BEST PLACE TO SEE AND BE SEEN ON FIRST FRIDAY 2007 | .anti_space | People & Places | Phoenix



The Roosevelt sidewalk on First Fridays is so overcrowded that we sometimes feel like we're on a subway, having to cram ourselves among hundreds of other bodies to get anywhere. At maximum capacity, the concern shifts from people-watching to avoiding a mass trample.

Time to hop off that stretch and hit .anti_space, a happening conglomerate of galleries, studios, and shops on the southwest corner of Fourth Street and McKinley. The place is easy to spot with its colorfully lit palm trees and a healthy heap of people milling along the sidewalk. Grassy areas have benches and lawn chairs where you can sit while adventurous types give the installed tightrope a try.

Boutiques C.O.L.A.B. and Mint always have cute indie chicks hunting for vintage goodies. Galleries Pravus, Mothball, Waldoism, Red Spade and B-Side are usually open for just the right amount of mixing to get our social jollies off, but not so packed that we smell each other's breath.

It's not so close to Roosevelt Row, but if you plan on hitting Grand Avenue galleries on a First Friday artwalk, there's no better place to park than in the lot of The Paper Heart. In addition to being the only gallery on the strip with a parking lot that includes more than five spaces (there are at least 25 spaces here), The Paper Heart sits on the corner of Grand Avenue and Van Buren Street, more or less at the beginning of the strip and the avenue walk. So once you've parked your ride in The Paper Heart's well-lit lot, you can start your cultural journey with the offbeat exhibits at the gallery, and then walk to any number of other galleries on Grand (Tilt Gallery, Red Door, PHiX, The Lodge, Chocolate Factory, Cone, and several other art houses are literally right across and down the street). The only catch is, if you're going to park at The Paper Heart, you should get downtown early (no later than 7 p.m.), as parking's at a premium downtown and the lot fills quickly.
If you've grown weary of tromping and stomping down Roosevelt Row or Grand Avenue during the monthly artwalks, set your sights less than a mile northward, at this two-story bunker along McDowell Road.

With eight different studios and galleries, Garfield Galleria offers just as much artistic action as its cousins, all contained within a single structure. Downstairs, the twin photo collectives of Gallery 8 and CHAOS serve up plenty of superior snapshots, while the Lords of Art Town provide work across several mediums — including photography and installation work — and Julio Romano's Statement Driven is home to his emotionally charged photos and paintings.

Upstairs, you'll find the dual spaces of abstract minimalist landscape artist Jerry Van Wyngarden and his wife, illustrator Carole Hanks.

Don't starve for their art. Refreshment can be found nearby at the Willow House, Zoës Kitchen, and My Florist. What's not to love?

Ask any CenPho hipsters and they'll tell you — First Friday is a great place to take a date. It's free, it's downtown, and you'll know pretty quickly if your taste in all things visual might be a match. On those nights when it's not a love connection, do not fear; ditching your date has never been easier. Mosey on over to the Roller Derby Bake Sale that happens every First Friday in front of the Bikini Lounge. Tell Mr. or Ms. Wrong it's not them, it's you. The throng of roller girls has your back — if your scene is spectacular enough, they just might applaud. Grab a chocolate snack to ease the pain; after all, it is for a good cause and that brownie is making a difference, dammit. Then march into the Bikini Lounge for some liquid courage. Hey, it's First Friday. Mr. or Ms. Right 2.0 could be inside.


five15 Arts

Third Friday has a more laid-back vibe than its big brother, First Friday, but sometimes it leads to antisocial art viewing. If you're looking to see art, check out some folks and get a little face time of your own, there's no better spot to hit than five15 Gallery. The place has the downtown arts gig down with rotating artists every month. Being a popular space on the main drag, it's one of the few galleries that can still maintain a social aspect on slower nights. Five15 books some of the younger Valley talent, so you're sure to see the artists and all their pals nibbling and chatting the night away, ready for you to join in.
With apologies to the hard-working artists of the downtown Phoenix scene, the grooviest thing going at this year's Art Detour wasn't found in any of the galleries dotting Roosevelt Street or Grand Avenue. Nope; instead, our favorite place during the annual three-day artwalk was a raucous ramshackle collection of cardboard and wood shacks occupying a garbage-strewn vacant lot next door to the Firehouse art collective on First Street just off Roosevelt Row.

