Two of five galleries operated by the Arizona State University School of Art — which are used primarily to exhibit works by students, faculty and alumni — are undergoing significant changes. One has closed temporarily while ASU looks for a new gallery space, and the other just moved from the ASU Tempe campus to downtown Phoenix.
As of Friday, September 18, there's a new reason to hit Grant Street Studios in the Phoenix warehouse district, where ASU has operated its Step Gallery for nearly two years now and ASU School of Art graduate students have occupied studio spaces.
ASU's Northlight Gallery recently relocated to Grant Street Studios from Matthews Hall near the School of Art building on the Tempe campus. Its grand opening is free, open to the public, and takes place on September 18 from 6 to 9 p.m.
Northlight Gallery will exhibit photographic works by artists affiliated with the university as well as other artists, according to Adriene Jenik, Director of the ASU School of Art. Future offerings will include works by emerging, underrepresented, and internationally-recognized artists.
The gallery relocated to Grant Street Studios to take advantage of the arts and culture scene in Phoenix, says Liz Allen, Director and Curator for Northlight Gallery, who says the location gives members of the community better access to School of Art exhibitions.
Whereas Step Gallery is located on the north side of Grant Street Studios, with an entrance off Grant Street, Northlight Gallery occupies the west portion of the former warehouse. It's got a several separate parking spaces near its own entrance on the west, which is actually parallel to an old set of railroad tracks.
Allen notes that they’ll celebrate the first year in their new location with works by ASU alumni and faculty. The inaugural exhibition is titled "Nascent Site: Sight," includes works by photographers who earned BFA or MFA degrees in photography at ASU, and runs from September 18 to October 17.
“The new space has a gallery specifically for video and boasts a high ceiling and 12-foot walls,” according to Allen. Hence it provides the opportunity to show large-scale works and installations. Several studio spaces located adjacent to the new gallery space are already occupied by ASU photography students.
The news isn’t so good for ASU's Night Gallery, which recently lost the space it occupied for nearly six years at Tempe Marketplace. Jenik says that Night Gallery presented its last exhibition in May because the space was leased by a retail tenant. Vestar Development Company, which operates Tempe Marketplace, allowed the gallery to use the space until it found a tenant. The space was donated, according to Allen, so the School of Art didn't pay to use it.
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Having the gallery situated within the outdoor mall was wonderful, Jenik says, because people got to encounter art in an unusual, unexpected space. “For many,” she adds, “it was their first real encounter with contemporary art.”
Jenik praises the company for its generosity, noting that Vespar offered a replacement space. But that space isn’t suitable for a gallery (think carpet and low ceilings), and could also be occupied by a retail tenant with just a 30-day notice. So Jenik says the ASU School of Art has opted to look for another community space in the Tempe community. They're searching now, but can't know how long it might take to find a new home.
The School of Art now operates four galleries, including the two at Grant Street Studios. The others are Harry Wood Gallery and Gallery 100. Harry Wood Gallery, which is located in the School of Art building on the Tempe campus, hosts primarily M.F.A. thesis exhibitions. Gallery 100, located off campus near ASU Art Museum, is used mainly for senior group exhibitions. ASU hasn't announced any additional plans for moving galleries off campus.
Operating hours for Northlight Gallery are Thursdays through Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m. and from 6 to 9 p.m. on First and Third Fridays. Gallery-goers enter on the west side of Grant Street Studios (the Step Gallery entrance is on the north). Gallery exhibitions, and related events are listed on the ASU Events website.