After Hours Gallery Closing at the End of November

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Time is almost up for After Hours Gallery in downtown Phoenix. Proprietors Michael Oleskow and Russ Haan, who've operated the arts venue out of their stylish McDowell Road office building for the past three years, recently announced that the gallery will shut down by month's end.

"It's a huge shame," Oleskow says. "We've really enjoyed running a gallery here, and I think we did a pretty good job at it. But the time has come to move on."

He sounds a bit weary as he gives off a list of reasons for ending After Hours Gallery, which will be closed for business as of December 1. While the closure is primarily due to the expansion of Schneider Structural Engineers, which has been leasing office space on the building's second level and will soon expand to the first floor as well, Oleskow also cites the economy, a desire to do something else, and his duties as interim president of Artlink.

"We had an opportunity for our tenant since they're they're growing and expanding and wanted more space. Because didn't want to lose them as a tenant, we kinda weighed our options and it just seemed like the best choice," Oleskow says.

Oleskow and Haan opened After Hours in the fall of 2008 inside their multimillion-dollar office building and living space that was designed by the [merz]project. For more than three years, the pair provided space within the urbane-looking edifice for local artists and creatives from both national and international.

Oleskow admits, however, that it was "getting harder and harder" to run the gallery.

"We're not professional gallerists and we didn't do this as a full-time thing since we have other jobs," he says. "We've had the responsibility of curating a new show every month. It's takes a boatload of time to do that, and then there's also the expense involved with promotion. And I also felt, with having to be at my gallery on first and third Fridays, that I'm not able to get out and see what's going on."

After Hours Gallery's current show "Parlor Games," which features the photo composite and "quirky visual narratives" of Corinne Geertsen, will be on display until November 30. After that, Oleskow says they're considering the possibility of doing pop-up and one-off art events at other locations sometime in the future, much like the proprietors of other recently closed art venues.

"We're keeping that option open. We don't know when and if we'll pop up somewhere, but we just thought it might be something we'll consider in the future if it looks advantageous," Oleskow says. "We both love the art scene, we know quite a few artists, and don't want to lose our connection. As of right now, it's just something we can't continue."

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