2017 festival.
Lynn Trimble
Hand-on Art Activities

Garden of Joy: Make art inspired by a mosaic mirror steer named Billy with Walter Hive; make a flower for a community garden; make seeded birdhouses with Clottee Hammons; and make a wire and string mobile with Teri TeraSaki. Location: Corner of Grand Avenue, Roosevelt Street, and 15th Avenue.

Get Lit: Learn to make your own zine with Charisse Lucille of Wasted Ink Zine Distro; write a poem or haiku verse with Anna Flores or Sean Avery Medlin, then share it with the public. Location: in front of La Melgosa.

Sew Time: Give Paul Nosa an idea, then watch him sew a patch using your inspiration. Location: near the anti-Trump billboard.

Wearable Art: Create little bits of wearable art reflecting the urban landscape with Laura Spalding Best. Location: Marisol Federal Credit Union Community Room.

Coloring Table: Fill in artist-designed coloring pages presented by Valley Metro Light Rail. Location: in front of the The Lodge.

click to enlarge Part of the AZ Dragoneers' fabric dragon. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Part of the AZ Dragoneers' fabric dragon.
Lynn Trimble
Dragon Time: Decorate a large-scale fabric dragon with AZ Dragoneers, using paint, stencils, and assorted craft supplies.

Rattle & Roll: Make rattles out of recycled cans with Carmen Guerrero, then use them in mini-parades led my Taiko drummers at 1, 3, 5, and 7 p.m. Location: In front of Fushicho Daiko.

Hat Making: Create hats using flowers, pompoms, sequins, fabric, and other craft supplies. Hat forms and supplies provided. Location: in front of Bragg’s Pie Factory.

Finger Weaving: Learn to finger weave with Kristine Harris-Wolfe. Location: in front of Bragg’s Pie Factory, near Barrio Café Gran Reserva.

Monster Magnets: Create monster magnets with pompoms and caterpillar puppets with the Puppetry Guild of Phoenix and Puppet Pie. Location: Puppet Pie.

click to enlarge One of Luster Kaboom's selfie stations. - LYNN TRIMBLE
One of Luster Kaboom's selfie stations.
Lynn Trimble
Food and Drink

Expect a range of options from light snacks to full meals at a wide variety of cafes, restaurants, and creative spaces — including Grand Avenue Pizza Company, Irma's Kitchen, Cookie Brokers, and many more.

The food trucks will be out in full force, with diverse offerings that include Puerto Rican, Greek, and Mexican fare, to name a few. Look for food trucks at five sites, where food truck hours vary, but overall coverage runs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Here’s a look at where to find them, and what to expect:

Desert Sun Plaza: Phoenix Coqui, Cousins Maine Lobster, Hummus Xpress, Mein Man, PT Crush, Ni De Aqui Ni De Alla, and Que Perro.
{9} The Gallery: Happy Honu, Fantasy Funnel Cake, Flyin’ K BBQ, and Panini People.
Chocolate Factory: Twisted Munchies, Chef Wade Mac N Cheese, Reef’s Kitchen, Waffle Crush.
South of La Melgosa: Trapp Haus BBQ and Family Squeezed Lemonade.
Fushicho Daiko Dojo: El Autentico Diez Diez and Shorty’s.

click to enlarge Checking out walls filled with art at ThirdSapce. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Checking out walls filled with art at ThirdSapce.
Lynn Trimble
Grand Avenue After Dark

Decades of Decadence
Head to Unexpected Gallery at 8 p.m. for a fashion show presented by WEARizona and Hamati Designs. Hip historian Marshall Shore will emcee the event, which features local designers, makeup artists, and models. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Several additional venues will be open from 8 to 10 p.m. – including Trans Am Café, Grand Ave Records, Bikini Lounge, Oasis on Grand, Bragg’s Pie Factory, and ThirdSpace, to name a few. So, stick around a while if you want to enjoy more art, music, eats, and fashion.

Grand Avenue Festival. Saturday, November 10, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. After-hours 8 to 10 p.m. Historic Grand Avenue between the I-10 overpass south to Van Buren Street. Free admission.