By Chelsea Young and Gabby Richman
When was the last time you explored the area’s rich cultural centers? If it’s been a while – or even if not – now is a great time to get reacquainted since October ushers in a plethora of new exhibits and special events at the Valley’s top museums and performing arts centers. Whether you love musicals, prefer the quiet contemplation of a museum, or are simply into learning something new, we’ve got the scoop on the upcoming 2017-2018 season here.
The Venue: Since opening in 2015, Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West has weaved a tale of the 19 Western states through art, artifacts and depictions of early trailblazers. Located in the heart of Downtown Scottsdale, it celebrates the West’s culture with rotating exhibits that feature art and rare historic artifacts on loan from some of the world’s best collectors and institutions. The museum became a Smithsonian Affiliate in 2015, and has been named “Best Western Museum” in the nation for two consecutive years by True West magazine.
The contemporary, 43,000-square-foot building is an architectural gem with an environmentally conscious design. In fact, the sculpture courtyard’s “weeping wall” collects rainwater from the roof and the condensation from the museum’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system to provide water to the museum’s desert landscaping. Beyond the galleries and picturesque courtyard, there are interactive exhibits, a museum store, and a theater/auditorium that hosts special performances, programs and events. Both the theater and the sculpture courtyard can even be rented for private events.
Deepen your Western knowledge at the Loloma Learning Center and Research Library, located south of the museum’s main building. Available to peruse by appointment on Mondays only, it houses a private research library that contains hundreds of volumes on topics related to the American West, as well as the bordering provinces of Canada and states of Mexico. www.scottsdalemuseumwest.org.
The Venue: For more than 50 years, ASU Gammage has been an Arizona icon, and, in fact, it’s the only public building in the state designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Located at Arizona State University, the 75,000-square-foot venue boasts elegant architecture, unbelievable acoustics, and a diversity of repertoire, including operas, musicals and symphonies. The building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, is a showstopper – it’s made up of 27 different shades of terracotta, no right angles (but lots of circles), and 3,000 seats, with an outdoor promenade that overlooks South Mountain and the Valley.
The likes of Bruce Springsteen and the Joffrey Ballet have graced the stage, though what really put ASU Gammage on the map was the creation of a collapsible, 80-ton orchestra shell, which gave the venue the capability to host Broadway shows. Now, it’s one of the world’s largest university-based presenters of performing arts and one of the top Broadway touring houses in the country.
This season also marks ASU Gammage’s largest season subscription in history (season tickets are sold out, though individual show tickets are available). Additionally, the performing arts center also offers community programs such as master classes and a camp for young students. www.asugammage.com.
ASU Gammage Beyond
Select dates Oct. 7, 2017-April 28, 2018
This special performance series goes beyond the typical theater experience by bringing world-class artists into the community through workshops, master classes and discussions. From exploring the Cuban rhythms of Havana to blending classical ballet with Harlem culture, the works presented in Beyond reflect the multifaceted, diverse viewpoints of artists from around the globe. For most shows, attendees will also be invited to a post-performance after-party with the artists. $20.
Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella is a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical from the creators of The Sound of Music and South Pacific. The family-friendly production will feature an incredible orchestra, jaw-dropping transformations, and fan-favorite moments such as the pumpkin, the glass slipper and the masked ball, plus some surprising new twists. Times vary. Tickets start at $30.
Jan. 30-Feb. 25, 2018
This award-winning musical will make a debut times two – its ASU Gammage run will be its first time in the Valley as well as at a college campus. Hamilton tells the story of America’s Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington’s right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and was the nation’s first Treasury Secretary. The score blends hip-hop, jazz, blues, rap, rhythm and blues, and Broadway. Times and prices not available at press time.
