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Here’s the unsung history of art and design along one of the Valley’s most interesting streets: Scott Jarson posts the full story...
If you’ve never heard of the Ellis family, it’s time to bone up on local Arizona history. George L. Ellis came to Arizona in 1930’s and began a career as an architect and builder. He purchased some property near the Arizona Canal and, using boards salvaged from an abandoned water pipeline, built a small redwood cottage at 105 N. Cattle Track. Together with his wife Rachael, they grew that property into a haven for art and artists called Cattle Track Arts Compound, building a creative oasis that defined the entire area.
The “Cattletrack” area as it’s known today has been the address of choice for artists and designers that reads like a hall of fame: The Ellis Family, Phillip C. Curtis Artist, Dee Flag Artist /Sculptor, Bennie Gonzales architect, Fritz Scholder Artist, Vernon Swaback Architect and Nancy Kitchell, Designer, to name just a few; many nurtured and encouraged by the Ellis Family.
Adjacent to the Ellis property is the Stable Galleria which started as an arts destination and gallery long before it’s annexation into what was the Town of Scottsdale. The historic Adobe home on this site was built by Ellis for Beryl Simpson, then head of Tempe College’s Dramatic Arts School, now ASU. Artist Avis Reed acquired the property where it began it’s significant life as a destination Gallery and Artist compound. Today, its collection of unique mixed-used office suites are the “go-to” addresses for highly creative businesses. The Stable Galleria is a recognized Scottsdale Historic Site.
In addition to the rich artistic history, this area has served as a trail head for a variety of uses, not least the annual cattle and sheep “round up” that brought animals to Old Town Scottsdale. The proximity to the Arizona Canal was an important factor and the location is along the historic Pony Express “Hashknife Gang” annual route. A select group of Adobe and Modern homes share the location along with classic Arizona ranch-house neighbors.
Today, George and Rachael’s daughter Janie carries forward the arts tradition, residing on the Cattle Track Arts property and staying deeply involved in the local arts scene. A number of original Ellis buildings remain on the site, three of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, plus the area is registered as a Scottsdale Historic Property.
Currently working inside the compound are architects, printmakers working from old-fashioned letterpresses, a blacksmith, jeweler, a ceramist artist and others. The property is available for events, tours and visitation by appointment.
Driving down Cattletrack you can easily set back the clock and imagine the creative energy that drew such a unique collection of cowboys, artists and craftsman together in the first place. You’ll get a sense of what defined the artistic nature of Scottsdale, a creative legacy that endures. You just might want to stay.
Cattle Track Arts Compound | 6105 North Cattle Track Road, Scottsdale, AZ | 85250
To visit Cattle Track Art Compound or for more information, click here or email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve viewings for private parties.
Stable Galleria 7610 E. McDonald Drive Scottsdale, AZ 85250
For information on purchasing the Stable Galleria please contact Scott Jarson at 480-425-9300.