THIS FIRST THURSDAY, the weather finally said "spring." As two cirrus clouds whisked across a robin's egg sky, cyclists came out of their shells, yelling at Burnside Bridge drivers during rush-hour congestion. Amid this new light and vigor, why would my art walk still start out sparse, dark, and simple? Call it contrarianism or coincidence—I don't care.

At Froelick Gallery, Miles Cleveland Goodwin's A Long Road Home sets each of its lone central figures against a blurry, bleak landscape. Though his spooky human subjects hold their own, Goodwin's "Black Ray" is the standout, with a stingray hovering above a blue-gray waterline as distant seagulls dot the horizon. Rarely is the gesture of flight depicted so darkly, on a paint surface as textured as pier wood. Beyond the foyer, the theme of portent emptiness continues as Ritsuko Ozeki's black, inky etchings of empty picture frames and baby dolls commemorate the 2011 earthquakes in Japan. "Something I believed in collapsed inside of me, and it was occupied by a large emptiness," her artist statement summarizes. On site, Ozeki wore the perfect shirt to complement her work: a white T-shirt printed with the false impression of a black scarf.

The single greatest thing about James Minden's handmade holograms at Augen Gallery is the fact that they exist. Every time this guy uses his handicraft techniques to get a high-tech effect, he reasserts humans' independence from machines. That said, and the elegance of his circular patterns on black backgrounds duly congratulated—I'd like to see Minden's next work take on new shapes.

Charles Hartman and Blue Sky galleries are both in nostalgia mode with '60s-'70s black-and-whites. Hartman's The Bikeriders, a worthy holdover from last month, is Danny Lyon's documentary capture of bygone badasses from a motorcycle gang called the Chicago Outlaws. Sure enough, these are the "hoodlums" old doo-wop songs warn about—skinny and sultry in cigarette slacks, squinting into the wind as it blows their pompadours up into feathery proto-mohawks. (Hell, if bikers still looked like this, I might rally....) Meanwhile at Blue Sky, the twisted pre-Lynchian trickery of Arthur Tress shows a lone human hand lying on a train seat, a nude man sprawled in bed under a sheep rather than a sheet, a figure ascending stairs in a little girl's dress and a giant gnome mask. "Is... that... Santa?" remarks a mystified little kid before being pulled away. Meanwhile, "Boy with Hockey Gloves" (which looks exactly like how it sounds) recalls the Hulk fist fetish of the gallery's January guests, Hillerbrand + Magsamen.

Also in January, I compared the Everett Station Lofts to stoner dorm rooms—but what a difference two months make! Several spaces have been at least hastily spit-shined if not thoroughly spring-cleaned since then, and they're currently presenting surprisingly crisp shows.

At Orientation Gallery, Andrey Nedashkovskiy handed out tangerines (perhaps to complement his impressionist oils' umber undertones?). In one of his pieces, a Joni Mitchell lookalike sits by a bank of daffodils. At Fotoeffect, Lauryn Hare's Debut juxtaposes crumbling architecture with nubile nudes. "The sky is falling," the women seem to say, "but all is well." Not to be overlooked, conceptual artist Wynde Dyer has covered the walls of Cock Gallery with copper-leaf-overlaid text, combining her first name with the surnames of former boyfriends and crushes: "Wynde Wickwire... Wynde Galaxy... Wynde Washington."

As they say, "hope springs eternal." And also, "spring has sprung."