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July’s First Friday roundup

Various Artists

Waste your life. Be an artist.

Is being an artist a waste of time? The struggles and uncertainty certainly don’t make such a career very inviting. But they’re no deterrent for curator Scott Wood, who, along with 17 other artists, will winkingly prove art is worthwhile with the seventh annual Waste your life. Be an artist group show. And how strongly do they feel about “wasting” their lives? Some have tattoos of the show’s theme — literally and figuratively.

Roxy Montoya: “It’s not an ordinary portrait, it’s of a hard-working artist’s hand holding some tools of the trade. I wanted to incorporate the show title in there somewhere, and figured branding it on the hand as a tattoo was fitting! I really wanted the painting to reference my own hand, but holding the four items plus taking a decent photo was frustrating! So I used [husband and artist Albert F. Montoya] as a hand model …”

Juan Muniz: “I even have the logo tattooed on myself. My painting depicts my character, Felipe, as a child painting away franticly onto the canvas, getting paint all over the place, only to put down a heart on the canvas. The excitement of a child when they create it is limitless. … Pablo Picasso once said, ‘Every child is an artist — the problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.’ My art is based on that belief. We get jaded as we grow up [and] become what society believes we should be …”

If you miss Waste your life during First Friday, you can also see the show during the Family BBQ on Saturday, July 7, at the Bunkhouse, where acts like Deadhand, One Pin Short and Outside Looking In will perform.

Waste your life. Be an Artist. Seventh anniversary show, July 6, 5-11 p.m., Common Ground First Friday Gallery Booth on Casino Center Boulevard. Waste your life. Family BBQ July 7, 7 p.m., The Bunkhouse, 124 S. 11th St., $7,

Nathan Douglas

True Stories

Fact or faked? Local photographer Nathan Douglas takes advantage of the wild social landscape of Las Vegas, re-creating surreal and outrageous scenarios, playing out situations to their limits.

Douglas: “I did this series to show people my world and how I see the relationships and human interactions that take place around me. … My friends’ bright red 1990 Mustang 5.0 inspired the image ‘Good Time.’ It just gave me the gritty feeling of two wild young adults going out to have a good time. No romantic blanket and picnic basket, this is about escaping and going to the desert, where you can get away with this kind of stuff and have a sort of unruly and raw freedom.

“I shot this image outside of Blue Diamond. It doesn’t seem like a lot happens in that town. About five minutes into the shoot, we got quite an audience. Lots of onlookers and honking horns from those slowly passing by … the models definitely took note of the onlookers and started to play it up even more, as if they were putting on a show for them.”

Through July 28. Brett Wesley Gallery, 1112 S. Casino Center Blvd, 433-4433,

Katie Baldwin, Nichola Kinch, Katie Murken

The Garden of Forking Paths

Wandering through a transparent lattice of garden walls, viewers encounter framed drawings of trees, totems and a winding, knitted ribbon of water snaking through the exhibit. Each work by Katie Baldwin, Nichola Kinch and Katie Murken serves to complement and strengthen the others. The porous stone walls and windows throughout the Contemporary Art Center — crafted by Kinch — create conflicting sensations of exterior and interior spaces, enhancing similar ideas found in Baldwin’s woodblock/collage landscape prints. Meanwhile, Murken’s columns, composed of logs and casts of deflated basketballs, waiver between spiritual totems and the naked trees of a fractured wooded landscape.

Offering a little insight into the collaborative process of creating the installation, Baldwin explains: “For me, an important part of the process of developing work for this show was meeting weekly for group critiques. Perhaps it is no surprise that listening to others talk about my work helped me to see my work in a new way — opening up new possibilities. It’s amazing how helpful it can be to hear from someone else that knitting a river, cutting tedious shapes out of paper or building columns out of logs are all good ideas.”

Through August 18. Contemporary Art Center, 107 E. Charleston Blvd, 382-3886,

Jevijoe Vitug

New Work

A great ball of shoes sits on a tray table (on top of two more tray tables) and is lashed to the ceiling. Several attached cables create the impression of a bizarre, unruly comet that might blast off. The exhibit’s goal? Addressing nuclear warfare.

Jevijoe: “The project was initially inspired from nuclear fusion, a process by which two or more atomic nuclei join together, or ‘fuse.’ The shoes tied together [into] a ball suggests community, unity in diversity … they are worn by diverse people.

“With a pair of shoes … you have the left shoe and the right shoe … and in the Cold War era, you have the right usually associated with United States and its allies, and left with communist countries, like the USSR. They are different, but basically the same. They split, they fuse [but] they need each other today in order to survive.”

Through July, 5th Wall Gallery, Emergency Arts, 520 Fremont St., 592-1467.