ART / Del Mar : A Place Where Artwork and Commercial Space Are Merged

Imagine an art gallery turned inside out. What you’d get is a building whose outside walls are covered with art, and a place where people can see exhibitions without ever going in a door.

This is what happens at ArtistSpace At Southfair, an unusual showplace for the visual arts in the Southfair commercial complex on Jimmy Durante Boulevard in Del Mar.

There, a nearly 200-foot-long “artwall” of floor-to-ceiling display windows fills the sides of two of four buildings that surround a landscaped courtyard dotted with sculpture and shared by such businesses as Remington’s and Delmario’s restaurants, and Del Mark Workout.

ArtistSpace is the brainchild of architect and developer Herb Turner, a long time Del Mar resident who is also a painter. Because Southfair is his own project, he was able to realize his vision of a way to showcase art without having to worry too much about taking up rentable floor space. Also, he could bring art to where people are, i.e. in their offices. The “artwall,” the central element of ArtistSpace, was his solution to this challenge.


“I’ve been aware for a long time,” Turner says, “that it can be very difficult for artists to get their work seen because galleries are few in number and not very many people go out of their way to look at art anyway. With the artwall, though, I can serve both artists and the public. I can show younger artists who take risks with their work and so maybe it doesn’t appeal to more sales-oriented galleries. And I can put this work where a lot of people will see it.”

Loraine Dyson, of Dyson & Dyson Real Estate, another of the businesses at Southfair, reflects the view of many of the tenants.

“There’s a special kind of pleasure in seeing the exhibitions they do here,” she says. “It adds an extra dimension to the work environment which I feel has a very positive effect on our staff and clients.”

The first show at ArtistSpace opened in the fall of 1987, and five or six exhibitions have been presented each year since. Exhibition with titles like “Beauty In The Abstract,” “The Subject Is Horses,” “New Expressions: Quilts and Tile,” and “Myths, Symbols, and Mysteries,” with from two to ten artists represented in each show, suggest the range of this unique gallery’s offerings.

New exhibitions always debut with preview parties where artists, their friends, Southfair tenants and ArtistSpace regulars enjoy conversation, live music and refreshments.

“The opening parties are a chance for artists and other people interested in the art to get together with each other,” Turner says, “and we like to think that these are some of the best public parties in the North County art scene.”

Turner points out, too, that some ArtistSpace shows highlight the creative efforts of professionals in fields closely related to the fine arts. He compares these offerings to those in a museum or municipal arts gallery. One such exhibition was “Landscape By Design,” which offered a view of the thoughts and projects of four San Diego area landscape architects. The same year, the Communicating Arts Group, a local association of professionals in graphic arts, presented a show of works by its members.

The current exhibition, on view through June 24, presents the work of Robert Perine and Nancy Livesay. Perine’s presentation, “The Tribes of Xyr, Phase 4,” features calligraphy, narrative texts and drawings of masks. The Tribes of Xyr are an invention of Perine’s imagination and represent a theme he has worked with for over 15 years. The images in this exhibition reveal his vision of artifacts made by his invented people.


Nancy Livesay’s watercolors, from her “Environmental Series,” offer expansive landscape and seascape vistas full of open space and presented with a softness that is unique to the watercolor medium. Accompanied by quotes from her own notes and from other writers concerned with the environment, the scenes she paints provoke an inescapable sense of concern for nature.

In July, ArtistSpace will present the first Southern California exhibition dedicated to the work of San Francisco architect Aaron Green, who will be involved in designing the site plan and custom homes for Turner’s “Bernardo Mountain” project, in Escondido. A disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright, Mr. Green has been invited by the San Diego Museum of Art to lecture on his mentor’s work; while, at Southfair, he will give a talk about his own design philosophy.

Two exhibitions planned for fall include a show of works from the San Diego members of Artists’ Equity, followed by an exhibition of portraiture as practiced by San Diego artists.



Southfair commercial complex, 2010 Jimmy Durante Blvd. Del Mar

Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily

Price: Free

Call: 792-1242


Take note: Those interested in exhibition announcements and invitations to openings are welcome to call.