By Geneva Gamez
Chula Vista “It started in a dark hallway of Chula Vista High School more than four decades ago. Its first exhibition was a one-man show of paintings and collages by an obscure National City artist that offended and outraged most of the faculty, administration, and local art lovers. As a true child of the turbulent 60s, its exhibitions were controversial, generating public demonstrations and stirring much lively discussion. More than 40 years later, the Southwestern College (SWC) Art Gallery, the only one in South San Diego County, continues to be a mecca of cultural activity.”
That’s what a Southwestern release said a year ago, after “Political Pathways” -a politically charged, mixed media exhibition focusing on sensitively daring issues such as gender, sex, energy use, and U.S. involvement in international conflicting affairs- and the initiation of it’s show “The Human Figure” which depicted the approach of three artists’ interpretation of the human figure.
After an absence in recognition and local commotion for its daring exhibitions of four decades ago, Southwestern College launches itself all over again, stronger than ever in the efforts of gaining that hype back. The 2,400 square foot, recently remodeled gallery is space for many local artists to hang or show their work.
Last year, the gallery aggressively began to promote itself more while involving itself with current issues affecting society shown through art. Today, it continues to promote itself, but its focus begins to expand through various avenues, no longer emphasizing on controversial issues, but rather on issues that simply affect our society and more closely to home, the region, whether controversial or not.
“The gallery is a dynamic venue for displaying name brand exhibitions and we are the only art gallery in the South Bay,” said its Co-Director, Vallo Riberto, also an adjunct instructor at Southwestern”s School of Arts and Communication. “The South Bay is a burgeoning community and we want to present shows that are going to be significant to that region.”
Currently, the gallery is host to six shows per year, four of which are devoted to professionally working artists from the Greater San Diego Region and occasionally from outsiders. The remainder two shows are for Southwestern College art students.
“We like to bring in work from other places to give the community a unique opportunity to experience artwork that would otherwise not come to San Diego,” said the gallery’s director and exhibitions coordinator, Judith Nicolaidis.
Nicolaidis explains that the significance of having an art gallery in the South Bay area is huge, not only because SWC’s Art Gallery may be the only artistic outlet that has survived changes in the area, but also because people always seek art venues when they first move to the region.
“People always move into a city asking where the museums, art galleries, or cultural centers are,” says Nicolaidis, “they want to know because this helps them better understand the place they have moved to.”
In addition, SWC’s Art Gallery, is actively trying to have panel discussions to go along with their shows. They will begin their speakers series at the end of the current exhibition “Artists & Architects: Modeling Our World,” an extensive line of work by students from The New School of Architecture and Design and the Woodbury University School of Architecture.
Following this exhibition is “Triple Play” a show by three female artists, two painters and one installator. This show begins on March 10th. More shows will continue to follow in an effort to bring a sense of art to the community as well as to educate people about art and how closely it links to our everyday lives.
“Our objective is to enhance the arts program and provide a sense of enrichement for students and the community,” said Nicolaidis.
“Artists & Architects: Modeling Our World” will be showing at the SWC Art Gallery at Southwestern College (900 Otay Lakes Rd. Chula Vista, CA), thru February 24th, ending with a panel discussion at 7 pm In room #751.
For gallery information contact Judith Nicolaidis at (619) 421-6700 ext. 5635.
To contact Geneva Gamez e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.