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

Artwork, street performers, food trucks, and super-size boom boxes made this month's First Friday an especially lively affair. Folks visiting Roosevelt Row had fun with way-finding, thanks to towers of arrows pointing the way to local art venues and local businesses, and signs signaling nearby sources of artwork, coffee, beer, and little black dresses. We found our February favorites in a fun assortment of places from a pop-up gallery to a photography studio.

Soul Matrix by Tara Logsdon

We were drawn by a rainbow of cascading colors to Tara Logsdon's Soul Matrix, an installation featured in her solo exhibition "Bearial Ground" at Frontal Lobe Gallery and Community Space -- where 10 repurposed teddy bears mounted on gallery walls are dressed according to social justice themes such as race, torture, money, and poison. While making our way from a teddy bear sporting a white hooded KKK robe to a teddy bear attached to a mock torture device, we spotted various gallery-goers interacting with Soul Matrix, going inside the circular space for a bit of conversation or meditative time. The installation really drew people in and kept them engaged with the exhibition.

See also: Roosevelt Row Changes Are Coming, Despite Altered Development Plans

Photographs by Jim Bochenek

Jim Bochenek's photographs, taken in Arizona, and during European travels, marry simple subject matter with sophisticated technique. One of our favorites shows an old Valley Bank sign, and another shows a door bordered by cactus blanketed in snow. They're part of an exhibition called "Matter of Light" at Capture 12, which is curated by Rembrandt Quiballo and also includes photography by Robby Brown and Gene LaTour.

Mural Art by 40 Owls

There was a steady stream of First Friday participants walking from Roosevelt Row to the 40 Owls pop-up gallery space once other shows had wrapped up for the night. A the pop-up, we found a fun mix of local artists and art lovers enjoying the 40 Owls Art Lounge event, meant to celebrate the good buzz surrounding the duo's recent exhibition in the same space. This time around, they presented a reprise of several works -- including wooden figurative sculptures, mail art, and "Golden Clutch" figurines. Our favorites, not featured in the 2014 exhibition, were large scale works with a mural vibe.

Prints by Wendy Willis

We've grown accustomed to seeing Wendy Willis prints displayed inside the Phoenix Center for the Arts lobby, so it was fun to see her prints in another setting this month. Willis' works typically set people in or around the water. Those currently featured in "I'll Show You Mine If You Show Me Yours" at Five15 Gallery on Roosevelt include images of legs jutting out of a swimming pool, children playing at the beach, and people exploring underwater environments.

Boy With a Gun by Marlys Kubicek

Kubicek's works were featured in the same exhibition at Five15 Gallery. Our favorite, Boy With a Gun, juxtaposes happy colors and whimsical design with a deadly serious subject. When viewed alongside four companion pieces, however, it feels more like an homage to a little boy's love affair with toy guns conveyed via a papel picado-inspired Valentine. We also lingered over her game-show style spinner called The Human Connection, which explored issues of ego, consumerism, and more. Kubicek says she expects both works to evolve, so we'll be watching for future iterations meant to take these pieces to a new level.

See also: 7 Cool Things We Saw at Phoenix's First Friday in January

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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