Move with the music
The 1078 Gallery looks for a new home following eviction over issues with live performances
‘I don’t want to focus on the negative, but I think we should just go ahead and say it out loud all together, just once,” said Ignacio Ysern, speaking to fellow members of the 1078 Gallery’s music booking collective who gathered there Monday evening (April 24). He paused a moment before continuing, in exaggerated exasperation, “This suuuuuucks.”
After a few seconds of laughter and commiseration, the group got down to the task at hand—discussing an impending move from the Broadway storefront that’s served as headquarters for the 1078 Gallery for more than a decade.
Gallery volunteers and the building’s owner, Dorna Andersen, confirmed the move order stems from long-running disagreements over live music at the gallery, but members of the arts group said a 30-day eviction notice delivered April 15 still came as a shock. Though able to negotiate a short extension until the end of May to accommodate its last scheduled exhibit, the gallery is now tasked with finding a new home to carry out its mission.
“We knew [the landlord] wasn’t too thrilled with our music programming,” said Erin Wade, president of the 1078 Gallery’s board of directors. “It’s been an ongoing issue we’ve been trying to work through, but obviously we weren’t able to do so to their satisfaction.”
The gallery’s mission, as stated on its website, is “to offer exciting exhibitions of contemporary and experimental artworks in visual, musical, literary, film, and performance mediums.” In addition to music being one of its primary objectives, the chronically underfunded, all-volunteer group relies on concerts to help cover operating costs.
The nonprofit historically received somewhere in the range of $10,000 annually from the city of Chico, but that stopped when the state eliminated redevelopment funding in 2012. Since 2013, the gallery has competed with other arts and community service groups for a much smaller share of funds through the city’s Community Grant Program.
Organizations must apply and those accepted raise money through the month of August, and the city divides a percentage of the set amount of money—$100,000 for the each of the last two years—among them based on their own fundraising. Last year, none of the 17 groups selected were arts-focused, and 1078 hasn’t received any city funding since 2013.
The nonprofit hosts groups playing a wide range of musical genres, including regular punk and heavy metal shows that Wade said she believes some neighbors take issue with: “Nobody complains about the Classical Guitar Project, but not everybody likes some of the louder things.”
Andersen said noise—as well as vandalism and litter she blamed on concert attendees—led to her decision to kick the collective to the curb.
“They don’t follow the rules of their lease,” Andersen said by phone. “They seem to think they’re above the rest of the tenants, and that they can do whatever they want. When we leased the building to them, we leased it as an art gallery, but now it’s become a nightclub.”
Peter Path, who owns a furniture store next door to the gallery called Acapillow and manages the building for Anderson, said the conflict over concerts came to a head over the last six weeks. He said gallery staff was repeatedly asked to not allow sound checks before 6 p.m., while Acapillow and the gallery’s other neighbor, Dimensions Salon, were open. He said an agreement on that matter was reached during a recent meeting, but the afternoon noise started again shortly thereafter.
After criticizing the gallery, Andersen softened some: “It was a hard decision,” she said. “I don’t dislike the gallery or anybody there, and I love art and music. But it’s just gotten to a point it doesn’t fit well with the rest of the tenants, and they need to find someplace else.”
The current site of the 1078 Gallery is its third location, and it takes its name from its original address on Humboldt Avenue. The 1078 Gallery formed into a nonprofit organization in 1986, and for several years operated at another site in the south campus neighborhood before moving to Broadway in the summer of 2006. In March, the gallery celebrated its 36th birthday.
“I think it’s really important for our community,” Wade said, noting 1078 is the oldest independent art gallery in town and one of the few all-ages music venues. The gallery is also regularly used by other community groups.
“Chico isn’t a big city, but this is a place people can come to see the kind of music and art you might see in San Francisco or Los Angeles or New York,” Wade continued. “We think it’s important to have a place like that here, especially for students and young people.”
Wade said that, rather than point fingers or lament the situation, the board of directors and all of the volunteers at 1078 Gallery are focusing on the future.
“We’re disappointed, but we don’t want to dwell on it,” she said. “We’re looking forward and taking this as an opportunity to reassess, reorganize and hopefully find a place that’s even better for what we want to do.”
Wade said 1078 volunteers are looking at new prospective homes and considering fundraising options to help facilitate the move. She also said it’s unlikely the gallery will find a suitable space before the deadline, so it may remain homeless for a time.
“It’s worth it to wait until we find the right spot,” she said. “We’re totally committed to keeping music as part of our programming because it’s an important part of our mission, and it’s worth it for us to wait to find a landlord who will support that mission.”