Eleven Things Art Lovers Can Do and See on First Friday Weekend

Mark Penner-Howell, mural plan for  In Sight On Site: Murals.
Mark Penner-Howell, mural plan for In Sight On Site: Murals. Courtesy of the Arvada Center
It’s hard to cap this list at ten, let alone eleven, events, because June is, after all, the month of perfect evenings and lingering light, nature-made for art-walking and staying outdoors (and up!) late. We haven’t even mentioned yet how much there really is out there worth seeing, so get cracking and bone up on our list of eleven art events for First Friday weekend.

click to enlarge Los Supersonicos' mural sketch for In Sight On Site: Murals. - COURTESY OF THE ARVADA CENTER
Los Supersonicos' mural sketch for In Sight On Site: Murals.
Courtesy of the Arvada Center
In Sight on Site: Murals
Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, 6901 Wadsworth Boulevard, Arvada
Works in Progress: May 29 through June 24
Completed Works: June 28 through August 26
Opening Reception: Thursday, June 28, 6 to 9 p.m.

It isn’t often that you get to see works in progress on gallery walls, but that’s exactly what’s going on over a four-week period at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, for a perfect reason: The center’s summer show, In Sight on Site: Murals, celebrates more than twenty of Denver’s best mural artists (many of whom have additional cred in the fine-arts realm, such as Sabin Aell, Ramón Bonilla, Sandra Fettingis, Los Supersonicos, Tony Ortega and Mark Penner-Howell, to name a few). The exhibit allows gallery visitors to watch murals materialize through June 24, before the exhibit’s official opening on June 28. Come back then to see how things turned out. In Sight on Site runs through the end of August.

click to enlarge A photograph from The Childlike Life of the Black Tarantula. - ALEXANDER ABLOLA
A photograph from The Childlike Life of the Black Tarantula.
Alexander Ablola
The Childlike Life of the Black Tarantula
Robert Anderson Gallery, 3321 East Colfax Avenue
Pop-up and Reception: Friday, June 1, 6 to 9 p.m.

The Childlike Life of the Black Tarantula is a one-night quickie, curated by Denver collagist Mario Zoots and showcasing photographic work by emerging artists Sammy Keller, Gaia Dinetah, Brandon Martinez and Alexander Ablola. The title is a reference to Kathy Acker’s novel of the same name, which flickers through the work by “exploring the concepts of identity and personhood in photo-based art,” says Zoots. “[Acker] is considered among the most significant proponents of radical feminism and the postmodern literary aesthetic. In [the book], a sixteen-year-old female narrator explores alternate identities as a murderess and prostitute, copies passages from pornographic books in which she imagines herself the leading character, and participates in public sex acts.” Wear leather.

click to enlarge LUCAS T. MCMAHON
Lucas T. McMahon
Common Comfort: Beitz, Crespin, McMahon
Georgia Art Space, 952 Mariposa Street (enter through the alley)
Friday, June 1, 7 p.m. to midnight
Saturday, June 2, 1 to 5 p.m.
Sunday, June 3, 1 to 5 p.m. (artist talk at 1 p.m.)

Sommer Browning’s garage gallery, Georgia Art Space, gears up for the weekend with Common Comfort, a three-person exhibit sparked by the communion of common objects and human comfort. Michael Beitz contributes smile-worthy porcelain casts of underwear; Mari Crespin uses video to explore the work of the tough maneuvering of grasping at an idealized self; and Lucas T. McMahon drapes thousands of gold-plated safety pins into a cloth-like curtain with a double-edged meaning. Cellist Benjamin Roberts plays at the Friday night reception; an artist talk starts at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Basically Paintings
Alto Gallery, 4345 West 41st Avenue
June 1 through July 14
Opening Reception: Friday, June 1, 6 to 10 p.m.

JuiceBox Gallery co-founder Aaron Mulligan is branching out to curate exhibits at other spaces; here, he takes over Alto with a four-person show redefining the meaning of digital art that includes his own work. Alongside Mulligan, Camila Leòn, Debra Lynn Manville and Lucía Rodríguez also use outside-the-box techniques to explore what it really means to make a painting. Incidentally, Mulligan is also curating another group show, Real Shapes, that opens at Dateline (next door to JuiceBox) on June 15. Keep an eye on this kid. For counterpoint, Alto will also host Actually Paintings, showcasing works by Jennifer Lord.

click to enlarge ARNA MILLER AND RAVI ZUPA
Arna Miller and Ravi Zupa
Strike Your Fancy: New Artworks by Arna Miller, with Ravi Zupa
Abstract, 742 Santa Fe Drive
Friday, June 1, 6 to 10 p.m.

Screen printer Arna Miller releases a new batch of dinosaur-inspired poster work, as well as a printed matchbox series tag-teamed with partner Ravi Zupa that depicts “cats drinking at the bar and the good, embarrassing and confusing situations we have all found ourselves in.” Stop by for a show with fun and affordable art.

Dinosaur District-Wide Art Walk/ArtLine Block Party
40 West Arts District, 1560 Teller Street, Lakewood
Friday, June 1, 5 to 8 p.m.

40 West is still jockeying to become the place to be on First Friday in the metro area in June by dovetailing its monthly art walk with Lakewood’s Inspire! Arts Week and the grand opening of the city’s new four-mile ArtLine trail, which leads walkers and bicyclists through historic neighborhoods on a hunt for street installations and stegosaurus-inspired, interactive sculptures in public parks. Find the block party, food trucks, hourly dinosaur flash mobs and the ArtLine info tent on Lakewood Place between Reed and Pierce streets, one block north of Colfax Avenue; save time to explore the district’s galleries and drop by RMCAD’s Arts + Revelry event in conjunction with Inspire!.

click to enlarge COURTESY OF HOVAB
Courtesy of HOVAB
Imaginary Maps: Expeditions to Uncover Apocryphal, Unsubstantiated and Forbidden Places
First Congregational Church of Boulder, 1128 Pine Street, Boulder
June 1 through September 29
Opening Reception: Friday, June 1, 6 p.m.

In 2016, A History of the Visual Arts in Boulder (HOVAB) took over galleries all over Boulder. In 2018, HOVAB is condensed into Imaginary Maps, one big exhibit inspired by cartography that opens June 1 in the Martie McMane Gallery at the First Congregational Church of Boulder. Forty-one artists create a kind of living atlas through the art, depicting the world in all its chance realities. The organizers hope you will be inspired to do the same by creating your own singular mapped worlds.
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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd