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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Artists pay tribute to &gallery at anniversary showcase

AJ “Stash” Castillo
Cynthia Naugle posing with a painting featured in &gallery’s second-anniversary celebration exhibit. The theme was “&,” and featured a variety of works.

&gallery had a special showcase to commemorate Cynthia Naugle’s second-year anniversary as the owner of the space on Feb. 24. Originally established by Eat Sleep Work in 2018, Naugle took on ownership of &gallery after dedicating five years of her life to being its curator. 

With &gallery having been through a tough year, the community showed how much they love and appreciate the gallery with the anniversary show. The theme being “&” broadened the artwork submitted. 

“This was seriously the most chaotic show I’ve ever curated. Everything that I do usually has a very particular theme, especially with group shows. This one for the anniversary show was very open,” Naugle said.

For Naugle, there is no clear memory she can pick from on what &gallery means to her besides the overall feeling of when artists’ pieces sell during exhibitions or watching their reactions when they see their art on the walls for the first time.

The show has really uplifted Naugle’s spirit as both her and &gallery recover from a dark financial time, especially with the threat of &gallery closing late last year. To her, it felt great to see the community come out and support the artists and the gallery itself.

“Keep supporting artists, keep supporting &gallery, buy art, talk about art, talk about community, be loud and be unapologetic,” Naugle said.

&gallery for Naugle means community, family, unity, safety, growth and love. 

One of the artists on display is Champ Styles, whose father was an artist as well. To him, art was always in his blood and what he was meant to do. He specializes in murals and graffiti styles.

Artist Champ Styles poses with his painting for &gallery’s second-anniversary exhibition. Styles has always wanted to be an artist and specializes in graffiti.

“It’s an honor [to be in the show], &gallery kicks ass. It’s a total honor to be in the lineup,” Styles said.

Styles is heavily inspired by his father’s work, cartoons and 70s and 80s graffiti. Styles likes to have fun with his art.

For his &gallery piece, he actually mixed inks to create a crackle effect on the art piece. He wanted it to feel like the “Let’s All Go to the Lobby” cartoon from the movies. He used gold to represent the golden people, times and years that &gallery has had.

“If you haven’t come out here yet, now’s a good time. Support local, love the &gallery,” Styles said.

&gallery for Styles means the best of times and the best people.

Ben F. Pawlowski is a first-time feature in the &gallery show. He’s known about &gallery for a while, but his hidden message maze tribute piece is his first art piece in a show. The message reads, “Buy More Art.”

“I’ve been doing mazes like this one for a long time, and when I saw the call for artists for this exhibition, I pretty quickly had an idea that I thought would work,” Pawlowski said

Pawlowski creates art as a way to keep calm and communicate with the world in a subtle way. For him, there is usually a hidden message among his art pieces, like the one on display.

His art goes beyond, as he is planning to teach artists this summer at the CATALYST Creative Collective by the Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance at the Tucson Mall. Some of Pawlowski’s pieces will also be on display as well.

“When I hide a message in a maze, I like to hide a little joke in it […]. All the people should be buying all the art that is in here as much as they possibly can,” Pawlowski said.

&gallery for Pawlowski means local artists’ energy.

Ellenor Spencer is a recent graduate of the University of Arizona. She originally wanted to be a vet and instead went into the illustration program. 

Artist Ellenor Spencer with her cowboy art featured at &gallery’s second-anniversary show. Spencer likes to incorporate Western styles in her work.

“This piece was inspired by the gallery. It’s fun and kind of stupid, but in a goofy, lighthearted kind of way. It’s also inspired a little by cowboys. I love cowboy art […]. I really appreciate the aesthetics of Western styles and art,” Spencer said.

Spencer’s art is inspired by her youth through her love of horses, the Southwest and baroque. She specializes in digital art as well as oil painting.

To her, &gallery is a great place for artists who are starting out to get their work shown.

“I have some ideas cooking about combining my two inspirations and doing both baroque combined with Southwestern aesthetics. I want to sort of pit their ethics against each other, comparing/contrasting them and seeing what they look like next to each other. At their core, they’re both all about the theatricality,” Spencer said

&gallery for Spencer means welcoming, inclusivity and celebrating artists. 

Future shows planned so far at &gallery include the “Food Fight” show in March, as well as a solo show for Styles in June. &gallery is located at 419 N. 4th Ave.,  and is open from noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays and Mondays and noon to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays through Saturdays. Follow &gallery’s Instagram to get updates on any events to come, like the galleries art meetups.

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