Bread & Salt is huge. Due to its size, one could easily miss the bustle going on inside the former Cramer's Bakery factory in Logan Heights (1955 Julian Ave.). Outside, artist and Ice Gallery owner Michael James Armstrong is diligently spray-painting part of a makeshift train that will be used in Ice's upcoming Saratoga Sake exhibition. Down the hall, artist Thomas DeMello is clearing out a room to make space for another upcoming exhibition. Head through the Athenaeum's recently opened Art Center, into the outdoor courtyard and through the backdoor of the cavernous brick space in the back (yes, it's quite easy to get lost), and you'll find yourself in the alley. Here, in the neighboring parking lot, Noé Olivas is sprucing up his custom lowrider bread truck.
On the surface, there's nothing much to that parking lot, but it's central to what Bread & Salt owner and architect James Brown calls "phase two" of the building. Opened more than three years ago, Brown has transformed the Bread & Salt warehouse into a multi-use arts, performance and culture destination, but he says he's always had bigger plans for the property, which includes the lot behind the alley. These plans include a new building that will include up to 30 live/work units for artists on top of a ground floor business space that he hopes will include a cafe, a performance space and other businesses.
"We're about one-third of the way through the vision of the building," says Brown, who adds that the city council is putting the finishing touches on the updated southeastern San Diego Community Plan, which will help him clear any restrictive zoning hurdles. "It's been a challenge, but really fun to work on."
The lot is zoned for residential and mixed-use spaces and Brown expects to break ground soon. Phase two will also include an expansion of the main Bread & Salt gallery. And beginning next month Brown will begin to accept applications for a new artist-in-residence program (the aforementioned DeMello will be the program's maiden artist). He also recently received a $5,000 grant to start a community garden and even wants to turn the main building's flour silo into one "crazy-ass" apartment.
"I could see a winding staircase over here. One room might be down here and another room might be over here," says Brown, pointing around the gigantic cylindrical silos. "You could do a lot of different things."