12 Cool Things We Saw at December's Third Friday

A relatively light crowd during December's Third Friday meant more opportunities to get up close and personal with artworks normally surrounded by eager viewers. Some suspected protests in downtown Phoenix during this month's First Friday left folks wary of hitting the downtown art scene, but there was nary a protester in site and we loved the chance all that calm gave us to rub elbows with artists and learn more about their work. Here's a fun selection of some of our favorites:

Works by Laura Spalding Best

We got to thinking of all those silver platters passed down from grandparents only to land in the Goodwill shop when we spotted four Laura Spalding Best works grouped on a wall at Modified Arts. One reminded us of the round platters some use to serve holiday turkeys this time of year, but we prefer the artist's take on serving dishes and other unconventional fare given the canvas treatment. She's one of several artists whose works we enjoyed while hitting the "Visions of Phoenix: Reality and Surreality" exhibit at Modified Arts.

See also: 10 Best Places to Holiday Shop for Art Lovers in Metro Phoenix

My Dream Brought Me Here by Damian Jim/Michelle Ponce

We spotted My Dream Brought Me Here by Damian Jim and Michelle Ponce while kicking around 1Spot Gallery, which specializes in contemporary indigenous art, where we also checked out the "Not Yet Rated 2" show featuring indigenous twists on famous movie posters.

Goliath Over David by Rupert Garcia

We loved exploring three side-by-side shipping containers at the Roosevelt A.R.T.S. Market during Third Friday, including a pair of Hot Box Gallery spaces featuring the latest exhibitions in the "Uploaded" series presented by the Phoenix Institute of Contemporary Art. One exhibition, titled "M.A.R.S. Chicano Artists Print Series," features work once shown at the now-defunct art space. The other, titled "Chromatic Rhythm from Mesopotamia," features works by Iraq-born Falah Alsaedi.

Works by Nasim Nouriam

We were lured to The Firehouse by the sound of spoken word performance in their outdoor entertainment space, and delighted to find intriguing works by several artists. We especially enjoyed drawings and paintings of pole dancers by Nasim Nouriam, and loved seeing the way he uses thick applications of paint for lines he wants to accentuate within his artwork. If someone offers to make your image into a bobble head doll one day, insist they put the head atop one of Nouriam's strong dancer bodies.

Works by ARToinette

We headed to Warehouse 1005 after hearing some impressive guitar licks, and discovered a band bordered by walls bearing a series of Joseph Smith portraits by Shelley Whiting and portraits of Katy Perry, Jimi Hendrix, and Amy Winehouse painted by an artist who uses only the name Ivan. On a second story, we spotted another artist who goes by ARToinette -- and had a blast learning more about her mixed media Anastral created with 1,000 Star Wars puzzle pieces, 500 brass roofing nails, 30 yards of flexible tubular trim, vintage jewelry, bicycle sprockets, and more.

Sirens by I.L Hayden

We spotted Sirens while poking around Galleria Celtica in Roosevelt Row, where artist I.L. Hayden was hanging out with a few friends including Santa. We've no idea whether he's been naughty or nice this year, but figure his work should earn him more than a bit of coal in his stocking. Hayden shared that Sirens began as a doodle with colored pencils, and figured the sirens were all about luring unsuspecting men as the legend often goes. Instead, he says, it's often women with intriguing life stories to share who seem most drawn to this particular work.

"ONE" Faces by Cheryl Brandon and Constance McBride

After hitting Merkel McLendon's nifty Eye Lounge exhibition filled with found object assemblage, we headed to an adjoining space filled with dozens of faces for the "ONE" exhibition featuring new works in clay by Cheryl Brandon and Constance McBride. We couldn't pick a clear favorite, although a woman sporting pink curlers in her hair and a girl with a butterfly on her nose were serious contenders, so we just snapped a whole bunch of them to share.

"Faces: An Observation" Photographs by Stephen Gittins

We had fun comparing various takes on the human face spotted during our Third Friday adventures -- including this wall of faces shown in black and white at Capture 12. While there we met a man thrilled to have discovered a bathroom containing the very toilet pictured in a work of art he owns, which was painted many years ago by Colin Chillag.

Emerging Faces by Deborah Hodder

We enjoyed seeing the variety of work featured in Deborah Hodder's solo "Entanglement" exhibition at Five15 Arts -- including two large scale works. One, titled Emerging Faces, is an encaustic on wood piece imagining faces growing from a terracotta planter. The other, titled Portrait With White Hair, is a paper pulp painting.

Works by Mee Shim

While checking out Yvette Arteaga's "Back to Basics" exhibition at GreenHaus in Phoenix, we also enjoyed works by Kyllan Maney and several additional local artists. Several works by Mee Shim surround the front door, and we're especially keen on the ones pictured here plus another that depicts a tree growing inside a leaf.

Works by Julie Frye

We had to pop into The Nash after hearing all that upbeat jazz wafting out the open door. Once inside, we explored works by various artists -- including these pieces by Julie Frye. We'd have loved to linger over the music for a spell, but more artwork beckoned.

Impaled Dubble Bubble & Tootsie Roll by Dan Nearing

We spotted plenty of sweet stuff at Treeo in Roosevelt Row, where artists gathered a bit off the beaten path to ply their wares for the holidays. Our favorites included works by Amanda Adkins and Aileen Frick, plus several playful pieces by Dan Nearing and Jules Gissler.

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