November’s First Friday was all about vibrant art spaces. Museums, galleries, small businesses, and pop-up marketplaces filled with creatives showing and selling their wares highlighted the breadth and depth of the local arts scene — proving that giving people different ways to experience art across a wide spectrum is a good thing.
Visual art filled a variety of spaces, but so too did music, dance, and other forms of creative expression. Several galleries and other venues had art priced under $100, while others' offerings were priced well over $1,000. There was a lot to choose from, and we found the following artworks especially noteworthy:
We spotted several intriguing sculptures during November First Friday, even as the International Sculpture Conference was taking place in metro Phoenix. One of our favorites, a piece by Larry Kornegay titled Blonde Bombshell, 1999-2015 exhibited at Modified Arts, was created with wire hangers, wires, and concrete. Its title made for plenty of word and idea play, and left us thinking about the piece long after it had left our gaze.
Those who looked skyward near ASU’s Combine Studios in Roosevelt Row spotted a balloon created by Postcommodity. The Southwest art collective recently created a temporary art installation comprising 26 of these balloons, which were inspired by scare-eye balloons some use to deter birds from their backyards. Postcommodity’s installation bisected the U.S. and Mexico border for several days in October, but the balloon’s presence over Phoenix during November's First Friday weekend signaled the importance of ongoing local dialogue about the issues at the heart of Repellent Fence.
We happened upon large-scale works by Yuko Yabuki and Joe Holdren at a new adaptive reuse project called the Carline Center while making our way between the Roosevelt Row and Grand Avenue arts districts. The very first work we encountered there, Yabuki’s acrylic on canvas Alchemy of Life, reflected strong roots in the Southwest while conjuring thoughts of worlds far away.
Paintings by Damian Gomes that graced several walls at The Lost Leaf during November First Friday served as visual storytellers, giving viewers a space in which to reflect on their own personal journeys.
We loved the poetic feel of Cory Rogers works exhibited in the Eye Lounge Project Room. Each of the three gallery walls had a single shelf dotted with found objects accompanied by text overhead. Rogers' work illuminated the beauty of delay, while reinforcing the fact that every object has its context.
Damian Jim of 1Spot Gallery delivered another iteration on his fictional movie posters, with graphics designed for non-existent films imagined as ways to confront inequities and injustice within dominant culture. Titles such as 50 Shades of Brown turn icons of popular culture into vehicles for conveying the suppression and repression prevalent in mainstream American life.
The entryway exhibition space at Oasis on Grand was a sight, filled with two- and three-dimensional works by Joan Waters, whose line-centric works bridge the gap between whimsical and elegant.
Amid abstract works created with a myriad of media and styles at monOrchid, we spotted one piece distinguished by the artist’s choice of medium. Irma Sanchez used stabilized royal cream icing to create her Sugar Panel piece, prompting reflection on the origins of food as well as its packaging and marketing. It’s a riff on the cultural phenomenon of people taking and sharing snapshots of their food, but also signals the preference for pretty foods in contemporary American culture.
We enjoyed works by Sheetal Shaw exhibited in one of the shipping container galleries in Roosevelt Row, where Cory J. Rogers curated an exhibition of sustainability-inspired works by several artists.
We spotted photographer Niba DelCastillo selling small photographic prints capturing iconic Phoenix buildings, murals, and streetscapes at the new Flowers Beer & Wine on Roosevelt Row. The steady stream of changes happening in and around Roosevelt as new developments take shape makes urban photographers all the more important in helping to preserve the city’s history while fostering conversations about its evolving identity.
Sculptures by Constance McBride, an artist influenced by her mother’s journey through Alzheimer’s disease, comprise hollow forms of faces and bodies, sometimes solitary but other times connected to others. Pieces on view at Eye Lounge during November First Friday were infused with poignant realism that prompts reflection on memory.
Frank Ybarra turned his attention to culinary life with a painting exhibited at Practical Art, which features his characteristically bright colors and treatment of the beauty apparent in simple experiences of everyday life.
The versatility of Shauna Thibault’s work was apparent at Chartreuse. Thibault showed a grouping of small ink works, each depicting a lone person, in addition to large-scale ink works populated by various configurations of crowds. But our favorite was a pair of side-by-side paintings titled Century Plant one and two, which elevates the plants many desert dwellers take for granted to regal status.
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