There is something endearing about Jake and Perla Puga.
He's a DJ, graphic designer, and electronic music producer. She's an artist, writer, and space curator. They're both young and idealistic, and if you talk to them together, you get the sense they're deeply committed to each other and their artistic pursuits.
But rather than focus solely on their careers, the Pugas have built something much bigger than themselves: Twelfth House.
"We are very passionate about art in general, and we wanted to help out," says Perla Puga. "As artists, it's really hard to find a platform [where] we can say this is our home, where we're actually creating and manifesting our dreams."
The Pugas and their tight-knit group of volunteers have spent the last four or so months presenting dreams at Twelfth House. Calling the project an "Arizona-based art and cultural event team," the space is housed within the Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center, near Second and Adams streets. Despite ALAC's specific focus, Twelfth House has already demonstrated its multifaceted interests.
"We want each event to be different and as diverse as the culture that is out here," says Perla Puga. "We've had EDM shows, we had a fashion show, and punk and trap [shows]."
Perla Puga adds that the collective wanted to "cater to everybody's taste while at the same time being able to say that we stand out in that sense." But no matter the focus, one thing remains at the core of each shindig.
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"Art is always a consistent thing," Perla Puga says. "I mean, we are an art gallery, but we wanted to focus on more than printed media. I wanted it to be a place where people could come and [see] somebody dance or hula hoop next to somebody that might be live painting."
Part of that commitment to art stems from the Pugas' devotion to ALAC. They've both volunteered there for most of 2019, and Twelfth House is a way to give back to the organization.
"We wanted to create a platform and bring more exposure to the art gallery," says Perla Puga. "And they love the idea. This space actually needed that. Not too long ago, an article [indicated] that they're struggling to even stay active and keep their audience here."
While they're all about uplifting the community, Twelfth House is still very much the Pugas' baby. They select each theme together, generally reflecting something seasonally appropriate, like January's Roaring '20s event.
So, is it difficult to put in such work alongside your spouse?
"We're each other's number-one support," says Perla Puga. "We're teammates in this, and we inspire each other. We're creating a vibe, and it's definitely been a beautiful experience for both of us being able to get out of our shell." Adds Jake Puga, "The fact that we live together is even better, because we focus on this brand a lot better."
That attitude, one about inspiring each other, informs the larger work of Twelfth House. Perla Puga says that because they have such a special bond with other local artists, they're able to keep their creative options wide open.
"We have a lot of faith in the creatives out here," she adds. "So whatever [the event], we always know that it's going to work. We always make sure that we get people that not only are new but also have had experience and have that confidence in themselves. And if they don't, then this is a good place to get started."
Similarly, they hope an approach centered on openness and exploration will have an impact on attendees.
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"We want to be able to push people out of those comfort zones because that's how we feel that you're going to grow," says Perla Puga. "We want everybody to just be able to see what is out here, and if they are artists themselves, let us know if you want to be a part of this."
The Pugas and the rest of the Twelfth House team have monthly events planned for the near future. When asked if they might someday expand beyond just Third Friday outings, Perla Puga says events "take time," and they want to "make sure that it isn't just thrown out there at random." But as the couple plan for what's next, they clearly have the fundamentals down pat.
"It's all-inclusive," says Perla Puga of Twelfth House. "We want everybody involved in any way. Express yourself." Adds Jake Puga, "It's all good vibes."