"I like it when it's not so much about paintings, paintings, paintings, paintings," says Dan Allen, owner of the new Canvas Gallery. "And then it becomes about the party, and then the work kind of gets forgotten. I want to do large installation because it gets in the way—you can't help but deal with it."
Canvas is located in the space once occupied by Zepf Alt Gallery (1150 Seventh Ave., Downtown). Allen wants to create a venue that will focus on experimental installation, performance and visual art. He'll kick off what'll hopefully be a longstanding legacy of cool art shows with the opening of Canvas' first exhibition, Afterfuture, from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28. The art will be on view through Oct. 12.
The group exhibition will feature large-scale installations by Allen, Chris Warr, Visual gallery owner Jason Gould, Blair Robert Nelson and JAR- MEN, the name adopted by brother-and-sister art makers Alexander and Savannah Jarman. Alexander is public-programs manager at the San Diego Museum of Art, and Savannah pulls duties at the Museum of Photographic Arts.
Allen asked the artists to take the exhibition's title and interpret it however they wanted. Allen himself will exhibit "The Hundred," a series of 100 10-inch square wood-panel paintings featuring binary code and Japanese-style illustrations. Warr will show monolithic bust-like sculptures, haphazardly perched on a foundation, that seem as if they were discovered thousands of years after they were built. Gould's piece, "System Failure," addresses information overload and human reliance on technology, with layers of vibrantly colored paint, text and wood blocks emerging from the wall. Nelson will create a soundscape installation, and, with "Your Better Self," JARMEN looks at coping, self-improvement and personal memories by creating a hydroponic system of water jugs that are set in what looks a normal household bathroom.
"It was exciting," says Alexander Jarman of the opportunity to create a large, experimental work. "It was a chance to take some of these works that are a bit more theatrical. It's almost as though it were a stage set or theater set."
Since taking over the space in June, Allen decided that he wanted to do something different.
"When Andrew [Estrada, former owner of Zepf Alt] couldn't hang onto it anymore, I just didn't want to see it go away," says Allen, who also uses Canvas as his studio. "There are so few spaces for artists in San Diego to show and that are willing to take chances, and I felt that if I can take the space, then I can keep a space where more experiment could happen. It's just really important for me that that be possible in San Diego, because if we don't make a space for it, we just won't see it. There are so many galleries struggling just to pay their bills and everything that it's hard to take chances."
Allen says he looks forward to the risks he'll be able to take now, as both a gallery owner and an artist. It won't be easy, but he's already seeing himself grow thanks to Canvas.
"Everyone has told me, You can kind of forget about doing art on your own for a while,' and I really do see that," he says. "All the ideas I've been having are just ideas for the gallery. So a lot of the work that I would like to do, all of the ideas that I have are really based on this space that I have. So, I guess my work is turning more into installation-type things and thinking about space instead of just image. My work now is about how I want to create a space where I can make that connection with a patron."