The Venue: What started out as a small museum founded in 1929 has grown in size and stature as a space dedicated to the advancement of American Indian art. The museum was modeled to fit in with the Spanish-style homes in the surrounding Phoenix neighborhood and has now expanded to be eight times the size of its original structure. Heard Museum, which has more than 450 volunteers who provide tours, collaborates with American Indian artists and tribal communities to give visitors a first-person perspective about the art of the American Indian people, especially those from the Southwest. Drawing on its extensive collection as well as loaned artwork, the museum presents a mix of long-term and changing exhibitions ranging from collected ancestral artifacts and historic drawings more than a century old to contemporary paintings, jewelry and sculptures. Several of the most captivating areas of the museum are located outdoors. The campus, which has both indoor and outdoor spaces, houses the Scott L. Libby, Jr. Amphitheater for large music and dance performances, as well as the Steele Auditorium, used for performances, lectures, films, theatrical presentations, private dinners and meetings. Additionally, the campus has a gift shop and Courtyard Café, serving up seasonally inspired homemade fare. www.heard.org.
The Venue: Get a glimpse into Phoenix’s vibrant Victorian past at Heritage Square. Located on Block 14 of the original townsite of Phoenix, the square dates back to the 1800s and includes the Rosson House Museum as well as an array of restaurants, an event space, and a museum gift shop. At 12 rooms and 4,2000 square feet, the home was built for $7,500 (making it one of the most expensive houses in Phoenix at that time). The Queen Anne Victorian construction takes design influences from Eastlake, Asian, Italian and French architecture. Though the space retains very few of its original furnishings, it does have original bricks and roofing tiles, parquet floors, a staircase, pressed tin ceilings, door and window hardware, and many original windows.
After changing hands many times, the City of Phoenix purchased the home in 1974. The Heritage Square Foundation was created to be in charge of the restoration of the Rosson House, and, as a nonprofit, they still manage, maintain and preserve the museum and collection today, working in partnership with the city. The home was restored to its original condition in the late 1970s and opened as a museum in 1980. Admission to the Rosson House Museum is by guided tour only, and it is open for tours Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. During the nearly one-hour tour, docents will lead you through the first two floors and all 12 rooms of the home, sharing the stories of the residents who lived there, the history of territorial Arizona, and fun facts about Victorian America. VIP tours generally also include access to the attic as well. www.heritagesquarephx.org.
Victorian Secrets: The Unmentionable Tour
Oct. 6-Dec. 29
Take a slightly scandalous tour of the Rosson House Museum (on first and third Fridays at 5 p.m.) and learn the down and dirty details about Victorian life. This tour is for adults only, includes a visit to spaces most visitors don’t get to see, and concludes with refreshments at Nobuo at Teeter House. $25.
Rosson House Restored
Select dates beginning Nov. 10
Each month, on the second and fourth Fridays at 5 p.m., learn about the architecture and history of the Rosson House from when it was built in 1895, through the years it was a boarding house, and what was discovered during the restoration. The tour, which is supported by an educational grant from BNSF Railway, concludes with refreshments at Nobuo at Teeter House. $25.
Holiday Tea & Tour
Select dates in December
Relax with an afternoon of delectable goodies and tea in the 1901 Stevens Bungalow, which will be transformed into a Victorian-style tea room, followed by a tour of the Rosson House Museum decorated at its holiday finest – the entire home will be decked in festive Christmas trees and lights from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31. Times vary. $25.
The Venue: Opened in 2015, Mesa Arts Center anchors the arts and cultural district in downtown Mesa. The facility is the largest comprehensive arts campus in the Southwest – it's comprised of four buildings totaling 212,775 square feet – and the only center in Arizona offering extensive professional performing arts, visual arts and arts education programming. The architecturally stunning facility is home to four theaters, Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum (which has five art galleries), and 14 state-of-the-art visual and performing arts studios and classrooms. Altogether, the venue attracts world-class touring shows, including Broadway, music, dance and family entertainment; innovative exhibits (there are currently four on view for free); educational classes; workshops; and four major festivals as well as a free lunchtime concert series in the fall and spring. The complex itself is thoughtfully modeled after the Sonoran Desert, with jagged angles, sloping roofs and regional colors that reflect a rich Southwest environment. At the heart of it, the 700-foot Shadow Walk provides a place for group gatherings, performances and quiet reflection in the shade. www.mesaartscenter.com.
The Venue: At 200,000 square feet, the expansive Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) is one of a kind, as the world’s only global instrument museum. Its spacious galleries house more than 6,500 instruments – from a collection of nearly 16,000 – from over 200 countries and territories. Wireless hotspots around the museum provide loops of streamed music through state-of-the-art audio and video technologies that immerse you in the sounds of musical instruments. As you approach each display, you’ll hear music and see the instruments being played in their original contexts.
