Pretty much all year long, the arts are alive and well and living in Arizona. Whether you enjoy a leisurely afternoon strolling through an art gallery, an evening listening to beautiful music, or relaxing in the audience of an entertaining play, Arizona is full of cultural opportunities.
For example, Tucson, in southern Arizona, is home to over two dozen art galleries, including the Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery, named for Tucson’s noted photographer and teacher, Louis Carlos Bernal. Located in the Center for the Arts complex, the gallery highlights regional, national and international contemporary artists, as well as sponsoring a juried student exhibition each spring. Also in Tucson, the Conrad Wilde Gallery supports both upcoming and established artists by providing a place for contemporary art to be displayed and admired. Western and Spanish Colonial art are among the strengths of the Tucson Museum of Art, while on Tucson’s University of Arizona campus, the Center for Creative Photography was conceived by Ansel Adams and highlights his work, among that of other modern masters.
In Phoenix, the Phoenix Art Museum offers 210,000 square feet of fine art displays, making it one of the largest museums of visual art in the Southwest. The museum moved to its present location at Central Avenue and McDowell Road in 1959; in 2006, a modern art wing and a new entry pavilion were added to the complex. Enjoying an international reputation, the nearby Heard Museum highlights Native American painting, sculpture and magnificent handcrafts, both past and present.
Just east of Phoenix is Mesa, which is home to the Mesa Arts Center. Boasting a seven-acre campus, the Center includes five art galleries, four theaters of different sizes and configurations, 14 art studios and classrooms, and a 700-foot long Shadow Walk that is a gathering place for festivals, concerts and events.
Scottsdale is well-known for the city’s numerous art galleries, many of which feature works created by local artists. In fact, Scottsdale alone is home to over three dozen galleries, including the Zuva Gallery which showcases one of the country’s largest collections of contemporary stone sculpture from Africa. Pieces in Zuva’s collection range from a modest five pounds to an astonishing 2.5 tons, while Figarelli Galleries features sculptures and paintings from American and international artists.
The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art puts on cutting-edge shows in a variety of media, as does the Arizona State University Art Museum in nearby Tempe. This is just one of more than 20 free museums on ASU’s campus, including the one-of-a-kind Ceramics Research Center.
About two hours north of Phoenix in Sedona, you can find plenty of art galleries to keep your art “fix” satiated. Featuring Native American art, contemporary, traditional fine art and more, Sedona is definitely a one-stop-shop for all things artistic. In fact, the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village in Sedona is home to a plethora of art galleries, including the Navarro Gallery and El Prado by the Creek where you can find beautiful copper wind sculptures.
Art gems in other Arizona cities and towns include Flagstaff’s Museum of Northern Arizona, featuring Native American crafts as well as Western paintings, sculptures and etchings; the Phippen Museum of Western Art in Prescott, with current and past work; and Wickenburg’s Desert Caballeros Western Museum, which includes high-caliber Western artwork and sculptures. In southeast Arizona near Benson, the Amerind Foundation Museum showcases historic American Indian artifacts and contemporary traditional work, while Tubac and Jerome are comfy-cozy arts and crafts enclaves where it’s still possible to unearth inexpensive treasures as well as take home high-end paintings and sculptures.