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8 incredible Phoenix art exhibitions to see in 2024
The Valley will welcome remarkable curations, big-name works, and novel concepts in its museums and galleries in 2024.
January 12, 2024
Phoenix’s arts and culture scene is fun, sophisticated, and surprising — especially this year, boasting an eclectic selection of exhibitions.
We’re welcoming in 2024 with a list that includes Barbies, bluegrass, and baskets, along with an innovative idea: A display curated not by academics but by frontline museum staff who interact daily and directly with guests.
Phoenix Art Museum
Feb. 14-July 7
The buzz of the 2023 Barbie movie might’ve simmered down, but the party’s not over. A Barbie exhibition opens in February at Phoenix Art Museum, so break out the pink, glitter, and sequins again. More than 250 vintage dolls, including the original Barbie from Mattel and the collection of private collector David Porcello, will be on display. Some attractions include diverse Barbies, video interviews with Barbie designers, and a life-size pink Corvette for photo ops. The museum also features “The Power of Pink,” exploring the history, science, and associations of the color that’s so connected to the Barbie brand.
Through Sept. 15
Musical Instrument Museum
Fans of folk, blues, and bluegrass won’t want to miss this exceptional display of 90 historic stringed instruments owned and played by some of the legends of these genres. Instruments that belonged to and were played by Earl Scruggs, Mississippi John Hurt, Elizabeth Cotten, Peter Yarrow, and stars of the Grand Ole Opry are here as well, along with more than 30 other special examples from renowned mandolinist David Grisman’s collection. The exhibits come to life as you approach, with music flowing through your headphones and videos discussing the instruments and showing them being played.
Through June 3
Two American treasures and visionaries, architect Frank Lloyd Wright and artist Georgia O’Keefe, had much in common. They were both born in Wisconsin but loved the Southwest and made homes here (Wright in Arizona; O’Keefe in New Mexico). They deeply respected nature and paid homage to it in their works. And in 1942, they met and began corresponding for over two decades. These 20 photographs of Wright and O’Keefe in their homes by Michael A. “Tony” Vaccaro (1922-2022) give an intimate look into how they inspired each other and the world around them.
Jan. 19-Dec. 1
Phoenix Art Museum
This is a brilliant concept: Ask people who aren’t degreed experts but spend thousands of hours a year around art — and people enjoying it — what they would hang in a gallery. Thirteen employees from security, retail sales, and events/rentals chose more than 20 works from the Phoenix Art Museum’s collection of 20,000 for this exhibit. These guest curators worked closely with mentors and staff in marketing, arts education, and more to bring their vision to a diverse yet unified display. This is the first national iteration of the model originally developed by the Baltimore Museum of Art in 2022.
Opens Feb. 2
Native American baskets are both practical — used for everyday life and ceremonial purposes — and beautiful, and this exhibit will feature mostly works from the early 20th century by Western Apache, Yavapai, and Akimel O’odham weavers. It marks a time when the artists were referencing design important to their lives and recognizing change. This is the first in a series of exhibits that will celebrate a massive gift to the Heard from the family of late local grocery entrepreneur Eddie Basha, who amassed a collection of 2,000 pieces of Indigenous and Western art that was on display in Chandler until 2023.
Museum of the West
Opens Jan. 16
Think you’re not really into Western art? Think again. Contemporary Western master Tom Gilleon might not be a household name —yet — but his style and use of color have been compared to Edward Hopper and Mark Rothko. Gilleon is not only a fine artist with works in permanent collections around the country but also worked alongside Disney art legend Herb Ryman. This retrospective features 70 paintings, including a dozen on loan from Walt Disney Imagineering. Also at this show, view the world premiere of Spirit Catcher, his stunning 22-minute digital painting triptych created with former Walt Disney Imagineer and concept designer Marshall Monroe of Marshall Monroe Magic.
ASU Art Museum
Feb. 3-July 28
When George Floyd, a Black man, was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis in 2020, it reverberated throughout the nation and sparked a series of protests. This powerful exhibition showcases a selection of the thousands of offerings laid by mourners and protesters at George Floyd Square, collected by a group of community caretakers and cataloged by the George Floyd Global Memorial team. The exhibit aims to reflect on public memorials and the stories they share and to ask important questions about the role of art and community as a vehicle for bearing witness and creating deeper understanding and empathy.
Tempe Center for the Arts
Jan. 13-April 20
Storytelling can take many forms: Verbal, written, song, and even visual art. In this exhibit, ten acclaimed female artists — six local and four national — offer personal insights into various human experiences like grief, trauma, and the healing journey. Stories will resonate on personal and societal levels, illuminating universal threads as well as distinct perspectives. Several free programs and workshops will be held in conjunction with the exhibit to spur conversations, so check the website for a full list.
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12 essential Fort Worth restaurants
These long-running restaurants have earned enthusiastic followers for their food, ambiance, and flare.
