Art

Here's Your Guide to December First Friday in Phoenix

See work by Lucas J. Knowles at Step Gallery inside Grant Street Studios.
See work by Lucas J. Knowles at Step Gallery inside Grant Street Studios. Lucas J. Knowles
The last First Friday of the year is upon us, and you’ve got some great choices if you’re eager to get out there and explore the local arts scene. Here’s a sampling of shows happening around Phoenix, at venues ranging from an art hotel to a bilingual bookstore. In most cases, admission is free.

Take your holiday shopping list along, because several of these creative spaces will be selling gift items such as jewelry, ceramics, small-scale paintings, and zines by local authors. Also check out our quick list of weekend artist studio sales at the end of this guide, in case you want to do more holiday shopping with a creative twist.

click to enlarge Check out Jim White's artwork in the "Lighthouse" exhibit at Alwun House. - ALWUN HOUSE
Check out Jim White's artwork in the "Lighthouse" exhibit at Alwun House.
Alwun House

Alwun House

Alwun House is showing an eclectic assortment of light-based and light-inspired works by local creatives working in mediums that include neon, fire, LED lights, mixed media, and more. The “Lighthouse” opening will take place from 6 to 10 p.m. on First Friday. Look for artworks in the gallery and garden, as well as the adjacent Art Park where you’ll also find live entertainment, food, and a holiday market featuring local artisans and other vendors.

click to enlarge Explore work by Christy Wittmer (detail shown here) at Eye Lounge. - EYE LOUNGE
Explore work by Christy Wittmer (detail shown here) at Eye Lounge.
Eye Lounge

Eye Lounge

For her second solo exhibition as a member of the Eye Lounge collective, artist Christy Wittmer is showing new ceramic works and drawings that consider the nature and evolution of minerals, including their interplay with human forces and their relationship to the vast expanse of time. Special First Friday hours are 3 to 6 p.m. While you’re there, check out the MADE Art Boutique next door, where you can shop for a fun assortment of artisan wares.

click to enlarge Barbara Kemp Cowlin has work (detail shown here) on view at First Studio. - BARBARA KEMP COWLIN
Barbara Kemp Cowlin has work (detail shown here) on view at First Studio.
Barbara Kemp Cowlin

First Studio

The opening reception for a new group exhibition titled “Abstracted Reality” takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. at First Studio, a creative space where you'll also find exterior mural art. Featured artists include Barbara Kemp Cowlin, Johnny Kerr, and Indigo. The exhibit includes photographs, as well as works created with acrylic, oil, and spray paints.

click to enlarge Work by Allison Moyers will be on display on Five15 Arts. - ALLISON MOYERS
Work by Allison Moyers will be on display on Five15 Arts.
Allison Moyers

Five15 Arts at Chartreuse

The Five15 Arts collective is presenting a solo exhibition featuring works by member Allison Moyers. First Friday hours for “A Mad Girl’s Love Song” are 6 to 9 p.m. While you’re there, check out the Hazel and Violet letterpress business that shares space with the gallery, where you can find fun paper gifts and get a bit of hands-on time with one of their printing presses.

click to enlarge See works by more than 70 artists at FOUND:RE Phoenix. - FOUND:RE CONTEMPORARY
See works by more than 70 artists at FOUND:RE Phoenix.
FOUND:RE Contemporary

FOUND:RE Contemporary

Head to the FOUND:RE Contemporary gallery to celebrate the opening of two new exhibitions exploring minimalism and maximalism. The reception takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. The “FOCAL POINTS: Minimal VS Maximal” exhibit created with support from Artlink includes works by more than 75 Arizona-based artists, and will be on view throughout the ground floor of the FOUND: RE Phoenix hotel. “More is More: A Maximalism Exhibition” will be on view inside the gallery.

Heard Museum

The Heard Museum is offering free admission during First Friday hours from 4 to 8 p.m., when you can see exhibitions that include “Remembering the Future: 100 Years of Inspiring Art.” The evening will feature holiday tunes spun by DJ Neon Nativez, as well as a toy drive. Bring along an unwrapped, packaged toy if you want to help the cause. Toys will be donated to American Indian families living in the Phoenix metropolitan area. The museum’s Coffee Cantina and Books and More shop will be open from 5 to 7 p.m.

Herberger Theater Center

This month’s First Friday LIVE at the Herberger theme is Victorian Holiday. You’ll find carolers, arts and crafts, improv theater, and other activities on the Herberger Theater Center plaza, where First Friday hours are 6 to 9 p.m. Inside, openings for two new exhibits titled “Vacation” and “The Human Spirit” will start at 6 p.m.

Hive on 16th

The Hive on 16th is holding a Winter Desert Wonderland event from 6 to 9 p.m. on First Friday, where you can shop for artworks and hand-crafted gifts offered by more than 20 small businesses including The Bee’s Knees, Collaged Escape, Howland Studios, and MerMade Jewelry.

