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Nancy Hill to Close Chartreuse Gallery on Grand Avenue in Downtown Phoenix

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Chartreuse gallery owner Nancy Hill announced plans to close her Grand Avenue art space in Bragg's Pie Factory after December 16's Third Friday art walk in downtown Phoenix.

Hill opened Chartreuse in September 2015, and has since shown works by more than 100 artists. Artists previously featured include Chip Thomas, Lauren Strohacker and Kendra Sollars, Fred Tieken, and Thuong Nguyen, to name a few. It’s the third gallery she’s operated in Phoenix, but the others closed due to commercial redevelopment.

Hill also owns and operates the letterpress Hazel & Violet at Bragg’s, which is home to several other art spaces and small businesses that contribute to the Grand Avenue arts district's vibrancy. 

The Grand Avenue arts district is concentrated along Grand Avenue, from Seventh Avenue to 19th Avenue, between Van Buren Street and McDowell Road. “It’s one of the oldest historic commercial districts with the most infrastructure left in it,” says Bragg's owner Beatrice Moore, who owns several other properties in the area with partner and fellow artist Tony Zahn.

Despite that, Hill says her reason for closing Chartreuse is pretty simple. It’s negative cash flow.

“My letterpress business can, for the most part, support itself," she says, "but I really could not generate the money necessary in the gallery to cover expenses." 

It's possible that Hill will relocate Hazel & Violet, now situated in the back of Bragg's, to a streetfront space in the same building if the artist now using it for a studio decides to move. The space is actually a bit larger than her current Hazel & Violet site, and it has air-conditioning. If that happens, Hill says she'll probably designate wall space for small-scale exhibitions of her own or others' work.

Regardless, she has no plans to close Hazel & Violet.

The final exhibition at Chartreuse will feature artwork by Bill Dambrova, whose Goat Heart Studio is also located inside Bragg’s. In 2014, Dambrova received an artist grant from Contemporary Forum, a prestigious support organization for the Phoenix Art Museum. More recently, his studio’s wickedly creative bathroom earned a New Times Best of Phoenix award.

Before Hill opened Chartreuse, the space was home to Moore’s Frontal Lobe Community Space and Gallery. Moore closed Frontal Lobe in August 2015 so she’d have more time for organizing her own art studio and promoting historic preservation in the Grand Avenue arts district.  

Moore and Hill co-founded a group called Grand Avenue Arts & Preservation, where Moore serves as the director, and Hill as the assistant director. Its goals include promoting adaptive reuse, historic preservation, and neighborhood sustainability. 

Now Moore, who has the Chartreuse gallery space listed on Craigslist, is looking for a new tenant. “I’m hoping for something art-related that’s open a lot,” Moore says. “I really want someone who will activate the space.”

Chartreuse closing is just the latest in a series of changes along this section of Grand Avenue, where a long-running music and art venue called the Trunk Space closed in May, with owners citing increased rent as their reason for shuttering. Now, the Trunk Space has relocated to Grace Lutheran Church in downtown Phoenix. 

Several businesses have opened or relocated to Grand Avenue – including Palabras, Tuft & NeedleUnexpected Art Gallery, Barrio Café Gran Reserva, and Grand ArtHaus.

And more change is coming, says Moore, who adds that attending the free Grand Avenue Festival on Saturday, November 12, is a good way to get a feel for everything taking place there – and to see Laura Spalding Best's exhibition “Inferior Mirage” at Chartreuse.

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