Culture News

2016 Art Gallery Openings and Closings in Metro Phoenix

The metro Phoenix arts scene continues to be in flux, as various venues that exhibit art open, close, or evolve. Here’s a look back at the year’s most significant changes on the local gallery scene.


Jorge Ignacio Torres founded the Palabra collective in 2012 and operated it for a time in the same building that houses Space 55. But in January, he relocated to a building that's now home to not only the gallery and hair salon, but also a coffee bar called Futuro.

Mesa Community College Art Gallery
A new gallery opened at Mesa Community College in February with an exhibition of works from its permanent collection, which includes artists ranging from Alexander Calder to Mary Shindell. The gallery presents primarily student, faculty, and alumni works.

Creative Center
Michelle Pelberg-Biely opened the Creative Center, which includes studio space for several artists as well as exhibition space, in April. It's located inside the building that once housed Mandall's Shooting Supplies, which was best known for some for its sign featuring a teddy bear holding a gun.

Babylon Gallery
Bassim Al-Shaker debuted his Babylon Gallery in the space where Andrew Pielage previously operated Drive-Thru Gallery. Following a soft opening in August, Al-Shaker held a formal opening in September, showing both older works steeped in realism and newer pieces with an abstract style.

Herberger Gallery
Herberger Theater Center opened a new gallery at Arizona Center, first with a soft opening in August. Exhibitions are curated by photographer A O Tucker with fellow artist and wife Connie Tucker. It’s a satellite exhibition space for Herberger Theater Center, which also has an on-site gallery.

Shortcut Gallery
When Kenny Barrett and Joshua Hahn opened Phoenix General, a boutique specializing in modern-inspired fashion and décor, they worked with an adjacent business called Framed Ewe to create an art space called the Shortcut Gallery, which consists of a long hall that leads from a back parking lot to both businesses.

Grand ArtHaus
Artists Laura Dragon, Robert Gentile, and Michael Viglietta opened Grand ArtHaus inside the cavernous exhibition space at Oasis on Grand. The new venue, which includes studio and gallery space, shows works by members of the Grand ArtHaus collective in addition to works by other artists.

The Studio
When Phoenix-based Habitat Metro undertook adaptive reuse of the former Lexington Hotel with Bond Partners, it created an art boutique hotel called Found:RE, in which common areas and guest rooms are filled with works by local artists. But the hotel also has a gallery space it calls the Studio, which launched in October with an exhibition curated by gallerist and longtime New Times contributor Robrt Pela. Future shows will be curated by the hotel’s cultural curator, Mike Oleskow.

Read on for more openings and closings.
The Sagrado Galleria
In this case, the new gallery is actually another iteration of a previous art space. Jay “Tranzo” Olivas and Sam Gomez founded the Sagrado Galleria in 2012 inside the La Melgosa building, but its first iteration closed in 2014. Now the gallery, which specializes in work by Chicano, Mexican, and indigenous artists, has reopened in South Phoenix.

Lotus Contemporary Art
After being forced to leave the Flowers building that will be part of the Blocks at Roosevelt Row, artist and Lotus Contemporary Art owner Denise Fleisch decided to relocate her gallery to Scottsdale, where she opened in October.


Drive-Thru Gallery
Photographer Andrew Pielage founded the gallery, where he showed both his own work and photography by other artists, in 2013. But he closed the space, which went on to become Bassim Al-Shaker’s Babylon Gallery, in June. He’ll be combining studio and gallery space in his new home located in the Garfield neighborhood.

Galleria Celtica
Several tenants of the Flowers building at Roosevelt and Fifth streets were forced to shutter at the end of August, after the building was sold to developers creating a mixed-use space they’re calling the Blocks of Roosevelt Row. Galleries that closed included Gallery Celtica, which was home to Ira L. Hayden Art & Design for nearly three decades.

Five15 Arts
Five15 Arts, home to a well-established artist collective, was also located in the Flowers building and lost its space in August. Although the collective no longer has a gallery, it lives on and will be showing work at gallery space inside Phoenix Center for the Arts in 2017.

1Spot Gallery
Damian Jim closed the 1Spot Gallery, founded in 2012 with fellow artist Michelle Ponce, in September. The gallery, operated with Katja Lehmann, specialized in showing works by indigenous artists. Jim cited the time and expense of running a gallery, as well as needing more time for his own art practice and full-time job outside the arts sector, in sharing his decision to 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