Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row named among best art districts in the country

Sep 16, 2014, 4:57 PM | Updated: 7:03 pm

PHOENIX — When it comes to beauty, Arizona has long been famous for its natural artistry, including the Grand Canyon, the red rocks of Sedona and silhouetted cacti against dramatic sunsets.

But a recent list by USA Today may shift the focus to Arizona’s man-made art, as Roosevelt Row in Phoenix was named one of the top 10 art districts in the nation.

“No, I’m not surprised,” said Doug MacKenzie, director of communications for Visit Phoenix. “It’s just exciting to be recognized nationally.”

The list praised Roosevelt Row’s abundant galleries and unique shops and restaurants, which make the area easy to walk around and explore. The district is also known for its First Fridays, a monthly event in which visitors can tour galleries, shop craft stands, hear live music and dine via food trucks. More than 70 galleries and art-friendly businesses participate.

Roosevelt Row artists are also known for turning the ordinary into works of art, such as Phoenix Institute of Contemporary Art’s recent project to turn a recycled shipping container into a portable gallery. The project is designed to give novice Phoenix artists a vibrant, nontraditional place to display their early works for public viewing.

The row is also colorfully decorated by murals on the sides of churches, restaurants and businesses.

The district additionally fosters creativity outside of the arts, including its multiple community gardens.

Other art districts on the list included the Warehouse District in Raleigh, N.C., Gallery Row in Los Angeles, Calif., and Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward in Wisconsin.

The list was not ranked, so the districts were not scored or compared.

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Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row named among best art districts in the country