By Pat Sherman
Photos by Brevin Blach (unless otherwise noted)
Canvassing the region’s galleries, museums and art spaces-from Ray Street in North Park to Cedros Avenue in Solana Beach-it’s apparent that San Diego’s creative class has more to offer than spoutingwhale watercolors and sunset snapshots (though they make awesome out of the everyday, too).
PacificSD profiles four artistic hubs as further evidence that San Diegans have their imaginations on the pulse.
Alexander Salazar Fine Art 640 Broadway, Downtown alexandersalazarfineart.com
As Alexander Salazar celebrates the one year anniversary (April 2) of his gallery on Broadway, the fine art dealer continues to take bold and successful chances on emerging local artists. Alexander Salazar Fine Art has featured everyone from Andrew Myers, who creates intricate portraits with metal screws, to Tenold Peterson, whose medium of choice includes wood and sheep skulls.
“I like to see how creative people can be (when they’re) using weird things,” says Salazar, who holds a master’s degree in art history from Harvard University. “Everybody wants to enjoy the next big thing, and figuring that out is never going to be easy. If you represent a stable of artists that are new and emerging and not already filtered, then you have a better chance of uncovering or discovering somebody.”
Salazar says he saw a definite lack of support for San Diego artists, and sought to fill the void with his gallery.
“People tend to want to collect from artists that are in New York, Paris and London, without looking at what’s here,” he says. “I’ve even heard stories of people going to New York to buy from an artist that’s local.”
As part of his effort to support emerging local artists, Salazar offers a free artist-inresidency program.
“Every month, it’s a different artist from San Diego that doesn’t have gallery representation or doesn’t have an art studio,” he says. “I have a small space next to the
gallery where I basically give them the key and say, ‘Here, go paint.’ “It’s a very challenging for them, because I pressure them into manning up or actually creating. It is just amazing what they’re able to do when they actually have somebody supporting them like that.”
Known in part for having helped launch North Park’s popular monthly art event, Ray at Night, Gustaf Rooth moved his studio from North Park to Bankers Hill last year. Now on Fifth Avenue, he continues to bring San Diego’s arts community together with events that arouse the visual and aural senses.
At his new, craftsman-style home studio, the Swedish-born carpenter, painter, sculptor, musician and poet has been focused on building eco-conscious furniture with reclaimed bourbon barrels from Port Brewing Company in San Marcos and used wine barrels from Thornton Winery in Temecula.
“When I discovered the properties of the wine barrels, which can be made into beautiful, aesthetically pleasing furniture, I just went for it,” Rooth says. “In this day and age, where things are expensive and our resources are being depleted at a rapid rate, nothing could be more perfect than using these barrels that have so much wood.”
Rooth lives on the top floor of his new home, which was built in 1898. The bottom floor houses his workspace, a gallery, a boutique and a framing business.
“Our motto is to preserve our planet and provide a venue where artists can come together to create, learn, aspire and exchange ideas for the up-cycling of reclaimed materials,” he says.
Quint Contemporary Art 7547 Girard Avenue, La Jolla quintgallery.com
In 1981, Quint Contemporary Art owner Mark Quint started an artist-in-residence program that drew artists from around the world. The program led to the creation of inSite, a collaborative project between San Diego and Tijuana artists. Gallery director Ben Strauss-Malcolm says he is excited to work with groundbreaking local artists such as San Diego’s Kelsey Brookes, a surfer and former biologist who once helped track the West Nile Virus for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On May 14, Quint will reopen in larger digs off Girard Avenue in La Jolla, next to the iconic Harry’s Coffee Shop.
“The gallery is now doubling in size, so we’ve got a lot more exposure,” Strauss-Malcolm says. “Something like 30,000 cars pass by on Girard Avenue every day.”
The first exhibit in Quint’s new space is titled “Behind What It’s In Front Of,” featuring sculptures and videos by former San Diegan Roy McMakin, inspired by the paintings of celebrated minimalist John McLaughlin (1898-1976).
Lux Art Institute 1550 South El Camino Real, Encinitas luxartinstitute .org
Part gallery, part museum, Encinitas’ Lux Art Institute is nearly as much a work of art as the pieces showcased inside of it. In addition to receiving awards for architectural design, the building also earned LEED certification for environmental efficiency.
For its artist-in-residence program, Lux typically recruits established artists from outside San Diego.
“The mission of Lux is to make the creative process accessible and personally meaningful,” says gallery spokesperson, Grace Madamba. “There are artists who the San Diego community might not otherwise have access to or be able to engage with.”
Most recently, Lux invited Los Angeles artist Alison Saar to create a life-size, copper-gilded figure out of wood. Upcoming residencies include South African sculptor Claudette Schreuders, whose painted timber figures reflect her youth as a woman under apartheid rule.