Fifteen Things for Art Lovers to Do and See on First Friday Weekend

Chris Haven invites you to Stick ’Em Up! at Lowbrow Denver.
Chris Haven invites you to Stick ’Em Up! at Lowbrow Denver. Chris Haven
First Friday in August is shaping up to be one big party wherever you go, and if that’s not always conducive to art appreciation, there’s still plenty to celebrate in galleries all over town: The Chicano Humanities and Arts Council will show off its new space on the south end of the Art District on Santa Fe, while the Center for Visual Arts anchors the north end with a Party in the Lot. (The art district will also be hosting the migrating Truck Stop Food Truck Rally that night.) Former Denver favorite Bill Amundson will be back in town with new drawings in tow, and emerging artist Julio Alejandro wins it all with work in a trifecta of new shows. Here’s more info, plus a myriad of other artsy things to do.

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Visby, Sweden: The inspiration for a new sonic installation by Nathan Hall at Understudy.
Nathan Hall
Nathan Hall, Visby
Understudy, 890 C 14th Street
August 3 through 29
Opening Reception: Thursday, August 2, 6 to 9 p.m.

Denver contemporary composer Nathan Hall takes control of the Denver Theatre District’s Understudy project space in August with Visby, a sonic multimedia installation inspired by his time on the small island of Visby, Sweden, a place where ancient history and scenery prevail. Hall pays homage to the the island’s old cathedral, winds and rocky coastline with a motorized wind-chime sculpture, harpsichord surround-sound and video landscapes. Get lost in another world at the opening, where there will be goodies and drink, or visit between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Understudy is located at the Colorado Convention Center light-rail stop near 14th and Stout streets. Look for the B-cycle station next to the light-rail tracks.

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Suchitra Mattai, detail of “Failed” artwork, mixed media/found media.
Suchitra Mattai
The Faux Pas Factory
PlatteForum, 2400 Curtis Street
August 2 through September 8
Opening Reception: Thursday, August 2, 6 to 8 p.m.

Once a year, the PlatteForum art-mentorship program for youth lets its high-school-aged ArtLab interns lead the way by curating a show of work by the professionals. This time around, selected artists with studios at the Temple (which also houses PlatteForum) offer failed projects that never left the studio, symbolizing the ongoing learning process every artist pursues.

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CHAC Gallery
First Friday Grand Reopening: Art Is Art
Chicano Humanities and Arts Council, 222 Santa Fe Drive
August 3 through 31
Opening Reception: Friday, August 3, 5 to 9 p.m.

When the news came down this past spring that the Chicano Humanities and Art Council was facing the loss of its well-entrenched Santa Fe Drive twin spaces of more than twenty years to encroaching development, the cultural hub’s leadership didn’t think too long about what to do. CHAC executive director Lucille Ruibal Rivera announced that the Denver treasure was looking for new digs, which turned out to be in a building only five blocks south of the old location. After closing in June, CHAC members have been sprucing up the new (and larger) space, and the gallery is set to reopen on First Friday, in hopes of luring art-walkers down to the less-populated end of the art district with an opening ceremony by Aztec dance troupe Huitzilopochtli, spins by DJ Big Moe and a fresh new show, Art Is Art, a showcase of CHAC favorites old and new.

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Bill Amundson, “Trump Tower,” graphite & color pencil on paper.
Bill Amundson, William Havu Gallery
The Big Draw
William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street
August 3 through September 15
Opening Reception: Friday, August 3, 6 to 9 p.m.

Havu Gallery’s late-summer drawing show brings together a quintet of artists who know their way around a pencil and paper, including Denver expat Bill Amundson, whose frantic and satirical works poke fun at suburbia, politics and capitalism gone awry. Lui Ferreyra, Tony Ortega, Doug Russell and Shelby Shadwell round out the group for an exhibit abounding in simple virtuosity and skill. Think of these works as the roots music of the art world, and stand back in awe.

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Julio Alejandro, “Lost Weekend."
Julio Alejandro
Julio Alejandro, Fridge Art
Dateline, 3004 Larimer Street
Opening Reception: Friday, August 3

Julio Alejandro’s canvases sling together text, doodles, dream imagery, cartoon figures and pop-cultural references in surreal two-dimensional landscapes that spring from his consciousness in pleasing arrangements. Like comic books or cartoons we affix to the fridge with magnets, this batch might cue memories, represent the slow turning of personal evolution or just make us chuckle at a familiar old joke. Fridge Art will also include works on paper drawn by Alejandro and colored by Jack Fitzmaurice and Beatrice Presswalla.

JuiceBox, 3006A Larimer Street
August 3 through September 15
3006A Larimer Street

While scoping out Dateline, make sure to drop in next door at JuiceBox, where Julio Alejandro joins Drew Austin, Derek Blancey, Jillian FitzMaurice, Dalton Frizzell, Thomas Scharfenberg and Lucas Thomas in a new group exhibit that’s all about the foundational processes — mark-making, shape-blocking, pushing paint in new directions — of making art in any genre or medium. For this show, JuiceBox curators Aaron Mulligan and Lucía Rodríguez asked a handful Denver art professionals they look up to to recommend “artists who have not gotten many chances to show, are reigniting their practice or are young in their career.” Mark/Build/Mark represents the launch of what they’re calling the Open Box program.

La Vida Manca
Alto Gallery, 4345 West 41st Avenue
August 3 through September 1
Opening Reception: Friday, August 3, 6 to 9 p.m.

Alejandro also makes an appearance in a new trio at Alto Gallery, where he’ll bring the street indoors with Denver graffiti artists Jack “Voice” Avila and Leo Rivera.

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A sneak peek from Image Breaking at Odessa Denver.
Mauro C. Martinez
Image Breaking: New Works by Mauro C. Martinez
Odessa Denver at Collective SML/k, 430 Santa Fe Drive
August 3 through September 14
Opening Reception: Friday, August 3, 6 to 10 p.m.

Odessa Denver brings artist Mauro C. Martinez to Denver from Laredo, Texas, where he covers large canvases with floating, hazy visions of blurred photographic faces and body parts in repose, sometimes splashed with color, reflecting how we are all unknowable on the surface. Says Martinez: “This exhibition uses painting as a vehicle for inquiry, where artist, viewer, subject and material all square off in a relentless search for meaning.” There will be a second reception during September's First Friday event.
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