Newly Quinted by AnnaMaria Stephens – Riviera Magazine March, 2011

Newley Quinted by AnnaMaria Stephens - Riviera Magazine March, 2011

No more backstreet art dealing for Mark Quint. For seven years, San Diego’s boldface gallerist and party thrower kept his HQ hidden in a La Jolla alley. This March, Quint Contemporary Art ( debuts grand new digs a few blocks on busy Girard Avenue.

“We could not ask for better exposure,” says gallery director Ben Strauss-Malcolm. “Everyone has to drive down this road.”

A two-year search for a main-drag storefront led to the space next to iconic coffee shop Harry’s. Formerly Jane’s Fabrique, in business for 46 years until the owner passed away last April, the address is near La Jolla’s posh design district. It also nearly doubles Quint’s square footage, from 1,600 to just under 3,000, which will include an exhibition area, a private showroom and offices with 15-foot ceilings. Did we mention off-street parking?

Quint, who recently celebrate 30 years and was honored by California Center for the Arts’ 2009 exhibit QUINT, first set up shop in La Jolla in ’81. He relocated regularly, including stints Downtown and Miramar, where he hosted epic soirées for collectors and culturati.

But Quint doesn’t deal in nostalgia—“except for rent and how cheap it used to be!” he laughs. “There are more collectors and artists now, and that’s difficult and interesting. Difficult because it’s harder if you’re an artist and there’s so much competition, and interesting because you have more colleagues.”

The S.D. art scene may seem “pretty provincial still in a lot of people’s eyes,” a stigma Quint continues to dismantle with shows like last year’s stellar, all-local Homing In. Next he’s planning an event to coincide with Getty’s groundbreaking Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980, a series of concurrent exhibitions at SoCal art institutions, including MCASD.

March’s kickoff show is Behind What It Is in Front Of. Seattle-based architect/furniture designer (and UCSD alum) Roy McMakin will present sculptures and videos that respond to paintings by midcentury California artist John McLaughlin.

“Mark has the best gallery in town, bar none,” says famed local artist Robert Irwin, who moved his studio to the old Quint space and helped his longtime friend envision the new one.

“He participates in a most difficult arena—a forum for what’s going on now in contemporary art. You’re dealing with a lot of people who aren’t proven yet, and people whose art isn’t yet understood. And he manages to survive, which is pretty amazing in this town.”