Art, architecture and the perfect winter weather combine in Scottsdale, AZ

On a 72 degree November day with zero humidity, bright blue skies and a gentle breeze blowing through the shaded patio at Diego Pops where brunchers enjoy Brussels sprout nachos and spicy margaritas, it’s no wonder Scottsdale, AZ continues to be one of the fastest growing regions in the United States. On a day like this, the better question is why someone chooses to live somewhere else.

Scottsdale augments its perfect winter weather with a rugged arts scene, diverse dining options, and outdoor recreation, combining the best of big-city culture with its Sonoran Desert lifestyle and mountain views for a unique atmosphere The westernmost city in the West.

Scottsdale for the Arts

Channel convergence kicks off “the season” (November to March) every year in Scottsdale. Celebrating its 10e anniversary this year, the free 10-night outdoor festival brings together light, art and water with dazzling installations along Scottsdale’s waterfront, the canal that supplies the city with drinking water. As the still-warm sun gives way to cool desert nights, Canal Convergence lights up its Old Town corridor.

A locally based Walter Productions fire show highlights the event. The fire demo became so instantly popular from its inception that it is now an annual feature. For 2022, Orb saw 10 metal spheres placed in the channel, each shooting flames 30 feet into the air choreographed to music and LED light sequences. On weekend evenings, thousands of spectators “ohhh” and “ahhh”.

In addition to artwork, live music, a beer and wine garden, activities for children, art workshops for adults, dance performances and tours, Canal Convergence is the place to be. mistress of the Scottsdale art calendar.

All year round, museums, galleries and public sculptures make it a lively artistic destination. Start at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art where until February 12, 2023, a selection of works by powerful black artists who would call New York or Los Angeles home can be seen. Kehinde Wiley, Amoako Boafo, Tschabalala Self, Betye Saar, Rashid Johnson and Mark Bradford headlining “In Our Time: Selections from the Singer Collection,” with artwork drawn from locals Iris and Adam Singer.

Derek Fordjour’s intricate, vibrant, layered collages are a revelation. A nod to pointillism, its Birdman (Hombre-pajaro) (2022) recalls At Seurat The circus.

Three blocks from SMoCA, Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West has spurs that jingle-jangle-jingle and an even more impressive collection of pottery of the matriarch of contemporary Hopi/Tewa pottery, Nampeyo of Hano (1860 – 1942). Nampeyo was a brilliant artist, reviving the traditions of Hopi potterywhile innovating as a businesswoman, bringing her pots directly to the consumer, selling them to the growing number of tourists visiting the Grand Canyon near the Hopi Reservation in Arizona where she lived.

Contemporary interpretations of Southwestern Native pottery can be found for sale at King Galleries, a mainstay of the Scottsdale gallery community for nearly 30 years, just steps from Western Spirit. The best Pueblo potters–including the phenomenal Virgil Ortiz (Cochiti Pueblo; born 1969) – are pictured here.

In addition to Nampeyo pottery, Western Spirit features exceptional Native American material culture artifacts, including Navajo chief blankets as fine as you can find anywhere, robes, insignia and oldest known pair of moccasins.

Indigenous Art Market marks its second anniversary as the only native-owned store in the Old Town. Located between SMoCA and Western Spirit, the gallery sells pottery, paintings, fashion, jewelry and decorative items by more than 300 artists representing nearly 30 tribes, with 100% of all sales going directly to the artists. All items for sale here are of authentic Native American origin. In-store dance and music performances Thursday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. closely share Indigenous cultural practices. Be sure to attend one.

On Saturdays from November through March, the Native Arts Market sets up an outdoor space (9151 E Indian Bend Road) where shoppers can meet the creators and catch other live performances between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The Legacy Gallery and RC Gorman Navajo Gallery, also located on Main Street in the Old Town Arts District, hold firmly to Scottsdale’s Western heritage, while Erin Hanson brings welcome new energy to the genre in his gallery which opened here in the summer of 2022.

Year-round Thursday night art walks from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. are free to the public in Scottsdale’s Arts District with dozens of galleries opening their doors to this year’s longest-running event. type in the country.

Because art lovers can only make a living from painting and sculpture, in the Quartier des Arts, enjoy oven-baked sandwiches on fresh bread from home Crafts 64 with a cold craft beer or guacamole at the table, craft cocktails and inventive interpretations of Mexican cuisine at The mission-a favorite of locals -in the adjacent historic old town. Scottsdale loves its “districts”. The Old Town has nine, all within walking distance within a few blocks of each other.

Scottsdale for architecture

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959) remains the only architect most Americans have ever heard of, a fact the notorious egocentric would greatly appreciate. His winter home, Taliesin WestCarefully located in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains with sweeping views of the valley, serves as an opus to Wright’s organic architectural philosophies which strove to create buildings in harmony with their natural surroundings, materials and inhabitants.

Few natural settings rival the subtle beauty of Taliesin West. The sky-jutting ocher mountains are evident, true aesthetes find the sublime in majestic saguaros, thorny cholla and endless varieties of tans. Wright saw it, despite his upbringing in green, watery Wisconsin.

Guided tours lead hundreds of visitors daily through Wright’s study, drawing room, bedroom and trippy cabaret where guests and the many architecture students learning on the master’s lap would gather for movies.

Imagine the place as Wright would have found it in the 1930s. Before uncontrolled sprawl, before power lines interrupted his views, when bobcats, gila monsters and roadrunners outnumbered pensioners of the Midwest. The Phoenix area is often said to be Chicago’s largest suburb.

Visiting Taliesen West requires a half hour drive from the old town. On my way, stop at Hash Kitchen for Cristina’s rich and gooey Tamale Cakes. Brunch is a ritual in Scottsdale, and on weekends, Hash Kitchen pairs the area’s best Bloody Mary bar with a live DJ for a unique breakfast and nightclub experience.

While travelers can’t sleep where Wright did in Taliesin, Old Town, they can do even better by staying the night in another of the area’s architectural gems, the Mid-Century Modern gem. Hotel Valley Ho. Bing Crosby slept here. Janet Leigh too. And Zsa Zsa Gabore. And Ted Williams. Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner held their wedding reception here – one of them.

Opened in 1956, an $83 million renovation brought the property back to life in 2005 with additional rooms in the newly built towers and updated amenities throughout. At the time, the Valley Ho Hotel had only two levels. A new generation of Hollywood elite also gravitates here. Recent guests have included Hugh Jackman, Ed Harris, Diane Keaton and Kelsey Grammar. The Hollywood elite Steven Spielberg played at the property when it was first under construction – he grew up nearby.

This fascinating history and Scottsdale’s best views are shared by Ace Bailey on his ultimate arts and culture tour of the property.

Scottsdale’s pronounced sweet tooth – a big donut wheel at Hash, Sugar Bowl, Sweet Dee’s Bakeshop, Old Town Candy and Toys, Buzzed Bull Creamery, etc., etc., etc. – peaks at the Valley Ho Hotel’s on-site restaurant Zuzu where the $20 Show Stopper Shake pairs brain freeze with a high-octane sugar rush via a rotating selection of extra treats.

There’s a debt to pay for Scottsdale’s winter fun and outdoor life, it’s called summer, but when just visiting, it’s someone’s problem. another.

About Margaret L. Portillo

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