The Proletariat Gallery and Public House
is a collaborative exhibition and community space dedicated to enhancing the arts in Galveston, Texas
Pro-le-'tar-i-at (n): working class, common people
In the years after 2008’s Hurricane Ike flooded the neighborhood in eight feet of water, the first floor corner of the National Hotel Artist Lofts (NHAL) sat vacant while Galveston worked to rebuild its community. Realizing the potential of the tall ceilings, panoramic street-scape, and a need for reinvention, members of the NHAL community began piecing together ‘pop-up’ art exhibitions here during the neighborhood’s reoccurring ArtWalk events. In a truly grassroots, volunteer effort these events quickly grew from a modest showing of resident artists’ work to a destination for innovative local talent.
BEFORE AND AFTER CONSTRUCTION - 2015
The Proletariat Gallery, established in 2015, is an extension of that initial aspiration. Owned, designed, managed, and curated by a team of NHAL residents, the venue is a collaborative exhibition and learning space featuring an array of performing and visual arts, from traditional to experimental. The public house setting serves as a backdrop, allowing a casual, yet engaging, atmosphere for the artwork to co-exist with the community.
2221 Market Street was the location of Texas’ first opera house. Built on the site of a newspaper office after a devastating downtown fire in 1869, the Tremont Opera House helped to elevate the city’s post-Civil War cultural life. In 1896 noted Architect C.W. Bulger renovated the structure into a four-story building, then added a fifth story in 1899, while retaining its cast iron façade and ornate columns. As the city’s first modern office building, it housed the E.S. Levy clothing store on the ground floor and professional offices above. The U.S. Weather Bureau’s Texas office, headed by Isaac Cline, was held here during the Great Storm of 1900, the nation’s deadliest natural disaster.
In 2000, the property was known as the National Hotel Building and was renovated by ArtSpace, a non-profit organization dedicated to building community through the arts, into 28 live/work artist units. The National Hotel Artist Lofts is located in Galveston’s Cultural Arts District and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.