9 Free Things to Do in Phoenix This Week

Mural painting to help activate downtown Mesa.
Mesa Arts Center
Mural painting to help activate downtown Mesa.
If your New Year's resolution is to spend less dough, we're here to help. This week, you can take an artsy walking tour of Downtown Mesa, see "MEXICANA: Home to the Soul of Mexico," or join in on the No Pants Light Rail Ride — all for zero dollars. For more things to do, visit Phoenix New Times' calendar.

Self-Guided Art Tour
Calories? Hate ’em. Holiday stress? Totally sucks. You can walk it all off, starting on New Year’s Day. Need ideas on where to begin? Try downtown Mesa, where streets are dotted with sculptures and murals that make for a relaxing self-guided art tour. Some of the more whimsical sculptures depict a giant stiletto and bright pink chair. Others reveal bygone days of agriculture and other pursuits.
You’ll find about three dozen sculptures from Mesa to Country Club drives, and between First Street and First Avenue. Look for murals by several artists, including Lauren Lee and Jesse Perry, while you’re there. And check out public art along the light rail, too. There’s an online map to help you hit the highlights. Visit the Downtown Mesa website. Lynn Trimble

"Tempe Xhibition: Celebrating Ten Years"
It’s been 10 years since the debut of Tempe Center for the Arts, a staple of the Valley performing arts scene. The city is celebrating with a free art show featuring work by more than a dozen emerging and established Tempe-based artists, including Kristin Bauer, Lena Klett, Melissa Martinez, Jacob Meders, and John Randall Nelson.

Highlights include a pair of Emmet Potter’s shiny, powder-coated Vietnam-era bombs suspended from the ceiling. Also keep an eye out for Emily Ritter’s books, each made with a month’s worth of recycled materials.
Give “Tempe Xhibition: celebrating ten years” a good look between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, January 2. The show is only on view at The Gallery at TCA, 700 West Rio Salado Parkway, through January 6. Visit the City of Tempe website. Lynn Trimble

click to enlarge Who will win? - TIFFANY BROWN
Who will win?
Tiffany Brown
Country Idol
Think you have what it takes to win Country Idol? The local singing competition is on the hunt for top performers at preliminary events around the Valley, including one at Pat O’s Bunkhouse Saloon.

Don’t let the name of the event fool you. Singing a country song is not required to win over the judges. Contestants will be judged on showmanship and vocal ability. Winners in the preliminary round will receive a $25 and $15 bar tab for first and second place, respectively, and the chance to compete in the finals at the 33rd Annual Gay Rodeo, which runs from February 16 through 18.

It’s pitchy at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, January 3, at 4428 Seventh Avenue. Admission is free. For more information, visit the Country Idol website. Jason Keil

Thomas Perry
Thomas Perry is a jack-of-all-trades, having worked as a teacher, mechanic, fisherman, and a TV producer. But his greatest success has come as a mystery novelist.

Thirty-five years after his Edgar Award-winning debut, The Butcher Boy, the L.A. writer is back with his 25th novel, The Bomb Maker. Former bomb squad leader Dick Stahl has left his job with the LAPD to run a private security company in New Mexico. But when a routine call goes awry, he must return to his old department to track a bomber who seems to be targeting his former squad.

On Thursday, January 4, at 7 p.m., Perry will meet fans and sign copies of The Bomb Maker at The Poisoned Pen, 4014 North Goldwater Boulevard in Scottsdale.

Admission is free, but book purchase is required for autographs. The Bomb Maker is $26 in hardcover. Call 480-942-2974 or visit the Poisoned Pen website for more information. Michael Senft