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6 Must-See Art Shows During First Friday in Phoenix on March 6

As we're all gearing up to gorge on art during Art Detour, it's worth noting that making the First Friday rounds is a fabulous way to knock some prime exhibits off your weekend art to-do list. There's a long list of things we're eager to see, but these are the exhibitions that caught our eye for Friday Friday art adventures.

8th Annual "Mutant Piñata Show"

Leave the piñata poles and baseball bats at home for this one. It's true that all manner of piñatas will be hanging from the rafters at Frontal Lobe Community Space and Gallery during First Friday, but there's no candy or money to be gained here. Instead, the piñata fare is part of a beloved annual tradition that engages artists and community members in making piñatas more than a bit off the beaten path to your local party store.

See also: Paint PHX Mural Event Returns to Roosevelt Row, Grand Avenue, and Calle 16

Like this trio of primary color twins featured a few years ago, works exhibited in the "Mutant Pinata Show" demonstrate the power of imagination to transform simple materials into whimsical takes on identity, culture, and more. It's impossible to know what you might find hanging around the Bragg's Pie Factory space come First Friday, but previous shows have featured everything from squid ala bubble wrap to giant felted blowfish.

You can see the show between 6 and 11 p.m. during First and Third Friday this month, and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. during this weekend's Art Detour event. Find more information on the Frontal Lobe Community Space and Gallery Facebook page.

"Everything After"

Last time we caught up with artist Cindy Schnackel, her little critters on wheels were part of the "Move" exhibition at {9} The Gallery. But just a few days ago, she delivered something quite different to R. Pela Contemporary Art (which, full disclosure, is owned by longtime New Times contributor Robrt Pela), where the exhibition "Everything After: New Art from Cindy Schnackel and Jared Aubel" opens on First Friday with a 6 p.m. artist reception.

We checked out Schnackel's blog for a little taste of what to expect and learned her pieces for the R. Pela show include 19 thrift store makeovers "from miniature to almost didn't fit in the car," plus 30 or so smaller non-thrift store works and more than 50 bottle cap bird paintings. The makeovers put an odd contemporary twist on prints of works by old masters, such as Schnackel painting "a giant, sinister toddler" atop an equestrian scene by Edward Kirkbride Thomas.

Aubel's work also blends old with new, as he gives iconic faces a contemporary, high-color twist. Think highbrow meets lowbrow in paintings whose subjects range from Jesus to Audrey Hepburn. They're inspired by childhood nostalgia, he says, and a fascination with the contrast of positive and negative, evil and good. "Everything After" runs through March 30, with a second reception scheduled for 6 p.m. on Third Friday, March 20. It will also be open during Art Detour from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 7, and Sunday, March 8. Find more information on the R. Pela Contemporary Art website.

"instApache Filtered Rezolution: Social Media Now"

We've noticed that the black and white Douglas Miles mural on the eastern exterior wall for monOrchid has become a popular spot for casual and professional photo shoots. So we were intrigued to learn that Miles is bringing his own photography and other artwork to the Bokeh Gallery at monOrchid.

The exhibition explores the artist's use of Instagram photography to capture "his life, artwork, inspirations and politics through a contemporary Apache lens" while "dispensing with the formalities and outdated notions of indigenous life." We're eager to see how Miles employs social media as both medium and platform.

You can meet Miles during the opening reception taking place from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on First Friday. The closing reception takes place on Third Friday during those same hours. During Art Detour, the exhibition will be open Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Art Detour visitors can also enjoy live music and family activities. Find more information on the monOrchid website.

"Feminism Today"

When last we spoke to Christine Cassano, she was creating new works for the "Feminism Today" group invitational exhibition opening at the Shade Gallery at monOrchid on First Friday. More than half the work featured in this show are new, according to curator Nicole Royse, who says several were created specifically for this exhibition. Other featured artists include Kristin Bauer, Cherie Buck Hutchinson, Mimi Jardine, Melissa Martinez, Monica Aissa Martinez, Constance McBride, Lara Plecas, Irma Sanchez, Mary Shindell, Beth Ames Swartz, Marilyn Szabo, and Denise Yaghmourian. Royse notes that all have helped to shape the metro Phoenix art scene -- which is the very reason this show made our "must see" roundup.

Royse notes that the exhibition explores "the many roles we as women play" and how these roles are reflected in each artists' work -- explaining in exhibition materials that feminism is generally defined as advocating for or supporting "the right and equality of women." For the first time, she says, Shade Projects is "showcasing as all female group exhibition offering each artist the opportunity to bring her own views, experiences and insight" to what feminism means to them.

You can meet "Feminisim Today" artists during the First Friday opening reception from 6 to 11 p.m., or hear exhibiting artists talk briefly about their work during the closing reception taking place during the same hours on Third Friday, March 20. Like the Douglas Miles exhibition in an adjacent gallery, "Feminism Today" will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday during Art Detour. Ditto on the live music and family activities. Find more information on the monOrchid website.


We did some poking around Grant Street Studios in late January after attending an ASU School of Art Visiting Artist and Scholar Lecture Series presentation about the "Afghan War Rugs" exhibition at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. First we strolled the halls, talking with a couple of artists and checking out the artist studios you can admire through the ceiling-to-floor chain link fencing that conveys a hip industrial vibe. We hit the venue's Step Gallery too, exploring an exhibition that just happened to feature a few of the artists whose works are being shown in "Seven" this month at {9} The Gallery.

"Seven" is a nod to the fact that there are seven participating artists -- including Swapna Das, Cam DeCaussin, Lisa Von Hoffner, Joseph Holdren, Travis Ivey, AJ Nafziger, and Rory Alan MacLean. They're all MFA candidates at the ASU School of Art, and their paintings for this show include diverse mediums from oil paint to security envelopes. More than two dozen works are included. We're delighted that those who missed that Step Gallery exhibition, titled "2015 Inverse Conversations: Tradition RE/formed," will now have the opportunity to see several of the works from that show. Find more information on the {9} The Gallery Facebook page.

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"Vantage + Volume"

If you're up for getting a taste of both the painting and sculpture coming out of ASU's School of Art these days, make your way over to the Step Gallery at Grant Street Studios, where you'll find large-scale works by Waldo Evan Jespersen designed to "aid in our understanding of ourselves and how we exist in space." The show also features models of smaller works he'd like to create on a larger scale one day.

Exhibition materials note that "the forms in the show are created using triangles, either as a construction method or as a seed for non linear forms," suggesting that the use of simple geometry and advanced fabrication techniques are helping to "shape the way of things to come." The graduate thesis exhibition runs March 5 through 14. The opening reception takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. on First Friday. Find more information on the ASU events website.

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