Previously, Phoenix Institute for Contemporary Art programmed the galleries. But phICA's last series of exhibitions closed in February.
That was perfect timing for Xico, a south Phoenix nonprofit that focuses on Latino and indigenous artists.
Laura Wilde, Xico's executive director, had already talked with Greg Esser about her interest in bringing Xico programming downtown. Esser co-founded phICA, and he's been working on longer-term plans for the containers.
Last fall, Xico held a few printmaking demonstrations in Roosevelt Row. “They were well-received,” Wilde says. “So, we knew we needed to have a bigger presence in Roosevelt Row.”
Each day of Art Detour has a different focus. On Friday, March 16, Roosevelt Row will be in the spotlight. And that’s the first time you’ll see Xico inside the shipping container galleries.
Moving forward, they’ll keep the traditional First and Third Friday hours for the containers, which will be 6 to 10 p.m.
That could expand at some point.
“We’re hoping to mix it up, maybe opening one day a week or giving people other chances to see the space,” Wilde says.
For the first exhibitions, Xico will show art created at its south Phoenix venue in one container. The other containers will have work by artists selected through a recent call for art.
Eventually, they’ll put out a call for muralists, because they want the shipping container exteriors painted to reflect the Xico mission.
They’ll show primarily work by Latino and indigenous artists, but want to involve other artists as well.
“We want to provide opportunities for artists of color, in a dedicated space on a prominent street in downtown Phoenix,” Wilde says.
It’s an issue that drew attention back in December 2017, when a Bob Carey exhibit inside one of the shipping container galleries included a photograph of Carey in blackface.
This is just the latest of several iterations for the shipping container galleries.
At first there were just two containers, set up in 2014 and dubbed the Hot Box Gallery. Many curators and artists have been involved with the unconventional art space through the years.
Becky Nahom curated a third shipping container gallery called Halt Gallery before moving to New York City in 2015.
Several years ago, he hatched a plan to transform the containers into artist live/work spaces. “We figured out that would be too expensive,” Esser says.
So now, he’s considering having a building at the site, which would include artist live/work space. But he hasn’t nailed down the details, so the containers are staying put for now.
They’ve been dubbed the Xico Inc. at Roosevelt Row Hot Box Shipping Container Galleries.
“For now, we have the containers for a 12-month period,” Wilde says. “We’re excited about expanding our reach to Roosevelt Row.”