The museum's collection and calendar of exhibits is a little more daring than you might imagine, but the permanent installation of James Turrell's Knight Rise presents visitors with the biggest art jolt of all. The work, open to the public for free, consists of a circular bench beneath a luminous domed ceiling. An elliptical hole cut into the top of the dome contains a glimpse of sky. When observed in this manner, even the clearest desert sky seems to shift and pulse and fill the window with pure exuberant color. Come at dawn or sunset for the best (and often most solitary) viewing.
Housed in a former movie multiplex, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art features an edgy slate of art, design, and architecture shows. Starting February 1, The Five Senses will activate the body and mind with playful works of art by creators like Janet Cardiff, Spencer Finch, and Ernesto Neto. 7374 E. Second St., (480) 874-4666.
Exhibits at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art are always magnetic and engaging, but most people don’t know this is a great place to shop, too! The Store @ SMoCA is full of creative gifts like contemporary jewelry, statement coffee table books, and sleek pieces for the home. There’s a fantastic kids selection, too. Visit the “Arizona by Design” space to browse works from local designers.