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The Studio Door Re-Opens In Hillcrest

New location hosts return of ‘The Crow Show’

Four years ago Patric Stillman opened The Studio Door in North Park as a place where art and commerce could intersect. But he encountered some setbacks last year and had to close the business. But The Studio Door had its grand reopening early last month in Hillcrest.

Artist Patric Stillman said he never had a Plan B. So when the block in North Park where The Studio Door had been located for four years was sold he thought it would be another woeful tale of an art and culture space pushed out by rising rents.

"It was a very stressful adventure," Stillman recalled.

Photo by Kris Arciaga

Artist Stefan Talian working in one of the studio spaces at The Studio Door.

The Studio Door was what he called an "arts incubator" and featured not just a gallery but also studio space for emerging artists like Stefan Talian. When The Studio Door was forced to close he had to find another place.

"I found a cheaper place and bigger place with bigger walls but it was kind of like an office space and so nobody saw those paintings on the wall. So I got kind of depressed," Talian said.

Stories like that intensified Stillman’s determination to continue with what he’d started.

"So after four years, I had this break, even though I didn’t want it. It gave me this opportunity to think about what was successful, what I could do differently, and this new space is really pumping up the volume in showcasing artists voices and their visions," Stillman said.

After months of searching, The Studio Door found a new home in the old American Apparel store in Hillcrest.

"When I started out with The Studio Door I wanted to create a space where artists could engage with each other and learn from each other and grow quickly," Stillman said. "And now The Studio Door has turned into something that is a much larger community that is really propelling art in ways that are filling sort of the gap in the spectrum of San Diego’s visual arts scene."

What makes The Studio Door unique is its focus on professional development combined with its mix of a gallery with artist studios. Talian is thrilled to be back with The Studio Door and sharing quarters with a diverse array of artists.

"For me when I work in this space it’s like 18 hearts beating, like when you go through those studios and everyone is so different and it’s so inspiring. I’m just feeling really at home and it makes me so inspired," Talian said.

Photo by Kris Arciaga

Artist Kaitlyn Alfaro works on one of her paintings at The Studio Door.

One of his new neighbors is Kaitlyn Alfaro, the youngest artist at The Studio Door.

"I just think it’s really cool because it’s like a level up for me I finally have a place to just be creative," Alfaro said. "And there’s all these other cool artists and we’re all just like... yeah, all these creative juices. So I’m really grateful to be here."

Stillman is grateful for her youthful perspective on using new tools to market yourself as an artist.

Alfaro points to Instagram and Facebook and noted, "I usually market myself on Instagram."

That's also where she makes a lot of her sales.

Sales at The Studio Door have been four times higher in its first month at its new location than at any time while in North Park. That thrills Stillman, though he’s not sure what’s caused the spike. Hillcrest definitely provides better foot traffic for the gallery. Or maybe fate has finally just placed him at the perfect intersection of art and commerce.

"I think the arts often get dismissed as something frivolous," Stillman said. "The arts [are] a million dollar economic driver in San Diego. I think that creative spaces also allow communities to have a voice in their identity and the arts are so important in creating community identity. So I don’t think the arts should be so easily dismissed because of all of the things they are bringing to a community."

The Studio Door offers Hillcrest a diverse palette not only in terms of the age, gender, race, and religion of its artists but also in terms of media and styles. In addition to oil and acrylic paintings, you can find clay sculpture, ceramics, bronze, fused glass, photography, and mixed media ranging from abstract to realistic to just freakishly inspired.

Photo by Kris Arciaga

One of the delightfully macabre mixed media pieces by Andrea Overturf that is on display at The Studio Door.

"Art is very personal," Stillman stated. "If you buy something it’s because something touches you, it speaks to you in a certain way. And so we hope that we are giving the artists and the people who want their art that connection."

The Studio Door’s location has changed but not its mission. It strives to make art accessible and affordable to the public while at the same time helping artists to navigate the marketplace and earn a living from their art.

This weekend The Studio Door opens the 5th Annual Crow Show curated by Chris Redfern, San Diego Audubon Society executive director. The exhibition of visual art runs from March 2 to March 30.

The Studio Door describes the exhibit as: "Having taken on mythological importance, Crows appear in all parts of the world. In folklore, they may foreshadow tragedy or usher in good news. The reality is a highly intelligent bird capable of social interactions. In recent years, the crow has become a muse to many artists. This annual exhibition seeks to represent the many faces of the Crow in reality and fantasy. Show us what the Crow means to you."

The website adds: "Creative interpretations of all blackbirds, ravens and other Corvus species are acceptable."

Here's the story from 2015 about The Studio Door at its first home in North Park.

Four years ago Patric Stillman opened The Studio Door in North Park as a place where art and commerce could intersect. Some setbacks forced him to close the business. But The Studio Door had its grand reopening early last month in Hillcrest.

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