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Your Guide to October 2016's First Friday in Downtown Phoenix

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It's absolutely possible to have too much of a good thing. During just a few short hours this Friday, October 7, well over a dozen new art exhibits are happening in downtown Phoenix. Sure, it's theoretically possible to see them all. But you won't have much fun if your Friday night feels like the art equivalent of playing beat the clock. 

This month's art walk warrants having a serious strategy before you head out the door, even if you're the spontaneous type. So here's the rundown on several of your exhibition options, along with details to help you make the most of First Friday. 

A few of Friday’s offerings are one-night affairs, so it’s best to keep those near the top of your list. Here’s the rundown on those:

“Chaos Theory”
Phoenix artist Randy Slack presents his 17th annual “Chaos Theory” invitational art exhibition starting at 6 p.m., and you’ll have until 2 a.m. the following morning to enjoy it. He’s expecting his biggest showing yet, with 80 artists bringing works in various media to Legend City Studios, and he’ll have four bands playing live music for the event, which has become a revered annual tradition around these parts. Find more information on the Facebook event page.

First Friday at Phoenix Art Museum
Granted, it’s not the catchiest name for an event. But this month’s lineup at Phoenix Art Museum is one of a kind, thanks to two impressive exhibitions and an intriguing mix of local performers and temporary site-specific installations. Between 6 and 10 p.m. that night, museum admission is free – and you can see the new “Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic” exhibition for a reduced $5 special exhibition rate. Find more information on the Phoenix Art Museum website.

“We Are: Alive”
Visual and performance artists, including Katharine Leigh Simpson, will converge on the Herberger Theater Center’s outdoor plaza from 6 to 9 p.m., creating storm-inspired performances with music, projections, and lighting effects. The evening also includes interactive activities, happy hour specials, and an art supply drive benefiting The Centers for Habilitation, a nonprofit serving people with disabilities. Bring a donation and you’ll be entered to win two tickets to the show of your choice for the venue’s 2016-17 season. Find more information on the Facebook event page.

Considering the wealth of good choices out there this month, you’re going to need more than one outing to see them all. Fortunately, several venues opening new shows on First Friday also have hours during the week. So if you don’t make it to the following three shows on First Friday, sneak a little time away during the week to check them out. While you’re at it, keep your fingers crossed that more and more art galleries will see the value in being open on a regular basis.

“Creeps: New Paintings by James B. Hunt”

The Lost Leaf is showing new paintings by NXOEED artist James B. Hunt, which reimagine many of the artist’s friends and acquaintances as monsters, ghosts, and vampires. “These paintings are not terribly flattering,” Hunt says. “I hope I don’t lose all my loved ones over this thing.” They’ll be up through Halloween, but you can be among the first to see them if you head to The Lost Leaf during normal Friday night hours, which start at 5 p.m. and go until 2 a.m. the next morning. Find more information on The Lost Leaf website.

“Photographic Survey of the Wild Edible Botanicals of Arizona”
MonOrchid’s Bokeh Gallery is presenting photographs by J.W. Fike meant to explore the intersection of art, science, and spirituality. So far, Fike has photographed more than 100 different plants in seven states as part of his quest to survey plant life throughout the entire United States. Friday’s opening reception happens from 6 to 10 p.m. Find more information on the monOrchid website.

“La vida, la muerte, el amor”
Practical Art is featuring works in diverse media by Emily Costello, Frank Ybarra, Gennaro Garcia, and Joe Ray. Each explores “the cycle of life and the triumph of the human spirit” using a shared, vibrant color palette for their collaborative exhibition. Check out New Times’ Best of Phoenix 2016 to see more works by several of these renowned local artists. First Friday’s artist reception at Practical Art happens from 6 to 8 p.m. Find more information on the Practical Art website.

Other new exhibitions opening on First Friday feature an intriguing assortment of works, from letterpress prints and posters to photographs of a Venezuelan religious festival. Here’s a sampling of new art shows you can choose from come Friday night:

“Slinging Ink”

Chartreuse gallery presents an invitational exhibition featuring letterpress posters and prints created by more than two dozen artists throughout the United States. It’s curated by Nancy Hill, who also owns the letterpress printing shop Hazel & Violet. First Friday hours are 6 to 10 p.m. Find more information on the Chartreuse website.

“Passing Papers”
Artists Zach Valent and Josh Gutierrez work with different media to explore “the past, memory, and the way things fade but tend not to disappear.” Valent works with concrete sculptures, while Gutierrez works with chemically-altered photographs and handwritten letters. See their works at New City Studio between 7 and 10 p.m. on First Friday. Find more information on the New City website.

Artist Colton Brock, well-known for creating several local murals, is showing works that explore the intersection “Of a time, of a place, of a person.” See his solo exhibition at Treeo between 6 and 10 p.m. on First Friday. Find more information on the event Facebook page.

“William Barnhart/New Works”
{9} The Gallery is showing new works by William Barnhart, whose paintings were recently featured in a solo exhibition at Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum. This exhibit includes large-scale paintings inspired by recent experiences along Spain’s southern coast. First Friday hours are 7 to 10 p.m. Find more information on the event Facebook page.

“Cave Dreamer”
See the first gallery show for artist Angie Fletchall, who creates whimsical paintings conjuring dreamlike states and everyday encounters with bliss. First Studio presents her solo exhibition from 6 to 10 p.m. on First Friday. Find more information on the event Facebook page.

“The Dancing Devils of Yare”
Olney Gallery at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral is showing photographs by Gina Santi, whose background in cultural anthropology is reflected in images of a Venezuelan religious festival the celebrates the victory of good over evil. First Friday hours are 6 to 9 p.m. Find more information on the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral Facebook page.

“Viglietta and Voellmer”
Grand ArtHaus is showing works by Michael Viglietta, a founding member of the Grand ArtHaus collective, as well as Onna Voellmer – whose painting for Artlink’s 2016 juried exhibition received the $5,000 Baron Prize. See works by both artists between 6 and 10 p.m. on First Friday. Find more information on the event Facebook page.

"Monsters Menagerie"
Explore apocalyptic visions and dark underworld fantasies in this group exhibition at Alwun House, which features paintings, sculptures, and other art objects exhibited both inside and out. First Friday hours are 7 to 10 p.m. Find more information on the Alwun House website

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