In downtown Phoenix, Arizona there is a business that quickly dismisses the notion of what an art gallery should be. You won’t find pretention and martini-sipping socialites, but what you will find is great modern art, classic 80’s arcade games, and an incredible amount of fun. While one doesn’t necessarily associate fine art with arcade games, Cade Gallery delivers the goods with open exhibits that implore visitors to relax, take it all in, stay a while, and have a good time.
After visiting Portland, Oregon’s Ground Kontrol arcade on numerous occasions, and being in awe of the simplicity of it, owners Nathan Ross and Weston Henry vowed to start their own similar project should the chance arise. Their opportunity came with a 400 square foot gallery space in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. Without business loans, sponsors, or investors, they built Cade Gallery which fused their love of pop art with retro gaming.
The mini arcade, a main focal point of the gallery started small, but continues to grow. Artist and co-owner Nathan Ross says,
We opened the doors with only Centipede and Aero Fighters. We then acquired Defender and it snowballed from there. (Now) we have ten machines, all original, all maintained by Weston and I. We wanted that old school feel that Weston and I grew up with and we wanted all games to be a quarter, the way it should be.
The initial launch of the gallery on March 5, 2011 was a geek-gasm of epic proportions that included pizza, custom t-shirts, a chiptune-blaring boombox, Star Wars-themed pop art, and of course – the classic arcade lining the walls. Cade Gallery has continued its momentum by featuring Anime artist Roderick Mack during the month of April, and is currently featuring Ken Tanaka from May 6-June 1, 2011. Many other fun events at Cade Gallery like an upcoming Mortal Kombat competition attempt to accomplish its mission of being a hangout that is affordable and fun for everyone.
Cade Gallery proves that Phoenix has more to offer than urban sprawl and strip malls. If you look hard enough, you can find a unique place that showcases local and national talent, brings friends together, and transports you back to the 80’s. Just don’t forget the t-shirt.