When: Thu., July 5, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. and Fri., July 6, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. 2018
Devilish beauties, embellished underwear and artificial limbs are but a few of the curiosities to be found in Southtown on what’s destined to be one of the hottest First Fridays of the year. If you missed the June openings of Blue Star Contemporary’s summer exhibitions — including Gary Sweeney’s homey photographic installation “A Manhattan Beach Memoir” and the multimedia group show “From Underfoot: Breaking Through Surface and Ground” — take advantage of free admission to the pioneering art space on First Thursday and First Friday (free, 10am-8pm Thu, 10am-9pm Fri, Blue Star Contemporary, 116 Blue Star). Having recently moved from the corner pocket of the Blue Star Arts Complex to a newly reconfigured space many remember as Joan Grona Gallery, FL!GHT rallies “old favorites and newcomers” alike for “We Thanusiness,” which is oddly one of two new shows borrowing its name from 100-plus bizarrely botched signs hanging at gas stations and convenience stores across town (free, 6-10pm Thu-Fri , FL!GHT Gallery, 112 Blue Star). Around the corner and up the stairs at Hello Studio, artist/curator/gallery co-director Justin Korver has assembled a solid crew of 16 artists (including Nicholas Frank, Buster Graybill, Leigh Anne Lester, Connie Lowe and Daniela Madrigal) for “Friendly Neighborhood Abstraction,” an exhibition that seeks to challenge that genre’s “cold, analytical” reputation (free, 7-10pm Thu-Fri, Hello Studio, 1420 S. Alamo St., Building B, Suite 203). Billed as an “otherworldly exhibit” marked by a “paradise-in-hell aesthetic,” Connie Chapa’s first solo show “Who Is She?” takes over Creative Creatures, complete with an Instagram-ready interactive installation (free, 6-11pm Thu, Creative Creatures, 420 S. Alamo St., Suite 106B). Teased out with a creatively reimagined pair of Hanes whitey tighties, Choice Goods Gallery’s cheekily titled “The HE MAN SHOW” brings together works by bad-boy artists Robert Tatum, Rooster and Evil Dave (free, 6-9pm Thu, 6-11pm Fri, Choice Goods Gallery, 1420 S. Alamo St., Suite 103). Striking a more serious tone, Taylor Maupin’s installation “Once Upon a Time” employs materials such as clay and caulk to address childhood trauma and pose questions about “mental illness, coping mechanisms, sexual abuse and violence” (free, 6-9pm Thu-Fri, Terminal 136, 136 Blue Star). Only a stone’s-throw away from the Blue Star campus, rightful fan favorite Presa House Gallery unveils a trio of exhibitions: “Through Rose Colored Glasses” by Justo Cisneros (a full sensory experience built from “modified objects such as flowers, toys, fish and artificial limbs”), “Stems” by Eric Mathis (which nods to nature and math while investigating “the aesthetic experience of objects presented in non-traditional formats”) and “We Thanusiness” by James Medrano, a collection of artful parodies exploring “themes of addiction, religious corporatism and consumerism’s influence in our everyday lives” (free, 6pm-midnight Fri, Presa House Gallery, 725 S. Presa St.).