We've even found a great Fourth of July party. Read on . . .

First Friday

Reacting to the touristification of downtown Phoenix, artists have long begged people to get downtown and support the art scene there. They need beg no more, as thousands of people flock downtown every first Friday to see the latest in the Phoenix art and music scene. With the number of galleries, studios and art spaces participating reaching the hundred mark, downtown Phoenix is the place to be seen this summer.

Most galleries open at 6 p.m. A venue guide is available at artlinkphoenix.com, but here's a smattering of what you'll find on the first Fridays in June, July and August -- and a few other days, as well. (In the fall, organizers will officially unveil Third Fridays. Check in with individual galleries for details -- some have already begun the tradition.)

On June 4, 5 and 6, the Cone Gallery at 1324 Grand Avenue will feature La Bohemian Festival, the grand opening of a local artists clearinghouse, located inside the gallery. The festival will include a group show and music. Call 602-258-3455.

On June 4, Thought Crime at 1019 North Central Avenue will present an installation and discussion on the Palestinian refugee camp in Ramallah. And on July 2, graffiti artist Pablo Luna will exhibit his work. Call 602-254-6397 or visit www.strivedreams.com.

On July 2, eye lounge at 419 East Roosevelt Street will feature the work of member artists Rebecca Ross and Kate Timmerman -- and a project they're organizing. "Art for Art's Sake" will feature the work of local, national and international artists. Remember the 6x6 show from last year that showcased local artists? "Art for Art's Sake" is similar -- but the art will be 5x7 and the artists (a call's been put out for local, national and international work) will be anonymous. Call 602-430-1490 or go to www.eyelounge.com.

Down at the Paper Heart Gallery, 750 Grand Avenue, it's not just about art on the walls. Go to the gallery's Web site for a huge selection of music events. And be sure to check out the third annual All Photographic Exhibition on August 6. Call 602-262-2020 for more information or go to www.thepaperheart.com.

And although July 4 falls on a Sunday, you should still head downtown on Independence Day for the LIFE festival at the Icehouse at Fourth Avenue and Jackson Street, featuring "sound artwork," water games, henna tattoos, games and refreshments. Bands and DJs to be announced. Begins at 8 p.m. For more information, call 602-257-8929. . . . Last Friday

Okay, so you've got one night covered. What to do with the rest of the Fridays in the month -- and some of the other nights? For starters, head to Tempe, where some smart copycats have brought us Last Friday.

Close to a dozen galleries regularly participate in the event that is intended to transform what has come to be known as "Mall Avenue" (the newly commercialized Mill Avenue -- and the area around it) back into its formerly arty self.

Kontrive, located at 115 East Seventh Street in Tempe, is far from contrived. In fact, this funky furniture store turned art space is now expanding its horizons into fashion. This summer, the clothing line housed at Kontrive (called "Mary Jane at Kontrive") will host fashion shows in the space during Last Fridays in Tempe. Once you've had your fill of fashion, step into Kontrive's back room and check out the latest in video art from local artists. Call 480-517-1411 or go to www.kontrive.com.

The Plaid Eatery, at 1044 South Terrace Lane, will grease the wheels of art appreciation with its "Penny Pint" promotion during Last Fridays. You can sit back, sip on a beer you bought with a penny, listen to the DJs who come through every month, and check out the local art that has decorated the eatery for years now. (Step next door to The Muse for some of the best coffee and baked goods in town.) Call 480-394-9424.

Wet Paint Art Supply at 203 East Seventh Street turns into the B-Side Gallery every Last Friday. This summer, the lineup of events includes an employee show on June 25, featuring hip-hop DJs and free munchies. One July 30, the place will present "Punch," a night of humorous art and standup comedians from Modest Proposal magazine. Don't miss the upstairs record store at Wet Paint called "The Attic" as well, and pick yo'self up some of the latest local music while you're there. Call 480-967-2002 or go to www.wetpaintaz.com.

Perhaps the most exciting summer art event in Tempe won't take place on a last Friday, but instead on a second Saturday -- August 14 -- when Mike Maas' latest show opens. It's tough to describe Maas' work -- check out his monkey business, evident in the two images on this page. The show is at reZurrection, one of the best art venues in Tempe, 601 West University Drive. Call 480-377-9080.

. . . And a Thursday in between

Even in the dead of summer, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art continues its cool tradition with SMoCA Nights: Spicy on Thursday, June 17.

No band had been booked as of press time, but organizers promise "spicy Latin" music and dancers. DJ Maji will be on board, along with psychic tarot card reader Ozma. As usual, the evening will feature a fashion show, organized by Angela Johnson and including Soldierleisure by Andy Brown, Nebulosity by Amy Hagedorn and LaZazA by Tiffany Regacho.

The night includes a bar, complimentary hors d'oeuvres, door prizes and a peek inside SMoCA's galleries. Call 480-994-ARTS for tickets ($10 for non-members and $8 for members, but they go fast) or go to www.smoca.org.