The Second Floor Contemporary Arts Center is not on the second floor of its brand new home at 205 E San Antonio. There’s a story behind that contradiction, and Adrian Aragones, the owner of the Arts Center, says that story began on the second floor of the Center’s old home on Texas Street.
Adrian a UTEP Graduate and graphic designer was born in Juarez, Mexico, and grew up in Chicago but has taken root in El Paso. The artist recently earned the Incubator Artist Program Award for his black and white photographs depicting a personalized representation of each “Loteria” (Bingo) card that he related to El Paso elements.
The Arts Center is run by Adrian with two partners that have a shared vision, “We wanted to be highly accessible to the local community. Sometimes we have seen that there is a ‘disconnect’ between community and art in downtown,” said Adrian.
Adrian spoke freely about the socioeconomic division and its relation to art, “We purposefully did not call our business a ‘gallery’ because we noticed the word turned off the non-established crowds.” The Second Floor Arts Center embraces anyone interested in signing up for workshops, showing work or simply appreciating the art.
Though the Arts Center welcomes submissions for showing art, there is a strong emphasis on educating young artists on the process of submission all the way to pricing and showing work. Workshops in classical oil painting and self-promotion will be made available. The space will also be used to offer Zumba classes, launch a chess academy, host photography and portrait classes all in the name of being a community hub for wellness and expression. The artists are asked to donate time to workshops mostly geared to children and families.
The Arts Center is also partnering with their neighbors across the street, Ghosts 915, the non-profit organization responsible for the Downtown Ghost Tours. The pair of organizations would like to see a communal atmosphere where patrons can grab a cup of coffee and share creative ideas.
Seeking to veer away from showing art that they feel is being shown in abundance elsewhere, “Chicano, southwest and mural art is what El Paso is known for but we have limited space so we try to show that there are other styles out there,” said Adrian.
Philip Howard, a California transplant and artist offers workshops in classical painting styles. His art is infused with biblical themes, story and a personal connection.
The Second Floor Arts Center is making its debut at this location at this month’s Last Thursdays Art Crawl. Participating artists include, Omar Limas, an artist with varied content and styles, ranging from prints to oils on canvas.
Sacramento, California artist and student Aundrea Rodriguez makes her love of our city obvious through the lens of her camera, taking inspired rustic images of El Paso that are edited solely with phone apps.
Finally, Angelica Tinajero, a paper mache artist creates striking 3-D art with cultural relevance.
The Second Floor Arts Center has a motto, “Local talent, global attention,” said Adrian. It doesn’t get more local and more communal than Downtown.
Visit the Second Floor Arts Center on Last Thursdays, April 24th.