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Art San Diego Contemporary Art Show 2019


That’s my advice for any future shows put on by Art San Diego.

Put on your best outfit, come with an open mind, and look forwards to a wonderful night.

In its eleventh year, and its first at the San Diego Convention Center, the hosts behind the show have found talented artists locally, nationally, and internationally to showcase a wide variety of work.  Sculptures, paintings, mixed media, and interactive exhibits filled a healthy section of the massive Convention Center.

As a lucky member of the VIP night, me and others were treated to an open bar with a wide variety of wine and beer options.  And, running into some friends, I was also invited to a buffet provided by the hosts of the event, UBS, at Tin Fish across the street from the venue - beware the pico de gallo, they use a generous portion of jalapeño!

Bernie Taupin was the most celebrated artist of the event.  He’s known internationally as Elton John’s songwriter and has provided 700 of Elton John’s songs, including hits such as “Rocket Man,” “Tiny Dancer,” and “Candle in the Wind.”  But his work as a visual artist is commanding, working in mixed media and employing a variety of different themes - with music, poetry, and the American flag appearing often. 

Another featured artist was Shima Shanti who works in the encaustic style, melting beeswax mixed with pigment using a blowtorch.  Up to twenty layers deep, her seascapes had a delightful feel to them (which she encouraged you to find out for yourself).

Getting San Diego’s bakers into the mix (no pun intended), six artisanal cakes were made, each based on a different painting and by a different local bakery.   Naked Cake Farm had a stand-out approach, with Naked Cake referencing their desire to leave the layers partially or completely unfrosted.  Every baker was on hand to discuss their work and hand out delicious samples.

All artists I engaged with, or their representatives at the event, were friendly and excited to share about their work.  Nearly everything was on sale, with prices running the gamut from a few hundred into the high thousands.

My personal favorite was Eyvind Earle, who was an animator at Disney, and had a number of fantastical landscapes..  From the rugged coastline of Big Sur, to pastoral scenes of angular cows with long shadows on Northern California hillsides, they seemed to shine extra bright amongst a talented field of artists.

Lastly, I must mention that the entire crowd seemed friendly and happy to be there.  The staff on hand was helpful and proud to have moved from the Del Mar Fairgrounds, up to Balboa Park, and now in their biggest iteration yet downtown.  The bartenders were funny, the guests well dressed and smiling, 

A great night to be in San Diego!

-Bram Wiley