Culture News

Legal Battle Erupts Over Grand Avenue's {9} The Gallery

Checking out the gallery during an art walk earlier this year.
Checking out the gallery during an art walk earlier this year. Lynn Trimble
Earlier this year, Laura Dragon announced that she would no longer be managing {9} The Gallery, an arts space she opened on Grand Avenue in 2012. After being diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, Dragon turned gallery operations over to Sean and Carrie Beth McGarry, expecting them to choose a different name so she could keep the name {9} The Gallery.

But that hasn’t happened.

Instead, they’re engaged in a legal dispute over who can use the name {9} The Gallery.

Dragon named the gallery for the number nine, which has proven significant at various times in her life. “The brackets represent all the possibilities for what’s between them,” she told Phoenix New Times in March 2018. That’s when Dragon announced that she would no longer be managing the space.

click to enlarge Gallerist Laura Dragon during the opening reception for "The Heart of the Dragon" in 2017. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Gallerist Laura Dragon during the opening reception for "The Heart of the Dragon" in 2017.
Lynn Trimble
The lung cancer diagnosis came a year before, in April 2017. At first, Dragon transitioned {9} The Gallery to an artist-run collective, which meant artists would help with running the space. Five artists, including Carrie Beth McGarry, were original members of that group. McGarry has a company called FunWow, which figures into the legal dispute.

In early 2018, Dragon approached the McGarrys about assuming gallery operations, so she could focus on her health. Dragon drafted a bill of sale that both parties signed on February 8, 2018. Basically, FunWow paid $15,000 for specific rights related to the gallery.

Now, Dragon and the McGarrys are at odds over the terms of that agreement.

Dragon’s attorney, Neil W. Thomson, sent a letter to the McGarrys on November 5, demanding that they “cease and desist” using the name {9} The Gallery. The letter alleges that they violated the terms of the agreement, and misappropriated Dragon’s intellectual property rights.

click to enlarge Sean and Carrie Beth McGarry during a previous exhibition at the gallery. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Sean and Carrie Beth McGarry during a previous exhibition at the gallery.
Lynn Trimble
On November 8, attorney Andy G. Anderson replied on behalf of FunWow. “Ms. Dragon is hereby notified to refrain from any use of the tradename {9} The Gallery, which belongs to my client,” he wrote, in part.

Turns out, Dragon had inadvertently let her registration for the tradename expire. On February 14, FunWow registered the name {9} The Gallery with the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office.

They’re at odds over other issues as well – including the fact that the McGarrys asked a recovery group to switch its weekly meetings at the gallery to a different night to accommodate art events. Dragon says they had a verbal agreement to keep the meetings in place, although the McGarrys say they’re not contractually obligated to do so.

The dispute has led to a dramatic development.

Dragon wants the couple to remove her name from the gallery.

“I want them to stop using my name,” Dragon says. “I don’t agree with their policies and I don’t want to be affiliated with them.”
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Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble