Grand ArtHaus to Open in Downtown Phoenix on September's First Friday

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Grand ArtHaus, the newest art venue in downtown Phoenix's Grand Avenue district, will hold its official grand opening during First Friday on September 2. The opening features an exhibition of about 20 new works by Lalo Cota and Tato Caraveo — plus two works each by artists affiliated with the working studio space. 

Founders Laura Dragon, Robert Gentile, and Michael Viglietta created Grand ArtHaus early in 2016, hoping to provide local artists with new studio spaces and exhibition opportunities. Dragon operates {9} The Gallery, but also curates exhibitions in other spaces. 

Grand ArtHaus is located at Oasis on Grand, an artist live/work space founded in 2011. But it's operated independent of Oasis on Grand and has several resident artists, who pay to be part of the group. It works out to about $350 to $400 a month, Gentile says. 

So far, Grand ArtHaus artists include Aimee Shattuck, Lauren Lee, Lucinda Yrene, Mata Ruda, and Tariq Sabur — as well as Viglietta and Gentile. There's room for one more artist at this point.

Several of the resident artists are well-known within the metro Phoenix arts scene.

Lee recently finished a privately funded piece of public art called Three Birds in Flight, installed on the west side of the iLuminate apartment complex being built in Roosevelt Row. And one of her many bird murals graces a wall off the front courtyard for Oasis on Grand. 

Mata Ruda, who relocated to Phoenix from New Jersey last year, painted the central figure of the immigration-theme mural on the east wall of the La Melgosa building, which is also located in the Grand Avenue area. 

Gentile has been working with his father on building out the space since July, working weekends and evenings after putting in full days as an academic counselor at University of Phoenix. 

Prep has included building partitions between artist work spaces, creating several movable gallery walls, building portable work benches, installing track lighting, and adding a storage closet.

Beyond the physical work leading up to the opening, there's plenty of other planning taking place.

The exhibition space is split, making it possible to feature member works on one side, and rotating exhibitions with works by other artists on the other. Dragon is working now on the lineups for future shows, as well as workshops by guest artists who'll address topics such as life-drawing techniques. 

Artists and others can pay to attend the workshops, with part of the proceeds going to the presenters and part going to Grand ArtHaus.

Dragon is also readying another component of the art space — an immersive arts experience for emerging artists, who will able to apply for a yearlong program that includes exhibition opportunities, free admission to Grand ArtHaus workshops, and time with resident artists.  

The immersive arts program is targeted primarily towards college and university art students looking for additional ways to learn "real-world" art skills such as hanging gallery shows and creating marketing materials, Dragon says. Monthly fees for the yearlong program will cost $85.

Dragon is working now on creating an online application process for the immersive arts program, and creating a crowdfunding campaign to help fund scholarships for participants.

But before any of that can happen, there's the grand opening for Grand ArtHaus, taking place from 7 to 10 p.m. on Friday, September 2. 

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Robert Gentile works at Phoenix College. Gentile works at University of Phoenix.

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