Artifacts: Changes in the South Flores Arts District 

Lots of changes are happening in the South Flores Arts District these days. Deep in the heart of Second Saturday art walk territory (happening this week on July 9), Joe Lopez is looking to downsize his operation at Gallista Gallery, and has put the building up for sale. Lopez told the Current last month that he was tired of playing landlord (Gallista provides studio space to artists, in addition to hosting solo and group shows) and wanted to concentrate on his own art. Lopez plans to relocate to a smaller spot and run solo.

You can see a taste of his work in another setting by crossing the street to R Gallery, just north of the railroad tracks. Alex Rubio, who also runs the MOSAIC educational and community outreach program at Blue Star Contemporary Art, and Roland Fuentes, owner and namesake of the San Pedro music club Nightrocker, opened the gallery a few months ago. Their current show is a group exhibition of local NALAC artists — members of the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture. The group includes Lopez and David Zamora Casas, Ernesto Cuevas, Anel Flores, Adriana M. Garcia, Adan Hernandez, Alex Rubio, Luis Valderas, and Deborah Kuetzpalin Vasquez. South of the tracks is the venerable 1906 building, a sprawling complex owned by Andy Benavides. Benavides has shut down the One9Zero6 gallery space for now and is concentrating his curatorial efforts in the SMART Art Project Space in the same building. Seems like a good idea to us. Why? SMART, the outfit that organized and sponsored quite a bit of CAM this year, including the popular “Invading Spaces” art-in-hotel series, could use some PR itself. Good to focus, build the brand.

Also inside the complex is Fl!ght Gallery, opening a show of new works Second Saturday by local drawing wonder Vincent Valdez. When I first encountered Valdez’s huge graphite drawings of boxers at Pravus Gallery in Phoenix a few years ago, I spat out an expletive and muttered, “No one should have that much talent. It’s just not fair.” I had no idea who Valdez was and where he came from at the time. His new works at Fl!ght are freshly made prints. Rounding up, Gravelmouth is the name of the newest gallery in 1906. Run by David “Shek” Vega, the art space concentrates on urban, graffiti-based art with a preference for aerosol.

There’s chisme that a new art space run by Megan Harrison will open soon on Lone Star next to the Flop House art gallery, and rumors that a gallery has been sighted in the works at the South Flores/Nogalitos triangle. Who are they and do they exist? We’ll get back to you ASAP after we check out Second Saturday on South Flores this weekend.

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