Owner Chris Bentzen told the Straight by phone that his lease for the space at 2206 Main Street is up on March 31, and with rents set to increase, he was forced to make the tough decision to close the gallery permanently.
"The rent was already too high for us to pay before, and it only ever goes up," he said with a laugh.
The gallery, which initially opened as a pop-up space in March 2012, found a permanent home at its current location at the corner of East 6th Avenue and Main Street in April 2013.
An inviting exhibition space focused on featuring "fun, weird, accessible art" in a variety of mediums, Hot Art Wet City's mandate has always been to support emerging and established local artists, while also hosting interactive events, comedy shows, talks, workshops, and more.
Asked if he planned to reopen the gallery as a pop-up or permanent storefront in the future, Bentzen said it might be a possibility, but at this time, he had no definitive plans. He said he hopes to take some time off following the gallery's closure.
Of the many events hosted over the years, Bentzen, also a graphic designer, photographer, and event organizer, said it was hard to pick stand-outs. He highligted hosting Maria Bamford during a JFL Northwest stop at the venue, as well as burlesque star Mat Fraser during the Vancouver International Burlesque Festival.
Hot Art Wet City's current show, Strong Female Character, opened today. It highlights the work of Sherri Rogers, Bronwyn Schuster, and Mandy Tsung. An opening reception for the exhibit takes place tomorrow (January 13) at 7 p.m. The show will run until January 28.
Two more exhibits will follow: Toy Babies will feature work by Andrea Hooge. It will run from February 2 to 25, with an opening reception on February 3.
Hot Art Wet City's last exhibition, Bad People: Portraits of the Punishable, will feature work by members of the Phantoms in the Front Yard arts collective. Running from March 2 to 18, an opening reception will be held on March 3.
In addition, 12 more comedy shows and workshops are planned between now and the end of March.