Tag Archives: first fridays

Top 5 Arizona Art Experiences (Spring-Summer 2012)

Top 5: Arizona Art Experiences (Spring-Summer 2012)

The Top 5 Arizona Art Experiences — as voted on by Experience AZ readers:

Celebration Of Fine Art

8602 E. Cortez St.,
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
A gathering of some of the finest artists in the country, and you can meet them and watch them in the creative process. January 14-March 25, 2012.

First Fridays

Downtown Phoenix
First Friday is a monthly art walk from 6 to 10 p.m. By starting at the Phoenix Public Library, located south of McDowell Road on Central Avenue, participants can pick up a First Friday brochure, which includes the member galleries, their locations and the best shuttle bus route.

Scottsdale ArtWalk

Old Town Scottsdale
See Scottsdale’s 100 plus galleries and artists’ studios every Thursday night starting at 7 p.m. Located on Marshall Way and Main Street in Old Town Scottsdale.

Sedona Arts Festival

995 Upper Red Rock Loop Rd.,
Sedona, AZ 86339
The festival itself — which runs Oct. 13-14, 2012 — has grown in size and reputation over the past 20 years. It has become a premiere, destination arts festival, known for the quality of art and first class treatment of both its artists and attendees. With 140 nationally known artists displaying their work surrounded by red rock splendor, there is no better place to spend an October weekend than Sedona.

Thunderbird Artists

15648 N. Eagles Nest Dr.,
Fountain Hills, AZ 85268
The goal of Thunderbird Artists is to provide an outstanding variety of mediums, subject matters, sizes and price ranges that satisfy the desires of each and every patron that strolls through one of its festivals.

Experience AZ Spring-Summer 2012


Coffee Houses

Java Joints

Looking for a hip place to hang with your friends while sipping your skinny latte? Here’s a list of some of the best independently owned coffee shops in the Valley.

  • Cartel Coffee Lab
    225 W. University Drive
    Tempe, AZ 85281
    1 N. First St.
    Phoenix, AZ 85004
    Hand-crafted coffee

  • Copper Star
    4220 N. Seventh St.
    Phoenix, AZ 85013
    Coffee, tea, sandwiches and smoothies

  • Fair Trade Cafe
    1020 N. First Ave.
    Phoenix, AZ 85004
    Cafe, gallery and concerts

  • Giant Coffee
    437 N. First St.
    Phoenix, AZ 85004
    New coffee house by Matt Pool of Matt’s Big Breakfast

  • Hob Nobs
    149 W. McDowell Road
    Phoenix, AZ 85007
    Deli, live music

  • Lola
    1001 N. Third Ave.
    Phoenix, AZ 85012
    Featured artists, poetry, bakery

  • Luci’s
    1590 E. Bethany Home Road
    Phoenix, AZ 85014
    Full restaurant and jazz night on Saturday evenings

  • Lux
    4404 N. Central Ave.
    Phoenix, AZ 85012
    Coffee and baked goods

  • Royal At The Market
    14 E. Pierce St.
    Phoenix, AZ 85004
    Poetry, First Fridays

  • Urban Beans
    3508 N. Seventh St., #100
    Phoenix, AZ 85014
    Coffee, tea, smoothies and lunch

At First Fridays, thousands of residents and visitors gather - AZ Business Magazine June 2010

Downtown Art Walk Is A Homegrown Success

If you’ve ever been to the Downtown Phoenix area on the first Friday night of the month, you most likely noticed that the streets were alive with people. At First Fridays, thousands of residents and visitors gather to tour more than 70 galleries, venues and art-related shops in what has become one of the largest, free, self-guided art walks in the country.

The event has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1994, when it was “an informal, self-guided tour of art spaces Downtown,” says Greg Esser, a key player in the Artlink First Fridays program. Today, the events attract more than 15,000 people to the Downtown area each month.

Esser credits the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitors Bureau (GPCVB) in part for the growth and success of First Fridays.

“The GPCVB has been a critical partner in making sure this success doesn’t remain a ‘best kept secret,’” he says. “ The efforts of the GPCVB have expanded the word-of-mouth phenomenon that started First Fridays, into national coverage and recognition for the event that now attracts visitors from well beyond the state line.”

Doug MacKenzie, director of communications for the GPCVB, calls First Fridays the perfect way to showcase “Downtown at dark,” as well as the talented artisans and vibrant art culture that exists and thrives in the area. He adds that First Fridays is just one of the “various segments that weave a pattern of hospitality and uniqueness” throughout the Downtown Phoenix area.

Beyond simply bringing people together on a Friday night to enjoy tours of local art galleries and museums, Esser believes, “The arts have been both a catalyst and a beneficiary of the growth and development of Downtown. Audiences have attracted new development and new development has attracted more audiences.”

Specifically, he notes Arizona State University’s new presence in Downtown and the development of the light rail as helping to give First Fridays events new life.

“The presence of ASU Downtown has infused new vitality, participation and programming on the part of students, staff and faculty,” he says. “Light rail has created a widely popular way to experience First Fridays without the challenges of parking Downtown.”

Despite the event’s success in attracting more and more people each year, it has not been immune to the state’s current economic troubles.

“The recent decline in consumer spending has created a significant strain on many of the businesses, artists and cultural organizations that are vital to Downtown,” Esser admits. “We have unfortunately lost a handful of businesses.”

This recognition of the harsh realities of the economic upheaval prompts Esser, who is now director of civic art for the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, to send Valley residents a message.

“Now more than ever it is important to spend locally and support those who have committed all of their energy and resources into creating a more vibrant community Downtown,” he says.

He anticipates First Fridays attendance will continue to expand over the next five years from its current monthly status of 15,000 visitors.

“I hope to see that number continue to grow to where (we) attract 100,000 visitors that support the rich fabric of Downtown neighborhoods, including Roosevelt Row, Grand Avenue, Garfield, the Warehouse District, Melrose, Coronado, the Museum District and the newly emerging CityScape and East McDowell Arts District — 10,000 visitors in 10 Downtown neighborhoods,” Esser says.

MacKenzie echoes those sentiments and notes that the GPCVB’s marketing efforts highlight all the services in the Downtown Phoenix area, as well as unique events such as First Fridays. He believes that despite the economic challenges, Downtown Phoenix is starting to become a “destination Downtown” in which people come to check out an event and then stay at one of the new or revamped hotels in the area.

“There is a glimmer of hope,” MacKenzie says. “We just need the spirit to move forward.”

Quick Facts

First Fridays

First Fridays runs all year from 6-10 p.m.

Free event shuttles run throughout the tour route, so you can get on/off wherever you choose.
The shuttles initiate at the Phoenix Art Museum, First Fridays’ headquarters.
Free parking is available at the museum, as well.

While local artists are highlighted, you can also check out pieces from national and international artists.

Arizona Business Magazine June 2010