Artist Village Highlights
An eclectic conclave of over 250 local artists free and open to the public, the Spanish Village Art Center hosts a diverse mix of traditional and avant-garde painters, photographers, printmakers, sculptors, metal and basket weavers, and glass, clay, wood, and jewelry crafters, as well as the nearly 40 studios and galleries they call home. Sandwiched within the bustling outdoor activity hub that is beautiful Balboa Park near Downtown San Diego, its cultural and historic significance provide this part of the city with yet another compelling attraction for visitors.
Beyond allowing you to admire and purchase their work directly, many of the Spanish Village’s resident artists provide demonstrations of their craft in action, notably live hand-blown glass-shaping workshops, while still others teach their specific trades in specialized classes and summer camps. These courses, tailored to adults and children, cover a wide breadth of techniques across a multitude of media.
The Village is also home to a number of professional artistic organizations with studios in operation on campus, including the Southwestern Artists’ Association, as well as individual guilds for sculptors, potters, woodcarvers, and glass- and enamel-shapers.
For lunch, the Village Grill serves up the basics of hamburgers, hot dogs, and soups beneath the shady umbrellas of its outdoor café. Given the setting, it’s also not terribly uncommon for live music to be found within the Village’s plaza, adding to its image as a melting pot of creative expression.
The complex of Spanish-styled, tile-roofed buildings and brightly-cobblestoned courtyards housing the Art Center was built in 1935 for the second California Pacific International Exposition, held in Balboa Park to promote San Diego’s struggling economy during the Great Depression. It reopened shortly after the Expo’s conclusion as a work space for nearby artists, but during World War II, the United States commandeered the structures for use as barracks for military personnel supporting the Pacific Theater. Following the war’s end, however, the Village once more returned to its status as a home for the arts in 1947 and has continued serving this purpose to this day.
The Spanish Village’s prime location in Balboa Park makes it all the more attractive a destination – with the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Natural History Museum, and several botanical gardens all within a short distance of each other and downtown’s major sights, there’s more than enough here to fill up an entire day’s worth of activities.
For non-affiliated area artists, the Village’s Gallery 21 studio is available for rental use. Additionally, it also offers patio rentals for weddings and private corporate/group events, with full kitchen and restroom facilities on hand.
The Art Center is open daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., except on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Parking is available at a free on-site lot or on the street – the public buses running through Balboa Park are a less ideal, though still perfectly viable, alternative. To learn more about the Center or its resident studios and artists, visit www.spanishvillageart.com.