It's not unheard-of for people to change their name to alter their public perception or signify a difference in their persona. I'm pretty sure P. Diddy did it about seven times, at one point even asking to be referred to as "Swag" for one week.
Barrio Logan gallery and event space The Spot is doing the same. It's now Stronghold Creative Studios and Gallery (1835 Main St.). The name change signifies a new direction toward functioning more as a collective with a focus on providing a creative work space for members. There will still be art shows and events at Stronghold, but fewer of them.
Angela Gigliotti, one of the founders of The Spot and now a member of Stronghold, says the new name is especially pertinent because of the transformation Barrio Logan has undergone in the last few years, with the addition of condo developments and cultural spaces.
"We were talking about the neighborhood being gentrified," she says. "Then we thought of the word stronghold' and looked up its definition. It felt like what we're doing."
For those without a Webster's dictionary in hand, "stronghold" has two meanings: 1) "a place where a particular cause or belief is strongly defended or upheld" and 2) "a place that has been fortified so as to protect it against attack."
Gigliotti believes gentrification has its benefits, and Barrio Logan's seen them. The number of galleries and cultural spaces holding regular exhibitions and events is the biggest sign of neighborhood progress, in her view. However, she fears that the positive changes may lead to the neighborhood becoming overrun by nightclubs or that longtime residents will be priced out of the area. Barrio Logan's rich cultural history could get watered down or even lost as a result of "outsiders" taking advantage of the area's new hip status and investment opportunities.
With Stronghold, Gigliotti and the 15 other members hope to help preserve Barrio Logan's identity while still creating opportunities for anyone wanting an outlet to work on their creative endeavors. They've changed the layout of the site to work with the new direction. There's a recording studio, art studios, retail space and gallery space, which is showing an exhibition from Tijuana artist TEAK now through the end of the month. The members are even drafting a constitution to make sure the collective holds true to its new ideals.
"We want to be part of the positive changes," Gigliotti says. "The things that draw people to a neighborhood are sometimes the things that get lost when gentrification happens. We want to be part of the arts-and-culture movement. It's important for us to be there."
A few details are still being ironed out, but a reopening celebration is in the works.