Visual Arts

Lotus Contemporary and Five15 Art Galleries to Close on Roosevelt Row in Downtown Phoenix

Two Roosevelt Row art galleries will close this month, their owners recently confirmed.

Located in a building on the southeast corner of Roosevelt and Fifth streets that features a collaborative mural by El Mac and Augustine Kofie, Lotus Contemporary Art and Five15 Arts will shutter by the end of August 2016. They're owned and operated by Denise Fleisch and the Five15 Arts collective, respectively.

The building was owned for many years by the Pappas family, which has several additional real estate holdings in the Roosevelt Row area. Both Fleisch and Five15 artist Wendy Willis told New Times the building was sold about six months ago, and that the new owner plans to make improvements before re-opening in time for Art Detour in March 2017. 

The building was acquired by Desert Viking, a Chandler-based real estate and development firm, says Greg Esser, founder of the Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation. Desert Viking has not responded to New Times' request for information about the acquisition or future plans for the property. 

It's the latest in a string of significant changes that have transpired in Roosevelt Row during the past two years. Baron Properties demolished the former site of the first gay drag bar in Phoenix to make way for an apartment complex. Kimber Lanning saved a 1911 house from demolition by having it moved across the street. And the building that housed Paz Cantina was torn down to make way for new development. 

The building's other current tenants include Fifth Row Dance Studios, Flowers Beer & Wine, and Ira L. Hayden Art & Design.

Hayden, whose space also includes Galleria Celtica, has been in the building for more than three decades – making him one of the first artists to have a gallery in Roosevelt Row, a section of downtown Phoenix that has been named one of the country’s best art districts and neighborhoods.

The newest tenant, Flowers Beer & Wine, is owned by John Sagasta and Mike Cosentino, who told New Times by phone on August 10 that their store will not be closing. "The new owner is working with us," says Cosentino, who adds that they are staying open while the owner works on the property but will be moving to the other side of the building.

Fleisch posted the news that Lotus Contemporary Art would be closing to her artist Facebook page on July 25. It's not the only challenge she's faced during the past year. Late in 2015, her art studio, located in a different part of town, was destroyed by fire. 

Five15 Arts posted the news that it would be closing to its gallery Facebook page on August 1.  Members of the collective include Henry Bellavia, Susan Risi, Deborah Hodder, Anne Howey-Falvey, Marlys Kubicek, Mary Shindell, Michelle Terry-Helmick, Joan C. Thompson, and Willis. Members are still discussing options for moving forward, Willis says. 

At this point, neither gallery has decided whether to reopen in another space.

Both Lotus Contemporary Art and Five15 Arts have announced on social media that they will be open during Third Friday, August 19, so people will have one more chance to see these art spaces before they close.
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Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble