Peter Conley and Quincy Ross Announce Big Plans for The Icehouse

Benjamin Leatherman
Peter Conley, executive director of Icehouse Arts, stands outside the downtown venue.
A year ago, the Icehouse seemed destined for oblivion. As of last December, few events were taking place at the iconic downtown Phoenix gallery and performance venue, its proprietors were uncertain about its future, and thousands of dollars in back property taxes were owed to Maricopa County.

As a result, owner Helen Hestenes announced the Icehouse's impending closure, which sent major shockwaves through the local arts community.

One year later, however, the Icehouse's future is bit brighter. It's still open, having hosted a variety of homegrown fundraisers (not to mention weddings and corporate events) to help alleviate its financial woes.

Meanwhile, a number of avant-garde art displays have taken place at the venue over the past six months, including Jenny Gentry's unusual water-themed "H20" show and the cross-disciplinary "Mnemosyne" exhibition featuring brain-bending works by ASU students.

According to artists Peter Conley and Quincy Ross, you can expect similar exhibitions and events to take place at the Icehouse in the coming months. The duo hopes to give the historic venue, which was built in 1910, a new lease on life and increase its prominence by hosting unique events and transforming it into an arts epicenter on First Fridays and other nights throughout the month.

icehouse column room.jpg
Courtesy of the Icehouse
The Column Room inside the Icehouse.
"Our goal is really is to get the creative community to rediscover the Icehouse and to keep a constant flow of energy going here," Conley says. "We feel like this could really be a sanctuary for the arts in downtown where people could come and experience something they wouldn't normally elsewhere."

Conley, the director of the non-profit organization that runs the Icehouse, has been collaborating with Ross and artist Barry Schwartz on developing new uses for the historic multi-room venue, which originally opened in 1910 as Constable Ice Storage.

In the two decades since Hestenes reopened the property as the Icehouse in 1990, its cavernous Cathedral and Column rooms have hosted cutting edge art installations and epic large-scale works. Conley and Ross, however, are considering to make use of other parts of the venue, such as turning storage areas on the upper floors into an art and architectural libraries or perhaps a theatre for avant-garde films.

The building adjacent to the Icehouse's courtyard could potentially provide space for a coffeehouse, boutique, or a pop-up business of some sort. Conley also hopes to expand the small urban garden in the courtyard and turn it into an "art park."

"We're looking to create lovely green area which we'd call our Inner-City Eden (or I.C.E. for short) where people can come and sit, use their computers, enjoy a cup of coffee, and basically relax and take advantage of this space."

Location Info



429 W. Jackson St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

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