If change is good for the soul, then the three spirits gallery in Sand City should have achieved nirvana by now. It appears that the earthly trinity has split, and each fragment is struggling to manifest itself as a distinct entity: three spirits, the art gallery; three spirits, the nonprofit art center; and three spirits, the music festival.

"Things are evolving and growing," says Brad Mallory, three spirits co-founder. "We started out as an art gallery dabbling in music, now we are a music center that dabbles in art."

Once a progressive beacon in the Monterey Peninsula art scene, three spirits was created with the goal of exhibiting local artists needy of recognition. The gallery showed the works of up-and-coming artists and held concerts featuring local musicians. And, last year, with co-founders Brad and Susan Mallory leading the way, three spirits produced the first annual Monterey Rock and Art Festival, showcasing a multitude of Monterey-area bands.

That was then. Today, three spirits has detoured from its original purpose. The three spirits arts center--a nonprofit entity--is focusing entirely on arts education. Brad Mallory is himself pursuing production of this year''s Rock and Art Festival under the name "Uncle Jam Presents," and the three spirits gallery is apparently dormant--at least for now. Mallory and Susan, his partner and wife, are estranged, and she is pursuing a musical career in the San Francisco Bay Area. Susan Platz, the third founder of three spirits, has distanced herself from organization and is focusing her time on other interests.

Reasons for these changes are many and varied, but sources say that as Mallory began focusing his efforts on concert promoting, including a West Coast tour of 12 local bands, he turned his attention away from the gallery and the visual arts.

"It just lost everything. It wasn''t professional," says a source, who asked for anonymity. "People were living there [in the gallery] instead of it being a place of business."

"We''ve let three spirits develop naturally, the music has become our strength," says Susan Mallory, who still retains a seat on the art center board. "I think, yes, the art has taken a back seat, but what has anyone [other three spirits board members] done to change that?"

Sometime last year, sources say, the gallery disintegrated into its present state, an apparent crash pad for Mallory and a handful of musicians. Sources say the space contains little more than a few couches and mattresses spread on the floor for the several occupants that may sleep there in a given night. Susan Mallory confirms that there is not a current art exhibit and says that the space is mainly rented to bands as rehearsal space, but she would neither confirm nor deny use of the gallery as a living space.

Then, last month, in a mutual agreement, the nonprofit three spirits art center dissolved its official ties with the Monterey Rock and Art Festival, scheduled for a repeat performance this year on June 20 at the Monterey Fairgrounds.

A proposal presented by both Mallorys at the May 5 art center board meeting states that the festival would be produced by "Brad Mallory dba Uncle Jam Productions," that "any debts incurred in 1998 will be the sole responsibility of Brad Mallory and Uncle Jam Productions" and that "any money transactions regarding the 1998 Festival will be outside the three spirits art center accounts."

"We came up with an agreement that... Brad is the director of the festival, and that the festival is a separate entity from the nonprofit organization," says Susan Mallory, "and that he would work with the [nonprofit organization] treasurer to pay off the debts from last year." If this year''s festival ends up in the black, half the profits will go to the art center.

The festival "just didn''t work out to happen under the auspices of the nonprofit organization this year," says Samantha Cabaluna, a three spirits art center board member. "In our present state, that can''t be our main focus."

Cabaluna suggests concerns over Brad Mallory''s organizational skills and financial responsibilities may have contributed to the board''s decision to let Brad Mallory handle the Rock and Art Festival on his own. At the art center''s April board meeting, she says Mallory failed to present a solid plan for an event occurring in less than three months.

Although sources say it was Susan Mallory who was the organizational force behind last year''s festival, she brushes off doubts about Brad. "There is this huge lack of faith in Brad," says Susan Mallory, "which I don''t share."

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The board may also have been concerned over debts incurred by last year''s festival. As promoters of last year''s festival, the three spirits art center is still holding the bag on an outstanding bill of $4,750 to A&B Security, says co-owner Margie Gilchrist, which provided services for the festival last year. Festival organizers, she says, issued A&B a $500 check last June, but that''s the last three spirits'' money she''s seen. "They apparently paid everyone else, but when it came to us, there was no money left," says Gilchrist. "We''ve been over to the art gallery and they even tried to give us pictures to pay the debt, but my husband said ''no.''"

And it got uglier. When A&B threatened to take the festival to small claims court, Gilchrist says that Susan Mallory told her that, if taken to court, Gilchrist would never see her money. Mallory says her intent was not to threaten Gilchrist, but to explain that court action would hamper efforts to pay the debt.

Board members also say that they didn''t want to be part of the festival because of what they viewed as a late start on organizing the event. "I would like to have seen us, if we were going to do the festival, to have started on it in the fall," says Cabaluna. "The reluctance on the part of the board members was that we were not comfortable. We didn''t feel like there was enough time to work on it." Adds Cabaluna, "Brad feels comfortable flying by the seat of his pants. I don''t."

But Susan Mallory says board members themselves were responsible for the delay in festival planning. She says festival organizers were waiting for a sign from the board, which had already dumped the original dates in early May, and seemed to be sitting on the fence regarding the festival, leaving Brad no choice but to proceed on his own.

"By the May 4 board meeting, Brad wanted to move ahead with the festival," she says. "Time went by, the board was vacillating back and forth. There was no leadership."

The nonprofit art center is currently going ahead with plans for a full summer of activities. "We''re trying to re-focus on art education with classes happening over the summer," says Cabaluna, "including art classes for kids and a theater summer camp."

Meanwhile, Brad Mallory is marching forward with this month''s Rock and Art Festival. He admits the going will be tough but is optimistic that the community will come together to make it happen. "Many of the expenses will be out of my pocket," admits Mallory. "My sponsors are willing to work with me on my reputation as a promoter." So far, Mallory''s press release lists only one sponsor--KRQC as the festival''s official sponsor. "They have worked with me in the past, and they know what we''re doing really is community-related. We are just doing this because we think it needs to be done, and because music and art are important to our culture."

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