Mesa Arts Center curates artistic goings-on inside a sleek structure filled with four theaters, five art galleries, and 14 art studios. Graced by the likes of Yo-Yo Ma and Bill Cosby, the stages of the facility's theaters showcase a cultural cocktail of live music, Broadway, dance, and comedy performances. Grooming the next generation of artisans with the help of advanced equipment, seasoned instructors teach everything from acting and beading to woodworking and welding during art classes tailored to both kids and adults.
For inspiration, students and visitors can stroll through the galleries of the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum for glimpses at a revolving selection of contemporary art from international artists. Speckled with gardens, shapely architecture, and colorful lighting, the facility’s modern grounds welcome guests for everyday visits or annual events and festivals.
SunDust Art Gallery is truly a family-run operation—Ron Floyd, a retired university art professor and a recognized abstract artist, opened the 5,000-square-foot gallery with the help of his wife Mary Lou Floyd and son Chris Floyd. Opened in 2009, the studio's initial goal was to provide the Southwest's eclectic and often-unnoticed artists a home, and today it has grown to encompass a gallery collection that regularly features many such artists and mediums for which the region is well known, such as sculpture, jewelry, and photography. Throughout his long career as an art professor, Ron learned to teach students how to overcome artistry's intricacies, and he now operates out of SunDust's studios with accessible painting and drawing classes.
Four-and-a-half billion. That’s how many years of history fits into the Arizona Museum of Natural History’s 80,000 square feet. The Origins gallery orients extremely disoriented visitors with a timeline that traces the most significant events in the history of the cosmos and planet Earth. From there, visitors browse the museum’s 60,000 artifacts, such as the Dinosaur Hall’s T-rex skull and full skeleton of an adolescent triceratops. On the three-story Dinosaur Mountain—flash floods gush every 23 minutes and endanger roaring replicas of dinosaurs such as a stegosaurus and tyrannosaurus.
Though chockfull of dinosaurs, not everything at the museum is saurian in nature. The museum’s Mesoamerica and South America section, for instance, focuses on artifacts from ancient cultures, such as the Maya and the early civilizations of Central Mexico.
In exhibitions on Arizona’s history, guests can explore the labyrinthine Lost Dutchman Mine, search for gold in the History Courtyard, and get locked away in an actual territorial jail that used to house outlaws, cattle rustlers, and a guy who said the jailer's chaps made his thighs look fat. In addition to all the museum’s historical relics, there are living creatures on display, including a Gila monster and a soft-shelled turtle named Tom.
Named the Best Arts Festival in 2010 by the Phoenix New Times, the Scottsdale Arts Festival has showcased the fine arts since 1971. This year, nearly 200 jury-selected artists from around the United States and Canada contribute vibrant paintings, glass and ceramic sculptures, photography, and connect-the-dots sketches framed with macaroni. Throughout the festival, artists engage guests with interactive projects. Tunes from live bands swirl past attentive eardrums while mouths are occupied at gourmet food trucks serving such great festival eats as hot dogs, barbecue, pastries, and more. Throughout the day, pintsize patrons and kids of all ages can skip over to Imagine Nation to participate in artistic activities, such as walking down Kid’s Way and creating a paper hat.