Culture Report: An Artist Leapfrogs the Middle Man - Voice of San Diego

Arts/Culture

Culture Report: An Artist Leapfrogs the Middle Man

Antique dealers have a new home in the Midway district, Carlsbad celebrates 25 years of “Stellaluna” and more in our weekly digest of the region’s arts and culture news.

Sarah Stieber san diego artist
Artist Sarah Stieber says no one can sell her art better than she can. / Photo by Julia Shapiro

Artists often depend on others to show and sell their work. Many struggle to market themselves, then struggle even more when it comes time to close a deal.

Artists frequently rely on galleries, art fairs, art dealers or independent curators to help. Of course, any time a third party is involved in a transaction, they take a cut of the profits. Social media has opened up new ways for artists to promote and sell artwork themselves. But while some artists are now making money by selling work online, many collectors still want to see art in person before they buy it.

Enter the growing trend of artists renting out short-term venues for quick pop-up shows and artist-led art fairs.

San Diego painter Sarah Stieber is in the midst of her own experiment in cutting out the middle man. She still values galleries, art fairs and other more traditional ways of selling her art, but she said she’s the one best suited to pitch her own paintings.

“No one’s going to promote my work better than I am,” Stieber said. “I really do make more sales when I just do my own thing.”

Stieber recently made a big investment. She rented out Mee Shim Fine Art Gallery at 1943 India Street in Little Italy for two months. The soft opening of the pop-up gallery was June 30. Stieber and her mom staff the gallery and show and sell her work.

Stieber said so far, so good.

“It’s been killer,” she said. “We’ve already sold six paintings.”

The grand opening of the Stieber Summer Gallery is from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, July 7, and the space will be open through Aug. 26.

Sarah Stieber
“Goddess on a Good Day” painting by Sarah Stieber / Photo courtesy of Sarah Stieber

Stieber’s paintings are what she calls “electric realism,” a term a she made up to describe her bright portraits, mostly of women in hyper-colored, vibrant settings depicting a much more magical world than the one we live in.

The 30-year-old painter has worked to make the gallery look like the world she likes to paint. Two colorful wall installations liven up the space, and she encourages people to stand in front of one of the backdrops she made, take photos of themselves and tag her when they post it. It’s just one of the ways she’s trying to market the pop-up gallery via social media.

“I don’t think that you can just open up a gallery and slap on a sign and make it,” she said. “I think it’s 10-hour days and no breaks. It’s just constant creative marketing and hustling and never stopping.”

You’re reading the Culture ReportVoice of San Diego’s weekly collection of the region’s cultural news.

City Arts Funding Announced, State Budget Includes Arts Boost and More News for the Culture Crowd

• The Newport Avenue Antique center in Ocean Beach closed down earlier this year to make way for a Target Express. Now, the nearly 50 former antique dealers that used the space are celebrating a grand opening party at their new Sports Arena location, Kurtz Street Vintage Marketplace, from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.

• The city’s Commission for Arts and Culture is giving $11.4 million to 147 local nonprofits that provide arts and culture programming and events. You can see which organizations got what here and here. New to the list of cultural contractors with the city: San Diego Comic-Con International, which got $489,802 of city funds to support its new center in Balboa Park.

“The Lorax” is a beloved tree-hugging Dr. Seuss character. See him on stage in The Old Globe’s new production of the Seuss classic. (KPBS)

the lorax san diego
“Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax” is running July 2 through Aug. 12 at The Old Globe. / Photo by Dan Norman

• A theater professor at the University of California, San Diego is featured in this New York Times story about how women adding their voices to the #MeToo movement and speaking up about sexual harassment changed their lives.

• The popular children’s book “Stellaluna” is by Carlsbad author Janell Cannon. The book’s publisher is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the hardbound edition with a special new release of “Stellaluna,” and to mark the occasion, Carlsbad has mounted an exhibition about the book and Cannon at the city’s William D. Cannon Art Gallery. (Union-Tribune)

• CityBeat is packed with good stuff this week. It previews a new exhibition looking at San Diego’s LGBTQ history opening this weekend at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park, describes the story behind a phallus-themed art show in Barrio Logan, discusses KPBS reporter Jean Guerrero’s new memoir and the San Diego Botanic Garden’s effort to turn a dying tree into a work of art.

• A new facility at the San Diego International Airport includes two new public artworks, one by artist Aaron T. Stephan, and one by artist Walter Hood.

• This year’s nominations for the best and worst architecture and urban design in the county are rolling in via the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s Orchids & Onions website. Nominations for “onions” include a new fountain in Little Italy, which the nominator calls “cheesier than Kraft Parmesan Cheese.”

• Through its Creative Catalyst Program, the San Diego Foundation gives artists money to make new work. Here’s what one of this year’s grant recipients is doing with his funds.

• “Rest Easy” is the latest piece of public art to go up at Arts District Liberty Station. It’s a text piece by artists Lissa Corona and Marina Grize.

• Opera is expensive, but Opera NEO is figuring out how to produce quality opera on a tight budget. (Union-Tribune)

• The new state budget includes multimillion-dollar increases in arts funding, reports KPCC. And as the Associated Press points out, nearly $10 million of the budget is being dedicated to actor Cheech Marin’s Chicano art museum.

The Kinsee Report: Here’s Where I Want to Be This Week

I’m from a small mountain town in Colorado where the biggest holiday of the year is the Fourth of July. The whole town gets into it. Every year in San Diego, I attempt to recreate that small-town Fourth feeling by dragging my family to Old Town for its annual celebration of American independence. The festival is mid-1800s-themed and includes a parade, crafts, a pie-eating contest, tug of war and other activities mostly for the kids. Pro tip: Ride the trolley. If that doesn’t sound like your thing, KPBS did a great job rounding up things to do on July 4.

• Giant manta rays, vibrant corals, weird-looking fish – see all of that and more on the huge screen of the Giant Dome Theater at the Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park when “Great Barrier Reef” makes its West Coast premiere on Friday.

A scene from “Great Barrier Reef” / Photo courtesy of the Fleet Science Center

• The annual Frida Kahlo Art Show and Friducha Market is happening at La Bodega Gallery in Barrio Logan Saturday. It’s always a fun event with great art by local artists, plus a Frida Kahlo lookalike contest. Be ready to wait in a long line to get in, though.

Food, Cannabis, Beer and Booze News

San Diego Magazine’s Troy Johnson is not shy when it comes to voicing his distaste for the fact that restaurant owners can’t count employees’ tips when it comes to meeting California’s increasing minimum wage requirements. He used the closing of Cafe Chloe and other anecdotal evidence to support his theory that mom and pop restaurants will continue to close due to the rising cost of labor, and chain restaurants will eventually take over California. The thing is, according to jobs data from the Center on Policy Initiatives, there is no sign of a significant loss of restaurant jobs in the region in recent years. I checked. Email me your thoughts about restaurants and city and state increased minimum wages.

Are chain restaurants going to take over California? / Image via Shutterstock

• Eater’s out with a new list of kid-friendly restaurants in the region.

A local farm is hosting a fancy dinner to raise money for a nonprofit that provides free legal services to men, women and unaccompanied children in immigration custody.

• Rudford’s Restaurant has never once closed its doors since opening in 1949. (CBS8)

• Building my own doughnuts definitely sounds like a thing I’d like to do. (Eater)

Kinsee Morlan is engagement editor at Voice of San Diego. Email her at kinsee@vosd.org with arts and culture news and tips. Want to recommend this culture newsletter to someone? Share this sign-up link. Subscribe to Voice of San Diego podcasts

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