Get To Know Cynthia of & Gallery

[UPDATE: Since this interview, Cynthia is now the owner of &Gallery.

GayTucson: Hello. Hello. We are here with Cynthia Naugle who heads up & Gallery.

Cynthia: That is me!

GayTucson: So can you tell me what is & Gallery?

Cynthia: So & Gallery is here in Tucson. And we show art, we showcase art that’s mainly the weird art, that you wouldn’t see in your typical gallery. We do more like pop art, low-brow art, comic, art, sequential art, all of that kind of stuff.

GayTucson: Fantastic! And how long has & Gallery been here on Fourth Avenue?

Cynthia: We opened in November of 2019 and then we were closed for most of 2020. And then we came back this year. So it feels like this has been our first full year.

GayTucson: Okay, Okay, what, what got you into running A gallery? Did you always want to be involved in the Arts?

Cynthia: Well, I think yes, And I kind of always have been. I’ve been doing marketing for years, and I did it for comic book shops, and I’ve been an artist myself. Especially the kind of art that I did, between fashion shows and toy design and all that. There wasn’t really a place for me to do it. So I kind of ended up creating my own spaces which put me into doing more event coordinating along with marketing and all that. And then & Gallery used to be on Grant and Stone. And it was this tiny little place, really cool looking. And the owner was giving out flyers at Tucson Comic-Con one year, and I got one of the flyers and I was like, damn, I know these artists it’s really cool. And so I checked it out, fell in love with what was going on. I’m like, oh my God this is what you Tucson needs. And then I ended up reaching out to Jonathan, the owner, And I was like, hey! I had just moved back from Portland, and I like, was like, hey I do organization, event coordinating, marketing. I love what you’re doing with the gallery and I’ve got ideas… And from there I got a job.

GayTucson: That’s awesome. That is awesome! So what is your connection to the community? We’re not. Obviously, we’ve got its Pride connection, But like, how is the queer artist flow in Tucson going?

Cynthia: Yeah, my connection with it is that I’m also a queer artist. I am bisexual, and it’s always been my people. It’s something I guess I haven’t really thought too much about because almost all my friends are either queer or whatever they may be. And along with the kind of art that we do… like, most of these artists are queer of some sort. And sorry, I don’t know what else to say (laughter.)

GayTucson: That’s okay. That’s okay. Let’s see. All right, I got a list. Okay? You already answered what got you into running & Gallery, you reached out, took the initiative, and it paid off awesome! So so, for example, right now, the best of Tucson is going on. Why should people vote for & Gallery and not some other Joe Schmo Gallery shop?

Cynthia: Oh man, that’s hard. Because there’s a lot of great galleries in Tucson. They’ve had amazing shows and beautiful pieces and everything. And we give something that Tucson hasn’t had before but has needed. Like was showing this type of art and these types of shows. Like, for instance, I’ll go with our hip-hop artists’ mission. Tucson has an amazing hip-hop community. And also with our Pride exhibition and our Sophie McTear exhibition where, you know, representation matters. Like it matters to see queer art or art made by queer people and having a safe space for it. Like I very much pride ourselves on holding a safe space, not putting up with anyone that’s going to come in and be harmful or any art that could be harmful to anyone.

GayTucson: So that’s amazing and wonderful, as a queer I appreciate that.

Cynthia: I know how hard it is. I know how hard it is to try to find your space. And as much as Tucson tries to be that, say that they are inclusive, and this and that, I want to make sure we’re doing the action.

GayTucson: Right. You’re not just talking about it, exactly. That’s what makes & Gallery so different in my mind. A lot of the content and art you show and your commitment to diversity and inclusion.

(Technical Difficulty as Jenn drops her papers)

GayTucson: All right, so how do you see and gallery evolving in the future? Like you’ve said, this has been your first real full year open. So how do you hope to see in the next five?

Cynthia: So one of our big missions here at & Gallery is to amplify artists. We want to make sure we’re taking our artists to the next level. Because we could do… I love our group shows, and we could do it all the time. But if we’re not pushing artists to be better than your last pieces, or this and that, then it’s like we got to have that growth. And I know that’s what artists want and need. And we’re working on, like different programs we could do with artists where it’s either having art discussions, critiques, also marketing tips for artists.

Since & Gallery is owned by Eat, Sleep, Work we do design work and marketing so we want to have classes where it’s like, oh, here are some tips on marketing, social media, info for your website, and also just basic marketing stuff that I know a lot of artists don’t know. Because you’re already doing so much work to get the art done, right? You’re in a whole business with yourselves. And finding those schools and energy to do it is difficult. So that’s one of the things that we want to start doing in the future.

GayTucson: That’s wonderful to offer those resources. How was the networking night that just passed?

Cynthia: Right! Oh, yeah! So we want to start doing different themed networking nights. The music networking night was our first one, we teamed up with Manny Megz, that’s a local producer, and he does so much for the community. He’s so great. And then also the Takeover Lounge, and they do the Takeover Lounge podcast, and they do a lot of artists’ interviews. Mainly in the hip hop world but they do all kinds of different musicians. And so, so we teamed up with them, and that went really well.

It was I haven’t been to a networking event in a long time. So it was cool to see people having conversations I kept hearing “oh, I’ve been looking for someone that does this!” the whole night. It’s cool, especially in music. It’s not just the making the music like there were graphic designers here and artists talking like, “Hey, looking for an album cover?” And this man and all that, like logos and all that goes into it. It was a cool opportunity to see people meeting each other.

GayTucson: I’m really looking forward to it. I’m sorry I had to miss it, but I figured it was music. So not necessarily.

Cynthia: There will be many, many more, I’m sure. We’re going to do one for comics, and illustrators and all that.

