Between 2001 and 2012, Ice Gallery popped in and out of existence inside a small, dilapidated storefront near the corner of 30th and Upas streets in North Park. The Gallery was seemingly done for good when the old building was torn down to make way for the North Parker, a mixed-use project that opened earlier this year.
Yet, Ice Gallery is set to rise again with an opening reception from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, July 11, inside Bread & Salt (1955 Julian Ave. in Logan Heights).
The gallery will reignite with a site-specific exhibition by Thomas DeMello, one of the artists behind Ice Gallery's earlier incarnation. While DeMello still helps with the space when he can, the tight-knit foursome that once backed Ice Gallery has been whittled down to just one.
Artist Michael James Armstrong began refurbishing a beat-up corner of the Bread & Salt warehouse in June 2013 after Jim Brown, the architect who owns the building, offered him an affordable lease. Industrial sifters left over from the site's former days as a bakery were moved aside, electrical boxes were torn out and Armstrong spearheaded most of the rest of the transformation, which included building new walls, replacing half of the floor and turning an old exhaust fan into a skylight. Armstrong says he spent nearly $10,000 of his own money on the space.
He isn't interested in being a gallery owner, though, and he's not in it for money (Ice Gallery will rarely sell work). His goal is simply to give artists the chance to experiment by doing site-specific installations. He mentions big names like Richard Allen Morris, Tom Driscoll and Philipp Scholz Rittermann when asked about artists he'd like to show in the space.
"Working that way, site-conditionally—having no idea until you get into the space and spend time there and, eventually, something comes to you—that's the most interesting way to work," Armstrong says. "Until I got a chance to do work like that, I didn't know how fun it was."