In November of 2007, Gabriel Enamorado and Valentin Flores each held 'pop-up' art shows in Downtown Downey, unaware of each other’s existence. They eventually crossed paths, and came together to host AMBIVALENCE, an exhibit featuring each of their life’s work as photographers. The opening reception took place on February 4th, 2010 at the Downey Civic Theatre. 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, Enamorado and Flores sought help from family and friends, and continued to host pop-up exhibits throughout Downey featuring the work of local artists and students. The organization they called 'Downey Art Vibe' gained a following from the community and its leaders, and the list of eager volunteers grew exponentially. 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 allocate funding from the Art in Public Places ordinance to fund two years of rent for the space at 11140 Downey Avenue.
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 a multi-use creative space.
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.
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 beautiful “gem” for 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 Gallery was more than just an art gallery. By providing a creative space for creative people, Stay Gallery’s mission to revitalize and engage the community through the arts was coming to fruition. This was the beginning of a bigger vision for Downtown Downey to instill a vibrant ‘sense of place’ where people can live, work, and play.