Vegas Seven

Faces of First Friday

  • Faces of First Friday

    Devil’s Work

    By Jarret Keene

    Stepping into cozy Kleven Contemporary, an adorable gallery-nook nestled in downtown’s Emergency Arts, I’m curious to meet the Vegas artist responsible for the acrylic-and-wood pieces on the walls. T.G. Miller, I think to myself. I wonder who he or she is and why I’ve never heard the name before. Imagine my surprise when in saunters a rock ’n’ roll animal, Black Camaro guitarist Tom Miller, whom I’ve seen and heard play onstage many times with his psyche-pop band in situations as bizarre as a sweet-16 party in an Arizona Charlie’s ballroom.

  • Art

    DIY Festival

    By Jarret Keene

    While it was once a gallery-focused event, First Friday has always boasted a solid presence of vendors. But under the festival’s new ownership, that presence has expanded with a broader array of crafty expression, from purses made out of hardcover books (Ammy Miller’s Burses) to handmade plush toys (Sarah Flake’s Flaky Friends).

  • Art

    Geek Chic

    By Jarret Keene

    He’s 31 and from Seattle. She’s 24 and from Argentina. Together the artists—engaged couple Arnel Baluyot and Estefania Rodriguez—are based in Las Vegas and work jointly under the name Ninjabot. The duo makes appealing pop culture-infused prints and posters by combining bold design and elegant rendering. “We love illustration,” Baluyot says. “That’s the part we really get excited about. I think it shows in our work.”

  • Faces of First Friday

    Into the ‘Bellmouth’ of Madness

    By Jarret Keene

    The last time I saw Las Vegas artist and professor Brent Sommerhauser was four years ago in a gallery on the UNLV campus. His installation—an eerie, audio-enhanced, man-size tower of paper reams—had collapsed moments before I’d entered the space. The impact was so loud I thought a car had struck the building. On hands and knees, he retrieved sheets, struggling to re-create the original structure. That’s the inherent and very fun risk in a Sommerhauser show: You never know if his work will fall in on itself. Perhaps it might even fall on you.

  • Faces of First Friday

    No Empty Calories

    By Jarret Keene

    Miguel Rodriguez returns with an appetizing—and deeply satisfying—vengeance. The artist’s new show at Trifecta Gallery is So Sincere, a genuine effort to heighten his work’s already-delicious appeal. Monster-size, acrylic-painted cheeseburgers, man-eating plants ripped from The Little Shop of Horrors, naked Ganesh figures and fierce zebra chess pieces run amok in an exhibit that seeks authenticity and subversion.

  • Faces of First Friday

    Sketchy Toons

    By Jarret Keene

    Perhaps you’ve encountered his sensual drawings of the female form displayed on a table outside the Funk House during First Friday. Popeye Wong’s illustrated pinups and “eroticartoons” are impossible to miss. They’re racy, yet hardly more titillating than a Victoria’s Secret catalog, at least the illustrations he presents to the First Friday crowd. And like the famous lingerie company, the majority of Wong’s customers and clients are women.

  • Faces of First Friday

    Plush It

    By Jarret Keene

    A chocolate-brown pit-bull puff, reminiscent of Our Gang’s Petey, has a cute yet razor-sharp underbite. A fluffy albino lab rat has an unsettling third eye that contrasts with adorable pink ears and tail. Mr. Bones, a green-boned skeleton, has a slightly fractured skull. Indeed, Sarah Flake’s plush toys always come with a little angst.

  • Faces of First Friday

    Flesh and Feathers

    By Jarret Keene

    Plumage, Kevin Chupik’s new show at Brett Wesley Gallery, is as dazzling as the feathers of the most exotic avian. It presents split-canvas diptych paintings of birds and women’s body parts, reducing them both to aesthetic objects and demonstrating how far apart and close together we are as species. The avian and the woman, two seemingly disparate anatomies, are united in a stunningly attractive—dare we say a—fashion.

  • Faces of First Friday

    Captured Gestures

    By Jarret Keene

    If you’ve been hanging out at The Beat Coffeehouse inside the downtown Emergency Arts building lately, you’ve probably seen her. She’s the lady in a sundress sitting on the floor, creating rapid-fire watercolor portraits of local characters such as artist Jerry Misko and writer/comics guy/drummer Pj Perez. She chitchats with her subjects all the while, sometimes discarding a paper canvas after a few strokes, at other times laboring intensively over a portrait as if it were a math formula.

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