Changing Spaces: Your August First Friday Hit List

August’s First Friday is the summer’s latest to include a notable last hurrah. The evening’s biggest party, the 25th anniversary of Midwestern Musical Co., also marks the store’s closing. Matt Kesler wraps up his years of being the Crossroads’ anchor for buying, selling and trading instruments with a big night, which includes a raffle to play the store’s famous “bash guitar” with the Guitar Bash Band and have the privilege of smashing it to pieces. (Expect additional instrument destruction.)  

In September, Luis Garcia’s Base Gallery is moving from 2011 Baltimore. Tonight’s opening — for a show by Robert Tapley Bustamante and Clark Joel — is the last of Garcia’s nine years there.

So that’s one closure and one impending move, but here’s a new spot: Heinrich Toh’s Fraction Print Studio (130 West 18th Street). Breathing fresh life into the former Spray Booth Gallery location, Toh plans to open his doors every First Friday and this month shows his own work alongside Alessandra Dzuba’s. Their collaborative exhibit uses nature and texture to explore ideas of evolution, life, death and connections (or disconnections).

At Hilliard Gallery (1820 McGee), Teresa Magel is seeing whether she can make a great big collective wish come true. By opening night, she’ll have finished turning the thousand wishes that she has amassed this year from anonymous scribblers — wishes that range from the mean-hearted to the heartbreaking to the trivial — into 1,000 origami cranes. In Japanese culture, doing so is supposed to bring about a positive wish outcome. A corresponding body of new paintings invites us to think about being careful what we wish for. These images incorporate her signature style: dreamlike renditions of calm female figures beset with flowers, hummingbirds and other natural elements conveying fragility and serenity.

Two other artists are staging their new solo exhibitions in annual terms: Christine LaValley presents paintings created from a form of meditation. My Mythology Is Personal, at Main Street Gallery (1610 Main, above Anton’s Taproom), contains symbols that are relevant to her but translate into geometric studies that do not require a key. Twisting Facebook and selfie culture, Erica Kuschel has created a 365-day photographic journal — real prints, nonephemeral text — for A Year in a Blink, showing at Locust Factory (504 East 18th Street). The exhibition asks us to watch her daily life, which, according to gallery materials, includes “dressing for a party; playing with her pet ferret; relaxing with her boyfriend; despairing or reveling over her hair or body shape; celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays or the random awesome day,” and much more.

Civilian, a new publication, celebrates its first issue tonight (read more about it here) at Front/Space (217 West 18th Street) and dovetails with an exhibition series of the same name.

Garcia Squared Contemporary (115 West 18th Street) shows a smart new exhibition by Alejandro Figueredo Diaz-Perera, a Cuban multimedia artist whose work, the statement says, “originates in the selection of random points of entry into the existential debate.” Expect a site-specific installation created from ashes and clay on the walls of the gallery, along with several video pieces, one of which is one-night-only and highly worthwhile: the documentation of a dual performance with Cara Diaz-Lewis that shows the two of them using national flags (American and Cuban) dipped in bleach and bleeding their colors as the artists wash the windows of the Defibrillator gallery in Chicago and recite from their earlier online argument, mimicking the state of U.S.-Cuban relations.

Off the beaten path (that is, in midtown), the Writers Place (3607 Pennsylvania) puts on a show titled PIX, by Will Meier, a relatively recent Kansas City Art Institute grad and a Charlotte Street Foundation studios program resident. He moves fluidly between mediums and here calls his work “paintings,” in quotation marks, saying the art explores questions such as the difference between reading and seeing or why reading is something so hard to do with company (whereas looking at a painting is not necessarily so difficult). He says he’s “toying with the mind’s eye as a canvas, imagistic language as pigment, and the stark formal arrangement of block-justified Myriad Pro as a brush.” (If you talk with Meier for a few minutes, this will make perfect sense.)

The Leedy-Voulkos Art Center (2012 Baltimore) is fresh from a midsummer spruce-up, and there’s new work in all of its galleries. One exception, a continuation of Kristopher Clarke’s Sum Good, Sum Bad & Sum Ugly, remains in the lower-level gallery. Though the quality of his paintings varies, that seeming disparity indicates willingness to search and experiment, and there are some gems here that reveal growing talent. Clark’s rich, layered compositions incorporate symbols and repeated patterns that offer pages of narrative on just a single two-dimensional plane.

Click here for a full list of First Friday gallery openings and events.

Categories: Art