Nestled within 18,500 square feet and designed by award-winning architect Will Bruder, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art's quintet of galleries—formerly a cineplex's five theaters—have hosted changing and permanent exhibitions of art, architecture, and design since 1999. The outdoor sculpture garden features acclaimed pieces such as James Turrell's experiential Knight Rise skyspace and James Carpenter Design Associates' Scrim Wall. After viewing the art outside, visitors can return indoors to explore furnishings and jewelry in the shop or examine work by local youth in the young@art gallery. The museum's Visions Teen Program continues to nurture burgeoning talent, pairing teenagers with visual-art teachers and visiting artists. Adults can also enrich their artistic know-how at lectures and workshops until they are able to draw a perfect circle with a pencil still tucked behind their ear. The museum's lounge fosters artistic communities through events ranging from screenings of international art movies to art-making sessions.
Comic-book heroes and villains will burst from finely inked pages at the Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con. With three days of programming, fans of comics, sci-fi, and anime can stoke their imaginations by meeting artists, gaming, or gussying up for a costume contest. The works of artists and exhibitors will permeate the expo, with tables and booths pinned with pages from their most famous projects. Some notable guests will include Jim Lee, an artist who has penned the indestructible sheen that glistens off Iron Man’s chest, and Stan Lee, the artist and conceptual designer who dreamed up Spider-Man, the X-Men, and more.
Step beneath the domed, packed-mud ceiling of a traditional Navajo family dwelling. Weave a Yavapi burden basket. Explore a secluded garden filled with bronze sculptures of women in prayer. By immersing visitors in Native American artifacts and artworks, the Heard Museum's exhibits strive to illuminate the cultural legacy of Arizona’s indigenous peoples. The collections emphasize first-person accounts of Native cultures, not only through artwork, but also in interviews with Native Americans, portraits by Navajo photographers, and monthly lectures. In addition to showcasing historical artifacts, the Heard Museum exhibits contemporary American Indian artwork. Like a ballerina trapped on a carousel, exhibits rotate often, and have included collections of Native American bolo ties, Hopi pottery, and 20th-century paintings depicting Native ceremony. Passing on cultural traditions to future generations, the staff educates children with tours, and brings Native American presentations and curricula to area schools.
At Stratum Lasertag, light warriors leap and duck while toting phasers in an arena with 15 different levels and 90 towers, bridges, and ramps. Designed by the EME Entertainment group, who designed Universal Studios Japan, the emporium bathes warriors in the flickering of strobe lights and the neon glow of black lights as they ascend ramps and blast at one another from different angles. Throughout the space, murals of black holes, outer space, and alien creatures set the mood for bouts of intergalactic warfare. In between laser bouts, players can refuel at the concession area or keep trigger fingers nimble with a stint in the arcade room. Stratum Lasertag outfits participants with laser-tag vests and phasers during birthday parties, bar and bat mitzvahs, graduation celebrations, and team-building events for actual builders.
The weekend before Cinco de Mayo, The Tucson Taco Festival pits 25 teams of taco craftsmen, ranging from amateurs to local restaurateurs, against each other in pursuit of a $5,000 prize as they feed thousands of attendees. Sporting Lucha Libre wrestling masks and working inside intricately decorated booths, the teams collectively produce 30,000 tacos, accompanied by sides such as salsa, guacamole, and more than 30 premium tequila brands. Meanwhile, bartenders rev their blenders in a margarita-making challenge, and visitors show off their ability to ingest spicy food without first ingesting an air conditioning unit during a hot-pepper eating contest. Live music from El Camino Royale and Shrimp Chaperone spurs bodies into motion, while youngsters can stop by the Kids Zone for festive face paint or a jaunt in the bouncy castle.