Arizona’s natural beauty and diverse cultural traditions make the state a magnet for the creatively inclined.
You’ll find top-quality arts and crafts by local artists and artisans throughout the state, but the following stops offer a concentration of Arizona-made finds in sightseeing-friendly settings.
Chinle & Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Navajo Nation
One of the Navajo Nation’s top attractions, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, and nearby Chinle are hubs for authentic Navajo arts and crafts.
Thunderbird Lodge gift shop, on the site of an early 1900s Navajo trading post, and the gift shop at Holiday Inn Canyon de Chelly specialize in contemporary silver jewelry, including inlays of coral and turquoise.
A local branch of the Navajo Arts and Crafts Enterprise, founded in 1941, sells everything from bola ties and belt buckles to weaving supplies.
It’s worth a side trip to the Chinle Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site, the oldest continuously operating trading post in the Southwest U.S. Established in 1876, the post today features antique and modern crafts as well as rug-weaving demonstrations.
Second Mesa, Hopi Reservation
Artisans sell their wares out of their homes on all three Hopi mesas, but most of the formal galleries are on Second Mesa.
The Hopi Cultural Center offers an excellent selection of Katsinas, carved representations of Hopi ancestor spirits.
At Rising Sun Gallery see the work of skilled silversmith Weaver Salina, known for his contemporary takes on traditional overlay jewelry, and his wife, Alberta Salina, who wins competitions for baskets woven from native grasses and branches.
Although Tsakurshovi carries a great variety of Hopi crafts, including textiles and pottery, the shop is probably best known for T-shirts and other items bearing the “Don’t Worry, Be Hopi” logo, designed here.
After the last mining company abandoned Jerome in the 1950s, artists and crafters began staking their claims on the hillside town.
Browse Gallery 527 for the collectible furniture of Kelly Foy or Shane McDermott’s stunningly surreal nature photographs. Rich Bettencourt’s folk art birds perch in the sculpture garden out back.
Imaginative housewares are a hallmark of Pura Vida, where you might find wood-turned lamps with copper shades or clocks made of slumped glass.
The Jerome Artists Cooperative Gallery captures the town’s laid-back spirit. Work is juried, so the quality is high, but the offerings are wonderfully eclectic. Expect to find everything from gourd art to handmade woven jackets.
North Scottsdale & Cave Creek
You’ll have the opportunity to buy work from top-rated American Indian artists – everything from traditional Tohono O’odham baskets to abstract acrylics by Navajo painters – at Scottsdale’s Heard Museum North, a satellite of the world-renowned Phoenix museum.
Arizona’s Mexican heritage is highlighted in the nearby El Pedregal shopping complex. Here, Adelante Gallery features Day of the Dead-themed pieces by local artists, including paintings of waltzing skeletons and skull-adorned purses.
Blue Coyote Gallery, one of several Western-oriented galleries in Cave Creek, collects works by artists who lived or painted in Arizona before 1980. Many were inspired by the Grand Canyon, captured from every angle and in every light here.
The Old Town Pot Shop, in Tucson’s 1850s Old Town Artisans complex in the heart of Tucson’s historic district, showcases the work of some 60 Southern Arizona artists and crafters. Along with ceramics, you’ll see everything from fused-glass pendants to painted tin geckoes.
Among its many unique offerings, the store at the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block highlights mixed-media depictions of local landmarks – a masonite-mounted photograph of the historic No-Tel Motel sign, say, or tile-work desert scenes framed in metal.
Many things at the Arizona Geological Survey’s Arizona Experience Store are free – the shop doubles as the Arizona Information Center. However, you’ll be hard-pressed to leave without buying something craftsy, such as a textured copper necklace or petroglyph-etched drinking glasses.
The state’s first European settlement (1752), Tubac is now known for its abundance of creative residents – a fact celebrated each winter in the town’s popular Tubac Festival of the Arts.
But you don’t have to come on the festival weekend to enjoy the arts of Tubac. Many Arizona artists with international reputations are represented by Karin Newby Gallery. Look for Pokey Park’s humorous animal sculptures, Nick Wilson’s wildlife paintings and Kim Yubeta’s colorful multi-strand necklaces.
Diane Lisle calls her Clay Hands Gallery & Studio “the ice cream shop of pottery” because so many different ceramic artists can be found here. Her own pottery ranges from raku to stoneware.
Since 1982, visitors to Tubac have admired artist Lee Blackwell’s copper agaves and other organic-form metal sculpture and fountains at his Lee Blackwell Studio.