By Mandy Holmes
Once November arrives, the temperature cools down but the Valley’s fall arts season heats up with high-profile galas, museum exhibitions, gallery openings, concerts, dance performances, and film fests. Here are 14 of the best ways to get swept up in the season’s art rotation, from holiday-ready performances to soirees that give back to the arts.
As Arizona’s largest and longest-running artist studio tour, Hidden in the Hills is the signature event of the nonprofit Sonoran Arts League. This year’s circuit features 174 artists at 44 studio locations throughout the scenic desert foothills communities of Cave Creek, Carefree and North Scottsdale. The free, self-guided tour offers art enthusiasts a rare chance to observe artists at work in their private studios, which are open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 16-18 and Nov. 23-25. Download a map online. www.hiddeninthehills.org.
The 18th annual Scottsdale International Film Festival is expanding its dates from five to 10 days in length, taking place on Friday, Nov. 2 through Sunday, Nov. 11. The renowned festival will feature more than 50 films with a range of compelling characters, storylines and themes. The festival kicks off at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts with an opening night reception Nov. 2 at 6:15 p.m. featuring Emmy Award-winning TV personality Tara Hitchcock as emcee followed by a highly anticipated screening of Roma from Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuaron at 7:15 p.m. An extraordinary repertoire of films will show throughout the rest of the festival at Harkins Shea 14 theater. The complete 2018 film schedule and tickets are available at www.scottsdalefilmfestival.com.
The Southwestern U.S. premiere of work by Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson, one of the most celebrated contemporary artists in the world, is landing at Phoenix Art Museum Nov. 3 through April 14, 2019. Guests can experience three multisensory works that explore the themes of Nordic identity, melancholia, repetition and popular culture – including one of Kjartansson’s best-known pieces, The Visitors. Named after ABBA’s final album, The Visitors is an immersive installation that’s considered one of the best video installations of all time. On Nov. 3 at 9 p.m., take part in a late-night art experience, The afterpARTy, immediately following The pARTy in the Garden annual gala. See The Visitors and enjoy an open bar, food, live music, dancing, and exclusive after-hours access to the museum. www.phxart.org.
From earliest imagination to musical revolution, the untold story of the electric guitar comes to life in The Electric Guitar: Inventing an American Icon. This exclusive exhibition opens Nov. 9 at the Musical Instrument Museum, featuring more than 80 of the world’s rarest amplifiers and electric guitars. It will include those played and popularized by groundbreaking artists like Alvino Rey and Charlie Christian as well as guitars played by the next generations of influential musicians such as Pete Townshend of The Who and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones. The exhibit encompasses the history of the electric guitar from its most experimental period of the 1930s and ’40s, and gives a glimpse into the instrument’s influence on genres that defined American music. Be sure to check out the opening weekend festivities at www.mim.org.
Center Dance Ensemble will bring Hans Christian Andersen’s classic fairytale to life with its rendition of Snow Queen, set to a score by Sergei Prokofiev. The beloved winter adventure dreams up a mystical world of sprites, gypsies and ice maidens, with the young Gerda seeking to rescue Kai from the Snow Queen’s crystal palace. Center Dance Ensemble’s principal dancers will be joined by more than 160 children who auditioned to dance in one of the holiday season’s favorite, magical tales. Performances days and times vary starting Dec. 1. www.centerdance.com.
As a prominent influence in the art community, Scottsdale Artists’ School (SAS) teaches the fundamentals of fine art to artists and aspiring artists of all ages and skill levels. The 35th anniversary celebration of SAS, Beaux Arts, will take place on Saturday, Nov. 10 with a theme of “Dream Big” in tribute to the honorary chair and one of the school’s original founders, Maxine Johnstone. The soiree will include a live auction, a raffle, libations, dinner, and the opportunity to purchase original works of art, including sculptures and paintings, through a specially curated silent auction. This evening of entertainment and art will raise funds for the school’s programs. Learn more and purchase tickets online at www.scottsdaleartschool.org.
