Even as Gamma Ray Games and Raygun Lounge get used to sharing the same space at 501 E Pine, a third party is soon to join them later this month to make it all the more cozy: the pop culture-inspired Ltd Art Gallery.
Ltd, a self proclaimed “premiere art gallery destination for contemporary and pop art,” has begun its move from 307 E Pike just a few blocks away. Melissa Monosmith, co-owner with her husband James Monosmith, said that the the relocation should be complete by October 15th, just in time for the first scheduled opening show at the Raygun Lounge on the 18th, which will feature work from two local Seattle artists Aaron Jasinski and Augie Pagan themed “gods and monsters”.
“We’re all going to be together… like a nerd central!” said Melissa. “We’re excited about it!”
Meanwhile, neighbor Black Coffee is poised to enter its final month at its 501 E. Pine location before its announced closure date of October 31st. CHS spoke with Black Coffee worker-owners in August about the upcoming move, with co-op member Scott Davis saying the surge of new development on the Hill made it “financially and emotionally untenable to remain there.” The Hill’s local hub of radical politics struggled with similar zoning issues in addition to neighborhood complaints.
Upon a more recent CHS inquiry regarding the upcoming move-out, Black Coffee declined to comment.
Back at the coming soon “nerd central,” Melissa and James have been friends with Gamma Ray Games owner Eric Logan ever since they first opened up shop on the Hill in 2011, bonding over a shared passion for pop art and pop culture.
“We [Gamma Ray Games] were feeling a bit lonely,” said Logan. Gamma Ray Games had been doing its own monthly art shows and participated in the Capitol Hill art walk, filling a “pop & contemporary” niche that, according to Logan, was lacking in the Hill’s art scene. Upon meeting James and learning of Ltd, Logan was thrilled to have another pop culture oriented business in the neighborhood.
After Ltd moved in, the Monosmiths soon got acquainted with Logan and began tossing around ideas about how to organize and coordinate events at the two similar establishments.
“We had been talking off and on for the whole two years about what we could do to move next to each other,” said Logan.
Once the end of Ltd’s lease at 307 E. Pike began approaching, Melissa and James briefly considered the possibility of moving into Gamma Ray Games’ old location just down the road at 411 E. Pine, before the idea was broached of joining in at the Ray Gun Lounge and co-signing on the lease.
“During the week there are people there [at the Ray Gun Lounge] all the time,” said Melissa. “It will be better for us and better for them because we will bring in a different crowd that they haven’t had,” she added, noting Ltd’s art gallery-going types while the Lounge brings in the current “game crowd.”
Despite the prospect of technically having three different businesses in one room, the Monosmiths and Logan are optimistic that the consolidated space and capacity won’t be an issue.
“We’ll have smaller floor space, but we’ll have the same amount of wall space,” said Melissa.
James Monosmith said any potential growth in the future would coincide with their new roommates at 501 E. Pine. “I see us growing the gallery right along with Gamma Ray Games and the Ray Gun Lounge,” he said, outlining the goal of the relocation as “to create one of the most unique and fun places to come and geek out.”
Logan acknowledged that the move-in won’t be without its challenges. “The downside obviously is fitting everything in and doing it responsibly, making sure the audiences of the gallery, the audiences of the lounge, and the audiences of the retail space are all as comfortable as they have been,” he said.
But he’s excited and optimistic none the less. “I love their styles, I love what they do,” said. “It’s an opportunity for us to be closer together because we have so much in common.”
Ltd’s transplant comes shortly after the Lounge absorbed the game shop a few months back in July of this year as a way of addressing issues with the Department of Planning and Development regarding zoning permits. CHS reported on the zoning and in-house issues earlier this year.
According to Logan, it was much easier to work with the city to re-license his space as ‘retail’ rather than ‘restaurant’, which would have required expensive contractor work. Moving Gamma Ray Games into the Lounge helped this process, in addition to other changes such as making the venue all ages.
The joint venture with Ltd coincides with the switchover to retail in both business operations and physical layout. “We had to reduce table space anyways,” said Logan.
For more information on and current updates check out the LTD website.