Top 10 Ways to Experience the Arts in Scottsdale

By local contributor
JoAnne Zeterberg

Gone are the days when “arts and culture” meant stuffy galleries, austere museums and snooze-worthy stage performances. In Scottsdale, visitors and locals enjoy an arts scene that celebrates creativity in all its forms, from interactive ArtWalks and to an architectural wonder with a fire-breathing dragon. So whether you’re a card-carrying art buff or just looking for a fun way to while away a few hours in Scottsdale, here are our top 10 picks for must-see arts activities.



Every Thursday evening from 7 p.m. to 9 pm. the free Scottsdale ArtWalk delights guests with live music, artist demonstrations and exhibit openings in the galleries along Main Street and Marshall Way in the Old Town Arts District.



Frank Lloyd Wright fell in love with the rugged beauty of Scottsdale’s Sonoran Desert in 1937 and began building his winter home in the McDowell Mountain foothills only a year later. Today Taliesin West is a working architectural school and famous landmark that offers tours of Wright’s former residence. Don’t miss the Night Lights Tour, which features an appearance by the resident fire-breathing dragon.



At the Musical Instrument Museum, don a digital Guideport headset, which allows you to hear thousands of instruments from around the world as you browse the global exhibits. At Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, explore exhibits of Western art, artifacts and memorabilia, then step into 3D cowboy campfire scene for a unique photo op. And at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, check out Knight Rise, a skyspace installation by James Turrell, that reflects the changing light of the Sonoran Desert sky.



Scottsdale’s Public Art collection encompasses 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 Old Town. But you’ll spot magnificent pieces all over the city, even when driving along our freeways!



At the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, it’s all about eye-opening, sidesplitting and awe-inspiring presentations that include international dance, standup comedy and live music. Local, national and international performers take center stage at the Musical Instrument Museum’s MIM Music Theater, while ASU Gammage auditorium hosts the best of Broadway, including blockbusters like “Hamilton,” “Wicked” and “The Book of Mormon.”



The late Italian-born designer Paolo Soleri is perhaps best known for the melodious bronze bells, which are still cast at his Scottsdale studio, Cosanti. Soleri’s genius also is on display in Old Town at the Soleri Bridge and Plaza, an homage to the importance of solar movement and the only one of Soleri’s bridge designs to be built.



Every January through March, the Celebration of Fine Art pitches massive white tents in north Scottsdale where more than 100 nationally renowned artists set up working studios to create art while you watch. Other popular events include the Waterfront Fine Art & Wine Festival in February, Scottsdale Arts Festival in March,  and Arizona Musicfest, which hosts performances from November through March.



The Heard Museum celebrates Native American culture from both historical and contemporary perspectives, through world-class exhibitions, artist demonstrations and special events, including the Hoop Dance Championships in February and Heard Museum Guild Indian Fair & Market in March. Over at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch you can enjoy a free performance of Native American song and dance, including championship-level hoop dancing, every Friday evening at 5 p.m.



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.



Even a stay at a Scottsdale resort or hotel can be a cultural experience! The Phoenician is home to 11 magnificent sculptures by renowned artist Allan Houser. 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 the original owner and cowboy artist Lon Megargee.