Top 10 Ways to a Creative Vacation

By local contributor
Katarina Kovacevic

Art flourishes in Scottsdale where a lineup of more than 100 galleries makes it one of the most concentrated collections in the country. Our Sonoran Desert escape also is home to acclaimed museums, architectural wonders, award-winning events and a renowned public art program.

Scottsdale ArtWalk

“America’s Original ArtWalk” is a 40-year Scottsdale tradition that takes place every Thursday night from 7 to 9 p.m. The free year-round event is staged at galleries along Main Street and Marshall Way in the downtown Arts District and is a leisurely, go-at-your-own-pace public showing of works by artists from around the globe. Browse a wide variety of works, stop in for a meal at one of the local restaurants, or hop on a horse-drawn carriage ride.

Special Events

Scottsdale hosts a number of art-focused happenings throughout the year. The fun kicks off in January with the opening of Celebration of Fine Art and the Arizona Art EXPO, both of which bring together nationally celebrated and award-winning artists that produce sculptures, carvings, paintings, mixed media and more. In March the Scottsdale Arts Festival is your chance to purchase pieces directly from 200 jury-selected artists from the United States and Canada.

Must-See Museums

No matter what your artistic style is, Scottsdale has a museum to suit your interests. For the latest and cutting-edge modern exhibits, visit the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary ArtWestern Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West is the city’s newest addition, and it immerses its guests in the essence of the American West through artworks and artifacts. The Phoenix Art Museum features international and outstanding works of art and fashion design while the Heard Museum celebrates the Southwest’s American Indian cultures.

Performance Art

Local, national and international performers take center stage at the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) and Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. Browse 5,000 instruments from around the world at the MIM and then catch acts in the cutting-edge music theater. At the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, it’s all about eye-opening, sidesplitting and awe-inspiring presentations that include Broadway shows, standup comedy and live music.

Public Art Collection

Since its beginnings in 1985, the Scottsdale Public Art Collection has grown to encompass nearly 100 permanent installations and myriad revolving temporary exhibits. Many of the city’s most recognizable works, like Robert Indiana’s LOVE Sculpture and Ed Mell’s Jack Knife, are within walking distance of one another in pedestrian-friendly downtown. But you’ll spot magnificent pieces all over the city, even when driving along our freeways!

Architectural Highlights

Frank Lloyd Wright fell in love with the rugged beauty of Scottsdale’s Sonoran Desert in 1937 and began building his winter home alongside the majestic McDowell Mountains only a year later. Today Taliesin West is a working architectural school and famous landmark that offers tours of Wright’s former residence. Wright’s influence is still seen all around Scottsdale and its surrounding area – most notable are the spire that sits on the northwest corner of the Promenade shopping center and ASU Gammage in nearby Tempe, Ariz.

Lasting Legacy

Many of Wright’s former students have also left their mark on Scottsdale. The late Italian-born designer Paolo Soleri, famous for his concept of “arcology” and environmentally sound community called Arcosanti, is one of them. See how Soleri’s popular bronze bells are still cast at Cosanti, then make your way to downtown Scottsdale for a glimpse of Soleri Bridge and Plaza, which is an homage to the importance of solar movement and the only one of Soleri’s bridge designs to be built.

Resort Collections

Even a stay at a Scottsdale resort or hotel can be a cultural experience! The Phoenician is home to a $25 million collection rivaling the area’s best museums. Revel in the bright tropical artwork of renowned Cuban artist Nelson Garcia-Miranda at The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, or head to Hermosa Inn, a boutique hideaway to admire the paintings and self-portraits of original owner and cowboy artist Lon Megargee.

Native Roots

Scottsdale is a community that embraces its storied history. Connect with the city’s diverse past and present at Native Trails, a series of free noontime festivals that take place January through April and commemorate the Southwest’s indigenous peoples. For on-property cultural activities, visit the Native American Learning Center at Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch or Talking Stick: A Cultural and Entertainment Destination Area at Talking Stick Resort.

Art Education

Is your inner Picasso screaming for a breakthrough? Nurture your creative side at Scottsdale Artists’ School, where weekly classes are led by working, professional artists experienced in mediums like charcoal, drawing, sculpture and more. And even if you’ve never so much as dipped into a Crayola watercolor set, you’ll be amazed with what you can create during a two- or three-hour guided painting session at Art of Merlot.