Spring in Arizona: The snowbirds are flocking, the flowers aren’t scorched yet and the open-air festivals have come calling. This weekend two festivals crammed with original art will vie for the right to scuff up your debit card.
One is an East Valley standby from the heart of Tempe; the other, a plucky upstart nestled in the mountains of Carefree. Where should your precious artwork-and-finger-food budget be spent? Let’s look at the specs:
Tempe: Chicken Sonoran: Mule
Tempe: The Spring Festival is 30 years old. (The Fall Festival is 39.) Sonoran: Sixth annual.
Tempe: 365 artists, offering woodwork, ceramics, photography, glass, wearable art, paintings, jewelry and other traditional and nontraditional forms of visual art. Sonoran: 100 painters, sculptors, jewelers, wood and glass artists, photographers and mixed-media artists.
Tempe: about 200,000 people Sonoran: about 5,000 people
HOW MUCH IS YOUR ART?
Tempe: $5 for ornaments, up to thousands of dollars for original sculptures Sonoran: $10 for original notecards, to $10,000 for a large sculpture
CLASSIC ART? KITSCH? OR BOTH?
Tempe: Both. Sonoran: Both
Tempe: Blues master Hans Olson and alternative band Hello Swindon headline the main stage; Sherry Roberson and Margo Reed and a host of local artists on the jazz stage, plus street performers and Dana Smith with his trick dog, Lacy. Sonoran: Deane Stanton of Deane Can’t Sing Friday and Saturday; traditional Japanese production of “Journey Along the Silk Road”; Pete Pancrazzi Jazz duo; tai chi presentation.
AND FOR THE KIDS?
Tempe: Kids K-12 are invited to try their creative skills in a mask-making workshop at the Kids Innovation Station, on Fifth Street between Tempe City Hall and the parking lot. Sonoran: A Brush With Fine Art puts adults and children on the other side of the easel, painting their own tile that will be a mosaic in a large work of art.
WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO EAT?
Tempe: In the Cottage Edibles area, patrons can taste and buy homemade salsas, cheeses, soup mixes, spices and candy. Eight Arizona wineries will offer a wine tasting near the jazz stage for $10. Food and snack vendors will sell their goods. Sonoran: The Carefree Farmers Market in the Town Center Amphitheater will hawk fresh produce, specialty Italian entrees, tamales, salsas, desserts, pastries and freshly-baked artisan breads.
WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO EAT THAT I WILL LATER BE ASHAMED OF?
Tempe: Noodles. Fry bread. Sonoran: The Boy Scouts will be selling hot dogs to earn money for camp.
RANK THE EASE OF PARKING
1 = southbound 101 at rush hour to 10 = abandoning your car in a cornfield
Tempe: Kate Hastings of the downtown Tempe community ranks it a 10: “But you have to know what you’re doing. We have free parking and a shuttle east of Priest on Rio Salado at Hardy, and a new (pay) lot at the northeast corner of Rio Salado and Mill.” Sonoran: Beth Zink, chair of this year’s festival, ranks it a 10: “There are plenty of close, free parking spaces.”
$25 WILL BUY YOU ...
Tempe: “A small piece of original photography, or an original set of postcard prints,” Hastings says. “Or two-and-a-half tickets to taste wine. You could probably get some small pewter pieces, or glass flame-worked earrings. Or fry bread.” Sonoran: “An 18-by-24-inch collectible poster for $15 and a box of original painted notecards for $10,” Zink says.
RANK THE ATMOSPHERE
1 = symphony orchestra to
10 = rap concert
Tempe: Hastings: “I’d say we’re right in the middle.” Sonoran: Zink: “Two. High energy, but not highbrow.”
Tempe Spring Festival of the Arts
Where: Mill Avenue between University Drive and Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today through Sunday Cost: Free Information: (480) 355-6075 or www.tempefestivalofthearts.com
Sonoran Festival of Fine Art
Where: Carefree Town Center, Carefree and Easy streets When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today through Sunday Cost: Free Information: (480) 575-6624 or www.sonoranartsleague.org