Sept. 22 2014 06:39 PM

Rancho Santa Fe collector-turned-dealer Tom Sergott is transforming his house into a home for contemporary art

Tom Sergott
Tom Sergott

"If you scratch an art collector, you know what you'll find?" asks Tom Sergott, a local retired plastic surgeon. "An art dealer."

For years, Sergott's been adding to his personal art collection. When he retired a few years ago, he decided to get even more involved in the arts and began renting out booths at international art fairs like Art Basel. He represents mostly San Diego artists at the fairs, showing and selling their work, hoping that his contemporary-art-collecting cohorts will start paying more attention to the quality work being produced in his neck of the woods.

Recently, though, the collector-turned-dealer decided to dig even deeper into the local arts scene.

"I've been thinking about what more I can do for the arts," Sergott says. "Supporting local artists with a gallery seemed like a reasonable venture."

From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27, Sergott will open his private home in Rancho Santa Fe to the public as Sergott Contemporary Art Alliance Gallery, which will feature new exhibitions every few months. The inaugural show will include nearly 20 local artists, like Duke Windsor, Ellen Dieter, Ingrid Croce, Amos Robinson, Sean Brannan and Sarah Stieber. (Email for the address and to RSVP, or hit up for details.)

For each show, Sergott says he'll donate a percentage of sales to local arts nonprofits. The first show will benefit the San Diego Visual Arts Network (SDVAN), a volunteer-run organization that provides information about and resources for local visual artists.

Sergott, who, before he began his medical studies, dabbled in performing arts and documentary filmmaking, says that Patricia Frischer, SDVAN's founder and coordinator, is one of the main reasons he decided to get involved in San Diego's art scene.

"I can blame it all on Patricia," he laughs. "She's responsible for all this. She's been a great supporter and advocate for local artists."

Sergott says he'll continue to work the art-fair circuit with the San Diego artists he represents, but he says sales have been slow lately. He blames that partly on the market's oversaturation—new art fairs seem to be popping up everywhere, he says.

"There are just too many now," he says, adding that he feels there's more than enough room for another contemporary art gallery in San Diego.

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