It’s all evidence of significant changes recently undertaken at Bentley Projects, a former commercial linen laundry warehouse built in 1918 that Beverly Calverley purchased from Michael Levine a decade ago. Calverley moved her art gallery from Old Town Scottsdale to Bentley Projects in 2012, and recently she's undertaken some significant renovations.
Bentley Projects isn’t the only renovated warehouse in that part of town. Just a few blocks away, Arizona State University has two galleries (as well as graduate student studio spaces) inside Grant Street Studios, where exhibitions, open studio events, and artist talks draw enthusiastic crowds, mostly during First and Third Fridays. Also nearby is the Icehouse, a former ice storage facility built in the early 20th century, that has yet to undergo renovations that would better position it as a special events venue.
Calverley says the Bentley Projects renovations were undertaken in response to the evolving nature of the art business, explaining that the catalyst for downsizing the gallery was "how much the art business has grown online" during the past five years — and especially this last year. She notes that even the gallery's international clients are comfortable making purchases of artwork they've only seen on the Bentley Gallery website, as opposed to in person or via video.
Bentley Gallery had 14,315 square feet of exhibition space before recent renovations. Now the gallery has been relocated from the north to the south side of Bentley Projects and comprises about 13,000 square feet. About half of that space is used for exhibiting art. The rest consists of storage, preparation areas, and office space. They're working now on creating a new sculpture garden for the gallery, which should be finished by early November.
Calverley says having a smaller art space to manage means they can focus on engaging clients rather than serving as security for four bays filled with artwork. And she notes that the new gallery space isn't exactly small. Bentley Gallery comprised just 4,000 square feet when it was located in Scottsdale. Having 20,000 square feet of gallery space doesn't make sense, she explains, noting that Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art only has 18,000 square feet for exhibitions.
Warehouse215, on the north side of Bentley Projects, has 10,000 square feet — in addition to 1,500 square feet of outdoor patio space. It's being used as rental space for special events such as weddings and corporate gatherings. Calverley notes that they've actually been renting out special events space at Bentley Projects for a decade, but they have a lot more flexibility in terms of the types of events they can host now that they have a liquor license, which was issued earlier this year.
Bentley Gallery will continue its exhibition programming, which currently includes a group show featuring several artists. Future offerings include an exhibition of sculpture being presented as part of an International Sculpture Conference — which she hopes will "open the eyes of the powers that be to the importance of public sculpture" in places such as Margaret T. Hance Park.