Visual Arts

The Best Art We Saw in Downtown Phoenix on First Friday, August 7

Looming rainclouds did little to dampen enthusiasm for August's First Friday, which was well-attended — especially along Roosevelt Street just east of Central Avenue, where there was plenty to see and talk about.

The trio of shipping containers turned art galleries featured cool solo exhibitions curated by Nic Weisinger, and the former Pravus Gallery space got new life as Flowers Beer & Wine.

But the Shadow Play installation lauded as a community gathering spot wasn’t yet ready for prime time. Instead, it was fenced off with stanchions — something Greg Esser attributed to the piece still being under warranty.

Happily, good art was in high supply. Here are a few of our favorite finds:

Detritus as art
We bounced into Central Arts Plaza at around 7 p.m., only to discover the First Friday reception that kicked off at 4 had already come to a close. Still, we made our way to a lobby exhibition of works by several artists — where our favorites included an oil-and-detritus on panel piece by Michael Allen.

Inner workings
First Friday regulars have had plenty of opportunities to see Bill Dambrova paintings this year, at venues ranging from Treeo in Roosevelt Row to the Phoenix Art Museum in midtown. But those who hit Practical Art on First Friday got to see nine new collages by the artist, whose work reflects the vast visual landscape of the human body.

Urban icon
We spotted a row of John Carbis works winding around several walls inside Bokeh Gallery at monOrchid — where our favorites included his photographic print on Gator Board with museum mounting titled A Brief History of Phoenix, which depicts the iconic Westward Ho building that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Workplace trappings
Kara Roschi’s conceptual creativity seeped into every nook and cranny at Modified Arts, where trappings of the modern day workplace were on full display. From sexism to sitting, the office can be a dangerous place, and Roschi drove the perils home with incisive humor — sometimes delivered through eye candy like these balloons that accompanied a dime-store “Happy Birthday” banner mounted above them.

Artificial oddities
We loved the juxtaposition of organic and artificial at the heart of New Times contributor Mikey Estes’ solo exhibition for one of the Roosevelt A.R.T.S. Market shipping container galleries, where music actually played inside the headphones circling a small terracotta pot and the scent of dirt accompanied the sight of two white cubes wrapped in green bubble wrap. Estes posted photos of two of his prior sculptures incorporating artificial plants, thus sharing a cool revamping of his own work.

Pretty peduncles
Danielle Wood delivered an intriguing iteration on her ceramic art imbued with shapes of the sea. Inside another shipping container gallery, we spotted an assortment of 750 peduncle-shaped forms hugging walls, ceiling, and floor. Wood maximized the small space, delivering unique works that were beautiful both as single objects and in their collective impact.

Cones and tones
Matthew Mosher and Tony Obr also took to a shipping container gallery. Their installation featured cones rigged to react to the light from viewer cell phones by playing various tones. While some delighted in manipulating the sounds with their smart phones, others had a blast just watching the interplay of art with audience.