After 28 years on Marshall Way, Lisa Sette is leaving Scottsdale for midtown Phoenix.
Lisa Sette Gallery will host one last show -- "Domesticated," featuring paintings by Carrie Marill, opening Thursday, April 3, in Scottsdale -- before packing up and moving this summer to a renovated Al Beadle building near Second Street and Thomas Road in Phoenix.
Sette's first show at the new space will be titled "Hello Midtown!"
Like its owner, the gallery has always been understated and elegant, setting the standard for fine art in downtown Scottsdale. For years, Phoenix's little sister struggled with an idenity crisis -- world-renowned contemporary art alongside howling coyotes and kokopellis -- but lately the gift shops (and the many hair salons that seem to proliferate overnight in Old Town Scottsdale) have been winning.
Attempts at revitalizing the area with pop-up galleries didn't go so well, and in 2012, the well-known Bentley Gallery across the street from Sette packed it in and consolidated operations at Bentley Projects in Phoenix.
But Sette says it wasn't an easy decision. When an Al Beadle building went up for sale next to a similar spot where her husband, Peter Shikany, has run his design firm, P.S. Studios, for several years, she was tempted. She'd never owned her own building. Parking problems in Scottsdale were only getting worse, and an analysis of her business over the previous five years revealed that less than 1 percent of her sales were being made to customers who walked in off the street.
"I love my current neighbors and they've been good to me," Sette says, mentioning she'll particularly miss The Paper Place and Art One. "Twenty-eight years -- it's almost a mini-lifetime. My kids had their birthday parties in there."
In the end, the idea of forging new territory in midtown Phoenix -- not to mention better amenities for her staff, storage space, and a building with a pedigree -- was too much to resist.
And wait till you see the new space, currently under renovation. Once split into multiple offices, the Beadle is semi-subterranean, easy to miss at first on Catalina Drive, just across the street from the Winnie Ruth Judd House.The design will keep the original beams visible, which is unusual for a gallery but important to Sette and the architect.
Sette says she and a friend who has a Beadle house stop by the space often for what they call "Beadle booty calls," and her friend has said, "You walk in and the space makes you feel beautiful."
It's nice to see a gallery owner beam with joy after the economy has been so bad for so long, but Sette says it's definitely back, and business is now good. She likens her new space to Bink's Midtown and the Tuck Shop -- two hidden gems in midtown Phoenix, places her Scottsdale clients love to frequent.
In a prepared statement, architect Wesley James of StarkJames, says, "The existing entry sequence is one of stepping down a short flight of stairs, under a canopy, into the earth before entering the building. We saw this as a wonderful sequence and setting for an entry into a gallery space... moving down into the earth, leaving the mundane world behind."
The building will be wrapped in a "fabric scrim," adding "another layer to be moved through both spatially and visually," according to the release.
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"Shading the exterior is a response that we feel is appropriate for our environment," James says "... It also allows us to set the stage for what will be a beautiful transformation when the fabric is lit from the exterior for evening exhibition openings and special events."
Sette represents artists from around the world -- New Zealand, Venezuela, Japan, Argentina -- as well as from Arizona, including James Turrell and Angela Ellsworth.
Jackalope Ranch will share details regarding the summer opening as soon as they are available.