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The Exhibitionists

Think you know San Diego’s art scene? Think again! From the power gallerists to the rising art stars, we present the must-see list.

Artist Chris Puzio with a sculpture he made for the new Bird Rock home of starchitect Jonathan Segal

Inside a POD designed by Louis Schmidt of Double Break Gallery

Tara Smith at the Oceanside Museum of Art in an exhibit by local artist Lea Dennis

Space Invader
Good luck requires good planning. Just ask Chris Puzio. When the Detroit native moved to North Park, he opened the now-shuttered and sorely missed Spacecraft. The day-to-day of running a gallery proved too much for him, but the experience was priceless. “I met so many incredible artists, designers and architects,” Puzio says. Among them? Design-build legend Jonathan Segal, who recently hired Puzio to make a large patterned metal sculpture for his new minimalist box in Bird Rock. When not juggling commissions, Puzio teaches design at Woodbury School of Architecture in Barrio Logan, where he also runs the fabrication shop. At this year’s San Diego Art Fair, Puzio’s work was the star attraction of Woodbury’s booth. “It was great exposure for the variety of stuff we do there,” he says. He also recently served on this year’s jury for Orchids and Onions, which gave the top honor to Barrio Logan’s mural restoration project. “The community worked so hard to make that happen,” he says. “It’s amazing what they pulled off.” Next up? a solo show at La Jolla Athenaeum next year (

Shipping News
Sometimes, thinking outside the box calls for little more than actual boxes. More specifically, large metal shipping containers, which were offered up as 3-D blank canvases to a bevy of emerging local artists earlier this fall. Artist and blogger Shawnee Barton came up with Art Boxed San Diego after seeing a similar show in Houston. She teamed up with PODS, which makes the crates, and a curatorial committee to bring on names like Lael Corbin, whose Duchamp-esque work has shown at MCASD, and John Oliver Lewis, who filled his POD with playful sculptures. The exhibition debuted as part of NTC Liberty Station’s “Fall Into the Arts” programming. Afterward, they were distributed throughout San Diego, from Solana Beach to Grossmont College in El Cajon. “We wanted to showcase local talent who are creating thought-provoking, experimental art that is under-recognized but of national caliber,” says Arts and Culture Commissioner Laurie C. Mitchell, one of the curators. “This was an opportunity to bring art out of the galleries and museums and into the public realm.” And don’t bother calling the moving truck. Art Boxed was such a smash success that PODS agreed to extend its loan.

Northern Light
Talk about apt. Among the pieces selected by Tara Smith for the Oceanside Museum of Art show You: Investigating Identity is “Follow Suit,” an installation involving plaster rifles by local artist Lea Dennis ( Smith, who serves as OMA’s deputy director, has earned a reputation as a young gun of S.D.’s art scene, blazing her way and always hitting the curatorial bull’s-eye. An Encinitas native, Smith studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and Goldsmiths University of London before returning home. “I had dreams of becoming a huge art star, but I stumbled upon the museum path and fell in love with the work,” she explains. When she’s not luring OMA patrons with cutting-edge programming, the stylish insider is working on a new series of paintings that will be shown at Shepard Fairey’s Subliminal Projects in L.A. The genre: “Think Transformers meets Peter Doig.” We’re in.

Click here to read the full article in the digital edition of Riviera!