Girlfriend Gallery Tries to Fill the Void Left by Tempe's Shuttered Music Venues

"We will be the hand on the chainsaw of rebirth that will tear down the rotting tree of the art world, and plant our seeds in the desert of Tempe ... join us." So begins the manifesto (yet to be written) of Girlfriend Gallery, a venue in the Valley that is actually opening and not closing.

Located not far from McClintock Drive and Rio Salado Parkway, Girlfriend Gallery will double as an art exhibition room and concert venue. Mo Neuharth, of Numb Bats and Paper Knife publishing, is doing most of the booking, while the space itself is managed by 21-year old Justin Guthrie, who says this gallery "represents good ol' American freedom."

"I wanted a place that I could do whatever I want and create my vision," he adds. "

Hopefully people like it."

The name is inspired by Guthrie's getting his heart broken. Instead, he's going to date the gallery and pour all his love into a place that, according to Guthrie, will be "a place for people to enjoy life, break down their guards, make friends, leave their egos at home and just let loose for a few hours of your Friday night."

The shows will be all ages and will be happen every weekend until Guthrie gets evicted.

"The art and music that dictate the night will be cohesive to a particular theme, making it one unique night," Neuharth says. "Each event will be more like one art installation, combining music and art of all forms."

"The first show will by my art to get the ball rolling. ... The next Saturday will be a rock 'n' roll show with some great bands that I think are making real quality music," Guthrie says. "The next Friday will be a photo show by an amazing American photographer, Brad Wescott, one of the best, who has never hung a single photo in Phoenix because none of the galleries here appreciated his work."

In fact, Guthrie hopes the art at Girlfriend Gallery will be the kind that wouldn't be hung in traditional galleries.

"Girlfriend is just the seed, another way to do art, see art, and display art, in my eyes, a purer way to go about art. Art is extremely sacred to me," Guthrie explains. "The old way of doing art is out, the new way is coming. The new way is that art is for fun, art is from your heart, from you, bringing new art to the table, pushing the underdog up rather than keeping the elite alive, no more paintings that are canvas-painted red selling for millions of dollars, no more art for the sake of making a living, having a day job and doing art as a true passion, breaking trends, bringing some life back to art as well as strength and true expressive freedom."

The venue's first public show will happen Friday, November 28, featuring Guthrie's art and the music of The Junko Heads and Tom and the Greatest Hits. The show is free and begins at 8 p.m.

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Troy Farah is an independent journalist and documentary field producer. He has worked with VICE, Fusion, LA Weekly, Golf Digest, BNN, Tucson Weekly, and Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Troy Farah