The Sagrado Galleria re-opened in a new location in South Phoenix in November. Founded by Jay “Tranzo” Olivas and Sam Gomez, the original gallery operated from 2012 to 2014 inside the La Melgosa building in the Grand Avenue arts district. Now it’s located at 6437 South Central Avenue, just south of the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area recently activated by ASU's Performance in the Borderlands.
The gallery specializes in works by Mexican, Chicano, and indigenous artists. “We show a lot of Chicano pop art that’s cultural but has a hip feel,” says owner Sam Gomez. “There’s a folk-art feel that reflects our heritage, and a focus on sharing art between the generations.”
South Phoenix is a logical choice for several reasons, Gomez says.
It’s home to people of color, who historically were segregated to areas south of Van Buren Street, and immigrants from various places who value the community’s diversity. “There’s a rich diversity here, but also segregation,” Gomez says.
For some, he says, South Phoenix is a refuge from increasing gentrification downtown. And a future light rail extension could mean more opportunities for the South Phoenix community as more people begin to explore the area in search of local art and small businesses.
The first exhibition in the new space was titled “Pasado, Presente, Futuro,” which referenced plans to highlight the past, present, and future in Chicano art. It opened on November 5, and featured works by more than 20 artists, including Oliverio Balcells, El Moises, Zarco Guerrero, Mata Ruda, and Lucinda Yrene.
On December 3, The Sagrado opened “La Virgencita,” an exhibition celebrating the love, dignity, and compassion symbolized by La Virgen de Guadalupe. The exhibition includes works in various media by local artists including El Whyner, Emily Costello, Lalo Cota, Angel Diaz, Francisco Enuf Garcia, Pablo Luna, and Such and Champ Styles.
The gallery plans to hold monthly exhibitions, with opening receptions happening from 5 to 9 p.m. on the first Saturday of each month, and closing receptions taking place from 5 to 9 p.m. on the third Saturday of each month.
But Gomez says they’ll also open on Third Friday, December 16, and during the day that Saturday, for a holiday boutique. And they may add a Sunday morning viewing at some point, giving people in and beyond South Phoenix a place to enjoy art, coffee, and conversation.
The gallery already has a pop-up coffee bar, and Gomez is working now on building in a retail nook, where offerings will include prints of works by featured artists. There’s also an outdoor area out back, giving the gallery more space for performances or other programming.
The gallery will sell works of fine art costing $1,000 or more, but also prints in the $25 to $60 price range, says Gomez, who wants to make sure community members on a small budget can still afford to bring art into their homes and community spaces.
But it’s about more than the art, Gomez says.
Gomez is also exploring ways to make exhibitions educational by tying in cultural and historical details. He envisions the gallery becoming an incubator space for small businesses, and plans to incorporate a print-making studio offering classes for community members.
Future plans include launching a South Phoenix mural project involving several local artists, complete with map featuring historical details about South Phoenix mural sites. “We’ll start the mural project in January,” Gomez says.
In January, the gallery is presenting a group exhibition inspired by Toltec, Aztec, and Mayan cultures. The gallery’s first solo exhibition could happen as early as February. Gomez hopes plenty of people from the neighborhood will turn out for the shows.
“This community never gets to experience an art gallery,” Gomez says. People think galleries are too boring, or worry they aren’t hip enough to be part of the arts scene. And galleries are a rarity in this part of Phoenix.
“We want to bring the gallery back to the community,” Gomez says.
The Sagrado Galleria is located at 6437 South Central Avenue. Find more information on the gallery’s Facebook page.