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First Friday Art Walk

Your guide to experiencing downtown Phoenix's premier arts event

Downtown Phoenix is home to a thriving arts scene. From small stages and galleries to boutiques and murals, there’s no shortage of creative expression — no matter when you visit. 

And while you can experience the buzz of this scene at seasonal happenings that range from culinary and music festivals to pop-up markets of every variety, there is one event that is not only among the best things to do in Phoenix for visitors, but it’s also a rite of passage for locals: First Friday Art Walk is the ultimate way to experience this city's culture, arts, flavor, and overall vibe.

Here's our insider information with everything you need to know ahead of the next First Friday in Phoenix.

What To Expect

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Originally founded and organized by Artlink, a nonprofit organization launched in the mid-90s, the First Friday Art Walk started out with just a handful of participants. Today, it’s a free, all-ages event that draws thousands of attendees spread out across dozens of city blocks and nearly 100 businesses.

At the center of this monthly event — which continues to evolve and grow as a signature downtown attraction — is the vitality and diversity of the city’s urban arts community, which showcases a multicultural range of creativity and artistic expression that appeals to art enthusiasts of every medium and flavor.

Aptly named, this event invites vendors, musicians, and artists of all varieties out into the streets (many of which are closed off to traffic) for an evening where the essence of downtown Phoenix’s arts and culture can be seen, felt, heard, and tasted throughout more than 70 galleries, venues, art-related spaces, and surrounding bars, restaurants and food trucks. 

When To Go

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First Friday festivities technically take place from 6 to 10 p.m. Depending on the time of year, you’ll likely see a handful of vendors setting up, as well as foot traffic before 6. By 7 the sidewalks start filling up, and by 8 the event is in full swing. Some venues and vendors stay open beyond 10 p.m. If you’re looking to linger longer, we recommend checking in advance or asking around as you go. 

Timing tip: Arrive early to explore parking options or take the Valley Metro Rail (one-way, $2; all-day, $4) to the "Roosevelt/Central Ave" station.

Where To Explore

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As one of the largest, self-guided art walks in the country, First Friday in Phoenix includes quite a lot of ground to cover. And, while free admission and special discounts to some of the city's best museums and attractions — including the Phoenix Arts Museum, Heard Museum, and Japanese Friendship Garden — is a huge component of the event, most of the action is concentrated within two specific neighborhoods: the Roosevelt Row and the Historic Grand Avenue art districts, which transform into something greater than the sum of their parts for this special evening. 

First Friday's tip: Online maps are also available via the PUG (Phoenix Urban Guide) app.

Roosevelt Row Arts District

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The Roosevelt Row Arts District, dubbed RoRo by the locals, has been named among 15 great places in America by the American Planning Association. This neighborhood — approximately defined by McDowell Road south to Van Buren Street and Central Avenue east to Seventh Street — is home to a wide variety of galleries, small stages, restaurants, bars, and boutiques that draw in locals and visitors alike.  

 

Galleries & Art Spaces

  • Alwun House: For 50 years this gallery, performance venue, and foundation has held space for the arts in downtown.
  • Cahokia SocialTech + ArtSpace: An indigenous-led social, tech, and art working space that is home to gallery, exhibit, and retail areas, as well as workshops, markets, and events. 
  • Eye Lounge: A collective, artist-run, contemporary art space committed to fostering emerging and established visual artists.
  • monOrchid: A community gathering space that features an art gallery, film and photography studios, event venue, co-working space, local eateries, and retailers.
  • Modified Arts: Showcases artwork — from national and international artists of all media in an accessible environment — via monthly exhibitions to provide a fresh perspective for both new and established collectors.
  • The Nash, one of the top jazz venues in the United States, is named for jazz legend and Phoenix native Lewis Nash. (read more).
  • Palabras Bilingual Bookstore: Promoting cultural representation and liberation of historically marginalized peoples through community engagement involving literature and the arts.
  • Wasted Ink Zone Distro: A library and store that houses hundreds of zines and serves as a home base for those seeking a DIY hub and creative space for self-publishing and zines.

