Culture News

Why Stacey Champion Is Closing Treeo and Trading Roosevelt Row for Grand Avenue

Entrance to Treeo during its final month inside this Roosevelt Row bungalow.
Entrance to Treeo during its final month inside this Roosevelt Row bungalow. Lynn Trimble
On Saturday, January 7, Stacey Champion announced via Facebook that she will close Treeo, the art gallery she’s operated on Roosevelt Row's Sixth Street since October 2014 inside a small bungalow.

For more than two years, that red brick bungalow has served as headquarters for Champion's small business, Champion PR + Consulting. But she's also used the space as an art gallery hosting exhibitions and other events. Champion expects to vacate the building, bringing an end to Treeo gallery, by the end of January.

Champion is moving her business headquarters to The Funk Lab on Grand Avenue, where she’ll share space with Kirby Hoyt, who does landscape architecture and urban design. Hoyt is working now to ready the space, which comprises about 1,300 square feet, and expects Champion will move her business into the space in early February. She'll use the front part of the space, and he'll use the back section. They'll share a small patio out back, says Hoyt, who has worked in the space since 2011.

Champion isn't certain at this point whether or how she might use the Treeo name moving forward, but she plans to remain a vital part of the downtown arts scene by holding exhibitions and other creative events when inspiration strikes, rather than presenting monthly art shows.


“I’ll probably do edgy, push-the-envelope stuff,” Champion says. “I love the idea of doing funkier stuff, and Grand Avenue is so conducive to it.”

click to enlarge Works painted by various artists during the last public event held at Treeo before it closes on Roosevelt Row. - LYNN TRIMBLE
Works painted by various artists during the last public event held at Treeo before it closes on Roosevelt Row.
Lynn Trimble
When Champion celebrated her two-year anniversary at the Sixth Street bungalow in October 2016, she created a “Treeo by the Numbers” flyer recounting highlights of her time there – including showing works by more than 75 local artists, raising more than $15,000 for local causes, hosting more than 40 events, and spotlighting issues from immigration to violence against women.

Roosevelt Row has undergone significant changes during the past two years, as developers moved in and creative art spaces got forced out.

Despite protests Champion helped organize, Baron Properties demolished the GreenHaus building to make way for new apartments. The Blocks of Roosevelt Row development has displaced both Lotus Contemporary Art and Five15 Arts, as well as former Treeo neighbor Roosevelt Growhouse and GROWop.

“I’d been looking and poking around for other spaces for a couple of months, but once Kenny [Barrett] was evicted that kind of clinched it for me,” Champion says. Barrett founded Roosevelt Growhouse with fellow artist Kelly Placke in 2008, and owns Phoenix General with Joshua Hahn.

click to enlarge The bungalow that used to be home to Roosevelt Growhouse (and a mural by Carrie Marill). - LYNN TRIMBLE
The bungalow that used to be home to Roosevelt Growhouse (and a mural by Carrie Marill).
Lynn Trimble
During the past year, photographer Andrew Pielage moved his studio and gallery from Roosevelt Row to the Garfield neighborhood. Think! Graphic and Printing Solutions was destroyed by fire. And Jobot relocated from a Fifth Street bunglow to the ground floor of the Roosevelt Point development.

In short, Fifth and Sixth streets have changed dramatically, though some popular venues, including The Lost Leaf, Lawn Gnome, and Melt, remain. “It’s lonely there now,” Champion says of Treeo’s surroundings. “There’s nothing around me, and part of being down there was being part of a community.”

As Roosevelt Row has lost art spaces, Grand Avenue has been gaining them. In September 2015, Nancy Hill, who previously operated a gallery in Roosevelt Row, opened Chartreuse gallery in the Bragg’s Pie Factory space where Beatrice Moore once operated Frontal Lobe Gallery. Unexpected Art Gallery opened that December. During fall 2016, Laura Dragon of {9} The Gallery partnered with Michael Viglietta and Robert Gentile to open Grand ArtHaus at Oasis on Grand.

click to enlarge The Funk Lab in the Grand Avenue Arts District. - LYNN TRIMBLE
The Funk Lab in the Grand Avenue Arts District.
Lynn Trimble
Of course, it's not all doom and gloom on Roosevelt Row, despite artist Pete Petrisko's insistence that people stop calling Roosevelt Row an arts district. Adaptive reuse projects have included Beth Hebrew Synagogue, Cobra Arcade Bar, and Palabra.

But for Champion, Grand Avenue feels like the right fit.

“Leaving Roosevelt Row is bittersweet," Champion says. “But I’m excited to be starting a new year with something new to focus on.”
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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