"It's so creepy," exclaims a little girl barely out of toddlerhood as she walks by the recently opened Teros Gallery. Gallery owner Alejandra Frank laughs heartily upon hearing such an unfiltered assessment of something that, for her, has been a lifelong dream.
"Yeah, it's creepy," she agrees.
To be fair, it's not that creepy. The little girl's "creepy" observation may have come more from her belief that the giant mural on the side of the building and the art inside are somehow related to Halloween. But the quaint little spot right near the border of North Park and City Heights (3888 Swift Ave.) is actually quite charming. There's an 8-track tape deck playing tunes from The Supremes and Grand Funk Railroad while Frank shows off the pen-and-ink sketches on the wall from Mexico City-based artist Esteban Aldrete. There are also boutique items, such as t-shirts, patches and a rack filled with Frank's bi-yearly, zine-style Teros magazine. She admits that the gallery stands out in the otherwise drab neighborhood.
"I do worry about foot traffic, but I also like the idea of being separated. I feel like this has a particular aesthetic that doesn't appeal to most," says Frank, when asked about the gallery's off-the-beaten path location. "It's nice because people who really want to come here will come."
Frank says the gallery will keep regular hours even though she also works two part-time jobs. She's planning on holding monthly art shows that include her neighbors organizing bands to play in the front yard. She'd also like to see the space evolve into a workshop-style place where she and other artists would do their own silkscreening and printing, as well as a place where kids could come to participate in art workshops. Per the latter, she was inspired by working at the Children's Creativity Museum in San Francisco.
"I realized the importance of a space for young people to have an outlet," she says. "A place to go and create something."
The gallery's next show in November features vintage, psychedelic art from the '70s by none other than Frank's mom, Susana Echevarría Frank. Still, the artist is quick to rebuff any notions of nepotism.
"She's embarrassed by it, but they're so cool," says Frank about her mom's paintings and collages. "I'm doing it to piss her off a little bit. Well, maybe not to piss her off but just to show her that people will like it."