This Week's Day-by-Day Picks

Thursday, May 1
Film Forward, a new film series at Madstone Theaters, offers the freshest batch of independent films to hit the Valley since the Phoenix Film Festival. Featuring two debut movies every two weeks starting Thursday, May 1, the series offers the only chance to see these films locally. First on the program are Soft for Digging, a spooky thriller about an old man who wanders out into the woods to discover a lone little girl and the aftermath of a murder, and Bunny, a quirky tale of a well-educated but broke immigrant couple who are so desperate for work that they get jobs requiring them to stand on street corners, dressed in pink bunny suits. On Saturday, May 3, Madstone hosts director Mia Trachinger of Bunny, who will join in an audience Q&A session after the 7 p.m. screening of her film. On the same night, a special midnight screening of Soft for Digging is scheduled in addition to regular showings. Madstone is located at 5835 West Ray in Chandler. For additional details, visit or call 480-785-SHOW (7469).

Friday, May 2
Lowbrow art got its start back in the '40s, when American GIs painted voluptuous pinup girls on their airplanes and tattooed them onto their skin -- apparently a jolt of hormones helped wartime morale, too.

Then as hot-rodding and rock 'n' roll boomed in the '50s and '60s, the dangerous themes of fast women and fast vehicles continued to capture the imaginations of artists outside the mainstream. Nowadays, a new generation appreciates the lusty, booze-soaked fantasies of lowbrow -- it's spawned hordes of collectors, magazines and galleries devoted exclusively to the stuff. The difference between this generation and its raucous forefathers, though, is the significant number of young female artists who got their stiletto-heeled feet in the

door of a male-dominated genre. Author Sherri Cullison compiled the work of many

of these women in her book Vicious, Delicious, and Ambitious, the inspiration for Perihelion Arts' new exhibition "The Ladies of Lowbrow." The show opens Friday, May 2, and features lots of art from the book; Cullison will also be on hand to sign copies. Perihelion is located at 1500 Grand Avenue. For more information, call 602-462-9120.

Saturday, May 3
Hollywood is certainly finding success in bringing classic comic book characters to the screen -- witness this summer's upcoming X2: X-Men United and The Hulk. And while such films are an obvious draw for comic collectors who are happy to see their heroes in the flesh, they're also an easy introduction to the original art form for folks who've never before set foot inside a comic shop. To help familiarize the public with all-American comic book icons, Atomic Comics is one of the local stores participating in the international Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, May 3. Among the thousands of copies to be given away at the store's branches are first issues of Ultimate X-Men, Batman Adventures, Archie, Donald Duck and Transformers. Appearances by Spider-Man and signings by more than a dozen local and national comic artists are also planned for Atomic Comics' four locations in Mesa (480-649-0807), Phoenix (602-395-1066), Paradise Valley (602-923-0733) and Chandler (480-940-6061).

Sunday, May 4
Sweeping kicks, strikes and acrobatics define the graceful yet powerful movements of capoeira, a martial art developed several hundred years ago by African slaves in Brazil. To keep their lethal sport hidden from their oppressors, the slaves integrated the fighting techniques into a dance form. If you've never seen this stunning art, you'll be in awe when the local group AXE Capoeira takes the stage at Paradise Valley Community College's Spring Dance Concert. Other evening highlights include jazz and modern dance pieces created by PVCC faculty and performed by students. The concert starts at 7:30 nightly from Friday, May 2, through Sunday, May 4, at the Studio Theater in the M Building on the northeast side of the college campus, 18401 North 32nd Street (at Union Hills Drive). Admission is $6. For more information, call 602-787-6800.

Monday, May 5
A union of gnarled, natural wood and smooth steel and concrete, the rugged sculptures of Tucson artist John Davis are metaphors for the peculiar local convergence of wild desert landscapes and built-up urban sprawl. Davis is this month's guest at the FirstMondays ArtSalon at 7 p.m. Monday, May 5, where he'll discuss his work in a presentation led by Ernest McIntyre, of ArtsAZ. Throughout the lecture, members of the audience are welcome to join in the conversation. To get the crowd warmed up, a 6:30 p.m. reception precedes the event. Admission is free at Burton Barr Central Library's Pulliam Auditorium, 1221 North Central. Call 602-256-3521 for details.

Tuesday, May 6
If you've only ever seen one Broadway musical, we're guessing that it was Les Misérables, billed as "The World's Most Popular." Based on the novel by Victor Hugo, Les Mis still attracts devoted fans with revolutionary songs about fugitive Jean Valjean's struggles. A 7:30 p.m. performance on Tuesday, May 6, marks the beginning of the show's weeklong engagement at ASU's Gammage Auditorium, located at the intersection of Mill Avenue and Apache Boulevard. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster, 480-784-4444.

Wednesday, May 7
A stellar experience is in store at Arizona Science Center's Adults Night Out on Wednesday, May 7, when the theme is "Out of This World." Get insider details on the center's planetarium, stare at the stars through the telescope, and learn how to fully enjoy the upcoming lunar eclipse on May 15. The center's current roller coaster exhibit, "Scream Machines," will make you feel like a kid again, but the event's cocktail offerings will make you glad to be a grown-up. Festivities run from 5:30 to 9 p.m., and the presentation starts at 7 p.m. Admission is $5 at 600 East Washington. Call 602-716-2000.