On Sunday night, Space 1026 cofounder, artist, and comedian Andrew Jeffrey Wright began sending out letters regarding something he hoped he'd never have to do: After nearly 21 years, the property that housed his collective and gallery space at 1026 Arch St. had been sold, and its new owners were asking the group – known for its innovative graphic design work and hosting wild exhibitions and alternative music concerts – to leave.

The forward-moving Space 1026 is not over, though. Its membership is planning to buy a building of its own and has put up a GoFundMe page to help facilitate the move from Arch Street and the purchase of a property.

"This is the only building that Space 1026 has ever occupied," Wright says of the property previously owned by Philly Realtor Al Cappelli and bought by developer Jon Wei for $3.3 million in April.

"There was never an announcement when they bought the building, and there was no real conversation [between the parties], save for me bumping into Mr. Wei in May," says 1026 member and muralist Miriam Singer. "There was a mention of the possibility of a month-to-month, but they also mentioned that they would be doing something different with the building."

Singer says that the gallery and its collective's membership is allowed to stay in the space through December "due to scheduled events we already had on the Space 1026 calendar," she says. "We are hoping to be finished moving by the end of March 2019. [Wei] is really great, and isn't making us leave right away, but our rent has increased dramatically, starting Sept. 1."

Since its founding in 1997, Space 1026 has helped change the Philadelphia art and music landscape. Though the collective did not follow a single design aesthetic, its look veered toward graphic and was often sketchily comic. The work can be seen in projects for Philadelphia's The Roots and its OkayPlayer website, for sneaker companies such as Puma and Converse, and for clients as diverse as Downtown Records and Snickers. Its cartoonish monsters can be seen on electric compacting trash cans throughout the city. It held some of the first shows in this city for like-minded artists such as Rebecca Westcott, Cory Arcangel, Ed Templeton, Shepard Fairey, Cynthia Connolly, and Jim Houser.

Drawing of Space 1026
Drawing of Space 1026

"Space 1026 helped change the Philadelphia art landscape," says Wright. "When we came to Philly, there was no space in the city like us. But, we weren't trying to change anything or be a new thing. We were just doing what we enjoyed. We have stayed true to the ethos [of] Do It Yourself With Other People. We have been around so long and have had so many artists and performers come through the Space. We have achieved longevity with a purpose."

"Here's what it achieved," says a charged-up Rose Luardo, the longtime Space 1026 member and painter. "It gave Philly artists a place to create in an unlimited, unedited, fully realized way. All forms of art could live there. Nothing was off limits. It gave artists a place to connect and grow their practice. It built family."

That family – including famed chandelier builder and photographer Adam Wallacavage, rapper/artist Jayson Musson, and musician Thom Lessner – never bothered to become an official nonprofit and instead is funded by artists and art classes that pay rent on studios, through art auctions and online sales of their work, and donations. Mostly though, it did DJ events and sweaty, packed-tight live shows with musicians such as Kim Gordon, Santigold, RJD2, Kimya Dawson, MF Doom (who recorded his Vaudeville Villain album at 1026), and comedians such as Maria Bamford.

"Daniel Johnston showing his works on paper and performing in our gallery was pretty amazing," says Wright of the lo-fi indie-rock icon. "Maria Bamford performing in our gallery. These two events blew my mind. So did [noise-rock band] Lighting Bolt. They created a wall of sound and a floor of sound and a ceiling of sound. They make great workout music."

Along with art and music, Space 1026 acted as a physical and spiritual warehouse to the indie, free-spirited likes of art and music publisher Free News Projects and the indie newspaper the Philadelphia Independent, as well as the Mummers N.Y.B. called the Vaudevillians, the troop that Space 1026's members marched in on an annual basis.

And now, they'll move because they have to, and start anew.

"I'm sure I'll follow to the next location, but it will be different for me," Luardo says.

"We are going to stay in Philly," says Wright, who does not know where in the city Space 1026 will move. "We want a building that makes sense for us to be there. Communal work area, gallery, studios, performance area, this is what we are looking for. We are looking all over the city. For me, the building is most important and then the location.  Look, I was very sad at first about having to move. Now I have come to accept it and am now happy about the future of Space 1026."