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Where all the lights are bright

By annie holub
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 29, 1999
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Kristy Mangos
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Interested artists and music fans hang out at the Ozomatli After Party Tuesday night at the Redlight District located at 29 S. Fifth Avenue.

The sunlight poured into Kate Ramlow's downtown gallery Saturday, and the wind was blowing some photographs by Brica Wilcox perpendicular to the wall. Ramlow was browsing a catalogue of photographs that an elderly man had brought in, and was discussing the differences between several different poses of Audrey Hepburn. An assortment of black TV-esque boxes with color photographs in them that were stacked on a table in the back glowed in the light. One of the sculptures on display that was hanging from the ceiling was swaying a bit in the breeze.

It's a typical day at the Redlight District.

Ramlow, a senior sculpture major, was inspired to start her own gallery a couple of years ago when she took the gallery management class that the art department offers. "I just always thought that that would be something I'd be interested in," said Ramlow. But, she added, "I kinda did it on a whim."

Ramlow's friends own the record store at the corner of 5th Avenue and Congress, and one day, she was walking down 5th Avenue and saw a "For Rent" sign in the window of 29. She had been recently kicked out of her downtown loft, so she decided to finally try out that gallery idea. The first opening was about a month and a half ago, Ramlow said.

The name "Redlight District" came from a theme Ramlow and her friend had had at their old loft. It's a kind of large performance project that started out as a party Ramlow had had, where the girls all dressed up like thirties fashion models, and did a show for the guys.

Ramlow described as a "Burlesque kind of theme." The main function of the gallery, in addition to providing a place for her and her friends to exhibit their work, is to serve as a backdrop and center for her project. They've done photo shoots and had performances in the space. Ramlow described it as a "Call-girl/client kind of thing." At the first performance, Flam Chen, Tucson's own fire-breathing acrobats, dressed up in suits and flapper-esque costumes and swung their fireballs around their top hats and feathers. During the TAMMIES Club Crawl a couple of weeks ago, Ramlow had some dancers perform in between curtains that she has behind the windows right after the last band left the stage at about 12:45 a.m.

"We actually had people coming in off the streets that were downtown anyway," Ramlow said.

The end product of that project will be a show of photographs and a composite video of all the performances that have taken place. Ramlow also will have a dinner table set up, where the girls will be giving a fashion show while the guys eat dinner - something that echoes an old poster Ramlow has up on the back wall, which shows a group of men eating at a long table while a scantily clad woman poses while standing on the table. Printed at the bottom are the words: "Forbidden Desires."

"It gets a little crazy sometimes," Ramlow admitted.

But that's not all that the Redlight District has behind its curtains. Currently on the walls at the Redlight District are photographs by Brica Wilcox, Greg Smith and sculptures by Beth Guinter. Wilcox and Smith are currently students at the UofA, and Guinter is a graduate. The next show Ramlow has planned is a graffiti show, where she plans to have lots of panels showcasing graffiti art, as well as a hip hop DJ.

Tuesday night, the Redlight district hosted the pre-party for Ozomatli, who played at Club Congress. This Saturday night, Ramlow plans to repeat the performance they did the night of the Club Crawl so she can get it on tape. Twine will also be playing inside the gallery.

Right now, the gallery is only open when Ramlow is there, which doesn't follow any fixed schedule. She's trying to get five more people involved in the gallery, so that she'll be able to have set hours. "I'm assuming when I get the other five people in here, the place will just pick up," Ramlow said.

She plans to have the gallery open at night, and for now, at least, "keep the curtains open so people can peek in the windows."

"So far, it's just been my friends," Ramlow said of the art on the walls, "but if anyone is interested in showing me slides or anything, I'd be happy to look at them."

"I only have so many friends," she continued. "Once they all have shows I'm gonna be stuck."