The raw and gritty warehouse space inside Logan Heights' sprawling Bread & Salt building (1955 Julian Ave.) is the perfect setting for avant-garde artistic experimentation. If the uptick in activity inside the building in early January is any indication, 2015 will perhaps be the year the creative space goes from being an underground stronghold mostly for those already embedded in the local art scene to a more mainstream gallery that showcases some of the region's most innovative art.
James Brown of Public Architecture and Planning owns the building and recently asked artist and designer David Fobes to step up and take over as interim curator of Not An Exit, a tiny, 80-square-foot gallery inside Bread & Salt, formerly run by longtime San Diego artist Bob Matheny. Fobes, who's curated a few shows in the space already, says he's been approaching local artists and asking them to think of ways to engage the space through installation work rather than simply hanging objects on the walls.
"It's not a commercial space, so there's no pressure to sell," Fobes says. "I just want artists to come in here who have a good understanding of the space and want to deal with the entire room and not just hang art up... So, everyone I talked to, I've said, 'Think of it as an experiment.' I'm kind of saying, 'Do whatever you want.' The one big constraint is the size of the space."
From 5 to 9 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 10, Fobes will open the next show, an installation by architecturally trained artist Patrick Shields. The Woodbury University professor and MFA student at UCSD is constructing an intricate cardboard, plastic and carbon-composite installation that connects the three windows in the room at the center of the space.
"One thing I'm personally interested in is the bridge between art and design," Fobes says of Shields' piece. "He's that guy."
Shields' installation will be on view through Feb. 7. Other artists Fobes has lined up for Not An Exit include Armando de la Torre, Lael Corbin and Neil Kendricks. Shows will change monthly, and openings will mostly coincide with the Barrio Art Crawls that happen every second Saturday of the month.
Around the corner from Not An Exit, in the main Bread & Salt gallery, Fobes will open his own exhibition on Jan. 10: Fresh Cuttings, a collection of his newest large-scale collage work made from wallpaper.
And from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 9, artist and curator Michael James Armstrong's Ice Gallery, also inside Bread & Salt, will feature a three-dimensional, site-specific photographic installation by famed local photographer Philipp Scholz Rittermann. Armstrong says that at Ice, he's focusing on exhibiting the work of artists he respects and asking them to push themselves to do work they've never done before.
"Philipp is used to making flat work," Armstrong writes in an email. "However, I had a feeling that he was itching to take his work off the wall and into a more three-dimensional realm. I had no idea what to expect... but I trusted that he could come up with something interesting."