9 Cool Things We Saw During Phoenix First Friday on April 3

First Friday seemed to ramp up a bit earlier than usual on Friday night, as people hit local galleries, explored tables covered in artwork and other wares for sale, and watched a few aerosol artists painting live during outdoor demonstrations.

Story strips at Eye Lounge

Art lovers got to double dip works by Turner G. Davis, who had exhibitions at both Willo North Gallery and Eye Lounge. When we popped into Eye Lounge, we found people carefully reading every panel of his story strips (think comic strips, but story-based), sometimes letting out a hearty laugh. They're interspersed with large-scale works blending fantasy with realism, and a couple of pink horse busts we can't quite fathom. But we loved seeing people really pausing to take art in, and feeling free enough to let go an unbridled reaction.

See also: Announcing the 2015 Big Brain Finalists

Art behind bars at Capture 12

We were intrigued by the way a simple mock jail cell installation added gravitas to a series of black and white photos at Capture 12, which drew a steady stream of onlookers who lingered to really examine each shot and talk with photographer Ken Storch about his "Jail Project" documenting life in the Madison Street Jail. Exhibited photos are by Storch and 11 additional photographers.

Beautiful baskets at 1 Spot Gallery

The eclectic mix of artists and media has been catching our eye at 1Spot Gallery of late, where our favorite First Friday finds this time around included these hand-woven baskets. While we strolled through the gallery, artist Damian Jim sat near the door doing a digital sketch we're told will be part of an upcoming show with a technology spin. Nearby people gathered in the courtyard to converse between stops at other art spaces.

Fruit meets Frankenstein at 11th Monk3y

We found whimsical takes on the banana dotting red bricks walls at 11th Monk3y, where works by Los Angeles artist Trevor Wayne conjured classic pop art fare. We're used to seeing Marilyn Monroe get the pop art treatment, but not so much the creatures of oldie-but-goodie horror flicks. Marilyn was in good company with Frankenstein this time around, and we soon found ourselves with a weird craving for something off the Short Leash menu.

Donna Atwood's French roots at Five15 Gallery

When we landed at Five15 Gallery, we got to hear all about Donna Atwood's discovery via DNA testing that the grandpa she never knew gave her French rather than Mexican roots, which inspired her to create a series of works exploring French and Mexican cultures -- and the intersection of different cultures within her own life. Our favorites included her intaglio with watercolor Savoir Faire.

Cities with history at The Roose Parlour

We spotted plenty of good photography during First Friday travels, including works by Jessica Savidge hung on main walls, and sometimes in nooks and crannies, at The Roose Parlour & Spa in Roosevelt Row. Savidge's black and white photographic prints were taken in several large metropolis, both in the U.S. and abroad, including New York City. Normally we don't get much time to do the spa thing, but having cool art makes a pretty appealing lure.


Royalty in rich colors at Lotus Contemporary Art

We enjoyed seeing works by James Edward Hernandez at Lotus Contemporary Art, which ranged from jewel-tones to muted neutrals with a touch of hazy pastel colors. Despite their whimsical undertones, his works are strong and commanding. The personas he paints evoke a wide range of emotions, and we get the feeling we could look at his pieces often without ever really tiring of the view.

Jeff Slim talking art inspirations at La Melgosa

We loved doing the Creation Station maze at La Melgosa on Grand Avenue, where every turn in a meandering hallway brought us face to face with works by another artist. We found 2015 Big Brain nominee Jeff Slim surrounded by several of his new works inside a gallery space, where he was talking with visitors about traditions that informed one of his paintings depicting a man playing a string game. Earlier in the night, we'd enjoyed a trio of his works at the "Street Art Phoenix" show inside Shade Gallery at monOrchid.

Scrambled parts at Bokeh Gallery

We popped into Bokeh Gallery at monOrchid while we were there, where we marveled at dozens of works hung using rough-hewn twine and black binder clips. Many feature fun variations on the human form that feel like snapshots taken during a Mr. Potato Head convention. The more we saw of Daniel Shepherd's assorted oddities for "The Dainty Little Freak Show," the more endearing they became. And by the end of the night, a certain blob with bulging eyes started to feel a bit like a self-portrait.

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