If you haven’t had a chance to visit The (new) New Zone Gallery yet, you can find it at 220 W. Eighth Ave. in downtown Eugene

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.

Gallery coordinator Steve LaRiccia is best known for his elaborate steampunk creations
Steve LaRiccia, longtime coordinator at The New Zone Gallery, is best known for his elaborate steampunk creations

“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.

Members of The New Zone Gallery honored LaRiccia with an art assemblage titled "The Bones of the Zone" when they moved into their new space
Members of The New Zone Gallery honored LaRiccia with an art assemblage titled “The Bones of the Zone” when they moved into their new space

“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 steamworks@centurylink.net or go online to newzonegallery.org

Randi Bjornstad

Has more than 30 years' journalism experience after a previous stint as a land-use planner. Got first rejection slip at age 11, but the editor wrote an encouraging note. Lives in Eugene, Ore., with husband-and-photographer Paul Carter, adorable dog Tallulah and quirky cats Pearl, Audrey, Garbo, Harry and Ozma.

randi has 171 posts and counting.See all posts by randi

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