Teresa Widmer loves trash. The local mixed-media artist has collected garbage off the streets for the past 12 years, documenting her finds and recycling them into artistic assemblages that comment on America's disposable culture. Among her finds: the Peoplemagazine cover featuring Liz Taylor's 1989 wedding to "that construction worker," lingerie from Victoria's Secret, and a vintage Brooks Brothers shirt in a dry-cleaning bag covered with tire tracks. She frequently finds shoes, rusted-out cans, and small animal carcasses. "The more mangled [something is], the more it has lived," she says.
Widmer resurrects our refuse with her exhibition "American White Trash, the Frosting Façade: The Real Show," opening with a free reception from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, October 7. "This is something to document how wasteful and frivolous our society is," says Widmer. "We're not a real thoughtful society in terms of what we throw away."
For example, Widmer's collage American Campsite includes a bunch of organic soda cans somebody left in the woods. "That kills me," she says with a chuckle. "People are like, 'Oh, I'll only do organic, but I'll throw the can on the ground.'"
Get trashed at Lumbre Metal Gallery, 925 Grand Avenue. The exhibit continues through October 31. Call 602-438-4000. -- Niki D'Andrea
3carpileup on Van Buren
'Twas the late 1990s in the Phoenix art scene, and painter Randy Slack and his 3carpileup buddies realized they were prisoners of First Fridays. "We were breaking down the studio and painting the walls, and we didn't have time to go out," Slack recalls. "So we said, 'Let's have a piece from everybody in our space.'" That epiphany spawned the first "Chaos Theory" show, a massive annual group exhibition that has grown to include work by 39 local artists (including Slack's Rock Stars at Home With Their Parents, shown in progress). "Chaos Theory 6" opens with a free reception at 7 p.m. Friday, October 7, and continues through October 30 at Legend City Studios, 521 West Van Buren Street. Call 602-321-2887. -- Julie Peterson
The Brunch Club
Riff, light, with sugar
We don't need no stinkin' hangovers, so slay those savage beasts at Blues Brunch, a mellow affair launching Sunday, October 9, and continuing from noon to 2 p.m. each Sunday in the courtyard at Stinkweeds Record Exchange, 12 West Camelback Road. The event includes gratis coffee and sweets, plus performances by acoustic bluesicians Scotty Spenner and Mikel Lander. Admission is free. Call 602-248-9461. -- Clay McNear
Yard Dogs in heat
The Bearded Lady discovered electrolysis, and Lizard Man ran off with Monkey Girl, but the Yard Dogs Road Show is proof that circus freak shows still exist. Founded by Eddy Joe Cotton, "tramp" artist and author of Hobo -- A Young Man's Thoughts on Trains and Tramping in America, the Yard Dogs revue features Tobias the sword-swallower, spandex-clad pop icon Guitar Boy, and topless burlesque dancers who'll make your mama blush. These vagabonds use what they have; the performers make their own costumes, and Eddy Joe hand-paints every colorful circus banner. Glitter disco poetry. A fire-breathing Elvis. The 12-toed man. The Yard Dogs have everything but the kitchen sink. No, wait, there's that, too, in the form of a jug band with washboard bass. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, October 9, at the Icehouse, 429 West Jackson Street. Admission is $10 -- $2 off for those who wear costumes. Call 602-257-8929 or visit www.eddyjoecotton.com. -- Wynter Holden