These spaces operate at various hours, which can vary by date or exhibit. Please check the websites provided for the latest information.

 

Must-See Murals & Public Art 

Roosevelt Row is home to the city's highest concentration of murals, some of which are regularly changed out in an effort to keep messaging current and also give revolving artists a chance to transform these canvases. However, spaces such as Phoenix’s unofficial “Mural Alley” have become centralized focal points. More commonly referred to as 1½ Street, and located behind The Churchill, this collaborative effort extends the entire length of the alley, covering the walls and other fixtures with captivating works by 12 local artists.

Located outside the Roosevelt Row Welcome Center, Xico Inc.'s series of shipping containers feature artists and works that support the mission of nourishing a greater appreciation of the cultural and spiritual heritage of the Latinx and Indigenous people of the Americas through the arts. (These same containers were formerly organized by Phoenix Institute for Contemporary Art.)

Photographers of all varieties will not only appreciate the art throughout Cambria Hotel Downtown Phoenix Convention Center but also the view from the top — From The Rooftop, to be precise. Arrive before sunset for the best golden hour views in the neighborhood, and stay to check out the First Friday festivities from a birds-eye view. 

 

Boutiques & Local Retail 

No matter what you're into, there's a good chance you'll find it among the vast assortment of vendors here. Shop for candles, jewelry, tie-dyed and screen-printed apparel, prints, paintings, crystals, incense, sage, and even tarot or palm readings (and that's just the beginning). 

First Friday is also an excellent opportunity to explore the area’s wide variety of brick-and-mortar boutiques. Must-stops include Phoenix GeneralBunky Boutique, Made Art Boutique, and don't miss the merch at Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co

Pemberton PHX is an enclave that provides space for local vendors, artists, retailers, and creatives. Follow the winding path from the front of the 1920s home, past food trucks, murals, and more. The Churchill, an eye-catching mixed-use space made of shipping containers, is home to a variety of restaurants and retailers — including State Forty-Eight and Cosas — that surround a community-centered courtyard. 

Grand Avenue Arts District

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The Historic Grand Avenue Arts District, which plays host to the Grand Avenue Festival and parade each November, includes an eclectic mix of art studios and galleries, vintage architecture, adaptive reuse projects and eclectic residential and mixed-use buildings. As one of Phoenix’s oldest downtown commercial districts — spanning (approximately) from McDowell Road south to Van Buren Street and Seventh Avenue west to 19th Avenue — this neighborhood is distinguished by its artist-decorated planters, green bike lanes, art installations, colorful murals, and eclectic small businesses and galleries.

 

 

Galleries & Art Spaces

  • 9 The Gallery: A contemporary, fine-art gallery committed to representing and exhibiting locally and nationally recognized artists of the highest quality. 
  • Abe Zucca Gallery: A contemporary art gallery showing new work every first and third Friday.
  • Art Hacker Gallery: A gallery of contemporary home decor and one-of-a-kind pieces that will make your spaces feel alive.
  • BELHAUS: An artist-run gallery where you're invited to discover and collect original works from a select group of local and international contemporary artists.
  • BoDo Art Gallery & Studio: Home to fine-art sculpture, bronze, and stainless steel, including angler, mariner, naturalist, birder, equestrian, pastoral and cultural collections.
  • The Chocolate Factory: Both studio space of local artists and gallery space for rotating shows by local and international artists. 
  • Grand Arthaus: A co-working art studio and event space.
  • Five15Arts @ Chartreuse: A collective, artist-run, contemporary art space committed to providing support and an exhibition venue for local artists.
  • Onyx Art Gallery: A space that brings fresh, urban energy of downtown to the expanding art scene of the historic district.
  • Sisao Gallery: A gallery space, located in the lobby of the Oasis on Grand, that features monthly exhibits.
  • Vertigo Art Gallery: A space focused primarily on the therapeutic value of art, including its power to calm, soothe, heal, educate, motivate and empower us.
  • Where?House: A warehouse-turned-event space that features a music venue, an art gallery, and installations that range from art cars to a house of fun.

