July 7 2014 05:58 PM

Casa Familiar suffers funding shortfalls and loses two of its three arts-and-culture employees

From left: Leticia Gomez Franco, Einar de la Torre, Linda Caballero-Sotelo and Jamex de la Torre
Michael Raymond Photography

Praise for the whimsical Whysidro exhibition featuring Jamex and Einar de la Torre, on view at The Front arts center and gallery in San Ysidro, continues to reverberate through the local art scene and beyond. The world-class exhibition, on view through August, comes at a time when the nonprofit organization that runs The Front, Casa Familiar, is experiencing financial difficulties.

Two of the three employees at The Front—gallery and exhibitions director Leticia Gomez Franco and arts-and-culture consultant Linda Caballero-Sotelo—recently announced their departures. Luz Camacho is the sole remaining part-time employee tasked with running the gallery and its programs, which include a popular annual Dia de la Mujer juried exhibition and other forums, workshops and events that've gained traction in recent years.

Andrea Skorepa, Casa Familiar's chief executive officer, says the organization is short on money thanks to the loss of several sources, including city funds and grants. She says that all of the organization's services have been affected.

"Everybody in the agency took a hit, including myself, who's going without a salary for six months," she says.

Skorepa says she's been reducing hours and limiting the scope of programming across the board. As for The Front, she offered Franco and Caballero-Sotelo reduced hours. She says both employees were already part-time, so they opted to pursue full-time opportunities elsewhere.

At 5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 10, the de la Torre brothers will give a talk on their Whysidro exhibition at The Front (147 W. San Ysidro Blvd.). Franco is helping facilitate the event, but after the current show's programming ends, Skorepa says the gallery will continue with a narrower focus.

"We have a whole agency that will continue to work on the progress we've made as a gallery and add to it," she says, "but we'll probably pull in a little bit closer to the community, as opposed to becoming another contemporary art gallery. But we do have some exciting things planned."

Franco is considered the public face of The Front. She says she's proud of the work that she and her colleagues have done in elevating the gallery and earning the reputation as an exciting, sometimes edgy cultural hub that hosts top-notch exhibitions alongside grassroots community events. One of her main objectives during her seven years at The Front was to help demystify the arts for the local community.

"I think we did that," Franco says. "We defined The Front as a place where the community could get comfortable with the idea that art is something for all of us, not just a luxury for others to enjoy."

*A previous version of this article misspelled Linda Caballero-Sotelo last name as Caballero-Sopelo. We regret the error. 

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