Story by Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly
Altadena native Ben McGinty had a vision for this sleepy, unincorporated town when he first opened his art gallery on North Lake Avenue in 1994. McGinty wanted to see the business community come together and nurture a local self-sustaining economy.
Unfortunately, after 16 years in business and several transformations, his vision has not yet been realized, and so the 47-year-old has decided to close his popular Gallery at the End of the World after one more weekend-long event, which begins tonight and continues through Sunday evening.
“I really hoped this area would take off,” said McGinty. “But it didn’t, so we did our own thing for awhile. Unfortunately, now it’s time for me to relinquish the reins of trying to build this business community and let someone else run with it.”
He added that it’s not hopeless for the area to be that ideal community. “It will never be a Sierra Madre, but things can get better business-wise,” he said.
Los Angeles County officials have been helping by lifting bans on parking and making the area more business-friendly. But McGinty said he just can’t wait another 10 years for that possibility to materialize. It’s just not financially viable for him.
Over the past 16 years, his shop has moved back and forth between two adjacent buildings owned by separate landlords and has morphed from a vintage clothing and collectibles store to an underground coffee bar to the Underground Art Society to the Gallery at the End of the World, located at 2475 N. Lake Ave. He began hosting monthly “art bender” weekends, which became very popular events with each attracting nearly 1,000 people. Then the events were held only once every three months.
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