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First Friday: A Weekly writer looks back on her latest Downtown walkabout

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Red bodysuit guy.
Photo: Molly O'Donnell
Molly O'Donnell

Anyone who doesn’t believe the art thing has hit the tipping point in the Valley clearly hasn’t been to First Friday in a while. Extending far beyond the reaches of the Arts Factory, the event has gone from a mecca for a few to an art extravaganza that encompasses all mediums.

My July 6 First Friday began at the off-the-beaten-path Blackbird Studios, where the timely exhibit Atomic Vegas was running. The show included on-loan art of the Nevada Test Site and contemporary re-imaginings—some critical, like Lori Leslie’s “The Devil Has Been Awoken,” and some celebratory, like Three Bad Sheep’s “Alien.”

Next, I trekked to the main Casino Center drag and caught up with rock artist Ryan Rabbass, whose new technique of using exposed canvases in place of framing caught my eye, as did the prints of his neighbor: TheNinjaBot.com. It’s pretty easy to see why they’re everywhere. With an eye for irony (see: a pink-frosted cupcake with the words “bite me” beneath), this group of printmakers is worth watching.

<em>Atomic Vegas</em>

Atomic Vegas

Despite its new offerings, First Friday maintains its weirdo element. You know what I’m talking about: The guy in the red bodysuit playing overturned buckets. The guy in the creepy mask just standing there. If these people were gone, I know at least a few others who would be, too. Thankfully, they’re still there, but with the added bonuses of new art and a bar in the Box Office. There’s also on-street yoga, which can be filed under “new and great” or “weirdo.”

Old and great, Trifecta Gallery is a must-stop on any First Friday venture, and Dave Barnes’s Past Time exhibit—paired with Abigail Goldman’s Little Lives—was no exception. The first, a collection of animal-shaped collages of old-timey cartoons, is juxtaposed perfectly with Goldman’s tiny murder scene dioramas.

<em>LVSK8</em>

LVSK8

I took a quick drive to Emergency Arts, where I discovered cool live folk music and the Get Up Gallery’s skateboard installation LVSK8. Standouts of the group show include Tanya Walter’s sculpture “Kick, Push, Coast” and Steve Whelan’s “Skate to Survive,” a skateboard-cum-Swiss army knife. TastySpace’s current offering is also not to be missed: Erica Hauser’s vintage-esque paintings, including renderings of a mixer, an adding machine and a mid-mod motel sign.

Seeing so much terrific art in one night satisfied the yearnings of this art-lover, but it also made me sleepy. So I crashed early as visions of next First Friday filled my head.

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