Irish Cultural Center

The Irish Cultural Center is holding its annual Christmas at the Castle event during First Friday hours, which start at 6 p.m. The holiday faire includes cookie decorations, photos with Santa, carolers, and more. Bring a blanket if you want to watch an outdoor screening of The Polar Express at 8 p.m. General admission is $10, and you can sign-up online before the event if you want to secure a space (Tickets will be $10 at the door, based on availability).

Japanese Friendship Garden

It’s easy to make the case that nature is its own form of fine art, and the Japanese Friendship Garden is eager to share its own natural wonders during First Friday hours from 5 to 8 p.m. (the last admission time is 7:30 p.m.). The garden does voluntary donation admission during First Friday hours, and the gift shop will be open from 5 to 7: 30 p.m.

click to enlarge Phoenix Institute of Contemporary Art has an exhibition at Modified Arts. - PHICA
Phoenix Institute of Contemporary Art has an exhibition at Modified Arts.
phICA

Modified Arts

The Phoenix Institute of Contemporary Art exhibition featuring a dozen prints produced by Santo Press in Scottsdale continues at Modified Arts, where First Friday hours are 6 to 9 p.m. Featured artists include Darrin Armijo-Wardle, Bill Dambrova, Brian Boner, Rigo Flores, Hector Fernano Garcia, Shachi Kale, Mary Meyer, Ann Morton, Christy Puetz, Papay Solomon, Chris Vena, and Vo Vera.

Nurture House

Head to the Nurture House creative space that’s home to Palabras Bilingual Bookstore and Wasted Ink Zine Distro to enjoy works by local artists and writers. A three-day celebration of the bookstore’s six-year anniversary kicks off during First Friday hours, which are 6 to 9 p.m. While you’re there, you can shop for books, zines, artworks, and eclectic gifts made by local artisans.

Olney Gallery

The Olney Gallery at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral will be highlighting 100 years of the cathedral’s history with an exhibition of over 36 images and documents. The opening for the “Trinity Cathedral Centennial" exhibit takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. on First Friday.

Phoenix Art Museum

Phoenix Art Museum will have pay-what-you-wish admission during First Friday hours, which are 3 to 7 p.m. Current exhibitions include “Fashion’s Subversives” and “Sweet Land of Funk.” During First Friday hours, tickets to special exhibitions “Oscar Muñoz: Invisibila” and “Landscapes of Extraction” are $5. The Museum Store will be open.

click to enlarge Maggie Keane painted two works for the exhibition at Sisao Gallery. - MAGGIE KEANE
Maggie Keane painted two works for the exhibition at Sisao Gallery.
Maggie Keane

Sisao Gallery

Sisao Gallery inside Oasis on Grand will be showing small works by dozens of artists for its “Enjoy All the Little Things” exhibit. Featured artists include Amanda Adkins, Jason Hugger, Daniel Shepherd, and Tara Sharpe. Every artwork measures 12-feet-by-12-feet or less, and will be on sale in case you want to give original artworks this holiday season.

Step Gallery

For his MFA thesis exhibition, artist Lucas J. Knowles is presenting an “existential exploration of human ontology, replication, memory, and decay.” He’ll be transforming the Step Gallery operated by ASU into a simulated laboratory and testing ground. First Friday hours are 6 to 9 p.m. Bring your smartphone to access data logs related to exhibited work. The evening also includes a live performance created with a massive gantry crane and a small paintbrush.

click to enlarge See work by Randy Zucker (detail shown here) at the WHAM art gallery. - ARTTHENA!
See work by Randy Zucker (detail shown here) at the WHAM art gallery.
ArtTHENA!

WHAM Art Gallery

Head to the WHAM Art Gallery to explore works by dozens of artists in the ArtTHENA! group, which provides mutual support and exhibition opportunities for participating artists. First Friday hours for their “New Expressions” exhibition and artist reception are 7 to 9 p.m. Featured artists include Cherie Buck-Huchison, Jessica Gentile, Maggie Keane, Kyllan Maney, Joanna Proffitt, Cindy Schnackel, Lucretia Torva, and Randy Zucker.

Xico Arte y Cultura

Xico Arte y Cultura is holding an Artisan Holiday Gift Market and Art Sale Extravaganza from 5 to 8 p.m. on December 3 and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on December 4. The event includes an outdoor market, indoor art sale, and live printing by local artists.
click to enlarge Sandra Luehrsen will be at the Holiday Art Sale at Dora Hernández's studio. - SANDRA LUEHRSEN
Sandra Luehrsen will be at the Holiday Art Sale at Dora Hernández's studio.
Sandra Luehrsen

Bonus: Weekend Artist Holiday Sales



  • Art & Objects Sale at Patricia Sannit’s Studio: December 4 and 5 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

  • Holiday Art Sale at Dora Hernández’s Studio: December 4 and 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble