Mesa Arts Center will mark the start of the 2018-19 concert season with a free, family-friendly festival from 6 to 11 p.m. Friday, September 14. “Get Jazzed,” the season kickoff event, coincides with the reopening of Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum after a brief hiatus, and will showcase five new exhibitions inspired by the genre.
Festival-goers will be able to explore jazz music on three stages, and includes Chicago-based ensemble Sidewalk Chalk, whose music transcends the genre of jazz with a unique sound that blends elements of funk, hip-hop and R&B. Local favorite musicians Dennis Rowland with special guest Jesse McGuire, and KJZZ personality and entertainer Blaise Lantana will also perform, along with a roving brass band and other featured jazz musicians from Valley venue, The Nash.
In Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum, the sound of jazz and contemporary art collide with five wildly diverse exhibitions. Performer and visual artist Joe Willie Smith brings his musical instruments, fabricated from found materials. His exhibition, KO MO-Not Knowing, explores the uncertainty of life and how we try to plan and control a future that is still unfolding. Cultural icon and legendary artist Faith Ringgold is renowned for her unconventional quilts, which narrate events from her life as well as the black-American experience. Her exhibition Jazz Stories will showcase five of these quilts alongside other works on paper about jazz. Born with synesthesia, New Mexico artist Reyes Padilla uses his remarkable ability to paint music. Padilla’s site-specific installation will transform the museum’s Project Room into a visual expression of jazz.
Two more exhibitions – Jazz it Up!, a curated exhibition that looks at the enduring impact of jazz on contemporary art, and Crazy Vibes and Thangs, featuring graffiti-inspired works by Frank Morrison – will round out the museum experience.
Following the festival, special events to celebrate jazz will continue throughout the season. Some examples include free screenings of Jazz, a film series by Ken Burns, September through early December in the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum; a three-part, monthly series of ticketed outdoor jazz concerts offered in partnership with The Nash (Sound in the Ground: Nash Night at MAC); and several performing live jazz concerts including Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis, presenting Spaces on October 4.