While Fort Worth’s culinary scene is bursting at the seams with excellent new additions and novel fare, this city still loves tradition. Whether you’re a Funky Town newcomer or a proud lifelong citizen, these are 12 restaurants you’ll want to keep returning to, time and time again. Think of this as your quick-hit starter list when you’re thinking of recommendations for your next night out or coworker lunch.
4259 Bryant Irvin Rd, Fort Worth, TX 76109
The farm-to-table restaurant, which has received awards, blends regional influences to create the perfect rendition of “fine Texas cuisine.” The menu is carefully prepared with locally sourced meats, cheeses, produce, herbs, wild game, and seafood from the Gulf. You can savor your meal in an elegant yet casual atmosphere that captures the essence of Fort Worth.
5920 Curzon Ave, Fort Worth, TX 76107
This casual spot is your go-to for everything seaside, from perfectly fried cod (and every fixin’ in the book) to fresh-made dipping sauces. Don’t forget to start with a bowl of gumbo or clam chowder, but try not to fill up: You’ll want to save room for sweet desserts like the Magic Bar.
1400 W Magnolia Ave, Fort Worth, TX 76104
If you manage to secure a spot at this small restaurant that overlooks Magnolia Avenue, be prepared for a one-of-a-kind experience. The family recipes and handmade pasta dishes are authentic and will transport you to Italy. Remember, it’s a BYOB establishment, so don’t forget to bring the perfect bottle of wine. Additionally, you can pay in Euros if you have any on hand.
8445 Camp Bowie, Fort Worth, TX 76116
A Fort Worth landmark since 1975, Japanese Palace has been wowing patrons with flashy displays of culinary showmanship from their Japanese teppanyaki cooking tables. Not in the mood for the grill? Try the expansive sushi and sashimi menu or a bento box.
2201 N Commerce St, Fort Worth, TX 76164
This place holds a special place in the hearts of many Fort Worth locals who have been coming here for years, be it for after-church meals or celebratory parties. While Joe’s is known for its ambiance, the menu does offer some classic dishes, such as sizzling fajitas and strong margaritas, that are sure to pack a punch.
5817 Camp Bowie Blvd, Fort Worth, TX 76107
Opening in the early ‘70s (technically in Dallas, but with the longest-running location in Fort Worth), the owners sought to bring Boston-style subs to the Lone Star State. The subs are made with house-cut meats and cheese, and the fan-favorite is the cheesesteak sub. The soups are freshly made every day and make a perfect side dish to this hearty fare.
3617 West 7th, Fort Worth, TX 76107
Nestled in the heart of the Fort Worth Cultural District, Saint-Emilion has served classic French fare from escargot to steak au poivre, executed to perfection every time. The charming atmosphere paired with authentic cuisine is an experience worth coming back to.
4700 Camp Bowie Blvd, Fort Worth, TX 76107
Brunch is basically a sport in Texas, and while the players come and go, VIPs like Lucile’s continuously dish out some of the best breakfasts and classic lunch dishes around. Opt for the crowd favorites like eggs Benedict or chicken-fried steak, or try out their new menu items. We hear the fried green tomatoes are worth writing home about.
1535 North Main Street, Fort Worth, TX 76164
For more than 30 years, this authentic Mexican restaurant has amassed regulars who come back for the excellent service and recipes straight from the family. When it gets chilly, try the Caldo de Res chased with a margarita on the rocks to feel that all is right with the world again.
5800 Lovell Ave, Fort Worth, TX 76107
Family-owned Aventino’s has been serving traditional Italian comfort food for more than 40 years. With only 15 tables, this intimate dining space is perfect for an intimate evening with loved ones, though reservations are strongly suggested. Try the Focaccia Mozzarella plus Tortellini Aventino’s, or ask for a recommendation — the staff provides top-notch options for the undecided.
4616 Granbury Road, Fort Worth, TX 76133
Nestled in a tiny spot on Granbury Road, this burger joint offers more than meets the eye. You’ll find your standard burger fare with some welcome surprises, like the Great Burger (dubbed “Matt’s favorite,” a person we’d like to know), served with double meat, double cheese, Canadian bacon, and bacon. Combine it with some onion rings and some tea or lemonade, and you’ll be transported to a ‘50s drive-in.
Reata Restaurant (Fort Worth)
310 Houston Street, Fort Worth, TX 76102 (Moving to 530 Throckmorton St. in July 2024)
For an experience that looks, feels, and tastes like Texas, visit Reata restaurant for brunch, lunch, or dinner. With four stories and a rooftop bar, you may still have trouble finding a spot during the busiest hours, thanks to its near cult status. Diners rave about the carne asada, tenderloin tamales, and (of course) the chicken-fried steak, but it’s hard to find a miss at this landmark eatery.
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The big picture: 8 of Phoenix’s coolest movie theaters
From state-of-the-art offerings to classic drive-ins, Phoenix offers plenty of ways to take in a show.