The explorations don’t end there – get an insider’s view of how instruments work, learn about the instrument-building process, and even create your own music in the Experience Gallery. In the Artist Gallery, peruse the instruments of world-renowned musicians as well as view video footage of concerts, photographs, costumes and other special items. Highlights include the Steinway piano on which John Lennon composed Imagine and one of Eric Clapton’s Gibson ES-345 guitars from the 1960s.
The museum also includes a cafe with fare that often reflects special exhibits or events, a museum store, and a 300-seat music theater that hosts concerts. True to its musical focus, even patterns in the Venetian plaster walls, Italian porcelain floor tile, and the stainless-steel balcony railings allude to the variety and rhythms of musical composition. www.mim.org.
The Venue: Since 1975, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts has been considered one of the premier performing arts halls in the Western U.S., showcasing a variety of dance, music, theater, comedy and film. Each year, the center is host to more than 1,000 performances, educational programs and festivals including the annual Scottsdale Culinary Festival. The complex, located near the grassy, 21-acre Scottsdale Civic Center Mall, is comprised of the 853-seat Virginia G. Piper Theater, the 137-seat Stage 2, and neighboring Scottsdale Civic Center Amphitheater, which can hold up to 1,800 people. Education and outreach is at the core of the center’s programming, reaching nearly 20,000 children and adults each year through school and family matinee performances, teacher training, master classes, lectures, workshops, in-school artist residencies, and outreach with community partners. www.scottsdaleperformingarts.org.
Moscow State Symphony Orchestra
Nov. 4, 8 p.m.
The Moscow State Symphony Orchestra (MSSO) is renowned for its imaginative programming, and it performs 100 concerts annually throughout Russia and tours overseas. MSSO will showcase an all-Russian program featuring the winner of the 2015 International Tchaikovsky Competition, Dmitry Masleev, performing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1. $69-$109.
Nov. 11, 8 p.m.
Get ready for a night full of laughter with this Las Vegas favorite known for her witty one-liners. Rudner, who has been voted Las Vegas’ Comedian of the Year nine years in a row, has sold 1.5 million tickets and become the longest-running solo comedy show in the history of Las Vegas in addition to starring in three HBO specials and writing five books. $49-$79.
Mark Cortale Presents Broadway @ Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts
Jan. 27 and Feb. 24, 2018, 8 p.m.
This special series will feature two of Broadway’s leading ladies, Kelli O’Hara (Jan. 27) and Megan Hilty (Feb. 24). Hosted by multi-talented pianist and comedian Seth Rudetsky, these cabaret-style concerts will mix popular songs with candid showbiz stories. Both shows, $59-$89.
The Venue: Situated near Scottsdale Civic Center Mall, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) is comprised of four galleries showcasing nine to 12 rotating exhibits per year and works from a permanent collection, along with a fifth functional art installation and space for community engagement called SMoCA Lounge. Since 1999, SMoCA has spotlighted contemporary and modern art, architecture and design through a variety of artistic programming including lectures, readings, performances, docent-led tours, workshops and classes.
The minimalist building, a renovation of a former movie theater, is, of course, artful in its construction; its eggplant and gray color palette is reminiscent of the dusky shadows left by the sun on the McDowell Mountains. Perhaps the museum’s crown jewel is the James Turrell Skyspace, Knight Rise, housed within the sculpture garden. The Skyspace invites visitors to observe the sky through an opening in the ceiling – it’s especially captivating at sunset, when the framed sky is awash in color. Free all day and night on Thursdays; free after 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. www.smoca.org.
Marking the Infinite: Contemporary Women Artists from Aboriginal Australia
Through Jan. 21, 2018
Miami-based collectors Debra and Dennis Scholl have lent a collection of 70 works, many of which are being seen publicly for the first time, featuring nine contemporary women artists from remote aboriginal areas. The exhibit features some of the most acclaimed artists in Australia, all of whom have works in the Australian National Museum’s collection.
