The Best Art from January 2016's First Friday in Downtown Phoenix

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We expected to see all sorts of cats and guitars at Chartreuse, where they're the subject of an exhibition that opened on First Friday, January 1. We hadn't quite anticipated the fact that once you get cats and guitars on the brain, it's hard not to find them lurking around every corner. We spied a guitar featuring intricate line work by Thomas "Breeze" Marcus at Modified Arts, and several small paintings of cats by Michael David Little in a small house across the street from The Lost Leaf. But we spotted plenty of other interesting art as well, as evidenced by the assortment of works below.

Old school collage
In the new Public Image salon at Roosevelt Point, where walls are filled with artworks featured in the "Portmanteau" exhibition presented by Artelshow, four pieces that artist Daniel Shepherd calls "old school collage" stood out for their striking simplicity and juxtaposition of disparate objects. 

Guerrilla art
Six works of art created through an Edge Industries and The Funk Lab project were placed at random locations around the Grand Avenue arts district for First Friday, where anyone with enough curiosity and courage could take them home. We spotted this one tacked to a tree outside Chartreuse, but left it for another gallery-goer to claim.

Big eyes
Red brick walls at The Lost Leaf were dotted with works by Michael David Little, who was also showing smaller pieces across the street inside a house transformed into a gallery space for First Friday viewers. His portraits, many featuring big eyes, have a decidedly different vibe than those created by Margaret Keane, the woman whose story was recounted in the 2014 film named for this distinctive feature of her work.

Fine lines
Works by Thomas "Breeze" Marcus exhibited at Modified Arts, including small drawings of natural subjects from cute to creepy, have a much different feel than the large scale murals he's created around town — including the Phoenix rising in an alleyway behind the Hyatt Regency in downtown Phoenix. But all feature his distinctive line work.

Face time
Sometimes drawing inspiration from the faces of friends, Deborah Hodder creates work in clay that often reference the tangled, intertwined aspects of relationships. But her raku piece titled Nan, exhibited at Five15 Arts, is a lone figure made more intriguing by its embodiment of solitude. 

Building blocks
The building blocks of both natural and manmade landscapes were on view in one of three exhibitions presented by Phoenix Institute of Contemporary Art inside shipping container galleries in Roosevelt Row — where this tree topped by technology by Mexico City artist Daniel Alcalá had the greatest impact.

Angel with abs
Amid walls crowned with works by various artists, we spotted this angel with a hint of agony, but also killer abs, which was painted by Benjamin L. Gill. It's on view at Gallery Celtica in Roosevelt Row.

Pops of color
Pops of color, and paint applied so thick that it approximates small works of sculpture, characterize works by gallery owner and artist Denise Fleish of Lotus Contemporary Art, who alternates showing her own works and those of other artists. 

Works by artists in the Eye Lounge collective a ll conjure some aspect of nostalgia in their current exhibition, but Ashley Czajkowski's vintage negative carriers and silver gelatin prints, were most striking — conveying nostalgia via both materials and subject matter.

Hand guns
Works by Abe Zucca on view at Abloom salon inside the historic Bragg's Pie Factory building couple two powerful tools, the human hand and the weapons these hands have created, to prompt reflection on the interplay of violence and American culture. 

Facial recognition
Several works by Nicole Ann Bellino on view at The Velo bike shop in Roosevelt Row blur the line between fantasy and reality, but her piece imagining two faces — each looking into the others' eyes — is the most profound offering by virtue of its power to conjure consideration of who these images might represent and what they're thinking or feeling during their exchange.

Live streaming
Looking at Justin Queal's Streaming exhibited at {9} The Gallery, viewers can get a sense for the complications wrought by the technology sold as a way to simplify life — or ponder bygone days when the word "streaming" might have been associated with fresh water or the fish who swim and spawn there.

Still life with cats
Fine art photographs were the real stand out during First Friday's open for the "Cats and Guitars" show at Chartreuse, where one particularly playful piece featured the back of a cat puppet created by Puppet Pie artist Stacey Gordon, whose studio is also located in the historic Bragg's Pie Factory building. But we also dug the cat-laced charm of Carnival Cat by Ohio artist David Earl Barnes, and Aaron Thomason's use of cold rolled steel to create his Similarities Too

Urban love story
An eclectic assortment of artwork on view at MissConstrued featured subjects ranging from hip girl in sunglasses to stormtrooper helmet atop classic literary work, but our favorite was this drawing by Tato Caraveo, which is simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming. 

Paper tales
Drawings by Chelsi Rossi exhibited at The 909 Cooperative served as inviting stories to fuel imaginations dulled by weeks of holiday anticipation and its aftermath.

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