Herberger Theater to Open Art Gallery at Arizona Center in Downtown Phoenix

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A new art venue called Herberger Gallery at Arizona Center is coming to downtown Phoenix. The opening for its first official exhibition takes place during Third Friday on September 16, although a soft opening and other activities are happening sooner, says A O Tucker, a local photographer who will co-curate art shows for the gallery with his fellow artist and wife Connie Tucker.

Located at 455 North Third Street, Suite 1200, the gallery will be operated by the Herberger Theater Center, which sits opposite the southwest corner of the retail complex. A soft opening event on Third Friday, August 19, will feature works by the Tuckers, David Paul, and James Hernandez.

The first exhibition, titled “Nature Nurtures Us,” will run September 16 to November 14. The call for art, which is open through August 5, says the show will highlight “the visual benefits of our natural world.” It also notes that Herberger Theater Center receives a 30 percent donation from all artwork purchased.

Arizona Center invited Herberger Theater Company to use the space, which sits between Starbucks and a store selling international flags, earlier this year, Tucker says. But it’s not a permanent arrangement, because Arizona Center may end up leasing the space at some point, meaning the art gallery would have to go.

The suite is one of several vacancies at Arizona Center, which first opened in the fall of 1990. Purchased in December 2015 by San Diego-based Parallel Capital Partners, Arizona Center is currently undergoing renovations. To date, no other art-related plans for Arizona Center have been announced, despite the fact that it’s one of five Artlink trolley hubs during First Friday art walks.

This isn’t the first time a gallery has popped up at Arizona Center. Local artist and developer Larry Ortega operated Obliq Art and Gallery Luxx with his wife and fellow artist Sandra in the same section of the Arizona Center for several months during 2014.

Herberger Theater Center currently exhibits works at two additional locations – including its own on-site art gallery and the University Club. The former is now showing animal-themed art created by young children, and the latter has an open call to artists for a future exhibition titled “Art as a Means of Expression to Reinforce Identity.”

Herberger Theater Center has been criticized in the past for shunning controversial works. In 2013, it canceled an exhibition called “Prime Example” curated by Robrt Pela (a frequent New Times contributor) after learning it would contain a work titled The Sodomite, then replaced it with an exhibition called “Show and Tell” curated by Peter Bugg.

So don't expect anything too edgy from the new space.

"We hope it brings more people from Arizona Center to the Herberger Theater," Tucker says. "And Arizona Center hopes it encourages more people to walk over from the theater."

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