With the first Friday of every month comes an opportunity to experience an interesting array of urban art in Phoenix.
So when cousin Raina and Jesse recommended joining them for the First Friday artwalk in Phoenix, we imagined a rather sedate stroll through galleries featuring local artists.
They assured us it would be more than the typical art gallery tour we anticipated.
We arrived a bit early (5:30) in order to get a good parking spot. At that time the entertainment and activity were geared to families. Balloon Man was ready to go and was looking for kids in need of a balloon dog.
The First Friday artwalk began in 1994 as a way to share the arts and entertainment sector of Phoenix with the general public. First Friday originally consisted of 13 art studios; today, there are more than 100 vendors and studios open to the public.
We passed artists selling their own work, including a group that creates objects from newspaper. On a table were helmets and a toy truck, but this windmill caught my eye.
As we passed an alley, we saw a group that appeared to be organizing for a parade. More later.
We all were soon joined by these four street actors. The red and white beings had what appeared to be rams' horns on their heads and hoofs on their hands and feet stilts. Other than that, I just watched them and the two elf-like beings interact. More later.
While still in the alley and after we had watched a mini-parade (about 12 people) head into the street, we met Phil van Hest.
Phil handed us a card with his photo and the words "Phil The Void: The Great Brain Robbery" on the card. Along with handing us this card, he asked, "Do you know what the Fringe Festival is?"
None of the four of us had, thus revealing that we don't get out much. In the conversation that followed, mostly between Phil and Raina, we learned that similar Fringe Festivals have been occurring all over the country. We shared observations on the activity occurring around us and enjoyed an animated, free-flowing sharing of a range of thoughts.
After Phil and his friends left, the four of us considered attending his one-man show in the next few days as part of the Phoenix Fringe Festival.
We headed down the street and passed the Ghostbusters car and crew ready to respond if called. As the evening was wearing on and the tone was changing from family-oriented to expect-the-unusual, the presence of this on-call team seemed quite appropriate.
Then we came upon the parade group that had begun forming in the alley. It seems that the group of marchers with drums and a banner for the Phoenix Fringe Festival had headed east when they left the alley and were now returning.
A slight problem occurred when the street actors we had also met in the alley were now part of another group of "marchers" who were heading east. The result was a brief opportunity for the eastbound group to act out a scene and for the westbound group to pass out information about the performers appearing at the Fringe Festival.
We soon came upon this person painting a mural on this building. Jesse mentioned that this person paints a new mural on this building each First Friday. He already had the rough sketch on the wall. More later.
Along the way we heard a percussion group with one member playing plastic buckets, a solo-guitarist, a jazz band ensemble, and much more.
There are restaurants, coffee shops, a gelato shop, and street-food vendors throughout the art walk route.
Jesse and Raina often stop at Ed The Hotdogger's cart during the evening. Ed (left) served two hot dogs to Jesse and Raina, an Argentine Choripan (sausage with chimichurri sauce) for Kate, and an Italian sausage with peppers and onions for me. What a friendly guy--serving some very good food.
On the side streets, there are fewer people, smaller galleries, and more artsy homes. I wasn't sure what this building represented, but the auto seat by the entrance had a face painted on it. (You may have to double click the photo to see the face. The head rests are the eyebrows, the tops of the seats are the eyes, . . . .)
One of the artists whom Jesse wanted us to see at work was this fellow (left). He paints using spray cans. Just as Jesse had expected, there was a good-sized crowd watching him work.
His completed works are very creative and certainly unique. And people were buying his works.
His method is powerful--too powerful for the brief time I was close to his work. I know one is told to use this spray in a well-ventilated space, but on this evening, even the great outdoors was not well enough ventilated. Wow.
Before returning to our truck, we passed the muralist. He had completed the mural in a relatively short period of time.
As the evening wore on, the participants became more interesting that the artwork in the galleries. One of the last people we encountered was the camera man. Literally, a camera man--resting on his shoulders was this camera.
Organized by Artlink, a nonprofit organization, the First Friday artwalk "is a distinctively diverse representation not only of the city's vast range of art and perspective, but also of Phoenician culture. If you're an art fan, this is a monthly event you won't want to miss"--Jennifer Pruett, Phoenix Reporter for HelloMetro.