Phoenix Festival of the Arts returns for a weekend-long celebration of art, music and culinary delights Dec. 7-9 at Margaret T. Hance Park. This fun event takes a big leap forward in its seventh year with 187 arts and craft vendors and a lineup of live music and entertainment taking place on three stages with performances by bands, solo artists, dancers, choral groups, spoken word artists and comedians. There will also be art demonstrations and a hands-on community art project organized by acclaimed local muralist Hugo Medina, allowing the local community to paint and create alongside professional local artists. Plus, a family zone will provide free face painting and a teen art show. Admission is free and dogs are welcome. www.phoenixfestivalofthearts.org.
The classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge is coming to Tempe Center for the Arts this holiday season from Dec. 3 to 23. Put on by Scottsdale Musical Theater Company (SMTC), this musical version of A Christmas Carol will feature music by Alan Menken (The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast) set to the tune of a live orchestra. Plus, it will also feature TV, film and Broadway star Charles Shaughnessy – known for his roles on The Nanny and Days of Our Lives – as Scrooge. This marks Shaughnessy’s second return to the Valley this year; in July, he played Julian Marsh in SMTC’s production of 42nd Street. Tickets are $42-$58 for adults; children 10 and under are $25. Purchase tickets at online at www.scottsdalemusicaltheater.com.
Look no further than Phoenix Theatre for a little holly jolly fun this holiday season when Elf: The Musical takes the stage Nov. 14-Dec. 30. Based on the fun-loving holiday film, the musical is a hilarious Christmas adventure that follows Buddy the elf on a quest to find his true identity. A theatrically rich show, Elf: The Musical is Phoenix Theatre’s biggest production in its nearly 100 years in the Valley, and it is sure to delight audiences of all ages. www.phoenixtheatre.com.
The Scottsdale Arts Gala (formerly known as the ARTrageous Benefit Gala) provides an alluring event of immersive art experiences, sophisticated culinary offerings, unique objects and adventures for auction, and a performance in support of Scottsdale Arts’ programs. Held at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts on Dec. 1, the gala will give guests an exclusive preview of a re-imagined Scottsdale Arts campus. Perhaps most notable, the evening will include an extra-special guest: Tony, Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Matthew Morrison (star of Fox’s Glee and Broadway’s Hairspray) during this night to remember. Concert tickets are $150; tickets for the entire event are $500. www.scottsdaleperformingarts.org.
On Nov. 17 and 18, Scottsdale’s Civic Center Plaza will be transformed into an arts festival featuring more than 120 juried artists from around the country. The annual event honors the artists’ community with fine art, jewelry, handmade crafts, local authors, and live music as well as hands-on children’s activities and gourmet food. Admission and parking are free, and dogs are welcome. www.888artfest.com.
For the first time since 2015, legendary Grammy-nominated singer Andrea Bocelli will be making a stop in Phoenix at Talking Stick Resort Arena on Sunday, Dec. 2. As one of the most recognizable voices in the world, the Italian singer, songwriter and record producer has been delighting audiences with his romantic undertones for more than 20 years. www.talkingstickresortarena.com.
Here’s one way to guarantee rain in Arizona! With a live on-stage orchestra, this performance of the happy-go-lucky musical Singin’ in the Rain is presented by the American Theatre Guild. Filled with a downpour of unforgettable songs, Singin’ in the Rain is one of the top movie musicals of all time, weaving the story of silent screen star Don Lockwood and leading lady Lina Lamont. Be swept back in time during the musical’s run at Orpheum Theatre Nov. 30-Dec. 2. www.americantheatreguild.com.
The rhythm is gonna get you “on your feet” at this musical about Emilio and Gloria Estefan’s journey to America from humble beginnings in Cuba. Taking place at ASU Gammage Nov. 6-11, the show features award-winning choreography and songs that will have you singing along. On Your Feet! tells the true story of a talented couple who, in the face of adversity, broke through barriers to become a successful crossover sensation. www.asugammage.com.