In early 2014, Ari Kate Ashton’s long-time vision of opening an art center in San Diego was beginning to evolve. She had been a successful artist for many years, blessed with talent and a unique style of work. She had also been an instructor and mentor to many local artists. Due to the economy and other factors, a number of local galleries had closed. But Kate knew that what she envisioned was different from any other art gallery or art center in town. She gathered some of her closest artist friends and students to discuss her plans and received unanimous support from all. She began looking for the perfect spot in an urban neighborhood and she found it in the old Morris Security building (former location of New Expressions, which featured a music school, store, and guitar repair) of a neglected two story neighborhood landmark on the 30th Street corridor between Adams and Meade. She purchased the building in September 2014 and renovations began. The building was gutted, and then the vision began to emerge from the rubble. Kate and her talented contractor Erin Calver, Silver Sparrow Construction, began the process of creating Art on 30th. The doors opened January 2015 with the first exhibition and grand opening in April.
“Having been both a working artist and an instructor, I always knew the sort of place where I wanted to teach, create and exhibit. Because I never found it, I had to build it,” states Ms. Ashton. “At Art on 30th our purpose is to grow and nurture our artists and give them a setting to exhibit their work when it’s ready to market.”
On the ground floor of Art on 30th you’ll find the Ashton Gallery, which hosts themed art exhibits on a bi-monthly basis with an annual national show in the fall.
The Poe Show
This year’s national show, The Poe Show (as in Edgar Allan), October 22 — November 23, comes just in time for the spooky Halloween season. The exhibit includes Poe-inspired paintings, images, and sculptures from artists across the country. Opening night festivities will include poetry, short story readings, and all things Poe, with Raven’s Blood cocktails as the signature drink for the “Unhappy Hour.” There are even rumors that Edgar himself will return from the grave to make an appearance at this national show in his honor. The exhibition was juried by Chris Semtner, curator of the national Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia. The show will also be displayed on the Poe Museum website.
One of the highlights of the Poe show is a chair, made by local musician and artist Owen Burke, who also makes musical instruments.
The second floor of Art on 30th houses 15 private artist studios. The resident artists usually open their studios for exhibition openings downstairs. The gallery space downstairs is also used for weekly classes taught by Kate Ashton and other local artist/teachers. In addition to regular classes, nationally renowned artists such as Liz Jardine, Jane LaFazio, Stephen Wagner, Karen O’Brien, and others often teach workshops or classes. Kate also offers monthly Art to Market classes to assist artists in showing and selling their work.
Instruction is offered in acrylics, oils, abstract art, drawing, watercolors, silk screening, realism portraiture. Go to www.arton30.com for more information.
Art You Can Live With
Many galleries pride themselves on pushing the envelope with edgy installation art or darker psychological expressionism. At Ashton Gallery, they exhibit art that you would want in your home or place of business. There are definitely artists showing dramatic, thought-provoking work mixed with other contemporary styles that work well and enhance daily living and working spaces.
“We are not a seashore and flowers sort of gallery or shock-and-awe, bleeding edge installations. We are an “art you want to live with” gallery,” Kate confirms.
The Mentored Artists
The Mentored Artist Program is a group of about 15 artists that have been juried in and are ready to take their art to a new level. This group of artists have developed a body of work and they want to begin exhibiting and selling their work. And, that’s what they are doing! Many of this group are exhibiting in national shows and art fairs across the country and their work is hanging on walls in homes and offices in those cities.
The 30th Street Corridor is exploding with new shops and restaurants, trendy condos, and watering holes. Kate chose well when she purchased in this transitioning neighborhood. Openings at Ashton Gallery are drawing more and more people each time and daily foot traffic has increased every month.
The studios are all rented, and the classes and workshops are full. So what’s next for Ashton Gallery/Art on 30th?
“My emphasis is selling art,” Kate states. “We’ve got great new themed shows coming up in 2017. We had over 100 submissions for the Poe Show and are expecting a big crowd for the opening reception/party. In December we will be doing our annual $99 show for holiday shoppers looking to gift original art for really low prices. We have also been fortunate to form relationships with interior designers looking for a good source of artwork for their projects. With such a diverse group of artists both in residence and hanging in our gallery, designers know there’s something for everyone here. We’re coming up on our second anniversary and I know the next year is going to be one of growth and phenomenal creative expression.”