9 Cool Things We Saw During First Friday in Phoenix on May 1

May's First Friday brought some pleasant surprises, from more time with the Hot Box Gallery and Halt Gallery shipping containers before their summer hiatus to an exhibition of artwork by students at New School for the Arts and Academics . The Roosevelt A.R.T.S. Market was in full swing with food trucks, merchants, and music -- and we found a cool assortment of artwork in plenty of different places.

Bright geometrics

The display wall at Practical Art was lined with works in a fun variety of shapes and sizes by Julio Cesar Rodarte, who recalls finding beauty in small things even as a young boy on his parents' farm in Zacatecas, Mexico, where he collected organic matter and drew geometric sketches. His solo exhibition "Electric Love" continues through May 31.

See also: State of the Arts: 10 Things Phoenix Needs to Do

Famous faces

We found an interesting mix of partial portraits combined into a single array by Mark Lammie, whose line of portrayals led with Ted Cruz on the left (a first, for sure). He's one of several artists, including 2015 Big Brain Award finalist Jeff Slim, with work on view at First Studio -- where we also enjoyed revisiting the famous Wallace and Ladmo mural by Nomas, Casebeer, and Jenny Ignaszewski.

Young artists rising

We're used to seeing Kyllan Maney in artist mode, but we stumbled onto Maney in art teacher mode during an exhibition of artwork by students at New School for the Arts and Academics, where she heads the art department. We're told the offer to use vacant gallery space at the corner of Roosevelt and Fifth streets came late in the game, but NSAA ran with it -- presenting an impressive array of paintings, photographs, ceramics, and mixed media works including painted Vans sneakers.

Desert landscapes

Oil paintings by Joshua Louchheim dotting the walls of Shade Gallery at monOrchid have a bit of a Philip C. Curtis vibe minus the strong surrealism, and we especially enjoyed those populated by cactus and other desert plants -- as well as one that plopped a beautiful blue swimming pool in the great outdoors. His solo "From the Outside Looking In" exhibition continues through May 31.

Leonardo light

We spotted paintings by Paige Reesor when we popped into Mother Bunch Brewing, including one of our favorites depicting the lovely Mona Lisa with a modern twist. It's always nice to find places sporting works by local artists, so we can do the whole food-and-drink thing without going cold turkey on the arts and culture scene.

An artist with hang-ups

Sean Deckert was chilling on the sidewalk outside The Lodge Art Studio along Grand Avenue, no doubt discussing hang-ups with those gathered 'round. Several of his works were being shown at The Lodge Art Studio, and our favorites included a series of lenticular prints suspended from the ceiling to create boxy shadows at various angles along the wall.

Double dose of angst

In addition to works by Paula Debenedetto and Jeff Klein featured in "Landscapes & Lux," we spotted side-by-side large-scale paintings by ASU MFA student Joseph Holdren at {9} The Gallery. They're hung above a couch in the gallery's retail space where folks sometimes gather to talk art walk adventures. Holdren dubbed the works Angst I and Angst II, as if he'd foreseen our reaction to the accidental launch of mini-cupcakes across the floor.

Wooden Indians

Instead of tacky cigar store statues, we spotted authentic American Indian art created using interesting wooden materials at Willo North Gallery, where the final exhibit

before the gallery closes features works in various media by Douglas Miles. We've seen a lot of his work lately -- from new mural art at Barrio Café to a couple of recent shows at monOrchid -- but works at Willo North show his versatility in working with objects such as skate decks, wooden crates, and vintage luggage.

Abstract body parts

We found Bill Dambrova, 2014 Phoenix Art Museum Contemporary Forum grant winner, perched on the porch at Treeo at 906 North Sixth Street as people strolled in and out for the closing reception of "Yonder Land," which featured works by Dambrova, Ellen Jo Roberts, and Douglas Weber. We especially loved seeing slivers of sparkle and strong geometrics among his works conjuring the inner workings of the human form.

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