You could probably attend a show a week this coming arts season and still not see the variety of performances on tap Friday at Mesa Arts Center.
The downtown venue is kicking off its new season of shows, concerts and art exhibitions with a giant free party, and the entertainment lineup is all over the board.
Beginning at 6 p.m., the center’s cool, shaded outdoor walkways will fill with the acrobats, stilt-walkers and fire dancers of the pyrotechnic performance troupes Flame Chen and Elemental Artistry. Audiences can also watch taiko drummers and salsa, meringue and belly dancers, and listen to world music by DJ Seduce. In addition, outdoor spaces will host activities for kids and food vendors.
Meanwhile, inside the theaters, you can catch live stage performances by Metropolitan Youth Symphony, Ballet Etudes, East Valley Children’s Theatre, Mesa Encore Theatre, Sonoran Desert Chorale, Southwest Shakespeare Company and Stageworks. Steps away in the center’s art studios, artists will create paintings, prints, ceramic vessels and glass sculptures.
Beneath ground level, four new art exhibitions will debut inside Mesa Contemporary Arts, the center’s award-winning art gallery. An opening reception begins at 7 p.m. and includes food, live music and a cash bar. There’s also a display of Taxco (Mexico) silver jewelry from the 1930s-1960s and a Mexican folk art “mercado,” or market, in the gallery space. A special collection of modern Taxco jewelry will be for sale in the center’s store.
The Mesa Arts Center season kickoff event is free and coincides with “Motorcycles on Main,” Downtown Mesa Association’s free Second Friday street party along West Main Street. The next day, Mesa Arts Center will host another free day of performing arts mini-shows during the Get Out Performing Arts Expo.