There's more to see this weekend than paintings and sculptures at the Valley's flagship art museum.
Walkabout, an interactive multicultural fair, will bring the sights, sounds and flavors of other countries and cultures to Phoenix Art Museum. The event is slated for noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
"It's all about giving people context, making art approachable and having a fun day out. We want to dissolve that myth of a museum as a cold, staid place where nothing ever changes," says Mark Patel, the museum's marketing director.
He says the grass-roots event started last year as a way of showing off the museum's extensive collection of art from around the world, rather than focusing on a single exhibition.
"The idea was to celebrate the collections we have and give them context. It's often difficult for people to walk into a room and look at a painting and get all they need to out of it from just looking at it. Just doing that doesn't tell you anything about the person who created it or what kinds of foods are eaten where they live. Having some knowledge of all of those things lends an extra dimension to the experience," he says.
During Walkabout, more than 25 hands-on activities and performances will take place indoors and out, and several Valley eateries will supply a variety of foods. Among them are the Jamaican cafe Breadfruit, Ethiopian eatery Cafe Lalibela, Gallo Blanco, India Palace, Ruffinos Italian Cuisine, Sens Asian Tapas and Sake, and museum cafe Arcadia Farms. Honest Tea and Pop the Soda Shop will provide beverages.
Highlights of the festival include:
Musical and dance performances by more than 10 Valley groups and performers including: FootKlan, a dance troupe that recently appeared on the Fox TV show "So You Think You Can Dance"; Afro-Cuban and Japanese drumming; Mediterranean and Middle Eastern music; belly dancing; contemporary American jazz; African dancing; and Brazilian capoeira;
Chinese brush painting;
henna tattoos and fresh-flower rangoli, or artfully patterened images, by the India Association;
demonstrations of art forms such as puppet making, wood carving, jewelry making, screen printing, book making, painting and sewing from Spraygraphic.com artists;
Mr. Fun Booth, where you can play dress-up in cultural costumes from Easley's Costume Shop and have your photo taken; you will be able to download your photo online after the event;
Screenings of the critically acclaimed 1992 movie "Baraka," an independent film with no plot, actors or script, but images from 24 countries and six continents.
Guests will also be able to stroll through the museum's galleries at their own pace, taking in art collected from around the globe.
"Last year we ran it on a shoestring (budget), and everything just came together. The food was great, the performances were great, people came with the right attitude and everyone hung out on the grass. It was like a big party," says Patel. "We want it to be a community event that we do every year."
Walkabout is free with paid regular admission of $4-$10 per person. Phoenix Art Museum is at 1625 N. Central Ave. in Phoenix. For information, call (602) 257-1222 or visit www.phxart.org.