Artists sitting on the "Art Speaks" panel
  • Artists sitting on the "Art Speaks" panel
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The first goal of the new “Art Speaks” salon series at Thumbprint Gallery 2, at the back of Hillcrest’s Bamboo Lounge, is to “provide a platform for artists to engage in dialogue with their community and with each other.” That sounds simple, but it hearkens to the cri de coeur of so many artists interviewed by the Reader and elsewhere: the arts community in San Diego struggles to come together from a disparate group of artists in isolation to a bona fide scene.

The first “Art Speaks” event, on December 27, plucked seven artists from the “Power Animals” exhibit at the gallery. Over the course of two hours, the collected artists introduced themselves, explained their art, and answered questions from the audience and moderator Malesha Taylor.

Viewers and artists mingle at the first "Art Speaks"

Viewers and artists mingle at the first "Art Speaks"

Taylor, who works with the museSalon Collaborative, described “Art Speaks” (and museSalon by extension) as “a social enterprise.”

She says, “The goal of our organization is to bring social good to anyone and everyone. In essence, what I’m doing is providing a platform for other artists to make a collective social good; bringing our voices together through dialogue, and hopefully into potential collaboration.”

There’s little doubt that the “Art Speaks” talks, which will run once a month at TPG2, intend to address the aforementioned dearth of intradisciplinary communication that makes too many artists feel disconnected from their fellows.

Kim Niehans, for whom “Power Animals” was a first experience showing at Thumbprint, said the first “Art Speaks” was “great.”

“The fact that they’re getting people together to talk, I think that’s the most important thing that we need to do,” she continued.

Aside from Niehans, the septet of artists included painters, Eric Wixon, Hill Young, and the LA-based Mr. Benja; contemporary artist Victor Villa; mixed media artist and folk healer, Gaia Child; and IT pro cum travel photographer Laine Guerrero. A sense of camaraderie settled over everyone — artists and audience alike — because the event felt so collegial. A veil of inaccessibility can shroud even the most streetwise art, and allowing the artists a chance to socialize with art fans and potential buyers helped pull that veil aside.

Future “Art Speaks” salons will run in tandem with TPG2’s upcoming exhibitions. The next salon is January 30, 2014, and will be free for all comers.

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