These spaces operate at various hours, which can vary by date or exhibit. Please check the websites provided for the latest information.

 

Must-See Murals & Public Art 

Along the Grand Avenue streetscape, you’ll spot all varieties of artistic expression decorating palm tree trucks as well as decked-out planters, twinkle lights, crocheted adornments, and various creations dangling from above. It’s an art-loving photographer’s playground. 

Head over to Rodriguez Boxing Gym, where Phoenix artist Maggie Keane has paid tribute to Prince in the form of a perfectly purple mural. This wall features four portraits, a silhouette, the music legend's unmistakable symbol, and, of course, several doves.  

Architecture aficionados will appreciate the Bragg's Pie Factory building. Identifiable by the preserved sign perched above, this 1947 warehouse is not only on the National Register of Historic Places, it's also now home to a mix of small retail uses, including art studios and galleries.

 

Boutiques & Local Retail 

Neighborhood plant shop, Pueblo, will not only inspire content for your Instagram feed — it will have you ready to transform the entire aesthetic of your home. Open since 2015, and located in a historic butterfly bow-truss warehouse, this ultra-trendy shop features indoor plant babies (both common and unusual) just waiting to be adopted.

Opened by a retired Phoenix Fire Department captain in 2019, Hawk Salvage is a trove of collectibles — both from years of traveling the flea market circuit as well as new additions — that range from art, plants, antique photography equipment, and even artistic custom pieces.    

Grand Avenue Records is a newcomer compared with many other legacy record stores in Greater Phoenix, but it has become a staple of this hip, artsy neighborhood. Duck in to browse a swath of white label records as well as a collection of other music-related items. 

Tucked behind The Wayward Taphouse is a collection of guest-style houses (also known as the Triangle Complex) that are home to various businesses, including Novel Ice Cream, Velorio Coffee and more. Even if you're not in the mood to browse, it's a very cool and colorful backdrop when you're sipping a pint on the back patio.

Where To Stay

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With more than 500 hotels and resorts — and even more on the horizon — Greater Phoenix has accommodation styles for every visitor. However, when it comes to art-inspired properties in close proximity to First Friday festivities, we have a few recommendations to get you started.

 

FOUND:RE Phoenix Hotel

Soak up the city’s creative scene at FOUND:RE Phoenix Hotel, a 104-room boutique hotel that doubles as a local art gallery. Guest rooms feature industrial touches — from concrete floors to floating bed frames — exactly what you’d expect to stumble upon in a painter’s contemporary studio. Also cool: If you fall in love with a particular masterpiece on display in the hotel, odds are you can buy it and bring it home with you.

 

Cambria Hotel Downtown Phoenix Convention Center

Open since November 2019, the Cambria is a 127-room property located right off Roosevelt Row's main thoroughfare. The $26 million hotel features a rooftop bar (From The Rooftop Bar & Lounge) with 360-degree views of the city; several large art pieces, including murals that span the height of the building; neon saguaro cactus signs waiting to greet you behind the front desk; and more. 

 

AC Hotel by Marriott Phoenix Downtown

The 13-story, 199-room AC Hotel Downtown is a boutique hotel that opened in February 2021. Additionally, the AC Lounge is home to an outdoor patio with water features and fireplaces, and an indoor/outdoor lobby bar. From the patio, it's only a short walk to Roosevelt Row. 

 

Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel

The iconic Renaissance, which underwent a complete renovation in recent years, is an artful, urban retreat in the heart of downtown. The architecture sets this building apart from the rest of the high-rises, and it's also home to two of our larger-than-life mural walls.

 

 

If you can't make it to downtown Phoenix on a First Friday, be sure to check out what some of these spaces have in store for Third Fridays as well as month-long programming and the annual Art Detour in March.

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