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Michael Massenberg's mixed-media portrait of Eulia Love, who was killed by LAPD officers in 1979.EXPAND
Michael Massenberg's mixed-media portrait of Eulia Love, who was killed by LAPD officers in 1979.
Lynn Trimble

The Best Things We Saw at October's Third Friday

There was some powerful work hanging in Phoenix art galleries on Third Friday. From portraits of "badass" women to exploring the impact of police violence on the black community, we were moved by the messages shared by local artists.

'The Spillover Effect'

A framed poem written by contemporary poet George Hammons hangs inside Modified Arts, referencing the first ship to carry slaves to America – and a long list of names including Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, and Philandro Castile. Several artists gathered near the poem during Third Friday, talking with gallery-goers about their art featured in this exhibit curated by Emancipation Arts. The exhibit explores the impact police violence has on the mental health of black community members.

Participating artists include C.A. Hammons, Michael Massenberg, Nicholas Murray, and Leonard Wilson. Walking through the gallery, Massenberg paused over several of his paintings, elaborating on the feelings wrought by systemic racism – including the anger signified by his use of the color red. And Clottee Hammons, a longtime staple of the downtown arts scene, addressed the ways that Phoenix has long failed to elevate the work of black creatives.

'DisMantling Power'

There is something in the eyes of the powerful women local artist Phil Freedom captured in "DisMantling Power." The pupils inside these laser-etched stencil stack portraits pull you in and then follow you around the room. In a statement written by Freedom that hung on the walls of The Hive, he finds himself "drawn to celebrating those that challenge power."

The women he captured unquestionably fit that description. They include Opal Tometi, the founder of Black Lives Matter, activist Malala Yousafzai, and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In addition to his written statement, Freedom also included etched quotes (or a tweet, in the case of Ocasio-Cortez) highlighting why they're, as he puts it, "badass." Their stories are worth celebrating, and Freedom will be donating a portion of the proceeds to their cause.

'For Her Time'

Samantha Lyn Aasen’s bold "For Her Time" exhibit was inside the renovated Eye Lounge. The artist once edited photos and video content for the porn industry, and she took pictures of the sex workers and models she became friends with. The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act and Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of March 2018 has made it difficult for them to do their job, and Aasen wanted to show the vulnerability of that work.

The photos are open and intimate. The bold colors are amplified on satin and hang on the wall like flags. Some of the models are casual, with one taking a selfie with one breast out. Aasen is known for the strong feminist message in her photography, and "For Her Time" shows the lives of those behind the scenes.

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