Being from the East Coast, just an hour outside of New York City, I’ve always been drawn to art and learning all about the artist behind the work. Now having lived in the Phoenix area for 14 years, I’ve discovered places and spaces that host works of art from local artists that represent a wide range of talent and the community. There are myriad of art events throughout the year and several galleries to explore in Downtown Phoenix alone, it’s almost overwhelming.
I enjoy going to the Phoenix Art Museum, because it’s a great place to start an art tour through downtown, with a collection of more than 17,000 works of art, that range from local artists to special exhibitions. One of the hidden gems of the museum is the black space upstairs that not many people know of. It’s called You Who Are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies. This is a must-see when you’re visiting Phoenix. I don’t want to give anything away, but if you’re not afraid of the dark then you have to experience this firsthand. The museum always amazes me and I often spend hours there. Currently on display is the Art of Video Games, the first exhibition to feature the medium of video games. You can’t go to the museum without a stop in the Museum Store to take a piece of art home with you. From prints, to books, to plates, this shop has it all. I tend to find just about anything I need for a souvenir or birthday present here.
Heading further into downtown where the heart of Phoenix arts and culture lives is Roosevelt Row, a historic neighborhood in the central Phoenix area. Many of the former houses have transformed into boutiques and galleries. One of my favorite galleries is Five15 Arts which is a cooperative art shop showcasing some of Phoenix’s best contemporary artists. It is open during first and third Fridays and Saturdays from 1-5 pm. I attend “First Fridays” in Phoenix all the time; if you enjoy walking around to galleries at night definitely make time to stop in Five15 and the A.R. T. S. Market that showcases local artists, crafts, and culinary goods. There are so many galleries on Roosevelt but some of my personal favorites are: MonOrchid, Bokeh Gallery, Modified Arts and Eye Lounge Collective Gallery. If have a passion for art or you are looking for that special piece, “First Fridays” are a great resource, you might even have the chance to meet the artist in person.
Another neighborhood gem is Practical Art. When it opened in 2008, this retail and gallery space featured goods from around 20 local artisans. Five years later, they feature more than 100% locally- made wares from more than 100 local artists. While it’s always an excellent place to shop for someone’s birthday, anniversary, or during the holidays, Practical Art also features a monthly “Emerging Arizona Artist” in a solo show. In addition, they host a number of other fun events from happy hours and book clubs to pie socials and kid’s clubs. Once I step inside I feel like I’m inside a friend’s house, the owners Kara and Lisa always greet visitors personally and offer genuine hospitality, like a cold drink. I can’t even remember all of things I’ve purchased here, my house it starting to look like an art gallery.
Growing up 45 minutes outside of New York City, Kristin Swanson was fortunate enough to experience world class art at a young age. Her love of all forms of art was transferred to Arizona when she moved here 15 years ago, where she searches out art throughout the Valley and all over Arizona. She has taken many art classes in Arizona and enjoys photography, painting and drawing.