During the last five-plus years, gallerist Marty Walsh has had chances to move out of her tiny 256-square-foot gallery, Trifecta, tucked into the rear of the Arts Factory downtown. She always refused.
The former painter had built a thriving gallery over the years, but earlier this year it finally hit her: “I just didn’t have enough space to get all the work done that I’ve been taking in, and all the work we’ve been trying to do.” She had no room for working on artists’ files, or to layout slides. “I could stay small for the rest of my life or do it better with a little more space.”
The old Trifecta looked like an oversize closet. At 1,200 square feet, the new Trifecta—which is just a few doors down from the old and still in the Arts Factory—looks like a proper art gallery. It has separate rooms for displaying small- and medium-size works. It even has an office and a reception area.
Transforming the space formerly occupied by the low-lit Valentino’s zoot suit shop, the new Trifecta is open and bright, its large windows fronting Charleston Boulevard. And a door that was once blocked off will now open directly onto the street. Behind the windows, three swiveling wall pieces are mounted on floor-to-ceiling columns; the walls can close to face the street or open up like louvers.
“It’s gonna give her the opportunity to spread her wings and fly,” Arts Factory owner Wes Myles says. “She never could have done this show in her old space. It’s gonna take the most successful gallery to a whole new level.”
The show to which he refers is called Compound Fracture, opening July 1, by rising young artist (and winner of a Joan Mitchell Foundation award) Brian Porray. Describing Porray’s work is tricky—even for Porray. Drawing inspiration from a “fictitious supernova event,” or “chemically exotic volcanoes” on distant planets, or on subatomic proton collisions, his complex work is at heart concerned with the nature of scale.
“When you try to get your head around a particle collision, it just folds,” he says. “The brain can’t intuit that scale. The same when you look at images from the Spitzer Space Telescope [a NASA satellite launched in 2003 that captures infrared light].” He’s interested in the way radically divergent scales “affect the way we image things.”
Still confused? Let’s just say his intense, colorful paintings are both geometrically rigorous and on the verge of exploding off the canvas.
A Las Vegas native, Porray, who earlier this year was named Outstanding MFA Student by UNLV’s Department of Art, is packing his bags for Los Angeles. But that’s no knock on his hometown, which he says has been a great place to cut his teeth. “[I] appreciate the lack of history here,” he says. “Every day you wake up is a new day. It’s an amazing place to make the work.”
As for Walsh, beaming with excitement about the newly expanded Trifecta, she hopes the gallery’s frontage on Charleston will signal to pedestrians and motorists that the arts district downtown is alive and well. “I can set an example that might entice other people to open good galleries here,” she says. “The more the merrier. I don’t want to be a lone island here.”