The Gypsy Village, subtitled "Artist Loft: Low Rise, Low Rent," was the bizarre brainchild of agitprop artists C.R. Vavrek and Pete Petrisko, a satirical stab at how the ongoing gentrification is displacing hardscrabble artists like themselves in favor of lofts and multimillion-dollar developments.

Consisting of four hovels, the hipster Hooverville boasted an art gallery, tarot reader, fire pit, sleeping quarters for Vavrek, and a boombox disco blasting music for those who came after dark. In addition to entertaining the hundreds who stopped by, the event reportedly raised the ire of one property owner who threatened to call in the cops and clear the lot. Vavrek and Petrisko managed to defuse the situation, and the derelict domiciles were allowed to remain. It's a good thing, too, since where else could you find grubby artists talking in faux Eastern European accents, à la Borat? Very nice!

A small gallery at ASU is the best place to catch art students at the end of their academic careers — and at the top of their games. In other words: the master's thesis show.

With a studio on-campus and materials and tools provided by ASU, it may be the most convenient and economical art cough-up of these artists' careers. And with their fresh egos, the prices will be incredibly reasonable, making for a wise investment should you pick the right pony. Shows cycle during the last three months of the semester and are on display for only four days at a time — making for a crazy rush to grab up some pieces by the next big artist.

It's nothing new for a hair salon to put art on the wall. But don't be mistaken. These folks don't know just hair. The Root Salon actually doubles as a real art gallery — with works that are so compelling, you might just shell out an extra couple of hundred bucks to bring one home, in addition to the fee you just paid to cover your hideous gray.

A number of relatively unknown but appealing artists have cycled through the space, and with each salon appointment (not necessary — you can also walk in off the street, just to look), you're sure to see something new. Recent displays included eye-popping color photography by Bob Estrin and stunning abstract works by California artist Jan Fogel. And take note: The salon's owner is constantly on the lookout for creative visual images that may work well on that blank living room wall you've been looking to fill. Not only is the art great, but purchases are guilt-free, with the artists receiving 100 percent of all sales.

If Barbara Stanwyck blew you away — as she did poor Fred MacMurray — in Double Indemnity, or if you just dig Veronica Lake's swell combover, you'll love the art of Rachel Bess.

Her paintings are dreamy polychromatics that shimmer like black magic, capturing a surrealistic netherland inhabited by funereal femmes fatales and... dead bugs? Yep. Bess' vocation may be art (she got her BFA in painting at ASU), but her avocation is science — specifically, biology, botany, and natural history. We're betting she was one of those kids who poked and prodded at doodlebugs and trapped fireflies in mayo jars — a surefire way to familiarize oneself with death at an early age. "I make paintings that feature biology or botany in almost a religious way," Bess says. "Often, the animals and insects — and sometimes people — in the paintings are dead, so people interpret that as morbid. But for me, it's more out of respect, like, 'Here's this thing that may be dead, but that doesn't make it any less fascinating to look at and learn about.'"

Teach us more, please! Or at least show us more: Bess shows often at Modified Arts on Roosevelt Row.

Is it possible that the street artist known as The Mac is our Raphael, our Rembrandt, our Bouguereau? Despite the fact that his blue Madonna with palm trees appears on the corrugated garage door of a tattoo parlor, or that his portrait of Marcus Garvey is on the side of a building in Watts, The Mac's works have a touch of the masters about them, both old and new.

Only 27, the Phoenix native has traveled extensively: San Francisco, San Diego, Montreal, Mexico City, Hollywood. Each time, he leaves behind once-vacant walls filled with alluring, shapely women, jazz legends, cultural figures, and religious icons. The Mac's canvas is the world, and he's highly regarded both on the street, for his aerosol work, and in galleries, for his acrylic, pen and ink, and stained-glass efforts. He brings the aesthetic of the museum to the street and vice versa. He's the Goya of the ghetto.

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