While many ASU students may be involved in Tempe’s art happenings, there are art venues that, despite providing important opportunities for local artists, are often overlooked in downtown Phoenix. Sometimes thought of as an up-and-coming sort of Portland or cool Los Angeles scene, downtown is a hub for local artists and musicians. Among the Roosevelt Street galleries like monOrchid, Eye Lounge and Modified Arts, Push Gallery PHX, which is in its fifth year of business, is supporting local artists with a show Nov. 2 that featured artwork from 26 artists as well as live painting, live bands and a food truck.
Deon Daughtry, an artist in the show, believes Phoenix is on the breaking point of being a new Seattle or New York. He said that one of his paintings, featuring 25 local musicians, took him two and a half years to finish.
“For the last three years I’ve been painting all local rock stars,” Daughtry said. “It’s sort of like the holy relics of the Arizona music scene — I love Arizona music.”
Located in a house on Roosevelt and 12th streets, the art venue featured a front yard with stage lights and a few seats for when the bands showed up later in the evening.
Matt Brown, gallery curator and co-creator, coordinates art shows, collaborates with bands and even paints some of his own work. Brown, who was shaking hands with everyone at the venue, said he got involved in the local scene after a venture that included painting on doors of clubs. He later started working with other artists, and in the end his work and collaboration helped expand the art gallery.
“I love it down here,” Brown said.
Push would like to expand into Tempe in the future, and maybe even open a second space by next year, but for now is focusing on continuing its business in Phoenix.
“It’s a really artsy district, and we’re able to do something really cool for the community,” Brown said. “The neighborhood kind of changed when we brought the space in.”
The Push Gallery PHX will be holding three shows this year, each of them taking around three months to promote and organize.
Jay B Fail, a local artist who used to help run the gallery and now helps put shows together, was showcased with his artwork, themed Man vs. Nature, that explores how the two ideas work together.
“I try to do as much as I can,” Fail said. “I love Phoenix, I love it.”
Fail has done workshops with ASU students and as part of Central Phoenix Young Life teaching kids how to make mosaics and paintings.
“It feels good that there’s so much art going on and that the community is really receptive to it and helps it flourish,” Fail said. “You can really do whatever you want and it’s a great place to be right now.”
Brown said his goal with Push is to provide quality.
“We try to bring in quality work that actually sells as compared to what’s going on over at First Fridays, because people go down there and they hang out and check stuff out, but we have a collectors list and people buy stuff almost from every show,” Brown said.
When First Friday comes around, Brown will scout for other artists who are interested in showcasing their work at Push.
“Thank goodness for my friend Matt Brown,” Daughtry said. “It’s just a wonderful opportunity to showcase and let everybody know that’s not familiar with this scene, that it is vibrant and we’re alive and we’re making our own scene in our own world. I think we’re right on the cusp of breaking through and being one of the major trend-setters in the world.”
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