5 Must-See First Friday Shows in Phoenix on December 5

You've got plenty of great options for First Friday this month. You can up your localist I.Q., explore darkness illuminated by art, rock the multimedia vibe, and support an emerging artist with our must-see lineup.


Working with the theme of illumination, guest curator Landy Headley has gathered works by more than 30 artists for this Alwun House exhibit. Shown inside dark gallery spaces, these pieces exude their own light. The nifty combination of functional and conceptual art in various mediums includes light boxes, furniture, shrines, sculpture, neon works, videos, lamps, and interactive light installations.

See also: Randy Slack Returns to His Artistic Roots with Retrospective Exhibition at Luhrs City Center in Downtown Phoenix

Featured artists include Holly Anderson, Tato Caraveo, Jamie Cordelier, Sean Deckert, Angel Diaz, Baron Dixon, Jim Fike, Francisco Flores, Sylvia Frost, Steve Gomph, Ronda Hampton, Landy Headley, Marc Hughes, Steve Jones, Maggie Keane, John Knott, Kyllan Maney, Michelle Meyer, Sue Meyers, Mike Miskowski, Michael Morrison, Rafael Navarro, El Podrido, Catie Raya, Tracey Stanley, Keith Stanton, Lauren Strohacker, Kendra Sollars, Brandon Sullivan, and Amber Wallace.

Because they've got a cash bar and The Haymarket Squares making punkgrass music for the evening, it's a 21-plus affair with paid admission. Tickets are $10 in advance or $15 at the door.The evening also includes glass bending demonstrations by the ASU neon art club. Wear your illuminated attire and you might go home with a nifty prize.

The exhibit continues through Friday, January 2. For more information, visit the gallery Facebook page.


It's been more than a year since students in the sculpture department at the ASU School of Art rocked the manhole cover vibe at the Icehouse, but they're returning for First Friday with another fine collection of sculpture -- plus an eclectic mix of music, dance, and fire performance.

"Art-O-Sphere" includes rotating performances by the Arizona Rhythm Connection Drum Circle and The Heady Hoop Tribe, providing an evening that blends both visual and performance art. It's something we'd like to see more of in the Valley, so we're glad they're making it happen.

First Friday "Art-O-Matic" hours are 6 to 10 p.m. For more information, visit the event Facebook page.


Twenty-eight local artists have works in this exhibit at the Olney Gallery at Trinity Cathedral, which was organized in conjunction with this week's World AIDS Day 2014. The exhibit also includes four 12-inch-by-12-inch sections of the AIDS Memorial Quilt.

Featured works include Joan Waters' Construct: Origami, created with welded steel, paint, patinas, and burnt wood. Waters' artist statement likens the refusal of her materials to stay contained inside a frame to the way AIDS is complicated by layers of fear, social judgments, stigma, and misconceptions.

Artists were asked to create works paying tribute to people who've died from AIDS or works reflecting AIDS advocacy, according to gallery director Manny Burruel. Hugo Medina painted an acrylic on canvas tribute to artist Keith Haring titled "Adding color to a black and white world." Laura Fisher Smith created a pastel and acrylic on paper piece called My Name is Mafetang, inspired by the 2007 photo of a gravely ill boy in Lesotho, Africa.

Marco Albarran's mixed media piece titled Mental Pain is meant to reflect perseverance, mind control, and the resurgence of hope and life. "Every pointy piece of the doll's body," he writes in an artist statement, "reminded me of my first encounter with AIDS victims in NY City in the early 1980s." His piece is meant as "a reminder of the personal solitude and the hope to keep fighting what is feared."

Additional "Released" artists include Cindy Brower, Manny Burruel, Laura Cohen-Hogan, Mj Deen, Barry Farmer, Edgar Fernandez, Monica Gisel-Crespo, Marisa Hall-Valdez, Dora Hernandez, Chele Hill, Marcia Losh, Jim McCarty, Deborah McMillion, Larry Nisula, Mary Ann Rodriguez, Gina Santi Fotografia, Michelle Terry-Helmick, Ilda Veloz, Veronica Verdugo-Lomeli, Marissa Vidrio, Jan Wethers, Armondo Williams, and Jeremy Yocum. Also Bob Booker, best know to most folks as executive director for the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

The opening reception takes place 6 to 9 p.m. on First Friday at the Olney Gallery at Trinity Cathedral, and the exhibit continues through Third Friday, December 19. For information, visit the cathedral website.

"The Lone Diagonal in a Grid Town: What's Grand about Grand Avenue"

Local historian Doug Towne curates this exhibit exploring the history of Grand Avenue, where the streets lined with green bike lanes once served as backdrop for a lovely line of ladies donning pillbox hats, white gloves, and pageant sashes.

Towne's exhibit at Frontal Lobe Community Space & Gallery celebrates "the hidden glamour and current renaissance of Phoenix's most misunderstood street," which is now home to dozens are artist-decorated planters and an eclectic assortment of artist studios and galleries.

"The Lone Diagonal" includes about three dozen items including vintage images, maps, ephemera, memorabilia, and art meant to "reveal the vibrancy of Grand Avenue as a major commercial, industrial, and residential thoroughfare and the highway the highway linking Phoenix to Los Angeles from the 1920s through the 1970s."

Exhibit materials are arranged as a 15-stop tour starting at Van Buren and winding up in Wickenburg, supplemented by floating panels and punctuated by an umbrella stand from the nearby Desert Sun Motor Hotel hung from the ceiling. Towne notes that today's Grand Avenue "has the aura of a rough street on hard times," but once was considered a swanky part of town. Hence one black and white photo showing Miss Arizona contestants standing atop the roof of a Grand Avenue resort.

Local photo collector Jeremy Rowe has loaned several images for the exhibit, and photographers including Steve Weiss and Stephanie Carrico took photos along contemporary Grand Avenue that recreate historical photos shot in the same spots. Beatrice Moore notes that some of the historical images have never been seen before.

The opening reception takes place from 6 to 10 p.m. on First Friday at Frontal Lobe Community Space and Gallery. It will also be on view during Third Friday on December 19, and the closing reception is from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, January 2. For more information, visit the gallery Facebook page.

"Emerging Artist Larry Erickson"

After doing the coffeehouse thing and participating in a group show at the Herberger Theater Center gallery, emerging artist Larry Erickson is enjoying his first solo gallery gig at Lotus Contemporary Art, where he'll be showing up to 20 small- and large-scale acrylic on canvas paintings featuring his fun spin on color.

Erickson says his work is all about "pure color and movement, and how they react to each other." Often his pieces have no title, which "allows each person to see what they want to see in it." In some works, he says, subjects are readily identified. In many, they're not.

We've heard plenty of folks lament the lack of places for new artists to show work, so we're keen on getting out there to show some art love to emerging artists when they make that transition from staring at their artwork in the studio to sharing it with the wider world in gallery mode.

The opening reception takes place from 6 to 10 p.m., and the exhibit continues through December. For more information, visit the gallery Facebook page.

See also: George Morrison Retrospective "Modern Spirit" Takes the Long View at Phoenix's Heard Museum

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