Downtown Scottsdale is one of very few areas in the Greater Phoenix area that lends itself to walking around. The Scottsdale Gallery Association exploits that aspect in the best possible way — with Scottsdale ArtWalk. Every Thursday night, every night of the year (except Thanksgiving), for the past 30 years, many of the more than 100 art galleries in downtown Scottsdale have opened their doors to art lovers, art lover wannabes, and people watchers during Scottsdale ArtWalk. From 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. each Thursday evening, it's a great way to get out for a couple of hours and get to know artists and galleries.
Several times each year there are special Scottsdale ArtWalks. During these sponsored events there is live entertainment and usually some food and beverage samples along the way. At these special ArtWalks, galleries may present special collections, openings of shows, or "meet the artist" opportunities.
If you are fortunate enough to come across working artists, or artists that are having an opening of their show during Scottsdale ArtWalk, don't be afraid to stop and chat with them. One warning, though — please don't take photographs of artists working or of any art, for that matter, without permission.
A Variety of Galleries
There are many different galleries in downtown Scottsdale on the Scottsdale ArtWalk. You'll find traditional oils, Western art and bronzes, glass art, ceramics, pottery, watercolors, and more.
The Scottsdale ArtWalk takes place along Main Street and Marshall Way in downtown Scottsdale.
There are two museums within walking distance that also open their doors on Thursday evenings (but not Thanksgiving) in conjunction with the Scottsdale ArtWalk:
Parking in Downtown Scottsdale
Interestingly enough, Scottsdale doesn't close Marshall Way, Main Street, or any other streets for the Thursday evening Scottsdale ArtWalks. That means that if you are patient, you can find a parking spot right on the street. If you aren't that lucky, try surrounding streets or park at the Scottsdale Civic Center parking garage, and take the opportunity to walk through Old Town Scottsdale on the east side of Scottsdale Road.
Take the Trolley
The Scottsdale Trolley is a convenient way to get to the Scottsdale ArtWalk, whether you are staying at a nearby hotel, or even if you parked a few blocks away. The Scottsdale Trolley is free, and it operates all year long. Just so that we can enjoy the Scottsdale ArtWalk, the Scottsdale Trolley runs until 9 p.m. on Thursday nights.
Art Lovers and Others
So what's so special about being able to visit art galleries? Anyone can walk into an art gallery any time they want to, as long as it's open, right?
Yes, that's true, but at Scottsdale ArtWalk there is a different environment. Yes, there are art aficionados there, and maybe even some people who can afford to consider buying an original Renoir for about $175,000. But the vast majority of attendees are not in that league. During Scottsdale ArtWalk everyone can feel absolutely comfortable walking in and around any gallery. Ask questions! During Scottsdale ArtWalk the galleries are staffed with people who love to answer questions about art and artists. Don't worry if you aren't going to buy anything -- there's no pressure here. Be assured, though, that if you are ready to buy a work of art, you can probably find something in your price range if you have only a hundred dollars to spend.
During the summer, Scottsdale ArtWalk is very popular for another reason — those galleries are air conditioned!
If you don't like crowds, it's best to get to the Scottsdale ArtWalk when it is still daylight, for the crowds seem to come at dusk. You can certainly tell which are the most popular galleries!
The Scottsdale ArtWalk is a great way to enjoy downtown Scottsdale. There are some good restaurants on these streets, too, but they fill up quickly on Thursday evenings. Dress comfortably and casually, come down early, meet some friends, grab a bite and a glass of wine, and take a leisurely stroll through the neighborhood.
How to Get There
- From the Loop 101 Pima Freeway, exit at Indian School Road and drive west. Turn left (south) at Scottsdale Road and drive to Main Street. Turn right (west) and you're in the Arts District.
- From the 202 Freeway, exit at Scottsdale Road and head north to Main Street. Turn left (west).