Nerd Culture

5 Free Things to Do in Metro Phoenix, December 9 to 11

Between visual arts exhibitions, a library geek-out, and a weekend festival, you'll be plenty busy this weekend — and for a grand total of zero dollars. Here's your guide to going out on a budget, and more options await on New Times' curated events calendar.

Phoenix Festival of the Arts
There are more opportunities than ever for guilt-free holiday shopping, and we suggest you take advantage. One such local shopping occasion is Phoenix Festival of the Arts — a gathering of 125 Arizona-based art vendors and cultural organizations, activities, performing arts, and food.

Visit Margaret T. Hance Park, 1202 North Third Street, from noon to 5 p.m. on Friday, December 9, for this free, fifth annual event. There’s a new entertainment pavilion with dance performances, spoken-word poetry, and choral groups, as well as local bands presented by AZ Music Project.

Find hands-on activities with Phoenix Mural Project, a family zone, food trucks like 2 Fat Guys Grilled Cheese, and beer and wine provided by the Hensley Beverage Company. The festival continues from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, December 10 and 11. Call 602-254-3100 or visit Lauren Cusimano

"Karen Jilly"
Be the first to see a 25-year retrospective of works by Karen Jilly, an artist who uses the lines and structures of freeway columns, telephone poles, and construction scaffolding as a metaphor for the fragility of life.

Mesa Contemporary Art Museum, One East Main Street, opens its free “Karen Jilly” exhibition on Friday, December 9, when museum hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Head to the South Gallery to see Jilly’s “beautiful yet gritty” paintings, drawings, and prints capturing diverse urban landscapes. Jilly’s work reminds city dwellers that art imbues everyday environments, that ordinary settings are replete with visual feasts.
While you’re there, explore four additional exhibits, where you’ll find works by several Arizona artists. The “Karen Jilly” exhibition continues through March 19, 2017. Visit Lynn Trimble

Show off your cosplay as the Glendale Public Library hosts LibCon West on Saturday, December 10, at the Main Branch of the Glendale Public Library, 5959 West Brown Street.

In addition to panels on comics and other pop-culture phenomena, the teen-themed event will include crafts and gaming. And three of Arizona’s best authors, Amy K. Nichols (Now That You’re Here, While You Were Gone), Beth Cato (Breath of Earth), and Aprilynne Pike (Wings, Glitter) will host a special writing panel for all the would-be writers at the Con.

Registration is free, and the mini comicon runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a vendor room open from noon to 5 p.m. Call 623-930-3537 or visit for more information. Michael Senft

"Amid the Grid"
For special occasions like these, it’s best you hear it from us. “Amid the Grid,” a fundraiser exhibition, is happening at the longtime Roosevelt Row gallery and member-operated contemporary art space Eye Lounge, 419 East Roosevelt Street. The guest list will include past and current Eye Lounge members, and local art lovers — a.k.a. you.

Find grid-sized works (meaning 12-by-12 inches or smaller) at $100 or less in the Project Room from 6 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, December 10. The show runs till December 24. The evening also will feature live music, a silent auction, and artwork for sale that buyers can take home that night — all compliments of Takashi Hara.

For more information, call 602-430-1490 or find details at Lauren Cusimano

"Get Face" Before there were selfies, there were portraits. Steven Sprouse printed Jean-Michel Basquiat’s portrait onto a cotton knit dress. Andy Warhol created a screen print with diamond dust self-portrait. Erica Deeman made silhouette-style digital chromogenic prints of women from the African diaspora.

They’re all part of the “Get Face (To Gain Respect; To Increase One’s Status)” exhibition at Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central Avenue. You can see it Sunday, December 11, from noon to 5 p.m., when the museum offers free admission.

The exhibition includes portraits drawn from the museum’s permanent collection, which spans nine artistic realms: American, Asian, contemporary, European, fashion, Latin American, modern, photography, and Western American. It’s conceived as “a broad dialogue of art history, perception, and popular culture.”
Featured artists include Joan Brown, Antonio Maria Esquivel, Ed Paschke, and Kehinde Wiley, to name a few. “Get Face” continues through January 8, 2017. Visit Lynn Trimble