How a Former Scottsdale Gun Shop Became a Creative Co-Working Space

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There’s a little strip of Scottsdale Road near Goldwater Boulevard that’s starting to look like it was pulled right out of a hipster handbook. That's thanks in part the The Creative Center of Scottsdale, where you can explore working studios for several local artists.

The Creative Center is located inside a 4,000-square-foot portion of the space once occupied by Mandall’s Shooting Supplies, which was open from 1975 to 2014. The building also houses Sip Coffee & Brew House and Goldwater Brewing Company.

It was hard to miss Mandall’s gun shop, with its round sign depicting a teddy bear holding a machine gun. Today, that sign graces a wall at The Creative Center, where guests waxed nostalgic during the official opening reception for the new space on April 8.

Those who popped in that night got to explore both artist spaces and a courtyard that serves as an entertainment area, which was part of the build-out that transformed the former gun shop into a working artist space.

On view were works by Phoenix artist Joan Waters, whose sculptures and paintings are visible through the wall of windows at the front of the building. Additional artists, some painting during the event, paused to talk with visitors.

It’s a project many years in the making, according to Phoenix-based project owner and photographer Michelle Pelberg-Biely, who worked with Christina Noble of Contour Design Studio to transform the space. Renovations took about two years, Pelberg-Biely says.

“It started as a way to get a bunch of people who needed jobs and something to do together,” Pelberg-Biely says of The Creative Center. Originally, she talked with a friend who does wood-working, a musician, and a few others who needed studio space.

Then she started working with a realtor to scout possible sites. “I walked into this place and fell in love with it,” she says. By the time it went up for sale, then underwent renovations, most of the artists who first expressed an interest were long gone.

Today, The Creative Center has space for 12 artists — including open communal spaces and private studios. Artists can rent the communal spaces, which run $250 a month, on a month-to-month basis. Private studio space is $388 a month, and requires a one-year lease.

Artists affiliated with The Creative Center currently include Daniel Albers, Paul Chaney, Dillon James Design, Robin MacPherson, Chris Newpher, Adrienne Noyes, Paige Poppe, Rosie Ramirez, Deborah Splain, and Joan Waters. Dillon James created the logo for The Creative Center, which gives the classic teddy bear a blow torch instead of a gun.

Pelberg-Biely has more plans for the space, including participating in Third Thursday art walks – which are part of the weekly Scottsdale ArtWalk scene that’s been around for four decades.

She’s also planning several tent-style events for the courtyard, including Pop-Up Old Town markets featuring local makers and artisans.

Despite its Old Town location, Pelberg-Biely says she feels rather removed from it and gets “more of a vibe” from the coffee shop, brewery, and Brat Haus.

That’s likely good news for people who watched sparks fly between some Scottsdale gallery owners and a tented-event called Artisan Markets last year. “We’re not that involved with the politics of it,” says Pelberg-Biely.

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