Going to the movies is fun again! While the last three years put a damper on the big screen, the last half of 2023 saw Hollywood roar back with a vengeance, thanks to culture-defining events like “Barbenheimer.” Throughout 2024, a slew of action-packed flicks and big-name projects are scheduled to keep moviegoers hooked.
Of course, a great film deserves a great theatrical experience. The Phoenix area is home to more than three dozen theaters, ranging from large chain multiplexes to independent cinemas — there’s even a drive-in for a fun retro night out under the stars.
Whether you’re into the latest Hollywood megahit, arthouse foreign films, or midnight B-movie horror bonanzas, this city has it all. Here are eight of the best places in the Valley to get your film fix.
5846 E. Longbow Parkway, Mesa, AZ 85215
More than just a movie theater, Fat Cats is a one-stop playground for family entertainment. Just like other theaters, the eight state-of-the-art auditoriums show first-run films, from G-rated kids’ flicks to R-rated thrillers. But that’s where the similarities stop. Fat Cats also offers an indoor arcade with two-player and virtual reality games, a bowling alley with 20 lanes, and glow-in-the-dark mini golf. Spend an afternoon partaking in some friendly competition, then order dinner at the concession stand — the menu includes kid favorites such as pizza, burgers, and chicken tenders, along with adult-worthy salads, sandwiches, and cauliflower-crust pizzas. Also, Fat Cats Mesa is a Certified Autism Center that fosters an inclusive environment.
5000 S. Arizona Mills Circle, Tempe, AZ 85282
This massive theater complex houses 18 auditoriums, all with stadium-style seating and plush electronic reclining lounge chairs. But the biggest attraction here is the six-story-tall IMAX screen — the only 70mm IMAX in Arizona. The giant screen’s advanced digital projection delivers lifelike, crystal-clear 2D and 3D images.
7014 E. Camelback Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Arizonans love winter’s cooler weather. And the Harkins Theatres’ Moonlight Cinema series offers a one-of-a-kind movie experience under the stars. The theater hosts an open-air cinema concept on its rooftop every Friday and Saturday during the fall and winter months. Award-winning movies from recent years are projected onto a huge screen while guests recline in beach chairs and listen through high-fidelity stereo headphones. All of the theater’s concessions, including its signature Big Screen Burger, flatbreads, fresh-baked cookies, popcorn, and beverages, are available for purchase.
15257 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite 230, Scottsdale, AZ 85254
Celebrating 50 years in 2024, this eight-screen theater showcases Hollywood’s hottest hits, but it is best known for its film series and special screenings of indie and foreign films. Movie buffs can rejoice in seeing epic movies, such as “The Godfather,” “Jaws,” “Serpico,” and “Easy Rider,” on the big screen. Also, there are regular midnight showings of camp classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” complete with a live shadow cast.
1140 E. Baseline Road, Tempe, AZ 85283
This multiplex, with additional locations in Chandler and Gilbert, regularly showcases repertory films alongside new releases. In addition to cult favorites, anime, and black-and-white film canon staples, the theater chain also screens horror classics as part of its weekly Cinematery series. The food and drink menu offers traditional items, including pizzas, burgers, quesadillas, and nachos. Popcorn flavors range from truffle parmesan and spicy cheddar to churro, while larger dishes include meatballs and goat cheese, Hatch green chile pork stew, and all-day brunch.
1825 E. Elliot Road, Tempe, AZ 85284
At Pollack Tempe Cinemas, you can see various films, from recent blockbusters to second-run dramas and family-friendly classics — all for $3.50 per ticket! And Discount Thursdays are only $2.95. The theater recently underwent a $1 million renovation, with upgrades including a remodeled snack bar, games in the lobby, life-size holograms of celebrities, and an extensive collection of movie memorabilia on display. It’s no wonder this theater has been named one of the “Coolest Movie Theaters Across America.”
9090 E. Talking Stick Way, Scottsdale, AZ 85250
The Scottsdale location of this Arizona-owned and -operated modern multiplex offers in-seat dining but also has a full-service restaurant and bar, where guests can dine before or after a movie. The eight intimate auditoriums plus three tiny screening rooms feature comfortable leather recliners, and food and drinks are brought to your seat with the push of a button. The menu includes a range of comfort dishes, including appetizers, sandwiches, pizza, and desserts. During the cooler fall and winter months, Roadhouse’s outdoor patio transforms into an open-air cinema, with free showings of classic movies every Saturday night.
5650 N. 55th Ave., Glendale, AZ 85301
In the mid-20th century, Greater Phoenix was home to more than 20 drive-in theaters, thanks to an abundance of open land and year-round mild temps. Today, only one remains, the West Wind Glendale 9. Part of a family-owned and -operated chain with additional theaters in California and Nevada, it opened in 1979 and continues to show first-run movies. Nine screens display crystal-clear digital images, and audio is beamed directly into your car stereo. Audience members can watch while in their cars or enjoy the fresh air while relaxing on folding chairs. A concession stand in the center of the property offers candy, popcorn, sodas, and light bites.
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