Karla Walter’s purple ceramic crow resides at the Studio Door.
3867 Fourth Avenue, San Diego
In a bid to rid themselves of the “starving artist” label, veteran San Diego artists came together to create the Studio Door, which is a business that allows them to produce their own work but also learn how to navigate the commercial side of art — a process they’ve dubbed “Art-to-Market.” For anyone serious about making a living as an artist, the Studio Door wants to help. They also create programs and events, such as February’s international “Crow Show” exhibition and April’s “50 to Watch” regional exhibition, which will take place at two locations: one in North Park, the other in Solana Beach.
1770 Village Place, San Diego
Visit one or all of the eclectic studios at the historic Spanish Village Art Center, which was built in 1935 and meant to resemble a charming Spanish town. Take in the colors, lines, and textures of Denise Strahm’s elemental photographs. Experience the enchanting silk paintings of Chinese watercolor artist Lucy Wang. Other mediums found here include jewelry, glass, quilts, and ceramics. One studio specializes in decorative eggs and kaleidoscopes. See the artists at work, enjoy their finished pieces, and maybe sign up for a class, as most of these creators are happy to share their techniques.
920 Kline Street #104, San Diego
San Diego boasts a vibrant street art scene with new works popping up daily — a week could easily be spent just driving around and discovering giant murals and sculptures. But if you want to focus on one artist at a time and mingle with fellow enthusiasts, try checking the lineup at Thumbprint Gallery. Here you’ll find work from both emerging and established artists whose contemporary pieces could be described as urban or pop surrealist. Much of it is rooted in punk music and edgy comic books, and often described as both lowbrow and awesome.
103 S. Main Avenue, Fallbrook
In the three galleries at Fallbrook Art Center, you’ll find exceptional and original visual art pieces, all by regional artists. Executive director Mary Perhacs loves the work she houses almost as much as the people who create it. All art in the center is for sale, and even the colorful, naturally lit gift shop boasts handmade works. Collectors accustomed to the high prices that quality work often fetches will be pleasantly surprised at the modest price tags here.
2119 East Madison Avenue, El Cajon
At St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center, more than 400 adults with developmental disabilities can take part in a program that allows them to communicate their thoughts and feelings via painting and mixed media. Though these artists may struggle in other areas of life, their genius is evident in their colorful, expressive work. You can view and buy their art at Sophie’s Gallery & Gift Shop at 109 Rea Avenue in downtown El Cajon. When you purchase a piece, you not only take home a special creation, you also support the program that made it possible. Artists earn a portion of the proceeds from every sale of their work, and the rest goes back to the center.
2730 Historic Decatur Road, Barracks 16 #101, San Diego
If you want to get a glimpse of the bustling art scene in Tijuana, you need go no further than Liberty Station. This is where, in the summer of 2012, Aida Valencia opened Casa Valencia: Galería Baja as part of her “Un paso al norte” (A step to the north) project, with a mission to expose more San Diegans to Baja artists. Valencia was born in San Diego and raised in Tijuana and is herself an artist, specializing in mosaics. Each show at Casa Valencia features more than one artist, and there are new exhibition receptions the first Friday of every month.
1815 Main Street, San Diego
On the last Saturday of every month from 4 to 10pm, art lovers flock to the Barrio Arts District for the Barrio Art Crawl. At Glashaus, a major stop along the way, they’ll happen upon the latest oeuvres to come out of the 20 artist studios on the premises. Artists at Glashaus, known as Hausers, work in all mediums, including photography, sculpture, painting, ceramics, and, yes, glass. Also on the crawl and not to be missed: the many studios at Bread & Salt, La Bodega Gallery, and Chicano Art Gallery.