First Friday in Phoenix: 7 Must-See Shows July 5

First Friday heats up July 5 with creative works going up all over the city. Here are our picks for shows not to miss this artful evening.

Coyote Ghost @ Palabra Studios "Coyote Ghost," which will be on view at Palabra Studios through July 5, will be Rebecca Green's farewell show to Phoenix, she says. "It's a way to acknowledge all that the area and the people here have given me."

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Green moved here from Michigan in July of 2012, when a teaching job brought her significant other, Matt, to the Valley of the Sun. She says they both wanted to experience new things outside of their homestate, and that they are moving again to continue exploring.

But, unlike many Phoenix defectors, Green says she will miss the art scene when she leaves. "My favorite part about Phoenix is the people, and that I was able to dive into a highly talented and passionate group of artists," she says. "I joined The Lodge studio as soon as I got here and it allowed me to hit the ground running and make the most of my time. I don't know if it will be so easy to break into communities in other cities." Read more. -- Katrina Montgomery

"Hit The Deck" @ Phoenix Art Spaces Artist Kevin Bates admits he was never much of a skate trickster. He may have ridden a board around during his high school days and hung out with grinders, but didn't pull off much in the way of epic kickflips or pole jams. Truth be told, he was more into skater art and culture than anything else.

"I never went all crazy with my board or nothing," Bates says. "I basically sucked, but I liked the whole scene and I loved all the artwork that was on the decks." This fervent lifelong affinity for skater culture is one of the reasons why the 24-year-old painter decided to organize "Hit the Deck," an exhibition that opens Friday, July 5, at the Phoenix Art Spaces. Read more. -- Benjamin Leatherman

"Submerged" @ Eye Lounge If you've ever imagined Phoenix becoming totally submerged in water, then you and Abbey Messmer have something in common. The local artist says living in the desert didn't prevent her from finding inspiration for her current series of aquatic artwork in "Submerged" currently on view at Eye Lounge.

"There is a certain span, heading south on SR-51 from about Shea to Glendale, that just screams ocean floor," she says. "I can imagine all the sea flora and fauna hanging out down there." Read more. -- Katrina Montgomery

"REFORMART" @ 6th Avenue Gallery

On July's First Friday,

6th Avenue Gallery

will display works from artists Lalo Cota, Tato Caraveo, and Pablo Luna that were commissioned by Torres Marquez Communications to explore

immigration reform

in the U.S. and what economic impact a pathway to citizenship would make. See the pieces alongside other works from the trio from 6 to 10 p.m. A portion of proceeds from the show will benefit The 100 Club's survivor fund in memory of the Granite Mountain Hotshots lost in the

Yarnell Hill Fire


"The Art of Video Games" @ Phoenix Art Museum Video games are art. That is the unwavering stance of Java innovator and noted game aficionado Chris Melissinos. When he talks about writing gaming code, he compares it to writing poetry. These games are more than digitized pastimes -- they're an amalgam of all forms of traditional art, he says.

And if you take a second to consider his equation (narrative plus orchestration plus painting plus social reflection plus sculpture equals video game) there's really no way to argue the point. For more evidence, there's the exhibition Melissinos curated, "The Art of Video Games," on view at Phoenix Art Museum through Sunday, September 29. The show looks at the 40-year history of gaming and how it has evolved over that span of time -- from Pac-Man and Pong to World of Warcraft. Read more. -- Becky Bartkowski

"Celebrating Frida" @ Burton Barr Central Library In honor of what would have been Frida Kahlo's 106th birthday, the Phoenix Fridas are preparing a celebration fit for a queen.

Starting on July's First Friday with the exhibition "Celebrating Frida" at Burton Barr Central Library, the local group of artists and artisans will pay homage to the Mexican painter with a display of artwork inspired by her life and work. Read more. -- Katrina Montgomery

"Heat II" @ Practical Art July in Phoenix creates a sort of common denominator. It's a bonding agent for those who have lived here for at least a year. It also bonds our backs to car seats, our bodies to water and air conditioning, and our underwear to its butt cracks. Even most outdoor enthusiasts find local hills dead with the sound of silence due to this unrelenting culprit: the heat.

However, there is also a sense of resilience that comes with this season. If we can face the swelter of the Valley together and get through it with varied coping mechanisms, then maybe it's not so, so bad. These interpretations are explored visually through Practical Art's exhibition "Heat II," a jury-selected show featuring 11 artists who celebrate the summertime sweats. The multimedia exhibition includes works of photography, oil on canvas, wood assemblage, and print. Read more. -- Craig Smith

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