Miguel A. Aragón with some of his work at Northlight Gallery.EXPAND
Miguel A. Aragón with some of his work at Northlight Gallery.
Lynn Trimble

The Best Things We Saw at October's First Friday

There was a chill in the air over the weekend, which meant fans of local art came out of their air-conditioned cocoons to enjoy First Friday. Phoenix New Times was there to report on the best things we saw, including some Richard Avedon photographs, the 20th edition of "Chaos Theory," and the frightening (in a good way) art at Alwun House.

'Person, Perception, Persona'

We found Richard Avedon portraits of Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, Isak Dinesen, and other legendary creatives at ASU Northlight Gallery. We also spotted four Polaroid images taken by Andy Warhol. Artist Sama Alshaibi talked about her feminist, post-colonial perspective and Miguel A. Aragón discussed his work with erasing markers of violence from the faces of dead drug lords during an artist talk. Both artists talked with people who wanted to learn more.

The gallery also showed works by Wendy Red Star, who uses a red marker to subvert cultural stereotypes in portraits of indigenous people, and portraits from a project that seeks to humanize people in prison. The gallery also featured works by Edward S. Curtis and Stefan Ruiz. Through intriguing images, the exhibit inspired gallery-goers to consider who is making photographs and the many ways artists and others create portraits through their lens.

Checking out Pete Deise's sculpture at "Chaos Theory" Friday night.EXPAND
Checking out Pete Deise's sculpture at "Chaos Theory" Friday night.
Lynn Trimble

'Chaos Theory'

Alexandra Bowers took the chaos of romance gone wrong and turned it into a stunning work of art called The Queen is Blooming: A Thank You to All My Failed Relationships for the 20th “Chaos Theory” exhibit, organized by Randy Slack at Legend City Studios. The presentation brought together 80 artists whose work explored everything from immigration to animal abuse.

Portraits, particularly those by Rachel Bess and David Dauncey, stood out this year. Timothy Chapman’s painting called out hypocrisy by some who claim to love animals, and Tara Logsdon’s tall circular tower seemed to trap democracy, then top it off with an American flag. Biting humor, evident in Hector Ruiz’s anatomical twist referencing a famed architect, was another strong element in this year’s show. The exhibit drew a fun mix of artists and community members for a night of conversations that can only serve to make the Phoenix arts scene more interesting.

'Monsters Menagerie'

I witnessed Governor Doug Ducey taking a selfie in front of Slack's new painting at "Chaos Theory." It was a surreal and human moment seeing a politician enjoying art instead of being the subject of it, especially after seeing Henry Hermetet's **IT at Alwun House for its “Monsters Menagerie” exhibition.

If you've seen the film adaptations for Stephen King's novel It, then you already know what seeing President Donald Trump as a spider in clown makeup represents: pure evil. Above the violent scene and red balloon that reads "Fuck America Again" is First Lady Melania Trump as the Statue of Liberty doing nothing to stop the carnage. It served as a powerful reminder of the horrors happening in real life being brought on by those in power.

There were other horror film-inspired photographs throughout the gallery, including the bloody Prom Night by Holly Shoemaker. Those who love the macabre will get a fright from this scary display.

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