Historic Grand Ave building becomes art, collab, event space

The Unexpected Art Gallery opens in a historic Grand Avenue building this month, bringing a unique mixed-use art exhibition gallery, office and event space to this growing Downtown Phoenix neighborhood. The gallery renovates the 8,000 square foot Miller Store Fixture building at 734 W. Polk St. where the owners plan to host exhibitions and include a TechShop maker’s space, a game room, the “UStudio” photo, video and recording studio commons, “Back Alley” outdoor community gathering place, a VIP loft and an art library.

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The gallery debuts with art classes offered by renowned local artist Lucretia Torva of Torva Fine Art. The owners also announced the building’s first tenant is the Earl Jones Institute For Film and Television, a nonprofit organization established by actor Robert Earl Jones, to create and support cultural diversity in the fields of film, television and digital media. The nonprofit, now run by Robert’s son Matthew, has plans to hold workshops and events in the space.

Y1KAh0fkWiSsmyfAW4z4Tyes7-LijcVzHo1ZveS4E7w“Our goal has always been to have a focal point for the collaboration of the arts community with business, engineering and education. Unexpected is a community-designed experience poised to become a hub for art and commerce, but it’s also so much more. It’s a place where you can connect with those who are looking to expand the view of Phoenix culture. It’s a place where you can express yourself, learn from others and create community,” said Ben Smith, one of Unexpected Art Gallery’s partners.

The gallery is also seeking local artists through November 12 to adopt a brick on a designated wall in the building and create a unique interconnected art design. The only “rule” is that each brick connects somehow to the bricks adjacent to it to create a large work of art that all gallery visitors can enjoy. For each brick created by an artist, the gallery will make a donation to Arizona School for the Arts. There is no fee for artists to participate. Interested artists can sign up by sending an email to artists@unexpectedartgallery.com.

“We are thrilled to join the Downtown Phoenix neighborhood family and bring a unique space to the area,” added Smith. “Our commitment is to give back and create connections in the vibrant community we have joined.”