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The Best Things We Saw at December's First Friday

Artists Sarah De Jesus (left) and Kyllan Maney.EXPAND
Artists Sarah De Jesus (left) and Kyllan Maney.
Lynn Trimble

The future dominated what we saw during December's First Friday. There were works by future artists displayed in Tempe, and we took a glance at what art might look like on Mars. We even saw a play inspired by the dystopian future as imagined by director Terry Gilliam. Read on to see what awaits us years down the road.

'Control, Alt, Create'

The intersection of arts and education was on full display at New School for the Arts & Academics in Tempe. Some of the area’s best-known artists were featured in this show. Around campus, we spotted a pair of small drawings by Lalo Cota, playful geometric prints by Skye Lucking, and sculpture by Joe Willie Smith, and murals by Douglas Miles and Kyllan Maney. The event drew a big crowd of artists and community members all there to support the future creatives in their midst. The evening was a powerful reminder that art happens all the time around the Valley, and young creatives are shaping new dialogues and realities. The show raised money for future art projects at the school. We can’t wait to see the impact of their work moving forward. Lynn Trimble

'Mars Made: Retroforms'

Put on the 3-D glasses and step out of the space camper to be transported to the trippy, colorful "Mars Made: Retroforms" at the ASU Step Gallery. The exhibit is an abstract representation of how an artist would look at Mars exploration.

There were some extraterrestrial elements, like a pit with deep red sand and strange space rocks of different weights and sizes. The colors and patterns pop with the bright, window-like print of the Mars terrain, but the scene transforms into something straight out of a King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard video. Developed by Roy Wasson Valle, this project is a part of ASU’s Interplanetary Initiative under the Pilot II project: The Five Senses in Space and the Master of Fine Arts in sculpture program. Sara Edwards

Empty Words

In its press release for Bryant Mason’s Empty Words (an adaptation of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment), B3 Productions cited Terry Gilliam’s Brazil as an inspiration. Watching this haunting, ominous show , it struck me that Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining would be an even more apt comparison. Disheveled and seething with violent paranoia, Randy Rice’s ax-wielding Raskolnikov looks like he came to Aside Theatre straight from the Overlook Hotel. Just as Jack Nicholson’s character had ghosts prompting him to go on a rampage, Rice’s murderer has a spectral accomplice of his own: the eerie, slow-walking, gas mask-wearing Svidrigailov (played by Victor Arevalo).

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Randy Rice and Victor Arevalo in B3's Empty Words.EXPAND
Randy Rice and Victor Arevalo in B3's Empty Words.
Laura Durant

Set up as a theater in the round with a square platform covered in chains and the mural of a decapitated body’s bloody outline painted on its surface, director Ilana Lydia’s play is full of arresting visuals: a pair of murders committed in strobe lights, a horse head whipped on the streets, and a sinister mask straight out of Hellraiser sitting on a police inspector’s desk. Most of the cast acquit themselves admirably. Rice does a great job of alternating between a mad and whipped dog, while Jesse Abrahams gives Detective Porfiry an impish, Columbo energy. He always seems to be one more "just one more thing!" away from breaking Raskolnikov's mind. Ivy Worsham, though, is the play's MVP. Her soulful take on Sonia is the heart of the show. She takes a hard-to-swallow character arc (why does Sonia love a man as obviously sick and damaged as Rice’s killer?) and makes you believe it. Ashley Naftule

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