October Final Fridays preview: Out-of-town talent shines, plus art made by dogs!

Works by California artist Phil Stivers will be on display at the Phoenix Gallery, 825 Massachusetts.

Works by California artist Phil Stivers will be on display at the Phoenix Gallery, 825 Massachusetts.

Few would argue that Final Fridays is the opportunity to celebrate the local arts scene, but how often do we stop and consider the talented individuals who make a special trip to Lawrence for the monthly event? This Friday we have the opportunity to meet several artists from around the country, and who knows? Maybe if we meet them we’ll gain a new appreciation for the world around us.

That’s what artist Justin Plakas from Athens, Ga., wants us to do. He will be on hand Friday at The Wonder Fair (803 Massachusetts) for his new show, “Unsung Heroes,” an assemblage of prints, photographs and sculptures that celebrate the more mundane artifacts of our lives, the cast-offs and objects d’art “that we so recklessly take advantage of.”

“I want people to see the things around them and maybe laugh a little bit,” says Plakas, in his artist statement.

It would be impossible not to appreciate the pieces that San Diego artist Phil Stivers is showing at the Phoenix Gallery (825 Massachusetts) on Friday. Along with the decorative and functional wood carvings, Stivers is bringing a bowl from the rarest pine species in the United States, the torrey pine, a tree that only grows in San Diego County and on one of the Channel Islands.

“His work is amazing,” says Phoenix Gallery manager Sue Shea. “We like to tout local artists, but he is one of the best woodturners around.”

Stivers will also be showing videos of him at work in his shop in Balboa Park, Calif. Jazz artist Jeff Dunaway and food from Pendleton’s Country Market will also be on hand at the Phoenix Gallery.

One show that pharmacist and ceramics art enthusiast Melissa McCormick appreciates every time it comes around is the Orton Cone Box Show which is now on display at the Lawrence Arts Center. “I really look forward to the cone box show,” she says. “The size limitation of the entries makes this show a great way to see work from a lot of different ceramic artists in a relatively small space.”

The size limitation McCormick refers to is the fact that all the pieces must fit into a 3x3x6 inch box, or the dimensions of the Standard Orton Pyrometric Cone Box - cones that are used to monitor the temperature within kilns during firings.

This is the 10th time Inge Balch, professor of art at Baker University, has curated the show.

“It is like Christmas,” she says of the tiny treasures that make up the show, “and the quality gets better every time we do it.”

Appreciating the talent closer to home is also possible this Friday. The Art Party at Hobbs Taylor Lofts (718 New Hampshire) is featuring improvisational dance by members of the KU Dance Company, and jazz guitarist Michael Stephenson, in addition to the approximately two dozen artists who will be showing works.

If that isn’t enough talent for you, check out artwork from the Downtown Tuesday Painters Group that meets regularly at the Douglas County Senior Center. Their work will be on display at throughout the public library on Friday night.

Or how about the “dogcasso” pieces that will be on display at Lucky Paws Bakery (4 E. 7th St.) works of art created by the four-legged talent in our community. Patrons are encouraged to make bids on the silent auction and all money raised will go to Crossroads Dog Rescue.

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