It’s a busy Friday-night scene at Downtown Spaces. At the back, people shuffle through the building’s new dispensary, and a number of galleries have their doors open, welcoming visitors in from the cold.
In the middle of the storefront, musician and artist Brian Gibson (Wax Pig Melting) and a group of friends are performing a noise-rock set as Ultra-Witch inside Wasteland Gallery. Gibson sits cross-legged in front of his own paintings, ravaging his guitar strings as the chaotic sounds grow louder and heavier.
That noise—dark, energetic and fleeting—couldn’t be more apt tonight. Up the street, Blackbird Studios is having its last show before it shutters, and here at Wasteland, we’re witnessing the gallery’s final exhibit (Gibson’s Right, You Are) before it changes hands heading into January. The unpredictable sound emanating from the gallery ebbs and flows like it’s echoing the art scene itself. As if it’s asking us, “So, what now?"
After two years in Downtown Spaces and a number of music and art shows, current Wasteland owner Scott Wood says he’s only made rent on art sales three times, at most. “Anybody that runs a gallery will tell you, you don’t make money,” he says. “You do it because you want to support the artists, you want to support the scene, which is completely where I was—and still am. The best way I can put it is, it takes up a lot of mental real estate.”
Becky Douglas will take over the space—which will retain the same name—in January, and Wood says he’ll continue to help when the gallery needs it. “I can’t not be around this place … A lot of the people that have shown here, it was their first gallery show. That’s the stuff I’m most proud of. It gave a little bit of a boost to some of the artists, [and] I really enjoyed that.”