GayTucson: So tell me about your products and services.

Cynthia: Yea let’s do a quick little tour, I’ll show you what we got here. So this section here within the walls is our retail area. It’s mostly stuff from local artists and a little bit non-local. We have prints, stickers, comic books, we have a LOT of stickers.

GayTucson: I love stickers.

Cynthia: People love stickers! And we have earings, oddball stuff. On this [north] wall we have originals and exclusive prints. And on this [south] wall we have prints that people bring in that we’re selling. We do designer toys as well. They’re over there, and a couple here. These two I did!

GayTucson: These are 10 Times Tiger originals. Yeah, you did a great job on those paints.

Cynthia: And everything here we printed at & Gallery.

GayTucson: So that’s here in the back?

Cynthia: Yea, so we either photographed and printed them here or got the digital file and printed them here. These two we photographed and printed.

GayTucson: That’s a great capture, it truly is.

Cynthia: Yeah, I’m so happy with how it turned out.

GayTucson: One sec, I want to take one more look at these custom toys.

Cynthia: Those are like toys that either employees painted themselves or from our own personal collection that we’re selling.

GayTucson: That’s amazing. Love it. All right. Take me to the back.

Cynthia: This is our gallery and showroom space (walking to the back of the gallery.) All of those skate decks we printed here as well.

GayTucson: Oh, wow, You are full-service except for stickers. You don’t do stickers?

Cynthia: I know, eventually! And then in the back here is our office area where we have our giant take-out box storage room.

GayTucson: I think it’s hilarious.

Cynthia: And there’s people working here.

GayTucson: Oops, lot’s of people working here.

Cynthia: There’s Shawn, Johnathan, and Kayla. And here’s our little green room.

GayTucson: Nice lounge! Awesome. Thank you for giving me a behind-the-scenes. What is your, if you had to pick a favorite piece in the & Gallery, collections? What are you? What are you picking?

Cynthia: Well, you just saw me struggle trying to decide. Probably this one by Nolan Patterson. He goes by Basic Art. He actually did the Black Lives Matter mural over by Toole.

GayTucson: Yeah, that’s the art warehouse I work out of. I arranged that!

Cynthia: Yeah yeah, he did that one! He also did this one, and we have his skate deck up there too. Those three are all him as well (pointing.) If I were to pick a piece to show what kind of gallery we are, it would be the smile piece. It’s just such a cool piece. And he’s like an artist that we keep that came in. He was very shy, kind of like “I do art,” (softly spoken). And then we saw his art like, oh my God! And so we worked with him a lot. We did prints of this piece. We have the original. We have a bunch of his originals here.

We plan on having a solo show with him next year. So it’s like, We just want to make sure we keep taking him to the next level.

GayTucson: That’s great. Yeah, Yeah,  I love the Black Lives Matter piece he put on Tool Shed. Yeah, we paid him for that. He was going to do it for free, and I was like, no, no, no,  take some money.

Cynthia: Yeah take some money. Also, like the way he works is really cool. He just calls it like jazz, where he kind of starts off with one little piece, and then keeps adding on, adding on, adding on, and lets it become a whole thing. Yeah, I’m an artist that does not work that way. So in like, so cool to see that. I need to have everything planned out. And that’s part of me. My process. (laughter)

GayTucson: We all have our processes. (laughter)

Cynthia: Yeah, I am just SO fascinated by it.

GayTucson: Agreed. He’s spectacular, I love his color.

Cynthia: Yeah Yeah his color is very cool.

GayTucson: All right. So the last question, I think, is, what are your favorite things to see and or do in Tucson? Why do you love Tucson?

Cynthia: Oh my God, well I’m from Tucson. My whole family’s here. My friends are here. So I love that there’s culture and Community. It’s, Tucson’s like a little big city where it’s like everybody knows each other. There’s a connection there. So it’s cool saying, like how everybody comes together and helps each other out and supports things. And my favorite things to do in Tucson… I love going to events and art-related things. And I think of what else I like to do in Tucson eat, because it’s really good food here, and it keeps getting better

GayTucson: Straight up. All right. So if anyone wants to get a hold of you or anyone here at & Gallery what’s the best way? How did they find you?

Cynthia: They could either find us on social media under And Gallery Tucson, All spelled out, or my email that, all spelled out.

GayTucson: That’s awesome, Alright. And for any future artists that want to be featured here, like, what are your tips or tricks for them?

CynthiaGayTucson: So, it looks… I highly recommend like, when people come in and look at the gallery, and want to have their art in here, is to actually like look around and make sure.

GayTucson: Make sure it fits.

Cynthia: Yeah, make sure it fits. Because I do a lot of artists come in and they’re excited, They’re like, “oh, a gallery. I want to show my art in here,” I’m like, here, take a look around and see if your art fits and do it. Like, if you do, let’s say more like landscape paintings or things like that. It won’t really fit with us, or portraits or things like that. But yeah, that’s I’d say that’s the first step. And then second is to email me, and what you would want to do at the gallery. And with your art, is there some people that are like, I just like making art. I don’t really care for making money out of it, and that’s totally fine. But It’s like we’re still a business. We’re here to help our artists make money. And we also have to make money to make sure we pay our employees, keep the doors open and keep doing what we’re doing and able to give Tucson these types of events.

So just support the gallery in any way. If you can like, we take donations, you could buy art because you’re also supporting artists. Everything in here is commission-based. So when you buy something, it goes to the artist that’s from. So yeah, just be very clear with what you want to do with your art. And what you want to do with & Gallery. That just helps a lot for me to direct what to do with whether the group shows recommendations or whatever it may be.

GayTucson: That’s fantastic. Well, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to talk to us over here at GayTucson. Thank you. We love you. We appreciate you. Thank you so much.