- Bentley Gallery in Scottsdale, Ariz., has worked to make empty storefronts available to artists like Emmett F. Potter III and Spencer Hibert, who established Soyal Gallery.
How do you repopulate a gallery district hard-hit by the recession? Bentley Calverley, owner of Bentley Gallery in Scottsdale, Ariz., decided to work with local commercial property owners to negotiate lower rent for artists.
Inspired by an article about creative uses of commercial space in London and New York City—where “pop up” galleries and impromptu public art projects are appearing—Calverley called Dewey Schade, the owner of a building on Marshall Way. She proposed that the empty storefronts become temporary studios and exhibition spaces for local artists. In exchange for reduced rent, the handpicked artists agree to move out once new long-term leases are signed.
The first artist moved in at the beginning of February, and five separate spaces are now occupied. Gallery preparator Craig Randich has spearheaded the project, locating artists who are the perfect fit, developing the vacant shops into working studios and organizing an artist co-op so more artists can take advantage of the limited space.
Although Bentley Gallery doesn’t receive any direct financial benefit from serving as the mediator between the artists and the property owner, it’s boosted traffic during Scottsdale’s Thursday ArtWalks.
“The public benefits by being able to talk directly to the artists and watch art being created,” Randich explains. “And in turn, it benefits the artists, who have had very little interaction with collectors.”