Fall 2017 Opening Party
Oct. 13, 7-9 p.m.
This reception kicks off the opening of SMoCA’s fall exhibits. Those who attend will be among the first to see the exhibits, with the opportunity to mix and mingle with artists, collectors and curators as well as enjoy a cash bar. Free (and museum admission is also free).
Repositioning Paolo Soleri: The City Is Nature
Oct. 14, 2017-Jan. 28, 2018
This exhibition will be the first and only retrospective and monographic exhibition since Soleri’s death in 2013 and represents the largest collection of his work presented in North America since 1971. It will bring together elements from his built and unbuilt residences, bridges, dams, cities and transportation systems as well as ceramic and bronze artisan crafts, fabric designs and silkscreens.
The Venue: Over the last 28 years, 4.2 million patrons have enjoyed more than 15,000 performances at Herberger Theater, a nonprofit organization that aims to foster the growth of the arts in Phoenix. Opened in 1989 and fully renovated in 2010, Herberger Theater offers three theater venues, two art galleries, a lounge and outdoor plaza, and rentable event space for a variety of community uses. Using its wide range of spaces, Herberger hosts performances by its resident performing arts organizations: Arizona Theatre Company, Center Dance Ensemble and iTheatre Collaborative, as well as welcoming other companies to use the space, including Valley Youth Theatre and Arizona Broadway Theatre. Additionally, the center’s art galleries – one located on the second level of the main building and the other across the street from the theater at the Arizona Center – feature Arizona artists’ work with a portion of artwork sales benefiting the theater and its youth outreach programs. Those sales, combined with the theater’s annual fundraising efforts (such as Stand Up for Downtown Theater and its festival of arts, which is Nov. 4), support its youth outreach programs, designed to give Arizona youth opportunities to excel, learn and heal through experiences with the arts. www.herbergertheater.org.
The Venue: You’ve probably seen Tovrea Castle while driving along the highway and wondered what the story is behind the beautiful four-story, 5,000-square-foot landmark in the distance. You’re not alone – the property has intrigued Valley residents for more than 80 years. In 1928, Alessio Carraro bought 277 acres of the 320-acre property – originally known as Warner Heights – in hopes of building a boutique hotel and selling home sites, with the castle as the centerpiece. The site never opened as a hotel, even though it was completed in 1930. E.A. and Della Tovrea bought 44 of the 277 acres from Carraro in 1931, including the castle, just as the depression hit Phoenix, and Della lived in the castle until her death in 1969. The City of Phoenix bought and restored the castle through a series of bond elections in the 1990s from the Tovrea family. The castle and grounds opened for tours in March 2012 after extensive refurbishing thanks to Tovrea Carraro Society, the nonprofit that operates the castle.
The property is only available to visitors by tour, which are led by guides and consist of a tram ride to explore the cactus gardens before arriving at the castle’s main floor and basement. Tours are in high demand and sell out months in advance. While regular tours are sold out through May 2018, tickets for the June 2018 Twilight Tours go on sale Oct. 6 at 1 a.m. Fall 2018 tickets will be available Dec. 11 at 1 a.m. www.tovreacastletours.com.
The Venue: Along the edge of Tempe Town Lake, the architecturally stunning Tempe Center for the Arts (TCA) is a striking venue situated among a 17-acre art park developed by Design Workshop, a Tempe landscape architecture firm.
The venue itself – designed by Tempe-based Architekton and award-winning Barton Myers Associates of Los Angeles – celebrates its 10th anniversary season in 2017-2018, which kicked off last month with a performance by Arizona native and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks. TCA houses a state-of-the-art, 600-seat proscenium theater, a 200-seat studio theater, and a 3,500-square-foot gallery. Beyond its performance spaces, its Lakeside room overlooks the lake, with views of the Papago and Camelback mountains, and is available for meetings, banquets and special events.
The center is home to a variety of Valley talent, including Tempe Symphony Orchestra, Arizona Wind Symphony, Hayden’s Ferry Chamber Music Series, Childsplay, CONDER/dance, Desert Dance Theatre and Stray Cat Theatre.
