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January First Friday 

When: Fri., Jan. 6, 5-8 p.m. 2017
Phone: 520-1899
Price: Free
cottonwoodcenterforthearts.com

It's not often we choose one First Friday event to feature, since all our local galleries host some fabulous opening receptions, but Cottonwood Center for the Arts has a lot going on tonight. Though, if we're being honest, they always have a lot going on. In the month of December alone, Cottonwood hosted three gallery shows in addition to offering classes, theater performances, studio spaces and a relatively new textile studio, Textiles West.

From the looks of it, they aren't planning on slowing down, either. They're kicking off 2017 in a big way with the first First Friday of the year. Cottonwood's opening receptions are always delightful, filled with refreshments and plenty of artsy mingling, but this one's got some special treats in store.

For one, Cottonwood will celebrate the opening of Back to Reality, an exhibit of contemporary realistic works. According to the show's call for entries, Cottonwood says that contemporary realism encapsulates works that "may seem photorealistic from a distance, but they break down with proximity, where the texture of the paint becomes a tool that builds the subjects, and brush strokes or layers of glaze become abstract moments within the world of the painting." It's a nice reminder for the year ahead, that the big picture isn't always what it seems to be.

Multiple local artists' work will be featured in this exhibit, including Deb Komitor, Lee Murphy and Jennifer Ross, so it's worth dropping by to check it out.

The theater nerds among us (including myself) have their own excitement to look forward to tonight — three local theater companies will be announcing their 2017 seasons as part of First Friday festivities. THEATREdART, COUNTER/Weight Theatre Lab and Star Bar Players all consider Cottonwood's David H. Lord Theater their home base, and all of them have put on pretty spectacular shows in the last year. You may recall our look at Star Bar Players' Night of the Living Dead (The Cut, Oct. 19, 2016), THEATREdART's One Sixteenth of an Inch (The List, Nov. 18, 2016) or COUNTER/Weight's Your Fathers, Where Are They? And the Prophets? Do They Live Forever? (The List, Nov. 30, 2016).

Needless to say, we're all excited to see what they have in store next. All three companies are boundary-pushers, so I doubt there will be too many familiar titles coming up in any of their seasons, but that should make it all the more interesting.

Pre-announcement, make sure to attend the mixer they're hosting. The companies will all have some information about their missions and visions, while handing out special giveaways and refreshments. It's a great opportunity to chat with some innovative performing artists and start getting stoked about what shows you'll see this year. 5-8 p.m., season announcement at 6:30 p.m., Cottonwood Center for the Arts, 427 E. Colorado Ave., cottonwoodcenterforthearts.com.

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