By Christopher Gomez
Little Italy is a nationally recognized neighborhood known for its popular restaurants, wineries and cafés that are staples in the San Diego community. In addition to its culinary scene, Little Italy is a great spot to browse indoor and outdoor artwork. The urban neighborhood has a lively and vibrant art scene with unique murals, established art galleries, and art around every corner you turn. Wander through Little Italy and you’ll stumble upon inspiring creations ranging from contemporary art exhibits to street art.
One popular Little Italy art gallery, 1805 Gallery, is an open artist studio that encourages meaningful dialogue and art appreciation. Art lovers can discover work from emerging and mid-career artists that focus on concepts like painting, drawing, sculpture, installations and digital work. Another gallery the avid art collector can explore is Adelman Fine Art, a contemporary boutique gallery that features four to five themed exhibits each year. This space is located on Kettner Boulevard, between W. Grape and W. Fir streets and has everything from original paintings to artisan jewelry and unique gifts.
For those who gravitate toward photography pieces, jdc Fine Art is a content-driven contemporary art gallery with national and international artists who lean toward narrative and figurative work. On Kettner Boulevard you’ll also find Meyer Fine Art, a public art space established in Little Italy in 2006. Considered to be one of San Diego’s most prestigious fine art galleries, Meyer Fine Art displays original graphics, limited edition prints, and other works on paper from 19th- to 21st-century artists. If you’re in search for art pieces from prominent artists, Meyer Fine Art has an exceptional selection of artwork from Roberto Matta, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and much more!
Visitors can also explore whimsical art inspired by landscapes and visual cultures at Stefanie Bales Fine Art, which has modern interiors, murals and collaborative art pieces. Shop Stefanie’s Wander On collection and Walking Life collection and be inspired by the colorful palettes and scenic views. If figurative paintings are your art of choice, Mee Shim Fine Art is the gallery to visit. Shim’s autobiographical and narrative paintings are based on the thought-provoking eastern philosophy. Lastly, the Jacqueline Lavenu Studio & Gallery displays oil paintings and vignettes from Jacqueline Lavenu, an artist whose private collections are displayed in Germany, United Kingdom, Switzerland, and France.
Along with Little Italy’s captivating art exhibits, the public art displays do not disappoint. As you explore the streets of Little Italy, take a close look at your surroundings. You’re guaranteed to see street art that you might’ve previously overlooked. Walk to North Little Italy and you’ll be greeted by the famous El Camino mural displaying a man with a sombrero and a mural of a woman wearing sunglasses that reflect the Little Italy neighborhood at sunset. Other sights to see are a 20-by-20-foot “Mine-A-Lisa” mural on the corner of West Grape and State streets that was created by Washington Elementary STEAM Magnet School students, under the direction of instructor Jayne Barnett; “A Recipe for Friendship” at Amici Park by Nina Karavasiles; and many other spots around Little Italy.
Little Italy’s strong presence in the arts makes visiting the community an adventurous outing every time!
To stay connected with Little Italy, check out what’s going on in the neighborhood by following the community on Instagram and Twitter: @LittleItalySD and Facebook: LittleItalySD. To learn more things happening in the neighborhood, visit LittleItalySD.com.
—Christopher Gomez has been Little Italy’s district manager since 2000. Reach him at email@example.com.