From vibrant art displays to eclectic musical performances, The Trunk Space acts as a haven for artists in the downtown community, providing their talent with an opportunity for creative risks, while trying to keep their authenticity alive.
From its start in 2004, owners JRC and Stephanie Carrico envisioned a venue where they could use the entire space.
“For an art scene that’s as young as Phoenix, it doesn’t make sense to just use the space on your walls,” JRC said. “There needs to be a lot of crossover in the disciplines here.”
Owners agree the different parts of their multifaceted business plan — a coffee bar, art gallery and performance space — complement one another.
“People coming here should understand that they’re going to see stuff that’s a little more challenging or different than they’ll get in most places,” JRC said.
Having both studied forms of art, the owners hold a high standard for talent. JRC said they target people who are taking traditional ideas and presenting them in a new way or who are applying new technology or ideas to old standards.
“I feel like we get to see some of the most creative people in the country every night, and that’s really rewarding,” Carrico said.
JRC also explained they would rather work with people whose work is singular or different enough that it warrants specific, focused attention because of their small size.
However, the venue’s size does not limit its audience.
“We say we’re an all-ages space, and we really mean that,” JRC said. “You can come here any night and see a 12-year-old kid or a 55-year-old guy or an old, retired married couple.”
“We’re always looking at what we present as a form of art, and it’s staged and presented that way, which attracts a different mindset that’s not so well defined by age,” JRC added. “If you’re into ideas, this is the place to be.”
Because it’s nestled in the corner of 15th and Grand avenues, the venue’s biggest challenge has been getting noticed.
“We still have people after seven and a half years coming up to us saying they didn’t know this place existed but that it’s so great,” JRC said.
Local Phoenix musician Owl & Penny, aka Ryan Osterman, calls The Trunk Space, “a diamond in the rough.”
He first discovered the venue in eighth grade, and he said it provided an inviting experience in local art for someone who, at the time, was out of the loop.
“Every show at The Trunk Space is an intimate experience,” said Osterman, who has been there both to play and to listen. “They’re very humble and appreciative of the people who are there.”
Another obstacle The Trunk Space faces is getting people to come out and experience it, JRC said.
The venue is trying to expand from its target audience downtown and promote across the Valley specifically through peer-group networking.
“Everything we do is an act of promotion,” JRC said.
On the other hand, The Trunk Space cannot do it alone. Carrico recognized the support system of the art community as being part of the bigger picture.
Osterman echoed the sentiment.
“It’s important to support The Trunk Space and venues in general,” he said. “There’s a lot that crop up and die out in a short amount of time, but this place has been around for nearly a decade, and it would be awesome to see it go for that much longer.”
If you have an option between seeing a movie and seeing something live, go see something live, JRC said.
“If you have a choice between a large, established theater and something you’ve never heard of in a small place, go to the small place because even if you’re disappointed the first time, you’re going to be rewarded by the risks you take,” he said.
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