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 Winners: Arts & Entertainment

Where’s the best place to see a movie? Who puts on the East Valley’s greatest plays or musicals? See your picks below.

Best Museum/Art Gallery
READER PICK

Arizona Museum for Youth

Best Museum/Art Gallery

Not only is this a fine art museum for children, but the Arizona Museum for Youth in downtown Mesa is filled with interactive stations, rotating exhibitions and workshops designed to cultivate a love of art and art-making for everyone. Kids up to age 4 can explore ArtVille, the colorful, cushiony-surfaced village. For those 5 and older, ArtZone Gallery is a hands-on activity space designed for visitors to explore the fundamentals of art.

35 N. Robson, Mesa
(480) 644-2467
www.arizonamuseumforyouth.com

Voter Comments:

“Great for kids and adults alike.”

“Great variety of exhibits, clean place.”

Runners Up:

Arizona Museum of Natural History, Mesa; SunDust Gallery, Mesa
Best Performing Arts/ Live Music Venue
READER PICK

Mesa Arts Center

Best Performing Arts/ Live Music Venue

Downtown Mesa’s arts campus hosts concerts, plays, touring productions, festivals, artists’ studios, educational programs and even last February’s Republican presidential primary debate. The center includes four theaters, the largest of which is the 1,600-seat Tom and Janet Ikeda Theater.

1 E. Main St., Mesa
(480) 644-6500
www.mesaartscenter.com

Voter Comments:

“Stadium seating, $1 drinks and free popcorn with a (Loyalty) shirt.”

“Because Dan Harkins is a true film lover and dedicates some of his venues to art films, and because he is truly a local success story.”

“Best value, student discount and comfortable seating for large bottoms.”

Runners Up:

Higley Center for the Performing Arts, Gilbert; Chandler Center for the Arts; National Comedy Theatre, Mesa
Best Local Performing Arts Troupe
READER PICK

Ballet Etudes


Best Local Performing Arts Troupe

With 25 years in dance education, Ballet Etudes prides itself in duplicating the experiences of a professional ballet company. Students at the Gilbert school perform throughout the Valley, including in the studio’s annual production of “The Nutcracker.”

2401 E. Baseline Road, Suite 111, Gilbert
(480) 558-2080
www.balletetudes.net

Voter Comments:

“Excellent technical training and performing opportunities for young professionals.”

“Professional shows from non professional dancers! This shows the quality of training and dedication to the arts!”

“The spirit of dance and love permeates through from their executive director, Sharon Meko, down to the smallest of dancers.”

“Performances are top notch!! Pure class!”

“Best classical entertainment value in the Valley!”

Runners Up:

National Comedy Theatre, Mesa; Copperstar Repertory Company, Gilbert; WeBe Glee, Gilbert; San Tan Community Performing Arts (East Valley-based)
Best Girls Night Out
TRIB PICK

Bottles n’ Paint, SunDust Gallery

Best Girls Night Out

Sure, you could gather the gals and head to the nail salon. Or maybe to the movies to see the latest chick flick. But why not get a little more creative. OK, a lot more creative.

Grab your friends — and a bottle of wine — and head over to SunDust Gallery for Bottles n’ Paint, a BYOB painting class in downtown Mesa where you are encouraged to uncork your bottles and unleash your creativity. No art experience required.

SunDust provides everything you need: brushes, paint, a 16-by-20 canvas, loose instruction from one of the artists and a gallery full of inspiration. You provide the drinks (wine, beer or anything non-alcoholic), the friends and the adventurous spirit. And at the end of the two-hour session, you’ll have a handmade masterpiece to take home and enjoy.

Sipping wine, visiting with friends and creating art: We could get used to that.

SunDust offers Bottles n’ Paint classes on most Friday and Saturday evenings. Pre-registration is required. Check the gallery’s website for upcoming classes.

The fee is $50 per person, but group discounts are available.

SunDust Gallery, 48 W. Main Street, Suite 100, Mesa
(480) 464-6077
www.sundustgallery.com

Best Place For Karaoke
READER PICK

Saketini

Who wouldn’t like to mix their sushi with singing? This Japanese sushi bar and lounge near Mesa Community College features drink and sushi specials to go along with daily karaoke.

1120 S. Dobson Road, Mesa
(480) 615-6000

Voter Comments:

“It’s great for sushi and singing!”

“Asian karaoke!”

Runners Up:

Native New Yorker (multiple locations); Stadium Club, Chandler
Best Guys Night Out
TRIB PICK

Downtown Chandler

Best Guys Night Out

In just about every group of friends there is the contrarian. You tell your friends, “Hey, let’s meet up for a steak,” and there’s always one that will chime in, “I’m on a diet and cutting down on red meat.” Or, you propose Mexican, he wants less spicy food.

For that friend, just say, “meet me in downtown Chandler.”

In the span of a quarter mile (yes, we measured), there are enough bar and restaurant options to satisfy even your most annoying friend (unless that friend likes disco dancing. There are no disco joints and you should rethink your choice in friends). You can meet up for a nice meal, grab some drinks, watch the game or listen to live music. The options are all within a few steps.

On the north end is Sushi Eye in Motion, 58 W. Buffalo St., #110, and Italian at La Stalla Cucina Rustica, 68 W. Buffalo St. To the south, is Latitude Eight Thai Grill, 11 W. Boston St., #5, and a Valley mainstay, Serrano’s Mexican Cantina, 141 S. Arizona Ave. In between, there is one of the Valley’s best brewpubs in SanTan Brewing Co., 8 S. San Marcos Place; an Irish pub in Irish Republic Public House, 58 S. San Marcos Place; Piza Pizza, 48 S. San Marcos Place; El Zocalo Mexican Grill, 28 S. San Marcos Place; DC Steak House, 98 S. San Marcos Place; and a sports bar in Coach and Willie’s, 1. E. Boston St.

Even the wine snob in your group can be satisfied at Vintage 95 Wine Lounge, 95 W. Boston St., or the local Kokopelli Winery, 35 W. Boston St.

http://downtownchandler.org/

Best Mural
TRIB PICK

The Floor at Xico Galeria

Best Mural

Sometimes you find art in surprising places — like on the floor.

Xico’s patchwork “rug” features more than 20 3-foot-by-3-foot painted slabs, each a small masterpiece by an Arizona painter, printmaker, sculptor or other artist.

The floor became an unexpected showcase for homegrown artwork little more than three years ago, when Xico — a multidisciplinary arts nonprofit created in 1975 to promote indigenous culture through community arts programs — moved into its 100-year-old building in downtown Chandler.

The orange shag carpeting was ripped up, and Xico leaders saw an opportunity in the neatly divided concrete floor they found underneath. Artists, such as Mesa’s

Carmen Guerrero, began painting the squares.

Now their paintings, showing everything from Mexican dolls and buckets of beer to flowers and dancing skeletons, serve as little “windows” into the local arts community and, at times, common memories, experiences or issues we can all recognize.

The blocks are triple coated in clear polyurethane sealer and get an additional varnish every six months or so.

Xico Galeria is open Tuesdays through Saturdays. Admission is free.

44 S. San Marcos Place, Chandler
(480) 464-6077
http://www.xicoinc.org

Runners Up:

Murals inside Mesa Historical Museum