By Kathleen Vanesian
By Amy Silverman
By Robrt L. Pela
By Jim Louvau
By Kathleen Vanesian
By Benjamin Leatherman
By New Times
By Becky Bartkowski
The Alwun House
Having debuted back in 1971, the Alwun House arguably sired the entire downtown arts district. Housed in a historic two-story built in 1912 home, owners Kim Moody and Dana Johnson the joint as both a gallery and studio for themselves and local artists. There's also an ample stage area in the back that has hosted fetish balls, poetry slams, fire-dancing, experimental music, and performance art.
1204 E. Roosevelt St., 602-253-7887, www.alwunhouse.org
It's hard to miss the psychedelic garishness of .anti_space. It's equally difficult to keep oneself away from the venue's over-the-top First Friday festivities and colorful array of art spaces, studios, and boutiques. While patrons constantly try to maneuver the foot-high tightrope and live bands perform on the sidewalk, galleries like 213 and Waldoism put on killer showcases of abstract art and mixed-media sculptures.
718 N. 4th St., www.myspace.com/antispace
Deus Ex Machina
When the Paper Heart closed last year, husband-and-wife duo Richard and Michele Bledsoe were without a place to create and display their fantastical realist paintings. So they hooked up with photographer Annie Lopez and two other Paper Heart expats to launch Deus Ex Machina. Housed within La Melgosa, the space provides ample room for their work, as well as the gorgeous steampunk televisions of partner Steve Gompf.
1023 Grand Ave., 602-487-0669, improbable.art.googlepages.com
There's a certain amount of envy directed by other local artists toward the 22-odd members of eye lounge. It's only natural, as the esteemed gallery is jam-packed on First and Third Fridays and features works from the best of the Valley. Any artist would want their works hanging next to the evocative abstract realism of painter Brian Boner or the haunting black-and-white photographs of Betsy Bret Harte.
419 E. Roosevelt St., 602-430-1490, eyelounge.com
Some of the most powerful and potent artwork in the Valley is showcased every month inside Five15 Arts. Created in multiple media by each of the 12 artist members (from the curiously surreal paintings of Cecilia Sandoval to the twisted sculptures of Deborah Hodder), it's helped secure the gallery's lofty reputation in the downtown art scene.
515 E. Roosevelt St., 602-256-0150, 515arts.com
The eclectic collection of artwork at Gallery Celtica often resembles a pubescent male's fantasyscape come to life. Fierce-looking WWII-era fighter planes are displayed alongside papier-mâché pirate masks and ceramic sculptures of medieval castles. A series of pulchritudinous nudes by painters Cat Moralez and Sean Porter hang nearby. But if your inner child has grown up, more mature abstract paintings by Corey King and owner Ira Hayden are also available.
509 E. Roosevelt St., 602-252-2160
Chiaroscuro-laden photographs, surrealistic shrines made of animal bones, and experimental theater are just some of the varied art forms at Roosevelt Row mainstay Modified Arts. During the past decade, proprietor Kimber Lanning has provided plenty of access to her music venue/gallery for many a local creative type, including painters Fausto Fernandez and James Angel.
407 E. Roosevelt St., 602-462-5516, modified.org
Although Douglas Grant and Amy L. Young moved the location of Perihelion Arts last fall (ditching Grand Avenue for the more gentrified pastures of Roosevelt Row), the focus of their gallery remains the same: showcasing boundary-pushing and genre-defying pieces from locals such as the Molten Brothers and nationally known artists like Andrew Brandou and Billy Childish.
610 E. Roosevelt St., Unit 137, 602-334-6299, perihelionarts.com
The intersection of Roosevelt and Fifth streets has been ground zero for First Friday crowds lately, which is lucky for the adjacent Pravus. It means hundreds of patrons will eyeball the contemporary artwork both surreal and sublime that's typically on display. A cadre of marquee-level talent has shown here, including Devo frontman Mark Mothersbaugh and tattoo artist Mitch O'Connell.
501 E. Roosevelt St., 623-363-2552, pravusgallery.com
Soul Invictus Gallery & Cabaret
One of the more entertaining destinations along Grand Avenue is Soul Invictus. That's because it seems this 16-artist collective always has some sort of provocative artwork in the front gallery (like the scandalous "Adults Only Show") or a captivating theater production in the rear cabaret (such as 2007's production of Debbie Does Dallas).
1022 Grand Ave., soulinvictus.com
Over the past five years, Melanie Craven and the other members of Tilt Gallery have beckoned First Friday patrons to their colorful establishment. Inside the retro turn-of-the-century home just off Grand Avenue, the photographs of such shutterbugs as Angela Franks Wells and Jeff Zaruba are exhibited. A number of organic-looking mixed-media pieces from local artists are also featured.
919 W. Fillmore St., 602-716-5667, tiltgallery.com
Alexander Scott Hughes relives his childhood, one painting at a time.
Hughes, 35, has made a career out of filling canvases with many of the cartoon and video game icons he grew up watching as a child of the '80s, be it Pac-Man, Voltron, or Skeletor. Like anyone over the age of 30 raised in Phoenix, Hughes remembers watching The Wallace & Ladmo Show every morning and tuning into the adventures of He-Man and Optimus Prime after school.
"It was huge part of my life. I didn't grow up in the best neighborhood, so I tended to lose myself in cartoons," says Hughes, who was raised in west Phoenix. "It gave me something to look up to."
The painter admits he's stuck on his early years because of his somewhat bumpy childhood. His father was half-Cherokee and his mother was white, which resulted in racist taunting from bigots. Hughes also has a penchant for painting childhood pictures of himself and his brother.
"It makes me happy just to look at my painting and the stuff from back then," he says. "It's easy to hide away in my work, which I think most artists like to do." — Benjamin Leatherman
See Alexander's work online (alexanderscotthughes.com) and in person at Conspire, 901 N. 5th St., or The Rose & Crown Pub, 628 E. Adams St.