By Sneha Pujani, Staff Writer
The Grand Avenue Festival was a fantastic experience and I cannot wait to go back next year! On November 9th, 2019, the area in downtown Phoenix stretching from 16th Avenue south up to Van Buren street was transformed into an art-lovers Nirvana. The event started at 11:00 a.m. and went on until 10:00 at night. Here is a quick background on the event, some highlights and lots of pictures from the day.
This year was the 11th year of the art festival. The best way to describe the scene is as if you have stepped inside an eclectic artist’s mind! The festival allows you to walk at your own pace and discover art galleries, traditional bicycle-carriage tours, art tours, restaurants, face painting and silent auctions, among other activities. I met the director of the event, Beatrice Moore, an effervescent artist. In her words, the festival is a celebration of local talent and gives everyone an opportunity to step out and explore the colors of Phoenix. Her work is on display at Weird Garden, 1008 N. 15th Ave.
While walking, I saw parking lots full of guitar enthusiasts showing off their prized possession. Literally a whole block dedicated to guitars! Another section was filled with vintage cars full of color and panache. The silent auction at the Weird Garden was a classy escape from the pandemonium of the streets. There was also a fashion show that showcased recyclable materials.
Food trucks and music were omnipresent. The restaurants and bars on the avenue marched to their own beats, each place with its own feel, wildly-decorated interiors, and highly imaginative cuisines. A delightful discovery was Novel Ice Cream (1028 Grand Ave.). They had warm and delectable doughnuts filled with artisanal ice cream. It is a must try experience, especially after a day full of walking! Face painting and dragon decoration stations made it a perfect place for kids as well. Overall, the sheer number of activities made this event a definite success.
I volunteered at the silent auction and met amazing people from different walks of life: a photographer (all the pictures in this article are hers!), a mom who is a big Wonder Woman fan (so much so that she had tattoos, a purse, shoes, and stickers dedicated to the superhero), artists who proudly displayed their art, and experts who gave tours of the area. Phoenix packs a punch when it comes to art and this neighborhood screams hometown pride at every corner, with murals depicting the district’s history. It is worth your time.
On a closing note, Grand Avenue Arts & Preservation has “Grand Fridays” every first and third Friday of the month, from 6:00 until 10:00 p.m. The galleries and restaurants welcome and celebrate art together. Also, a shout out to Allison Crompton for the generous contribution of her photographs.