AURORA | The Aurora Cultural Arts District is moving its flag north this spring with the opening of a new pop-up gallery at Stanley Marketplace.
The ACAD is hosting a pop-up art space, slated to exhibit a slew of works and performances courtesy of local creatives, on the mezzanine level of Stanley through the end of May, according to Tracy Weil, managing director of the ACAD.
The sweeping 1,800-square-foot space is roughly twice the size of the ACAD’s other official gallery, which is located in a renovated police substation at 1400 Dallas St.
A bevy of artists from north Aurora and Stapleton will have a pair of works displayed throughout the show, according to Weil. He said the gallery will be rotated regularly throughout the occupancy to accommodate new works and new artists. Aurora-based production company Theatre Esprit Asia and a local Bollywood dance troupe are also tentatively slated for productions at the space this spring.
An official opening reception is scheduled from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. March 30, Weil said. He added the galley space will be open to the public around dinner time on Thursday and Friday nights this spring, and all day on Saturdays and Sundays.
The space will also serve as a partial set for “Travelers of the Lost Dimension,” an immersive, roving theater performance staged by Off-Center, the bohemian production arm of the Denver Center of the Performing Arts. About 15 minutes of each performance will take place within the ACAD gallery, according to Weil. The show will feature members of the Denver-based comedy group A.C.E. and run most days March 16 – May 21.
Weil said that while the ACAD’s contract on the space only runs through May, the arts district is already eyeing the possibility of moving into the space — or a smaller pad in Stanley — for the long-term.
“It is a retail space so it commands a higher rent, but we’re throwing around some ideas for some A-town merchandise,” he said. “Kind of like the I Heart Denver store, but an Aurora version of that, showcasing local artists. If we did a solid retail strategy, I think we could generate a lot more money.”
Mark Shaker, one of primary developers of Stanley, said permanent plans for the ACAD space and another pop-up gallery currently operating at the marketplace, ZEEL: awareness through art, are still in flux.
“Both of our pop-up art galleries will be around for several months, and we are still figuring out what they’ll become after their tenure as art galleries,” Shaker said in a statement. “Those are our only spaces available right now.”
In the meantime, Weil said the new space could act as a viaduct between the physical arts district —delineated by East 14th Avenue to the south, Chester Street to the west, Geneva Street to the east and East 16th Avenue to the north, as well as a northern jog that includes City Park — and the more posh Stanley crowd.
“We want it to be a nice bridge and connection between the Stanley and the cultural district,” Weil said. “We’ll also be showing a couple of Stapleton artists as well … to better connect the arts in Stapleton and the arts in Aurora.”
Satya Wimbish, president of the ACAD board of directors, echoed Weil’s thoughts on the pop-up gallery’s potential to serve as a link between two formally disparate constituencies.
“It helps to bring the arts district to people who might not generally get over there, and hopefully it encourages them to get down to the ACAD and see some of the physical spaces that we have over there,” Wimbish said. “It gives our artists and members an opportunity to have a space to be able to be visible with other communities and provide more exposure opportunities.”
City Council member Sally Mounier, whose Ward I encompasses both Stanley and the arts district, has long trumpeted the boon the marketplace could be for the ACAD.
“As far as the ACAD goes, I think the city was always anticipating that the Stanley would enhance the arts district and vice versa,” Mounier said. “This (gallery) is probably just one of many things that’s going to be happening.”