Hair styling and art may not seem as though they go together, but Jorge Torres would beg to differ.
"I opened up Palabra with the notion of having a hub for everything that I'm into," Torres says. "The hair part is my bread and butter, but I'm able to do so many other things with the space -- music, artwork, poetry readings."
On Friday, December 6, Palabra celebrates one full year of business with "Uno," a group show including a variety of work from the artists involved in the collective.
See also: 5 Gifts for the Art Lover
Currently, the collective is made up of nine artists: El Peezo, Rebecca Green, Spencer Hibert, Mikey Jackson, Tyson Krank, Ashley Macias, Joseph "Sentrock" Perez, Yai, and Enrique Garcia, who goes by Mr PHX. The upcoming show will mark the first time their work has been on display as a collective.
Torres isn't an artist himself, but curating comes naturally. "I get to work with a core of like-minded individuals who want to step it up," he says. "I pick a certain artist because I dig their aesthetic, but I also spend a lot of time thinking about how to display their work."
Before Palabra, Torres worked for six years as a stylist at Hair Pollution, where he also had the opportunity to curate. He says he feels like he's constantly scouting for talented artists.
Eight years ago, he and Nicolas Paredes opened a gallery on Grand Avenue called Propaganda. Sentrock, who is now a collective member, had his first show there. But after a year, the gallery was barely breaking even, so they decided to call it quits. "That showed me what not to do in the art world," Torres says.
Palabra, on the other hand, hasn't faced the same troubles. "It's actually surprising, but we've been really successful with the art, which motivates me to do more," he says.
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After talking with some of the artists, we have a suspicion that the success is in large part thanks to Torres. "I have so much respect for Jorge," Sentrock says. "To me, he is a creative visionary, or a creative pioneer. He has that eye to see something valuable, pull it out, and show the world its beauty."
Rebecca Green, who now lives in Denver, had her farewell-to-Phoenix show at Palabra in July. "At Palabra, I was surprised to find that although this wasn't a full-time gallery, the work is taken very seriously. They were active in installation and promotion, and even asked what flowers I wanted displayed at the reception [which is a first]," she says. "They are doing something great there, giving a venue to those who don't currently deal with larger galleries. Having a show there was the perfect way to say goodbye to Phoenix. And now that I can be part of their collective long distance, I am thrilled. It makes me feel like I'm still an active member in such a giving community."
You can catch "Uno" this Friday, December 6 at Palabra starting at 8 p.m. The opening will feature music by DJ Dirtyverbs, Michael Pennington, and Nico.