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Like the other pop-up galleries on Marshall Way, 5 and 6 opened in May. Gordon says close to 500 people showed up for the opening, and the gallery has sold some art.
As he makes his way across the street, Gordon points out some of the galleries that have been on Marshall Way for years: Calvin Charles, Art One, and Lisa Sette Gallery.
Sette has been on Marshall Way since 1986, and her gallery has featured a variety of renowned international and local artists, including Valley luminaries Enrique Chagoya, Claudio Dicochea, and Angela Ellsworth, who were picked by British curator David Elliot to show their art at the prestigious 17th Biennale of Sydney in Australia this year.
Sette's happy to see pop-up galleries opening in formerly empty spaces. "They add life, from both sides," she says. "Hopefully, people will consider the ArtWalk a viable activity. We don't need it for our gallery's business, but it doesn't hurt."
She also appreciates the diversity of art the new galleries bring to Scottsdale, an area that's often painted as just a hub of Southwest kitsch. There are still plenty of places down the street to buy kachina dolls and dream catchers and paintings of canyons, but that's far from all there is.
"The stereotype of what Scottsdale art is really needs to be busted," Sette says. "Marshall Way totally deserves a new look."
Indeed, a walk down Marshall Way these days reveals a variety of artwork, from big, sparkling fiberglass fish at Soyal to colorful sculptures of strange, snail-like creatures at Art One.
Art One owner Kraig Foote has primarily shown student artwork since he opened in 1993.
"It's all contemporary work — no cowboys or Indians. If you go down the main street here, you don't see the tchotchke work anymore," Foote says. "I love the new galleries opening here . . . We need new blood. I'm so grateful not to see empty spaces, because they hurt us."
As he works his way back toward 5 and 6, Gordon stops to chat with graphic designer and artist Brian Drake, who's preparing for a show at Spec10. Tall and blue-eyed, with a chiseled face and five o'clock shadow, Drake usually looks the part of the suave designer, but right now, he's sweating it out in shorts and a T-shirt, trying to get his paintings hung.
Pop-up gallery artists work hard down here. As Gordon enters Soyal, he high-fives Emmett Potter, who says he spends 50 to 65 hours a week here. But it's paying off. Since Potter and Hibert opened a month ago, they've sold three of Potter's painted bombs, six pieces from artist Grant Wiggins' show, and tons of Hibert's 25-cent plastic Miigii creatures from the custom vending machine inside Soyal.
"We're not walking away rich, but we're actually selling art," Potter says. "I sold one of my painted bombs the other day to a teenage guy for $2,000. I love Scottsdale."
In just two months, three of the pop-up galleries — 5 and 6, Soyal, and Spec10 — had combined art sales in excess of $12,000.
That's almost enough to rent a space on nearby Craftsman Court for a year. Add what ArtWalk patrons spend at nearby restaurants, cafes, and bars, and Old Town doesn't seem so bleak, after all.
After leaving Soyal, Gordon pauses to wave at the police officers on horses and give a quick shout to Craig Randich when he sees him down the street.
"The feel here, during the day, is a cool place to be. In my opinion, it's kind of like a small town, where you know the shop owner on the next block. It's a tight-knit community," Gordon says. "I'm enthusiastic about that, because there's room for growth. There's tons of space still available. If someone has a great idea, they can come in and make something happen. Isn't that what America's about?"
In prosperous times, the arts aren't necessarily seen as a vital part of business. But a 2005 study by the nonprofit Americans for the Arts determined the national arts and culture industry generates more than $166 billion annually.
That study, "Arts & Economic Prosperity III," included revenues for 25 communities, including metropolitan Phoenix, where people spent almost $253 million at art and culture events.
Even now, when Arizona's economy seems so dismal, the arts have a pulse in commerce. According to another advocacy group, Arizona Citizens for the Arts, 50,000 people are currently employed in arts and culture jobs across the state. There are an estimated 4,000 arts-related jobs just in Legislative District 8, which includes Old Town Scottsdale.
The idea to repurpose local unused retail space into working studios and art galleries didn't stop in Scottsdale, either. A huge pop-up gallery recently sprang up in an industrial area of Phoenix.
Sheila Martin-Castillo, who owns a large office complex near 24th Street and University Drive with her husband, Eduardo, said their building was sitting empty for months after DES moved out. At the suggestion of local artists Kathryn Henneman and Kimberly Harris, the Castillos transformed half their building into Gallery 2345. The gallery, which opened May 14, hosts exhibitions twice a month, and artists can use the spaces for $150 a month with no commission.
"It's worked out beautifully," Martin-Castillo says. "We had almost 200 people here two weeks ago. The artists sold several thousand dollars of work at the first show, and I was just amazed. We were absolutely packed."
Bravo!! A truly accurate representation of what is going on!!
Very well done. I'd like to see more of this type of in-depth reporting on the arts in the valley. a good news story with wide appeal that does justice to the art it covers, too. good job. more, please.
Kudos on this excellent article! Proof positive that art/culture can be reported as NEWS without having to marginalize creative-types' work & efforts via "What Are You Wearing/Eating?"-type puff pieces that barely mention the art itself.
This story is the real deal. Thanks!