Sparks, Vinyl and Absolute Chaos During October's First Friday

First Friday this October was a strange beast. The street closures haven't returned, but a few old staples of First Fridaydom that have been absent during the summer are back in full swing.

Wandering the streets we couldn't help but notice (and groan at) the street-preaching megaphone wars and subsequent slushy-downing, trash-dumping, on-looking crowds. We also took note of the returning vendors who have smartened up and have started asking local businesses to operate on their front lawns (businesses say yes, of course, because they often get a small cut or the tax portion of sales). And we admittedly grinned after seeing that the gentlemen who blast reggae and dub near Carly's Bistro have turned the volume back up.

While some of the old has crept back into First Friday, this was also a month in which the face of downtown shifted in a major way. Whether it was the premiere of the Tire Pit's second art show or the opening of the Galleria de los Muertos near Conspire. There was a feeling in the air of things changing in a good way, of at least a possibility in the air. Though a few hours later, that same feeling and possibility was overwhelmed by the the stench of burnt, twisted metal.

Read more about this past First Friday and Grindwhore after the jump ...

Grindwhore at Infinitus Gallery

Sparks, Vinyl and Absolute Chaos During October's First Friday
photo by Ryan Wolf

We joined a large crowd gathering and pressing up against a chain link fence on Fifth and Roosevelt streets to see the Grindwhore show go down behind the Infinitas Gallery.

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The fenced area looked like something out of a Judge Dredd comic or "Mad Max": An old car, a large cannon mounted on a platform, a large spider looming above the crowd, a twisted metal sculpture that looked like a Cubist phonograph.

Presiding over all this like a high priest was a man wearing what looked like a white animal skull mask. The man stood there at 9 p.m., staring at the crowd as we gathered, waiting expectantly for things to begin.

The concept behind the Grindwhore was simple: buzz saw the shit out of everything in sight. If there was something metallic that could shoot off eruptions of sparks. The smell of burnt and sawed-metal filled the air as the troupe was backed by local noise-freaks, Melted Cassettes and their disorientating soundscape. Check out our Grindwhore slideshow here.

Milk Munny at MonOrchid Gallery

Sparks, Vinyl and Absolute Chaos During October's First Friday
photo by Claire Lawton

Down the road, closer to Third Street, MonOrchid was buzzing with toy freaks and custom vinyl heads. The much-anticipated Milk Munny show had finally been unveiled by Alyisse Tramel and Trevor Hill, the two equally obsessed minds behind Acrylic Squid. The two called to local, national and international artists to customize their own Munny toys, manufactured by Kid Robot.

Crowds streamed in and out of the large venue with a relatively tiny display to see pieces by local artists Dumperfoo, Kyle Jordre, Mosha and Joshua Rhodes, to name a few. The effort was impressive, but the execution overwhelming, as Munny toys, small and large, were cramped together on a pyramid display, which forced visitors to walk in a round-about, accident-prone circles to catch their favorites and bid on the toys. Smaller, 8-inch toys went for $150 and larger, 20-inch pieces were $750 with proceeds going toward the Keep a Breast Foundation.

Chaos Theory 11 at Legend City Studios

Sparks, Vinyl and Absolute Chaos During October's First Friday
photo by Ryan Wolf

A little off the (seriously) beaten First Friday path, a more than 50 artists gathered in a panic-induced installation and showing called Chaos Theory 11 at Legend City Studios. The studio and gallery space is owned byRandy Slack,Brandon Sullivan, Jason Grubb and Jon Balinkie. Participating artists celebrated as they finished installing their works an hour before opening -- a Chaos Theory record.

Odd metallic, entrancing music aside, the atmosphere was relaxed and attendees mostly mingled in the sea of who's-who in the Phoenix art community as they pointed to their own and each others' pieces. Featured works included Randy Slack's massive, focal point painting in the center of the gallery, Pete Deise's metal sculpture (the only sculpture piece in the show), Colin Chillag's portrait of a young woman (who happens to be fellow artist, Abbey Messmer), and photography by William LeGoullon.

The relative lack of Chaos was actually welcome after a prolonged tour down the First Friday path, which could learn a lesson or two about what the Phoenix art walk used to be about. Take a peek at our Chaos Theory slideshow here.

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