Stay founders Gabriel Enamorado and Valentin Flores met in 2009, sharing a mutual hunger to impact the community through the arts. Before crossing paths, both had hosted their own ‘pop-up’ art show two years prior in what is now considered Downtown Downey. Their meeting soon led to ‘AMBIVALENCE’, a joint exhibit featuring each of their life’s work as photographer. The exhibit took place on February 4th, 2010 at the Downey Civic Theatre and featured over 200 photographs. Their mutual passion for photography, paired with the desire to share their creativity, proved to be a successful combination; over 800 people were in attendance.
Not losing momentum, they sought help from family and friends, and continued to host art exhibits throughout Downey. Their grass-roots efforts soon ran from the platform ‘Downey Art Vibe’, a non-profit organization that supports and encourages local artists. Their small, yet mighty, organization quickly gained a following within the community. In early 2012, Downey Art Vibe and the City of Downey began to discuss the idea of a permanent gallery space within the emerging downtown. In June of 2012, the Downey City Council voted unanimously to fund two years of rent for the organization.
building a foundation
Driven to provide a creative space for their community, Downey Art Vibe knew they had a lot of work ahead of them. Fortunately, their vision of providing such a space was shared amongst many. Family, friends, volunteers, and businesses donated their time, services, and efforts to build Stay Gallery from the ground up.
Stay Gallery celebrated its grand opening on October 11th, 2012 with an opening reception featuring the work of 12 local artists. In a span of two nights, over 1,200 people visited Stay Gallery.
creating a home
Soon after the grand opening, the main focus became to design a multi-use space that would transform Stay Gallery into the city’s creative hub. Local businesses, organizations, and designers came together to create a ‘gem’ for the heart of Downtown Downey. Stay Gallery raised over $150,000 worth of services, labor, and materials for the build-out. It was an unprecedented community effort for the arts that had not been seen before.
Meanwhile, the Stay Gallery team developed and tested events, workshops, and programs that were implemented into the core of what the organization stands for today. It wasn't long before people realized that Stay was more than just a gallery.