La Jolla is known as an upscale shopping community with lots of sales art galleries, but not that much art street cred. I had high hopes when I planned my recent trip there to see three new galleries. I was most impressed with the beautiful white Scott White space showing Ross Bleckner. On Jan 14th there will be a community "art walk" in La Jolla and Scott White Contemporary Art will unveil the gallery's second show in this new location having moved from Little Italy. Stranger Than Paradise is a retrospective of photographs by Stefanie Schneider that have been hand-picked by White himself. Although her work has been showcased in collections and museums around the world, this is Schneider's 1st solo show in San Diego. You can also still see the William Glen Crooks exhibition
Thumbprint Gallery does not have street level windows and neither it nor Alexander Salazar Fine Art were open for business on the day I visited. Neither appeared to show work different from their other gallery spaces in North Park and downtown. But both will be open in the evening on Jan 14. ASFA (6-9 pm) will show paintings by Erik Skoldberg from San Diego and sculptures by Kevin Barrett from New York. Thumbprint (5-10 pm) invented Works of Wisdom, works by an eclectic mix of artists using famous quotes as their stimulus.
I used this opportunity to drop into Quint Contemporary to see the stunning minimal back painted glass works by Thór Vigfússon. These works do not read in photographs but have such a quiet power. Also close by is RB Stevenson and I discovered the work of John Rogers, which blew me away. This local professor at San Diego State is another hidden SD treasure. The show at the end of December was sparse because many of the works were sold, but that made the space ever more open and elegant.
The Kathleen Marshall: Still in Paris gouache paintings at the Athenaeum Art and Music Library were almost photographic the technique was so perfect but it was the way that they drew you into the scene and made you believe, for the moment at least, that you could be living in one of these rooms and about to step into the sun dappled garden that is their true charm..
I visited The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego to see the Phenomenal: California Light Space and Surface. I knew the works of most of these artists and was surprised to be most taken with the completely black room by Eric Orr called Zero Mass. I entered the room with trepidation and left after a few minutes. But something prompted me to ask a guard if I had missed anything. He kindly took me back into the room and gave me the confidence to stay long enough for my eyes to become accustomed to the very low light. The room was not a deprivation experience but an experiment in light and space after all.
Do I think that La Jolla is coming back as a center for the visual arts in San Diego? No, three new gallery spaces will not make that much difference. What I do think we are seeing is the re-bounding of the international art market being reflected in these galleries’ quest for a bit of that succulent pie. I hope that Thumbprint and Salazar have not put more on their plates than they can digest as I sincerely wish that they will succeed.