By Randi Bjornstad
It could be called The New New Zone Gallery, but not really, because only the location has changed.
The old New Zone Gallery lost its rental space last August, and it took several months to land a new one that would suit the needs of the nearly 34-year old, 60-plus member nonprofit artists’ collective.
But it happened, and Steve LaRiccia, one of the group’s founders and still its gallery coordinator after all this time, is happy.
“We started looking for a new space in June or July last year, and we identified at least a dozen that were empty in downtown Eugene,” LaRiccia said. “We walked around and contacted property managers or building owners to see what we might be able to afford.”
Most were ruled out by too-high rents, the need for expensive seismic upgrades before they could be reoccupied or square footage that just didn’t fit the needs for exhibit space and artist receptions, but one place — 220 W. Eighth Ave. — “kept on not getting moved into,” LaRiccia recalled.
He called Pacific Real Estate Services and talked to Kristin Peterson about the former liquor store location, “but we didn’t think we would get very far,” he admitted. “We had 3,800 square feet before, and we had only paid $250 a month for rent for the past 10 years, so we weren’t optimistic.”
But Peterson went to bat for the arts group with the property owners, and the deal came through, $750 a month for a somewhat smaller space that the New Zone artists decided they could make work.
“This all happened the end of November, and we really wanted to have it put together for the First Friday ArtWalk in December,” LaRiccia said. “Everybody pitched in, and we had it ready in six or seven days.”
That didn’t leave enough time to alert the community about the new space before the popular monthly art walk, but New Zone publicist Andrea Ross solved that problem by using sidewalk chalk on all the streets in the ArtWalk area, with arrows pointing to the new location.
“We were packed — everybody came in saying they’d followed the arrows,” LaRiccia laughed. “The low-tech thing really worked out. It felt like we didn’t miss a beat.”
The gallery will be open from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. for downtown Eugene’s First Friday ArtWalk on Feb. 3, and member artist Dennis Duvaul will be the featured artist for the month with a show of his abstract paintings, called “Uncalculated Elements.”
The New Zone Gallery also is putting out its call to artists for its traditional “Spring Zone 4 All” non-juried, open show that will be on display from March 3 to 31. Artists may deliver a maximum of two ready-to-display, 2- or 3-dimensional pieces to the gallery from noon to 6 p.m. on Feb. 25. The entry fee is $10, and the commission fee to the gallery for work that is sold will be 35 percent.
The New Zone Gallery
Where: 220 W. Eighth Ave. in downtown Eugene
Hours: Noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday
Information: Call 541-683-0759, email email@example.com or go online to newzonegallery.org