Phoenix Arts and Culture Roundup

Gamelon Exhibit

Visitors to the Musical Instrument Museum experience some of the sounds of Indonesia.

Where can you go for music, comedy, art and fun? Well, Phoenix for starters. Here are a few resources to get you started on what to see and do in Phoenix. The excellent museums that Phoenix boasts have several permanent displays that you can visit over and over, as well as a huge array of ever changing exhibits and programs. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, there is always something new.

From an art standpoint, there is no better place to start than the Phoenix Art Museum. With ever changing exhibits and ever-expanding spaces, the museum continually regenerates and reinvents itself with fantastic presentations of modern art, ancient artwork, sculptures and sometimes downright bizarre installations. The month of June is an excellent time to visit the air conditioned splendor of the Phoenix Art Museum, with three special engagements going on in June that should not be missed. In the Ellman Fashion Design Gallery: “The Sea” presents the oceanic obsession and intrigue the sea has always held, and its influence on fashion. The exhibit features ensembles from the 19th century to current collections. This exhibit closes on July 15. In the Orme Lewis Gallery: “Gustave Baumann: Artisan Printmaker of the Southwest.” Baumann traveled from Illinois to New Mexico in the summer of 1918. His impressions of the landscape are preserved forever in the stunning and colorful block prints he created. This exhibit runs until July 29. In the Steele Gallery: “Paper!” Don’t let the name fool you. Yes, all of the artwork in this exhibit is made of paper. Its up to you to decide just how artistic it is. This is a fun exhibit that will challenge your artistic temperament. This exhibit ends September 23.

This is also an excellent time to head over to the brand-spanking new Musical Instrument Museum for the most incredibly fulfilling and leisurely afternoon of gazing upon the greatest representation in the Southwest of the history of musical instruments. With several hands-on exhibits as well, the MIM offers a new experience with every visit. Going on now through August 18, the museum offers a Balinese Gamelan workshop every 3rd Saturday of the month at 10:30am. While the museum provides a real Gamelan for guests to play, this workshop allows participants to experience the Gamelan as it was meant to be; playing in a group, vibrating, resonating, flowing and enveloping in sounds and sensations. The cost is $12 per class ($10 per class when purchased with museum admission).

Get used to me plugging the Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural center (ALAC), because this place has been one of my favorites since the day it opened. The ALAC always has something new and exciting from several up and coming Latino artists, as well as sculptors, painters and photographers throughout Arizona, the US and Mexico. The exhibits are political and they are whimsical. They are terrifying and they are playful. But most of all, they are historical. See history as it is happening now, through the eyes of the artists as they live it. See your own interpretations, emotions and perceptions about what is happening around you every day forever preserved in the artwork found at the ALAC. Going on now through August 24, the ALAC presents “Madres/Madonnas/Mujeres.” This exhibit presents the work of several Latina artists in its 2nd annual Latina Art Exhibit and Festival. Concurrently, two separate one-woman shows will showcase the talents of Norma Garcia –Torres in the La Capilla Gallery and Alondra Yasmin Ortega in the El Rincon Gallery.

For your live performance fix, several shows are taking place now, and into early July. Among the live show highlights; “Spring Awakening” is a very adult, very ‘R’-rated 19th-century German play about sexual repression, self discovery and adolescent anxiety. This show has struck a strong chord in young audiences with its frank discussion of still-controversial topics and a great folk-rock score by Duncan Sheik. For the first local production, the alternative troupe Nearly Naked Theatre teams up with Phoenix Theatre for a main-stage co-production. “Spring Awakening” runs through Sunday, July 1. Performances are at the Phoenix Theatre, 100 E. McDowell Road. $25-$48. 602-254-2151

Not nearly as risqué but certainly just as thrilling, Cirque du Soleil returns to the Valley with “Kooza.” This latest production by Cirque du Soleil presents a back-to-basics celebration of acrobatics and the art of clowning, highlighting the physical demands of human acrobatic performance while keeping things light with clownish, slapstick humor. “Kooza” runs from now through Sunday, July 8 at the University of Phoenix Stadium parking lot, Loop 101 and Glendale Avenue, Glendale. $33-$143.50. Children 5 and younger admitted free. 480-478-6001

Most certainly the one getting all the buzz this month; “Drew Carey and the Midnight Show” performing at the Stand Up Live Comedy Theater in downtown Phoenix. Carey’s show is for anyone who liked him in ‘The Drew Carey Show,’ or preferred his antics in ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ or maybe just wants to see the host of ‘The Price Is Right’ in person. The slimmer, newly-bespectacled Carey has something for new fans to his brand of comedy as well, teaming up with the Midnight Show Sketch Troupe for the improvisational, stand up humor that only Drew Carey can deliver. Carey is scheduled for four performances: 7:30 and 9:45 p.m. Friday, June 22, and 7 and 9:45 p.m. Saturday, June 23 at the Stand Up Live Comedy Theater, 50 W. Jefferson St, Phoenix. $30. 480-719-6100