Fine Art

New Arts District gallery Opia looks to push boundaries

Opia Gallery opened March 19 at Union House on First Street.
Photo: Jon Estrada

Opia Gallery has been open less than a week, but you’d never know that by the energy of the studio. Its walls are covered in vibrant, multimedia art, and the space is buzzing with lively young artists, eager to carve out a new, collaborative space in the Arts District. Located at Union House, a multi-use arts complex on First Street, Opia opened March 19 to create a new hub for Downtown artists, some of whom feel disenfranchised by encroaching retail, and all of whom want a place to hone their craft in the company of kindred spirits.

“Everybody here is under 40, young artists who have been clawing and fighting to get shown,” says gallery director Roman Alexei, an abstract realist who paints colorful, large-scale portraits. “If you look in here you’ll see some exceptional talents.”

Resident artists include Alexei, Mackenzie Lunger, Evelyn Gonzalez, Mannie Rubio, Sarah Zimmermann, Skylayr Hibberd, Maral Shar, Seth Babcock, Roy Thomas and Taeryn Ray, and Opia will also feature guests such as Clarice Tara, who is showing at the gallery now. Artists work in mixed media, ranging from handmade leather masks to surreal paintings to sculpture incorporating real plants.

For Zimmermann, 20, the all-ages aspect is paramount. The painter and musician says the space brings a sense of community, where artists can share their strong suits. As studio manager, she envisions Opia hosting all-ages open-mic nights, and as the gallery grows, Alexei plans to add a sound studio, kiln and community garden that will ideally provide for neighbors in need. The group is also working on the Life Cube, underway on Fremont Street and set to burn early next month. “We’re artists that truly believe in the art we’re making,” Alexei says. And that sentiment applies not only to the art, but to the space itself.

Opia Gallery 917 S. First St., 702-378-6616. Call for hours.

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