Artworks set on easels dotted the interior of Xico Arte y Cultura’s new art space in Roosevelt Row recently, as supporters gathered for a first look inside the nonprofit’s future home. The group specializes in art by Latinx and indigenous artists.
Their new space at 829 North First Avenue is located just south of Roosevelt Street, inside a historic two-story building. Xico has signed a 10-year lease for space on the first floor, where Barcoa will have food and beverage offerings.
The combined space measures nearly 6,000 feet. But Xico also will be using an outdoor courtyard for a building that sits just to the south for performances and other activities.
The interior is currently undergoing renovations, and Xico expects to open in the new space this summer. Currently, it's located on Buckeye Road east of Central Avenue. “We have a lot of work to do on our new space,” says executive director Donna Valdés. “We’ll hold our formal grand opening celebration this fall."
The building has been around for nearly a century. It was built in 1928 and served as the meeting place for a fraternal group called the Knights of Pythias. In 1985, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Now, the building is positioned to become a hub for downtown arts and culture — even as the city of Phoenix is in its second decade of trying to create a Latino Cultural Center.
Xico’s new space will include several distinct areas, according to the plan shown during its February 19 tour for supporters.
It is in the process of building out several of those areas now. On the west end, there will be an exhibition space to show art during First and Third Friday art walks plus regular hours during the week. “We’re focusing on local artists, but we’re also going to bring in work by national and international artists,” Valdés says.
It's also working to create a print studio, where artists can make prints and teach printmaking. “We’re working on raising money for several pieces of equipment, including a lithograph press,” Valdés says. They’d also like to purchase a laser cutter and 3-D printer to help artists have greater access to equipment they can’t afford to purchase on their own.
Barcoa will have space at the opposite end of the building. “We’re partnering with them to do events that combine cultural and culinary elements,” Valdés says. People will enter on the south side of the building and see Barcoa to their right and a Xico studio and workspace to their left.
“We’ll also have a tienda where artisans can sell their work,” Valdés adds. Its exact location isn’t noted on the plan Xico displayed during the tour.
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The plan also calls for two offices, storage, and restrooms. “It’s a very flexible, multiuse space,” Valdés says. Xico will share a long sliding door with Barcoa, so they can integrate or separate their spaces at various times.
It’s just the latest move for Xico, which was called Xicanindio when it launched in 1975. Xico relocated from Chandler to Phoenix in 2014. The organization has been curating exhibitions inside shipping containers in Roosevelt Row since 2018. Now, Valdés says it's eager to take its work to a whole new level.
“We’re especially excited about being able to do more programs with the community,” Valdés says. “We’ve dreamed about having a space like this for a long time.”