Phoenix Gallery Coalition aspires to expand

(Marianna Hauglie/DD)
Six galleries make up the Phoenix Gallery Coalition, which started earlier this year. The organization will work to create shared goals and practices among galleries, including MonOrchid and the Hive. (Marianna Hauglie/DD)

The Phoenix Gallery Coalition, which formed in June to unite downtown art galleries with common goals and practices, is looking to expand to other venues.

Laura Dragon, who opened {9} the Gallery on Grand Avenue more than a year ago, said she suggested an open-forum conversation among art galleries in the area to ignite the current art sector, support local artists and make Phoenix an icon for contemporary art.

The coalition will work to better the public’s opinion of the downtown art market, Dragon said.

“We have world-class artists here and it’s kind of a Phoenix secret,” Dragon said. “It shouldn’t be a secret.”

The coalition, which has the support of Artlink, a volunteer organization supporting the arts community in Phoenix, approved its logo and is working to construct its website, Dragon said. Galleries interested in joining the Phoenix Gallery Coalition are encouraged to attend the next meeting on Sept. 17 at 7:15 p.m. in MonOrchid at Second and Roosevelt streets.

So far, MonOrchid, {9} the Gallery, The Hive, Practical Art, Coe House and The Bokeh Gallery are part of the coalition.

“(The coalition) is just a logical step in the evolution of the art scene here,” MonOrchid owner Wayne Rainey said. “We wanted to create some cohesive guidelines that we could all adhere to in regard to hours and consistent policies about how we work with the artists.”

By pooling efforts among members, the Phoenix Gallery Coalition can advertise and coordinate events and provide better support to local artists, Rainey said.

The coalition’s facilitator, Robert Diehl, said improving the art scene could attract more people interested in contemporary works that could benefit other downtown businesses, such as restaurants.

Diehl is a founder of the former Downtown Phoenix Gallery Association, which formed in 2003. The association dissolved after two years because four out of six member galleries filed for bankruptcy.

“A gallery, especially contemporary, is an extremely risky thing,” Diehl said. “It has a much lower survival rate than restaurants. So I want to help.”

The coalition plans to support Art Detour, an annual art event held in March. They also look forward to hosting group exhibitions, similar to gallery coalitions in other states and separate from First Fridays, Dragon said.

“Although we love First Fridays, they are not our only defining moment,” Dragon said.

Diehl said the Phoenix Gallery Coalition’s monthly meetings provide support and information to newcomers and established galleries.

“We are bringing galleries from outside the downtown parameters because of the geography of Phoenix; we have this urban sprawl to contend with,” Dragon said.

The coalition expects to be in working order by the end of this year, Rainey said.

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