Barrio Logan's La Bodega Art Gallery Leaves Behind Lasting Legacy
For artists like Aubrey Wood, spaces such as La Bodega Art Gallery in Barrio Logan are a godsend.
She paints portraits using a blind contour, creating whimsical designs with each piece. Having lived in Los Angeles for 15 years, she rediscovered her love of painting after she quit acting.
“The great thing about this studio was that I was able to paint big,” she said while working on her latest piece.
She enjoys her time painting and is bittersweet that the gallery will close at the end of the month.
“[The owners] are so amazing to work with," she said. "I hope I can find a space if they find something.”
The gallery is run by Soni Lopez-Chavez and her husband, Chris Zertuche. They were initially attracted to the space six years ago because of Barrio Logan’s rich cultural history. Their goal was to foster a community of creative expression by providing affordable spaces to local artists.
But as more businesses opened in Barrio Logan, they say gentrification is pushing renters like themselves out.
“It’s just shocking," said Lopez-Chavez. "It’s shocking that it’s always the art spaces that go first.”
When La Bodega first opened, there were no active businesses on the block, she said. After the gallery opened, they received community-wide support, which led to more businesses seeing the neighborhood in a new light.
“A lot of our friends started to open up businesses on Logan Ave, and this area just flourished,” she said.
And it shows. On a Friday afternoon, couples stroll and groups of friends have lunch at the neighborhood restaurant ¡SALUD!
It was that kind of attention that landed the gallery owners a spot in American Airlines Magazine, which Lopez-Chavez said has added to the buzz.
“[Tourists] want to see what a community that’s run with passion, with culture, with heart [is all about],” she said.
The legacy of the gallery may be seen through their collaboration with other businesses in the area.
“We worked together to throw events. We really support one another. Our success can be everybody else’s success,” Lopez-Chavez said.
Now the community is returning the favor. They’ve started a Change.org petition and have donated thousands to GoFundMe to help them move to a new location. Lopez-Chavez was touched by the gesture.
“It’s been beautiful to see the support that we’ve received since we announced that we’re closing,” she said.
The gallery's last show, aptly named “The Last Saga,” is from 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14. La Bodega officially closes Dec. 31.