Avant-garde shops fight back the crisis with creativity

photo: Interior of Redhouse Art & Food / ANA GONZÁLEZ (Horquilla Perdida)

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REDHOUSE ART AND FOOD is a local Sevillian hotspot buzzing with attention as it reaches its first anniversary. Neighboring the notoriously alternative/hipster area, the Alameda de Hércules, the café, located at 7 Amor de Dios Street and open Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00am until midnight, hosts a diverse crowd of culture lovers.

AS SOON AS YOU WALK IN you’ll notice the eclectic mix of curated pieces of art on the walls and across the counters, the vintage furniture and restored housewares, the lamps and even a full bathtub. Every item holds a price, because, yes, you can buy them. Every, single one. Redhouse Art and Food also happens to be an art gallery that exhibits the works of local artists, some of whom may even be currently employed with them, including the work of co-owner Cristina Galeote.

REDHOUSE was established last year by Álvaro Díaz Fernández, 29, and Cristina Galeote Granados, 37, two artists who already owned a gallery in the area, No-Lugar The Art Company. Located on 16 Trajano Street, the gallery is open from 6-9 p.m., Monday through Friday and 3-9 p.m. on Saturdays and is a few weeks away from celebrating its 2nd year in business. Álvaro describes No-Lugar as a sort of orphanage for artists looking to give their work a home. He was inspired by his travels around the world to big contemporary cities such as London, Berlin, and Madrid where counterculture hangout spots were already thriving. He and Christina hoped to bring that vibrant social scene to the edgy, alternative crowd in Seville, and the Alameda de Hércules was the most appropriate hood to test out their vision.

NO-LUGAR THE ART COMPANY has a mission statement that illustrates its intent to show the artistic advancement from a “global and multidisciplinary non conventional approach”. It describes itself as a new conceptual space, an art company that seeks to “bring itself closer to society.” They intend to “bring a pure, non-contaminated art that finds the energy of desire that goes against modern melancholy feelings of what they call reality.” Cristina Galeote describes herself as attempting to find “a critical conscience, not one that is numb with realities” in her work.

NO-LUGAR AND REDHOUSE are both a cause and effect of the new generation of designers and young adults that are torn between the past and present evolution of technology and the economy. In times of economic crisis it is interesting how youth are nostalgic for a more artisan way of life that is reflective of a more trade and barter system, such as trends like purchasing locally grown, non-commercial products. Finding vintage, second hand non-digital electronics is also making a come back at contemporary stores and galleries, such as No Lugar and Redhouse.

THESE STORES contain anything from locally designed graphic shirts from Origami and Trujano, independently owned street wear brands, to unique and limited pieces of art on the wall that are exhibited and go on rotation much like at Redhouse. They sell vintage furniture, knick- knacks, shoes, housewares, skirts, dresses, and Laura Marcano’s Favorite, a button down unisex shirt with an interchangeable pocket option (with a variety of colors and patterns to choose from). “it’s a really cool store with something different to offer to the Alameda, along with Redhouse you can always find something inter- esting to look at” (¿quién lo dice, Cristina?).

REDHOUSE AND NO-LUGAR both embody the cultured free spirit of their creators. Álvaro and Cristina have traveled and lived in various parts of Europe. Cristina has even traveled and exhibited her artwork in parts of the United States including New York City.

áLVARO ASSERTS that Seville has a prominent counterculture, art, music, graffiti and skateboarding scene. He thinks that it will only be a matter of time until more contemporary shops like his will reach the center of Seville. “This type of establishment is not my idea, but I had traveled to big cities like London and Berlin. I wanted to take those spaces I had enjoyed during my travels and enjoy them wherever I lived. I’m from Huelva and Cristina from Malaga but it just so happened we had spent a lot of time in Seville and we ended up finding a home in the Alameda,” he says to explain the trend of bringing a global culture to his community through personal travel.

A COSTUMER, Shelley Gutiérrez, feels at home here. “I think it’s nice that people can have a vision and bring it to life. It’s nice that he created a space for people to come and feel comfortable. He has a place where even foreigners feel comfortable. It’s a very open space,” she says.

ANOTHER CLIENT, Lilly Hedges, agrees. “The space has a very welcoming environment. As a student who’s studying abroad, I feel that I can come to events that are meant for locals and not think twice about it. There are few places that can make you feel like that,” she says. Lilly has attended a couple of art exhibits including Más Madera last month, which exhibited the work of artists on customized skateboard decks that can still be found on display above the counter in Redhouse.

THE ALAMEDA has seen a resurgence of new businesses like contemporary art gallery-cafés and second hand stores, which are developing a different economy based, among other aspects, in sustainable, local, non-branded products, with a a Do It Yourself mentality. These activities, promoted in many cases by a youth entrepreneurship as a creative collective response to the closure of old shops during the recession, are giving a new face to Seville. They are a space for the youth that, much like the art in No-Lugar, might feel like a shelter where they can express themselves.

áLVARO HAS A DEGREE IN FILM AND CREATIVE ARTS, but like many youth enduring the economic crisis in Spain, he felt like he had to get creative with his resources to adapt to the limited employment options. As if to say, “If you don’t get a job in what you study, you better get creative with what you got.”

BY COMING TOGETHER and creating collective spaces where creative individuals can share and support one another’s work, people like Álvaro can build something from the ground up. He takes pride in saying that just like the Cubans, they do everything themselves, from the fixtures on the wall and bathroom repairs, to building counters and refurbishing household items and furniture. He loves objects with histories and character that tell stories and have more to offer than the mainstream generic products you can buy at big stores like Corte Inglés, just 200 meters away.