Former Revolver Records Building Will Become Evolve Arts Space in Roosevelt Row

Lynn Trimble
Now Xico has four shipping containers located just west of the Evolve arts apace.
More changes are coming to Roosevelt Row, where the former Revolver Records building is being transformed into a creative space called Evolve.

“We’re calling it the Evolve art space because it will continue to shapeshift and evolve, says Greg Esser. He’s the founder and former CEO of the Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation, and current vice president of its board of directors.

"We came to the name Evolve in part due to the dramatic changes taking place around us and in part by dropping the two Rs from Revolver," he adds. That inspiration came from Roy Sproule, whose mural is located on the west side of the building.

"Roy was one of the first artists, along with El Mac on the Flowers building, who was commissioned through the Roosevelt Row CDC Mural Match program almost a decade ago," Esser recalls.

The building is located at 918 North Second Street, where TJ Jordan operated Revolver Records for more than a decade. APS bought the building in December 2018, according to the utility company's program manager, Kendra Lee.

The record shop closed after First Friday on February 1.

Now the building, which sits on the southwest corner of Second and Roosevelt Streets, is home to Ben’s Bells. The nonprofit promotes kindness, in part by creating and sharing hanging bells.

Until recently, Ben’s Bells was located inside the Eye Lounge building located just two blocks East. But that building is being renovated, as part of a new Greenwood Brewery project.

Ben’s Bells will occupy the north part of the building, where improvements such as replacing black acoustic tiles with fresh white paint were underway during Labor Day weekend. Eventually, their green “Be Kind” mosaic will get moved to the new space.

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Getting a peek inside the Evolve arts space during renovations.
Lynn Trimble
The Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation will have a presence at the former Revolver Records building as well, which will include operating a Roosevelt Row welcome center. 

“Our lease is technically through the end of the year, but we hope to be here a year or two,” Esser says.

The group plans to collaborate with Xico Arte y Cultura, a nonprofit that specializes in Latinx and indigenous arts and culture. Xico curates the Hot Box Gallery, which comprises four shipping container galleries located just west of the Evolve arts space. The fourth container is a relatively new addition.

Roosevelt Row CDC will also offer Roosevelt Academy programs, curated by creatives Leah Marché and Lilliana Gomez, who both serve on the organization's board of directors.

In addition, they're planning a curatorial program tentatively titled Redux, which would include month-long exhibitions curated by creatives who've had spaces that launched or evolved in Roosevelt Row, such as One Spot, Pravus, Perihelion, and Kitchenette.

“We will begin to announce new programming in the coming weeks,” Esser says.

The former Revolver Records building dates back to 1936, according to a plumbing inspection tag. And it's got about 1,500 square feet of space. Eventually, it'll be demolished, although Lee says that won’t happen for a few years.

“In approximately three years, we will begin rebuilding our Garfield Substation,” she told Phoenix New Times by email on August 31.

The station is currently located just south of the building, but the rebuild will include extending the walls of the station out to Roosevelt Street, according to Lee.

“Revolver will be demolished and we’ll build new space along Roosevelt,” she says. “The space will incorporate an active pedestrian frontage including retail and/or art space.”

For now, the focus is on transforming the existing building into a temporary multiuse arts space.

Roosevelt Row CDC has already created gallery space in the south portion of the building, where art shows will start this month. So far the lineup includes an exhibit of Blue Note Records vinyl art, an exhibition featuring indigenous designers curated by Eunique Yazzie, and a solo exhibition featuring works by Merryn Alaka.

“We want this to be an incubator space that helps create business models for artists,” Esser says.

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Creatives working on the Evolve arts space during the Labor Day weekend.
Lynn Trimble