Trunk Space Celebrates Its Eighth Anniversary This Weekend

Categories: Visual Art
trunk space exterior.jpg
Mural by Luster Kaboom/Photo by Benjamin Leatherman
The Trunk Space on Grand Avenue.

It's estimated that the average lifespan of new business is anywhere from 3 to 5 years. Whoever conjured up that statistic obviously never had the Trunk Space in mind since the downtown Phoenix art space, boutique, and performance venue has lasted 8 years.

It's arguably one of the longest-running galleries in downtown, having hosted 80 different art exhibitions and experienced nearly 100 First Fridays. Besides becoming an epicenter for outsider art and bizarre performances aplenty over the years, Trunk Space has survived the ups and downs of the ever-tumultuous local art community.

Co-owners Stephanie Carrico and JRC have weathered recessions, financial problems, the decline of the Grand Avenue scene, and even the breakup of their onetime romance.

"Nope," Carrico says. "When we opened, I thought, 'If we do this for six months, we're doing good for Phoenix. So anything beyond six months, I was like 'Wow, we made it a year.' And to have made it for eight years seems really epic."

JRC is equally astounded with the art venue's longevity.

"I never really think about the length of time with any project. When I start doing something, I just kinda keep going until it's done. I never thought, 'This is only going to last a month," he says. "Hell, when we split up, who would of thought we'd still be doing this five years after that."

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Benjamin Leatherman
Trunk Space co-owners Stephanie Carrico (left) and JRC outside the venue.

Both JRC and Carrico admit that running the Trunk Space for the last eight years have been a long, strange trip. It's a journey that started out in 2004 when they split off from the old Paper Heart, where they were helping book concerts and selling espressos from their coffee cart inside the now-defunct gallery's original location on Fifth Avenue and Van Buren.

"We worked at the old Paper Heart location for all of 2003," Carrico says. "And eventually, it came time for us to go do our own thing, which was always our plan."

So the pair, who were dating at the time, packed up their trademark red coffee cart, renovated a space on Grand Avenue that was the former home of 3 Car Pileup, and debuted the Trunk Space in April 2004. They had different neighbors in those days, including the onetime downtown location of Art One and original home of the now-closed Perihelion Arts.

Back then, the Trunk Space offered a bit of alternative to either of those defunct spaces, focusing more on performance and visual art of a far weirder and peculiar nature, whether its was bizarre burlesque of Vaudeville acts like The 999-Eyes Freak Show or the uniquely strange and colorful illustrations of Luster Kaboom.

"The 999 Eyes show was definitely a highlight because while they were freaks, they were also amazing performers and really sweet people," Carrico says. "Plus we've always wanted to be a hotspot for burlesque from the very beginning and that was the epitome of that aesthetic, that old-timey Vaudevillian sort of thing."

Even the pair of weddings that have taken place at the Trunk Space were a bit weird, including one couple getting hitched by JRC (who's an ordained minister) underneath a gargantuan papier-mâché monkey skeleton.

JRC recalls one memorable performance artist named Menamena who buried himself in a plaster shell filled with dirt behind the Trunk Space while others uttered guttural chanting.

"It sounds ridiculous and asinine, but it was actually really awesome to watch," he says.

Location Info


Trunk Space

1506 Grand Ave., Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

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