There is nothing conventional about the California Center for the Arts, Escondido, Museum presenting a show devoted to a San Diego gallery. But then, there’s nothing conventional about the gallery itself.
In 1981, Mark Quint opened the Quint Gallery in La Jolla to showcase his art and that of his friends. Soon, he focused on just the works of others. But instead of staying stagnant in a permanent space, he sought out places to adapt to the needs of the artist. His galleries soon became the rave of the contemporary art scene in San Diego, whether he showcased art in a large industrial building near the Miramar military base, in formal gallery or in a back alleyway in Hillcrest.
“The gallery has gone through several different permeations,” explained Quint. “We started slow with a more traditional gallery. Then it was a residency program. I’ve always enjoyed working with artists directly. If anything, that’s what my gallery is devoted to.”
Quint turned his passion of working with artists into promoting and supporting a wide variety of regional, national and international artists, allowing them to fade into the background (where they’re often most comfortable) while he started conversations with the art community about their work. Over almost three decades, he has helped more than 250 artists reach new audiences and new heights in their careers.
The museum started with a list of all the artists that the Quint Gallery had featured over that time and whittled it down to 45 artists and 100 pieces, many of which were in private collections or museums. Also, several of the artists chose to create new works for the exhibit, such as Kim MacConnel, who painted a mural on the museum’s footbridge.
Quint prefers to call this exhibit a survey of the last 28 years rather than a retrospective.
“I don’t like looking at the past that much,” said Quint. “I’m just as proud of what I did last week. But I am very proud to have been able to last this long. Contemporary art is always changing and it can be fickle. I’m very proud of being flexible enough. We’ve had 12 different spaces in San Diego, from a closet to three spaces at once.”
Another interesting facet of the show is that Quint, along with artist Jean Lowe, redesigned the museum gift store, adding new items by the artists being shown.
“That’s really been fun, setting it up like a staging of works,” he said. “I put a lot of work into it.”
In the end, Quint hopes that the exhibit will feel less like a rerun of golden oldies and more like a colorful palette of works past, present and past.
“I hope that people feel as if they’ve listened to new music and music from the last 28 years,” he said. “I want to mix it up to give them a greater sense of appreciation and wonderment.”
“Quint: Three Decades of Contemporary Art”
When: Opens Saturday and runs through Dec. 31; hours, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays; 1-5 p.m. Sundays
Where: California Center for the Arts, Escondido Museum, 340 N. Escondido Blvd., Escondido
Tickets: $5, adults; $4, seniors and active military; $3, students with ID; children under 12 are free
Info: (760) 839-4120