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Arts & Culture

Innovative Venue, Space 4 Art, Provides More Than Just Gallery Space

Vabianna Santos is an artist and co-curator of The Unknown exhibit at Space4Art.
Beth Accomando
Vabianna Santos is an artist and co-curator of The Unknown exhibit at Space4Art.

In an international group exhibition, Space 4 Art will present contemporary artwork that addresses themes concerning the unknown, the occult and the metaphysical. The artists selected are representative of visual art’s ability to speak about and create experiences of the extraordinary for the viewer, of realms of unknowing, the ritualistic and conjuration.

Space 4 Art's "The Unknown"

Space 4 Art's mission is to support artists by providing a space where they can live, work, show their art, and interact with their community. It grew out of a need San Diego artists felt to create affordable studios and innovative exhibition spaces for their work says co-founder and gallery director Chris Warr.


"A little over 3 years ago we started this space and before that we were a committee of people that were looking to build a permanent affordable housing for artists in San Diego, and then we decided to lease a space and open up what we call a pilot project."

This pilot project is located at 15th and J in a trio of adjacent warehouses in San Diego’s East Village.

"When you come down to the East Village what you see is a lot of warehouses and you definitely get this urban feel that’s kind of interesting for artists this sort of ungentrified area where anything is possible," says executive director Patric Stillman.

What’s been possible is providing 32 work studios and 5 work/live studios, as well as exhibition and performance space. It’s been doing all this while awaiting non-profit status in order to apply for funding.

"We’ve just been surviving on the rent from the studios, so basically this has really been an artist run project," adds Warr.


"One of the things I find so exciting about Space 4 Art," says Stillman, "is that it really celebrates the emerging artist in San Diego, bringing together all kinds of diverse media creation artists working in puppetry, dance, visual art, sculpture, across the board in different styles and celebrating the fact that there are new ways to embrace ideas and thoughts."

Or to challenge them, as with the new exhibit, "The Unknown." Vabianna Santos is the co-curator.

"We selected artworks that show art’s ability to deal with the unknown, the invisible, the extraordinary, the supernatural. So some of the artworks that we picked are able to make the invisible concrete, some of the artworks are focused more on making a visceral connection with the viewer or creating something really atmospheric. And some of the artworks focus on showing the hidden aspects of our lives, like time or natural forces or even the construction of social attitudes."

The show features the work of six artists including Berlin-based Kandis Williams’ black and white collage; Adam Nelson’s sculptures look like waves frozen in time; Christopher Richmond’s video Chasing the Horizon; Kristen Gallerneaux’s small plaster casts filled with haunted dirt from poltergeist sites; and Santos’ own 27 Club that deals with themes of absence.

"This idea of the unknown," says Santos, "it can’t be defined and yet, art tries to show people something that might normally be overlooked. We’re pushing to do contemporary work, show emerging artists, show really challenging and ambitious stuff, connect San Diego Artists with artists from the rest of the country and even the world so it’s very experimental, and we can try new things.

"[The exhibit] is not literally interactive but it is the kind of work that you want to spend a little bit of time with. If you do spend a bit of time with the work something might unfold or reveal itself to you. We’re hoping to create a visceral impact on the viewer. Some of it is intriguing, some of it is a bit sinister, I think it’s pretty compelling stuff."

So if you’re in the mood to explore the unknown, Space 4 Art is the place to be.

The Space 4 Art website describes the exhibit as: "By re-imagining the unknown, the artists in this exhibition strive to make the invisible concrete in their various modes of production: video, sculpture, collage and texts. But the materials and imagery used surpass their everyday lives and are forced to behave in unexpected ways. A forest becomes a site of unresolved terror, collages become maps for rituals, plaster figurines harbor “haunted dirt,” hidden light creates shifts in perception, video montage and cloud computing become a vessel for paranormal disruption and finally, “erratic events” are “fixed” in place in the form of translucent sculptural waves."

Exhibiting Artists:

Carl Diehl (Portland, OR)

Kristen Gallerneaux (Detroit, MI / San Diego, CA)

Adam Nelson (Baltimore, MD)

Christopher Richmond (Los Angeles, CA)

Vabianna Santos (San Diego, CA)

Kandis Williams (Berlin, Germany)

The exhibition is curated by Vabianna Santos and Kristen Gallerneaux.