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| Art |

Here's What Galleries Are Planning (or Not) for June First Friday in Phoenix

Five15 Arts has art on the walls, but won't be open during June First Friday.EXPAND
Five15 Arts has art on the walls, but won't be open during June First Friday.
Dan Friedman

Phoenix galleries aren’t rushing to open for June First Friday, despite the fact that Governor Doug Ducey lifted Arizona’s stay-at-home order in mid-May. Some venues are planning virtual offerings for Friday, June 5, but they’re the rare exception.

In large measure, the downtown Phoenix arts scene has been on pause since mid-March. That’s when the dominos began to fall, after the NBA canceled its season and Disneyland decided to close temporarily due to COVID-19 public health concerns.

Most art venues chose not to open for March Third Friday, which fell just a few days after Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego issued a citywide state of emergency. At the time, no one knew how long public health safeguards like social distancing would be in place.

That’s still the case, which presents challenges for artists and gallery operators who’ve lined up exhibits for June and beyond. “We’ve had a lot of discussions,” artist Daniel Friedman says of his fellow artists in the Five15 art collective, who normally have work on view inside Chartreuse gallery on Grand Avenue. “Most people don’t want to be in crowds yet.”

They’re still changing out exhibits, because the space inside Bragg’s Pie Factory has a large storefront window, which means people who walk or bicycle past the space can get a glimpse of the art — especially since the collective shifted a portable gallery wall to face the window. “We rehung our current show so it’s easier for people to see from the street, and we may put up new work for June,” Friedman says.

(9) The Gallery is posting works online rather than opening for June First Friday.EXPAND
(9) The Gallery is posting works online rather than opening for June First Friday.
Lynn Trimble

Nearby, {9} The Gallery will be closed during June First Friday as well, like the vast majority of Grand Avenue creative spaces. But gallerists Carrie Beth and Sean McGarry posted pictures of dozens of artworks from a group exhibit called “Glow” on their website, and say they’re considering adding video of artist interviews to the site for First Friday.

The Eye Lounge artist collective based in Roosevelt Row has been posting images of works by its members online for many weeks now, in lieu of opening for First and Third Fridays. People who visit the website on First Friday in June can explore pictures from the “Interval” exhibit that features works created during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation has been presenting virtual First Fridays in recent months and they'll be going virtual for June, as well.

It’s too soon to know when Phoenix galleries will resume traditional First Friday exhibits. Manny Burruel, the director for Olney Galley in Roosevelt Row, says they’d hoped to open for June First Friday, but decided to cancel due to public health concerns. Now, they’re tentatively planning for July First Friday, although Burruel says it could be autumn before they’re able to reopen.

The Heard Museum planned to present an LGBTQ pride night during June First Friday, which would have included a drag time story hour and film screenings. But the museum, which is still temporarily closed, posted a cancellation notice on the event webpage in mid-May.

Nicole Olson performs in Breach, which is part of the museum's virtual First Friday lineup.EXPAND
Nicole Olson performs in Breach, which is part of the museum's virtual First Friday lineup.
Phoenix Art Museum

Over at Phoenix Art Museum, they’ve lined up virtual programming for June 5, which will be streamed on the museum’s YouTube channel starting at 6 p.m. It includes popular past performances — including sound art by Kristen Miologos and a multimedia movement piece created by Nicole Olson, Mark Hughes, and Francisco Flores.

Friedman expects galleries to continue adapting in the coming weeks and months. For Five15 Arts, that may mean capping the number of visitors who could explore the gallery at one time, expecting artists and visitors to wear masks, or having people sign up for time slots to view gallery exhibits.

“We’re going to try and do more stuff online," Friedman says. Even so, he’s looking forward to the day they can open for more traditional First Fridays again. “I think people will figure out a way to do things safely.”

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