The space was never meant to be a gallery. But innovations—Post-It Notes and penicillin, for example—are often just happy accidents. “The more we looked at the walls, the more we thought, Oh my gosh, this would be a really cool place,” says Sandra Becker, who owns Iris Gallery with her partner Jeanne Engelmann.
Together, they came up with a curatorial concept based on the knowledge that plenty of New Mexicans don't have a place to display work.
Becker has considerable experience in heavy-duty PR, she says, and artists can contract with her to handle that work for them. She and Engelmann are also happy to cater an opening for a fee and provide credit card service. Interested creative folks can simply reach out to Becker directly.“I’m sure this has been done before,” she says, “I can’t imagine it’s anything new. But I haven’t heard of anything like it.”
“I cant imagine its anything new. But I haven’t heard of anything like it”
Sawmill Village is a part of a growing project by a private nonprofit, which purchased the abandoned site to expand and revitalize the neighborhood. “The top two floors are apartments, and the bottom floor is commercial space,” says Becker. So far, that commercial space includes a small boutique, a music store and a soon-to-be-opened performance space. More tenants are on the way. “Rumor has it there’s going be a restaurant or a brew pub or something like that,” in the adjacent building, says Becker. “It’s kind of exciting to be in a place that feels more urban.”
“Rumor has it there is going to be a resaurant or a brew pub or something like that,”
Becker and Engelmann even have their sights on expanding the space to include other media. Iris can be used as a meeting spot for nonprofits, Becker suggests, for book launch parties (like the one scheduled in February) or as a performance venue.
The show ends in December, and the next doesn’t open until mid-February, which means the gallery is open for the month of January.
What happens at Iris next is up to you.