First Thursday: Deathly portraits, cubic rams, smudgy painted mutts, and Aids 3-D


April is usually one of the liveliest months for the make-your-own-maze blitz of art openings that is "first Thursday," and this year is no exception. One highlight is definitely the debut solo show by Dean Dempsey, who graced the cover of the 2010 Photo Issue of the Guardian, and was interviewed on the Pixel Vision blog. Dempsey has since relocated to New York, and "Selected Works" at Togonon Gallery offers a new glimpse into his idiosyncratic "pictorial sculpture" take on portraiture. Speaking of which, glitter painter Jamie Vasta invokes Caravaggio in a new show at Patricia Sweetow Gallery. More about hers and other openings after the jump.

In "After Caravaggio," 2007 Guardian "Flaming Creator" Vasta gathers friends and associates as subjects for a take on the master painter that coincides with the 400th anniversary of his death. There's a deathly presence in more than one or two first Thursday shows, from Dempsey's and Vasta's to the X-ray images in Guardian Photo Issue alum David Maisel's "History's Shadow" at Haines Gallery, a logically dis-ease oriented extension of his recent large-scale renderings of rusty urns containing the ashes of anonymous mental institution patients.

Other first Thursday shows, works, and exhibitions of note: Aids 3-D (Daniel Kollar and Nik Kosmas) bring audience-energy solar panels to Altman Siegel Gallery; Shawn Smith serves up a colorful cubic ram at Cain Schulte Contemporary Art; Eric Zener presents emotionally evocative tree paintings at Hespe Gallery; Eric Ginsberg's smudgy mutts and other dogs find a home at Mina Dresden; and Fauxnique talks about performance at Gallery 16.

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