Seasonal highlights include international street dance sensation Lil Buck (Nov. 11); edgy, versatile and fresh all-female Flor de Toloache (Feb. 3); and VoicePlay, a group of five men who recreate the sound of an entire musical production using nothing but their voices (Feb. 9). Disrupt FEST, the TCA’s signature festival mashup of live music and theater, will expand to two nights this year (April 13-14).
The Venue: Phoenix Art Museum has provided access to visual arts and educational programs in Arizona for more than 50 years and, at 285,000 square feet, is the largest art museum in the Southwestern U.S. The original three-story building was designed by Michigan architect Alden B. Dow, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. Since opening in 1959, the building has undergone multiple expansions and renovations, now housing multiple wings, a cafe, office spaces, a theater, a sculpture garden, classroom facilities, and multiple galleries. In addition to its annual calendar of critically acclaimed national and international special, short-term exhibitions, Phoenix Art Museum showcases its permanent collection of more than 18,000 works of American, Asian, European, Latin American, Western American, modern and contemporary art, photography, and fashion design. The museum also hosts festivals, a comprehensive film program, live performances and educational programs. www.phxart.org.
Infinite Light: A Photographic Meditation on Tibet
Through Feb. 18, 2018
Located in the Art of Asia Gallery, explore photojournalist Marissa Roth’s literal and impressionistic views of Tibetan Buddhist practice and devotion, using Kodachrome film during her travels in 2007 and 2010.
Sheila Pepe: Hot Mess Formalism
Oct. 14, 2017-Jan. 28, 2018
Composed of more than 70 works, including the premiere of a three-story, site-specific work created exclusively for Phoenix Art Museum, this exhibit will cover more than 20 years of Sheila Pepe's large-scale, ephemeral installations as well as sculptures made out of domestic and industrial fibrous materials.
The Logic of the Copy: Four Decades of Photography in Print
Dec. 2, 2017-Apr. 22, 2018
This exhibit brings together artists working with print photographs, beginning in 1960 and ending at the turn of the 21st century when the adoption of digital images transformed photography.
The Venue: Other than the uniform and the fact that the police department puts bad guys behind bars, what do you really know about it? The Phoenix Police Museum began as a small exhibit at the Historic City Hall showing a temporary six-month display and then moved to Barrister Place where it was solely run on volunteers and donations, before landing at its current location of Historic City Hall (which was the home of the police department from 1928 to 1975). The museum has been educating the community about the history of the Phoenix Police Department, while promoting and preserving its history, since 1993. Free to experience, it has interesting and exciting exhibits including department badges from throughout the years, uniform patches from around the world, and an area about the Special Assignments Unit (SWAT), as well as information on the landmark Supreme Court case, Arizona v. Miranda. Additional highlights include a dress-up area for children to try on real Phoenix police uniforms, a Sept. 11 remembrance display, and a memorial room dedicated to Phoenix police officers who have died in the line of duty. This fall, the museum will open a new exhibit, Crime Scene Investigation, which will show a mock-up of a crime scene with the various investigative tools that are used to find and recover evidence. The exhibit is suitable for all ages and is not graphic in nature. The museum is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. www.phoenixpolicemuseum.org.
The Venue: Originally founded in 1998 as the Phoenix Family Museum by a small group of Valley volunteers, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix provides a playful learning landscape for adults and children alike. The permanent location opened in 2008 at the restored and renovated Monroe School, bringing a new name to the three-floor building comprised of imaginative play spaces that house more than 300 hands-on experiences. The museum might look like all fun and games, but each exhibit has an educational component. Using motor skills, children are invited to take risks, practice perseverance, build cultural understanding, and explore each interactive exhibit. This month, the museum will open a new working garden where kids can plant seeds, water the garden, and learn about gardening and water conservation with the museum’s “Garden Guru,” plus harvest fruits and veggies when ready.
As an added bonus, the museum practices a “Common Sense Green” environmental initiative to help children think and learn about the ecosystem. The museum uses non-toxic materials, instead choosing earth-friendly and sustainable options. Beyond that, hands-on activities with recycled materials and select programs promote environmental consciousness at home. The museum, which will be closed for its annual Spruce Up Oct. 23 through Oct. 30, is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. www.childrensmuseumofphoenix.org.