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New Night Gallery spotlights ASU faculty, grads

September 09, 2008

There's a new gallery in town.

And word is that it's already a pretty popular place.

The new space – Night Gallery – is located in Tempe Marketplace, at the corner of McClintock Drive and Rio Salado Parkway.

It's a venue for graduate students, faculty and alumni of the Herberger College School of Art to show their artworks large and small.

And best of all, it's underwritten, at present, by Vestar Development Co., creators of Tempe Marketplace.

Night Gallery is located in an empty storefront near Barnes and Noble, in "The District," the popular shopping-dining-entertainment area of the mall.

"We're grateful for the opportunity to work in an alternative space,” said Joe Baker, director of community engagement for Herberger College of the Arts. "But we have a good-faith agreement with Vestar. They have agreed to locate other vacant spaces in the marketplace when we have to move."

Night Gallery will feature one major exhibit in the front of the 3,800-square-foot gallery, with works by a number of artists in the back half of the space. There also will be an artist-in-residence, who will be available to discuss his or her work with gallery visitors.

Nan Vaughn, a graduate student who creates public art, is the first to occupy the artist-in-residence studio.

The gallery is open, as its name implies, only in the evening, five days per week. Hours are 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

The first exhibit, which inaugurated the gallery on June 26, was kinetic sculpture by David Young, a School of Art MFA graduate who won the International Sculpture Center's 2007 Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award last fall.

The current featured exhibit is "Ornaments," by School of Art alumnus Michael Anderson – who graduated from ASU 40 years ago. His steel works are in public and private collections across the United States and in more than five countries, including the United Arab Emirates and Australia.

Anderson's large sculptures, which resemble Christmas ornaments, are very heavy, some weighing close to a ton, and they draw the curious, even during the day when the gallery is closed. Passers-by stop and peer in, and if graduate sculpture student director, Mike Thomas, happens to be there, he will welcome them in.

Already, 300 to 500 people stop by the gallery every night, Baker said, with easily double that number on weekends.

"We're beginning to see a return audience. That speaks to the quality of the artists," he added.

The gallery had its genesis when Baker had lunch with Summer Katzenbach, marketing director for Tempe Marketplace. "She's passionate about the arts," Baker said. "She said, 'Wouldn't it be great to create something like First Friday in Phoenix, but why not create something new'?"

"I told her to give us the space and we would create that experience. And so was born Night Gallery."

Coincidentally, Jim White, professor of sculpture at the Herberger College School of Art, who is known for his neon work, stopped by to visit Baker to lobby for creation of a "first-rate professional gallery, not on campus, that would serve graduate students, faculty and alumni."

Such a gallery would not include undergraduate work, White said, because "we have several other galleries on campus that do that."

White has become the driving force behind the gallery, and he particularly enjoys greeting the patrons.

"People are so appreciative," he said. "Some have their kids, and the kids ask, 'Dad, what is that?' Engineers who stop in always want to know what the work is all about."

Both White and Baker have big dreams for Night Gallery. Baker would like to include the performing arts, to "move outside the walls into the public space."

White also imagines the day when there is a budget to ship in work from artists who live outside of Arizona to enhance the gallery's scope.

“It’s very exciting to make contact with alumni artists who continue to make their art their life’s objective,” says White. “Many of the featured Night Gallery artists have become important figures in today’s art world.”

Katzenbach said she and Vestar officials are pleased with Night Gallery -- and their loan of the space that will eventually rent for $15,000 per month, not including utilities, security and insurance.

"We're passionate about bringing arts and culture to a retail space," she said. "We are pleased to see people stopping by and interacting with the artists. ASU is a focal point for Tempe, and this is a wonderful partnership."

For more information about Michael Anderson's sculpture, visit