Phoenix artist Gennaro Garcia opens self-named gallery
Gennaro Garcia is one of the most prolific artists in Arizona. Anyone who has traveled throughout the Valley — or visited some of the area’s top Mexican food restaurants — will recognize his work.
Now, he is opening is an eponymous gallery — or “artelier” as he calls it, a play on the words “art” and “atelier” — on Phoenix’s Grand Avenue. The working studio will showcase Garcia’s paintings, sculpture, wearables and, for the first time in the U.S., his Talavera pottery.
Garcia's brightly colored paintings, many of which feature Mexican icon Frida Kahlo or intricate skull-shaped trees of life, can be found in some of the top homes in the state. And his “Hecho a Mano” line of dishware, which display the outline of a pair of outstretched hands, is a favorite of homeowners and professional chefs throughout the Southwest.
Most recently, he has partnered with area restauranteurs to design a slew of local eateries, including the numerous Barrio Queen outposts, Ghost Ranch in Tempe, Salt Tacos y Tequila in North Phoenix, and Taco Chelo, a taqueria on Roosevelt Avenue that he co-owns with chefs Aaron Chamberlin and Sunny Santana.
“When COVID hit, and the galleries started closing, I had to adapt,” Garcia explains. “So, what I did was start opening these kinds of spaces. I opened one in San Diego, in Los Cabos, in Todos Santos. They’re all the same idea, where I go and paint. I use them as galleries and as studios.”
Garcia also displayed his Talavera works in Puebla, Mexico, in the same workshop where he creates the pieces.
In 2018, Garcia began traveling to Puebla, Mexico, to study the art of Talavera at Casa Uriarte. Founded in 1824, it is the oldest Talavera house in the country. It’s also the largest, employing approximately 100 craftspeople who make each plate, urn and bowl by hand.
“The artists work with the same technique and in the same style, and use the same type of brushes, that they did 200 years ago,” he says.
Gennaro Garcia never brought his Talavera to the U.S. because transportation costs and gallery commissions would consume most of the profit. Plus, any pottery he created in Mexico sold immediately.
In May 2022, Garcia signed the lease on half of a large space on Grand and 11th avenues. But because the building is historic, construction of the gallery took many months, leaving the artist without a place to create. In addition, government regulations regarding the import of Mexican pottery resulted in delayed delivery of the Talavera.
But now the day has finally arrived. Garcia’s artelier will celebrate its grand opening on Friday, February 3, as part of this month’s First Friday. Doors open at 6 p.m.
In addition to the Talavera, which ranges from small trinket bowls and dinner plates to elaborate and massive tibors, traditional lidded urns also known as ginger jars, Garcia will offer paintings, prints, t-shirts, customized Hedley & Bennett chef aprons, bags, wine bags and much more, all featuring the artist’s distinctive designs.
Garcia also has plenty of future plans for the artelier. In addition to being a showroom for his art and a working studio, it will eventually serve as a spot for yoga classes and special dinners. “I want to bring in winemakers from Mexico, chefs from Mexico, local chefs,” he says. “The idea will be to have dinner here, served on my plates, with my art around. Friends can bring records to play or they can play the guitar or piano. And we’ll talk art. It’s going to be a fun space.”