5 Cool Things We Saw at February's Third Friday in Downtown Phoenix

When in doubt, start your First and Third Friday art adventures with the trio of shipping containers turned gallery spaces at the Roosevelt Row A.R.T.S. Market, where interesting work and opportunities to talk with a diverse assortment of artists abound. That's our take home from this month's Third Friday, where Halt and Hot Box galleries continued to serve up fun and interesting fare.

Modest but energetic crowds infused spaces that were harder to navigate during First Friday, when crowds sometimes streamed through spaces like parades of ants rather than pausing to engage with the arts and culture that has made these events, and the Roosevelt Row arts district, such a draw.

See also: Rebecca Green returns to Phoenix to Paint New Mural at The Lodge on Grand Avevue

Alexis Duque at Hot Box Gallery

Like plenty of other folks, artist Rossitza Todorova made the trek from Tempe to downtown Phoenix, taking in both the opening reception for the ASU Art Museum's spring shows and several Third Friday shows. We spotted her admiring works by New York artist Alexis Duque, whose "Uploaded: Alexis Duque" exhibition continues at the Hot Box Gallery through March 15.

Curator Ted G. Decker describes paintings by Columbia born Duque as "archeological compilations of cultures built one upon another." While some see explorations of colonialism in its many forms, others are drawn by the familiarity of iconic images from Frida Kahlo and Mona Lisa to Hello Kitty and Mickey Mouse.

Only a small couch placed in front of the sole painting on the container's short wall and a nifty magnifying glass would have upped our enjoyment of the show. Rich with detail and layers of meaning, we wanted to visually crawl inside several of Duque's works and linger at length to take in the full measure of their rich detail.

Rossitza Todorova at Eye Lounge

Across the street, a steady stream of gallery goers explored the "Avant-Garde" exhibition featuring works by current and former members of the Eye Lounge arts collective. Folks who made their way to a small Project Room located off the main gallery saw Todorova's artist books and paper sculptures. The intimate space imbues her work, which is beautiful and technically precise, with warmth and just the right touch of whimsy.

Todorova's artist statement for this "Fold & Cut" exhibition explains her use of simple repeated geometry to explore ideas of time and space. The artist notes that these works are meant to represent space over time. "In this exhibition," she writes, "I am using images of diamonds...and cast shadows to create a metaphor of the passage of time." Even aging sounds kind of sexy when you put it that way.

Cherie Buck-Hutchison at The Lodge Art Studio

We saw an impressive array of photography during this month's Third Friday, including works by several artists featured in the "Being Human" exhibition at The Lodge Art Studio, where our favorites included this beauty by Cherie Buck Hutchison.

Other artists featured in "Being Human" include Nidaa Aboulhosn, Sergio Aguirre, Joe Brklacich, Sue Chenoweth, Bill Dambrova, Danielle Hacche, Monica Aissa Martinez, Ronnie Ray Mendez, Abbey Messmer, Rafael Navarro, Lisa Marcelle Nowitz, and Chip Thomas.

Of course, half the fun was watching folks check out Rebecca Green's new The Painted Desert mural for the The Lodge Art Studio, which was lit by a lone portable spot. Like Lauren Lee's Three Birds at 222 East Roosevelt Street, this baby is destined to become an important way-finding tool within a burgeoning arts district.

Craig George at 1Spot Gallery

Over at 1Spot Gallery, which specializes in indigenous art, they're putting together a printed book and digital app featuring works in various mediums that incorporate designs by Damian Jim.

We got a taste for the project while exploring an exhibition called "Byting Willows - The Evolution of the Dine' Basket" at 1Spot Gallery, where we spied not only George's Keeping the Tradition Alive reflecting the cultural heritage passed between generations, but also plenty of other interesting works.

Our other favorites included a long silk scarf sporting a bold repeating black and red graphic, and a cool assortment of earrings created by Kathy Whitman-Elk Woman. Baskets abound as well, of course, as do prints and works in several additional mediums.

Eric Kasper at Shade West

One cool part of hitting the Third Friday trail is figuring out all the fun places artworks are exhibited outside traditional spaces such as galleries and museums. A spacious hallway off the front foyer for the Renaissance Hotel often sports exhibitions presented by MonOrchid, which calls the hotel space Shade West gallery.

We cruised through Friday night, and found works by Eric Kasper that had been exhibited at monOrchid earlier this year. It's a cool way for those who rarely darken art gallery doors to stumble on works of art despite their best efforts to merely do the cocktail thing while hitting the downtown scene.

Kasper's work stirs an intriguing mix of unease and nostalgia, so we're thinking some who view it must feel simultaneously right and home and sorely out of place.

Many of the exhibits that opened during Third Friday continue through Art Detour, taking place Saturday, March 7 and Sunday, March 8. Find more information on the Artlink website.

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Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble