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San Diego Space 4 Art Grand Opening

June 25, 2010 - 1:33 pm

Vodpod videos no longer available.

From 6 to 10 p.m. this Saturday, June 26, Space 4 Art is unveiling their new live/work space located at 325 15th Street in downtown San Diego.

The public is invited to “wander a maze of open studios” while taking in art by resident artists (giant puppets, installations, handmade jewelry, paintings, photos and a lot more mediums are involved), live music on multiple stages and the obligatory food and drink.

“This is just a demonstration project,” explained Bob Leathers, one of the artists and architects instrumental in organizing, remodeling and opening the new live/work art space. “Because the only way to keep things permanently affordable is to own.”

For now, the collective of artists behind Space 4 Art have rented and completely filled a few huge, interconnected warehouses from Bob Sinclair, the founder and one-time owner of Pannikin coffee and bookstores and an artist-type himself who owns a few other warehouses downtown. Their plan is to show the city—and foundations and grant holders, who may eventually provide the missing link to owning a permanent space—that opening and operating an affordable space for artists is, in fact, possible.

From the looks of things (check out the impressive space in the slideshow above), opening and operating an affordable space for artists to live and/or work is not only possible; it’s actually a pretty good idea. Artists, as everyone knows, are pretty good at completely reinventing space. First, individual buildings, and, eventually, the entire neighborhood.

In just a few months, the group of artists has completely redone the warehouse spaces—building sleeping lofts, installing beautiful white-wall studios and even redoing staircases, doors and other finishing—and they did so at a fraction of the cost by relying on the manpower of a dedicated group of volunteers.

Chris Warr, an artist who now calls one of the live/work lofts his home, was one of the volunteers who helped turn the warehouse into a gallery and artist paradise. He says he enjoyed his time wielding a hammer. He was even able to convince his father, a plumber, to come in and help.

The neighborhood, which, over the years, has become the central place for San Diego’s homeless population to congregate, already has a different feel to it. Across the street, another group of artists is busy at work revamping The Periscope Project, a more environment-focused gallery and exhibition space housed in reused shipping containers. Perhaps the ‘hood surrounding 15th Street will become the next San Diego arts mecca—who knows?

“There’s a lot of collaboration already,” said Cheryl Nickel, another Space 4 Art studio artist and one of the Space 4 Art founders, after pointing out the communal wood and welding workshop space in one of the back warehouse buildings. “There’s already a lot of interaction between the artists.”

Until the time to find Space 4 Art a permanent home comes, the group will remain focused on making the space a success and using the experience as an experiment in which they’ll eventually uncover a model of making an affordable art space work.

“We’re exploring lots of things,” Warr said.

“The experiment will last five to seven years,” Leathers added. “So, it’s a trial project, but it’s a real project, too.”

Nickel jumped in; “We could be groundbreaking in creating affordable living space for artists in an otherwise unaffordable city—we’ll see.”

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